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Undersecretary Bill Northey Visits South Carolina

willie_northeyWillie Sarratt discusses conservation practices
implemented on his farm through EQIP.

Undersecretary Bill Northey visited South Carolina on Aug 6, 2019, to meet with local partners and landowners, and hear their concerns regarding ongoing farming issues.  The tour included visiting local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, as well as program participants of both the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The tour began with breakfast with Spartanburg Soil and Water Conservation District Chairman, Ronnie Bullard. The Spartanburg Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) was formed in 1937 under provision of the South Carolina Conservation Districts Law; the district is a subdivision of state government under the local control of a five-member Board of Commissioners.

Undersecretary Northey then visit Sarratt Farms. Bill Sarratt, owner of Sarratt Farms, serves on the South Carolina FSA State Committee. He farms over 4,000 acres of soybeans and winter wheat, and has a herd of Angus cattle in Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties. Mr. Sarratt also has a poultry operation in North Carolina. He has used a number of FSA programs, including farm storage facility loan and market facilitation program.   

The tour then moved to the farm of Willie Sarratt in Gaffney, SC. Mr. Sarratt is the Chairman of the Cherokee Soil and Water Conservation District and an NRCS program participant.  He operates a small cow/calf operation, hayfield and grows vegetables in his home garden.  He currently has an active CSP contract and formerly had an EQIP contract.  Through EQIP, he excluded his cattle from a spring where he had issues with cows getting injured and creating water quality issues.  Water out of a spring and     NRCS came in and designed a livestock watering system (wells, pipeline, water trough and heavy uses).  Through CSP he has improved his forage quality and quantity by adding legumes (Clover) to his pastures. 

grilled peachesGrilled peaches topped with vanilla ice cream
and fresh honey makes a great dessert.

Undersecretary Northey traveled to York, SC to have a picnic lunch at Black’s Peaches.  Black’s Peaches grows peaches, strawberries, blackberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, corn, peppers, lemons, zucchini, onions, potatoes, peanuts (roasted and boiled), cabbage, cantaloupes, watermelons, plums, nectarines, apples, strawberries, pumpkins...and peaches.  They also take part of the Ag and Art Tour every year.  They utilize best management practices for conservation on the farm such as cover crop to improve soil health, irrigation to provide adequate water for the crops, and conservation cover to improve wildlife.  They farm 327 acres of cropland. Beth Black White also serves on the South Carolina FSA State Committee.

To round the day out, the last stop on the tour was Tatanka Enterprise, LLC (Fred Isle), a bison farm in York, SC.  The bison farm featured 60 heads of bison on a 90 acres pasture.  The bison are culled and butcher at USDA facility and the bison meat are then market to local groceries and restaurants. Isle is also doing Agritourism for his farm operation each year as well as operating organically to grass feed his herd.  The farm has participated in NRCS programs and includes, Fencing for rotational grazing system, watering facility, heavy use area protection, livestock pipeline, forage and biomass planting to provide adequate forage for animal, brush management and chemical to control kudzu and other invasive species on the property.