NC State Extension program proves a valuable experience for NC farmers

N.C. sweet potato and tobacco farmers participating in the Executive Farm Management Program successfully completed a year-long pilot program on December 1st, 2017. The group spent the past week at Hunt Library further building entrepreneurial, strategic planning, financial, and human resource skills that will help them strengthen their business management practices. The program was led by N.C. State Agricultural and Resource Economics professor and tobacco economist Dr. Blake Brown, Paul Mugge from N.C. State Poole College of Management, David Mayo and Sharon Justice from East Carolina University’s College of Business, Michelle Grainger from the Center for Innovation Management Studies and Greg Hopper, strategist from HQ Community and adjunct professor at Duke University.


In the past year, the program focused on how to position their farms for the growing market for sweet potatoes as well as how to thrive in the ever-changing tobacco industry. The participating farms produce about 20% of the nation’s sweet potato crop and 11,000 acres of tobacco. Teams proposed innovative ways of marketing NC sweet potatoes and considered how to adapt to new trends in tobacco products.


A team comprised of representatives from several local farms work together on their project.

The conference culminated in team presentations to a board of local agribusiness leaders. The participants proposed mock business ventures using the information and skills they obtained during the week to convince the board their ideas were worthy of investment. By asking farmers to look toward the future, the program keeps the prospect bright for North Carolina agriculture.


For information about how to participate in future programs please contact Dr. Blake Brown at