On Monday, Secretary Tom Vilsack and Congressman John Spratt visited several PeeDee area farms in South Carolina, and spoke with local leaders and farmers about the importance of developing a strong rural economy. USDA State Directors, Vernita F. Dore, State Director for Rural Development, Ann English, State Conservationist for NRCS and Laurie Lawson, State Executive Director for FSA, also joined the tour of local farms.
Secretary Vilsack and Congressman Spratt began the tour at Lamar Collins home in Darlington County to discuss a bioenergy project that would use poultry litter to produce energy.
The second stop was at Galloway Farms, also in Darlington, where Vilsack and Spratt hosted a roundtable discussion for approximately 75 farmers and answered questions ranging from the upcoming Farm Bill to future support for local farmers. Vilsack stressed the importance of getting the younger generation interested in farming. The average age of a farmer is 57. The Galloway Farm is a fourth generation owned farm.
At the third stop, Vilsack and Spratt toured the McColl Gin Company operation in Bennettsville and saw the newest equipment in operation for cotton harvesting. The tour proceeded to the cotton gin facility to see the cotton process from the milling to the end product being packaged for shipping.
The day ended on a positive note with a BBQ and roundtable discussion at the Minturn Bonded Warehouse in Dillon. Approximately 40 farmers attended this event.