Donnie and Alease Williams were honored Monday by the Sampson County Board of Commissioners for being named the 2016 Small Farmers of the Year.
The Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s School of Agriculture and Environmental Science recently awarded the owners of D&A Farm for being an inspiration to other farmers. A resolution was presented to the Autryville couple.
“The recipient of this award is recognized as an innovator in livestock and/or crop production and marketing, a leader involved in contributing time and other resources to build their community, a steward of the environment who protects and enhances natural resources, and an astute businessperson running a farm in an entrepreneurial manner,” a portion of the resolution states.
Donnie, a third-generation farmer and Alease demonstrated leadership on their 140 acre farm in Autryville. D&A Farm raise more than 100 pigs which are bred in a pasture-based environment without growth hormones and chemicals. Also, 100 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat are produced for animal feed.
The resolution also states that “the Williams embody the persevering spirit of our county’s agricultural heritage, embracing change and pursuing training and education through the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service that not only ensures the sustainability and profitability of their farm, but ensures preservation of our natural resources and the quality of their product.”
During the presentation, the farmers were joined by their two daughters, Ella Bush and Ashley McNeil. County Extension Director Eileen Coite applauded their work on the farm and how they allow others to see the progress.
“They’re very successful farmers and they opened up their farms to come learn,” Coite said. “They work hard and do a great job at raising their hogs and goats.”
Coite said the Sampson County Center is looking forward to having a tour of their farm in 2017. In addition to being receptive to farm visits, Coite said Alease serves the community through the extension’s county advisory council.
“She has contributed greatly to that,” Coite said. “We’re very fortunate to have her on our advisory committee.”
Donnie and Alease received a plaque while being recognized by commissioners. A video showcasing their farm was also shown.
“We commend their passion for preserving small family farms and applaud their entrepreneurial spirit that honors the heritage of our agricultural past and the sustainability of agriculture for our future,” commissioners stated in the resolution.
The recognition was part of the Extension’s “Report to the People” presentation which highlights achievements from the previous year. Accomplishments in agriculture, family and consumer sciences and the 4-H Club were also part of the presentation.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.