02/09/04 — West wins award

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West wins award

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on February 9, 2004 2:02 PM

RALEIGH -- A Wayne County family that has farmed acres of cropland since before the Civil War has received a state award.

The family of Jerry West accepted the 2003 Tobacco Farm Family of the Year award Friday at the North Carolina Tobacco Growers Association's annual meeting.

West, 57, said around 1,200 people attended the meeting from tobacco districts all over the state and several from outside the state. It was held in the Holshouser building at the N.C. State Fairgrounds.

Various officials discussed issues in the tobacco industry, with one hot topic being the possibility of a tobacco buyout in the future.

The Wests' operation is in northern Wayne and southern Wilson County. It has 3,000 acres of row crops including corn, tobacco, cotton, wheat and soybeans, 140 acres of tobacco and two turkey operations.

"We are a true family operation," said West.

His family includes his brother, Tom; sons, Craig and Brad; daughters-in-law, Nell and Lynn; and grandsons, Luke and Lee.

West said the award is based on how well the operation is structured and the family's involvement in tobacco.

"I am absolutely flattered," he said. "We are very happy that we received the award."

He said that it is extremely important to educate those who do not understand the dilemma that tobacco farmers are facing across the state.

"Our industry is worth fighting for, and we need to fight for it," added West.

The West operation is in its fifth generation. His father, Waitus, retired from tobacco farming in the late 1950s. The operation began again in 1979.