11/23/04 — Three Wayne residents honored at farm-city event

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Three Wayne residents honored at farm-city event

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on November 23, 2004 2:01 PM

Three people were honored Monday during the annual Farm-City Banquet.

Inductees into the Agriculture Hall of Fame were the late Michael E. Regans and David John Overman.

And, Deborah M. Ballance was named Outstanding Woman in Agriculture.

Inductees into the Hall of Fame, whose pictures will be hung on the walls at the Wayne Center, are selected because of outstanding work and contributions relating to agriculture, said Bob Pleasants, Wayne County extension agent.

Dr. Johnny Wynne, interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, addressed the crowd of around 250 at the Wayne Center in Goldsboro about the diversity of agriculture in the state and about value-added products.

Michael Regans

Regans was involved in agriculture and agribusiness in eastern North Carolina for 28 years, most notably as an outstanding extension agent, said Pleasants.

He worked many years with the Junior Livestock Show and Sale in Wayne County, received the Outstanding Service Award from the Wayne County Livestock Development Association in 1996 and the Distinguished Service Award from the N.C. Poultry Federation in 1998. He was on the board of directors of the Wayne County Livestock Development Association and the N.C. Dairy Herd Improvement Association.

He won numerous awards for his educational program in support of the livestock and poultry industries, including the Search for Excellence Award in 1994 and 1998. His 1994 entry won nationally.

He developed the Greenhorn Cattle Management School locally as the cattle industry grew in the early 1990s and helped garner grants for research on swine waste management.

"Mike was always looking for a way to advance agriculture research and then take this knowledge and help the farmer implement it," wrote Todd and Deborah Ballance, who nominated Regans on behalf of the Wayne County Farm Bureau. "He was always there to answer any need in the farming community he loved and was a part of."

Regans wife, Anne, accepted the award on his behalf.

"I wish he could be here tonight to accept this honor, I know he would be very proud," she said.

David John Overman

Overman has been engaged in agriculture for 51 years and operates a farm along with his son, Harrell, and wife, Minnie, that totals over 3,400 acres and 7,000 head of hogs, said Pleasants. Their operation in the Grantham area includes 105 acres of tobacco and is one of only a handful of independent swine production farms.

He served on the Wayne County Planning Board for 12 years, was active in the Thoroughfare Fire Department for 20 years and has served the Wayne County Livestock Development Association as a Swine Committee member. He served as president on the Wayne County Farm Bureau board of directors from 1963 to 1967.

His farm operation has won numerous production awards over the years, placing first in the county wheat or corn yield contests at least four times. The operation received recognition as Outstanding Wayne County Pork Producer in 1987, Wayne County Farm Family of the Year and Outstanding Pork Producer in N.C. in 1994.

"David John has focused on improving his farm operation, supporting Wayne County agriculture and encouraging young people to learn about and appreciate agriculture," said Pleasants.

"We've enjoyed it," said Overman.

Deborah Ballance

Mrs. Ballance received the N.C. Pork All-American Award in 1998. She works with her husband, Todd, and in-laws managing 4,500 sows and 25 head of cattle. She also works with the Farm Bureau Women's Committee, distributing agricultural information and serving refreshments. She volunteers by hosting farm tours, explaining their sow production in regards to their compost barn and treatment plant.

"She's one of those perfect farm wives who is willing to do her share and more," said Anne Smith, chairman of the Outstanding Women in Agriculture.

She teaches Sunday school, takes part in fund-raisers, is a member of the advisory council at Norwayne Middle School and is active in the Girl Scouts as a troop leader.

"I am truly honored tonight," said Mrs. Ballance.

Farm value

Dr. Johnny Wynne, interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University, said the number of farms is decreasing.

But he also says there are opportunities for farmers if there is good marketing.

Some examples of product opportunities are catfish, wine, honey spreads, sprite melons, yellow and red seedless watermelons, non-timber forest products, goat meat, soy biodiesel, aquaculture, cooking oil and organic crops and edible and cut flowers.

There is also bioprocess engineering where commodities are broken down into other useful sources. For example, sweet potatoes can be used to make dyes and high-fructose syrup.

"We feel like there are opportunities, we want to continue to have a prosperous rural North Carolina," he said.

Lee Smith, county manager, said there are $300 million in farm sales per year in Wayne County and 22 percent of the income in the county comes from farming. He and other officials from Wayne and Greene counties met earlier in the day at Lane Tree Golf Club in Goldsboro.