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Ag Development Forum
Thursday, February 3, 2022
9:30 am – 12:30 pm


2022 Speakers

Harry Vroomen, Vice President of Economic Services, The Fertilizer Institute

Harry Vroomen Harry Vroomen is the Vice President of Economic Services at The Fertilizer Institute where he directs TFI's statistical programs, conducts market analysis on agriculture and the fertilizer industry and develops TFI's annual Outlook Conference. In addition, Vroomen manages TFI's budgeting and member dues calculation and forecasting.


Harry joined TFI in 1993. Previously, he was an analyst with USDA's Economic Research Service where he authored numerous publications on the agricultural input industries.


He received his B.S. and a Master's degree in Agricultural Economics and Operations Research from Penn State and completed his Ph.D. in Economics at The George Washington University.



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A. Blake Brown, Ph.D, Hugh C. Kiger Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, N.C. State University

Dr. Blake BrownBlake Brown is the Hugh C. Kiger Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University.  Since 1991 Dr. Brown has been a professor and extension economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.  He has spent much of his career as a policy analyst working on farm policy, particularly tobacco policy.  A major focus was working with policy makers on the $9.6 billion tobacco buyout


After the tobacco buyout Dr. Brown spearheaded efforts to focus additional resources within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on value-added and alternative agriculture.  Most recently his research and extension efforts are focused on the impacts of FDA regulation on farmers and rural economies and the cost of compliance with Good Agricultural Practices for tobacco and produce farmers.


Dr. Brown earned his Ph.D. in Economics from North Carolina State University.  Before becoming a professor at NCSU, he worked as an extension agent for the NC Cooperative Extension Service.   He is married with one son.  He grew up on a beef cattle and burley tobacco farm near Boone, North Carolina. 


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Paige King Johnson, three-time Carolina Music Awards winner and Belmont University Alum

PThe three-time Carolina Music Awards winner and Belmont University Alum began captivating audiences early on with her down-home stage presence, cut straight to the bone stories and raw country voice, reminiscent of the classic country era. Her devoted homegrown fan base continues to expand farther than just her Harnett County, North Carolina backyard. In January 2021, Paige King Johnson achieved 3 Carolina Country Music Awards honors, winning Female Vocalist of the Year, Country Emerging New Artist, and Country Tour of the Year. Johnson has been climbing the Music Row chart which has allowed more of her music to be added to country radio across the United States along with digital streaming and downloads. “Just Like You” was Johnson’s first release with the distinguished PCG Artist Development based out of Nashville, Tennessee and her success continues with her newest single “Baby Don’t” currently being promoted nationwide and is Johnson’s first single with PCG Records.



Apple Brandy Beef

Apple Brandy Beef provides prime quality corn fed beef raised on our 4th generation family farm in the foothills of North Carolina. Our cowherds consist of Hereford and Angus cattle. For generations, our family has selected specific genetics in an effort to produce a superior cow herd. The beef available for purchase is the product of these prestigious cow herds, dry aged 14 plus days at our own USDA abattoir. We know the pedigree and complete history, including exact age, of each animal that goes into our beef program.


Apple Brandy Beef

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Kristi Mitchell, Owner, Mitchells Meat

Kristi MitchellKristi Mitchell was a public school administrator in Stokes County and current beef and pork farmer. She uses her Master's Degree in Leadership as well as her five years of experience in administration to streamline processes, ensure required Federal Mandates are met, confirm Animal Welfare practices are followed, and maintain high standards so every animal that comes through is processed with care from harvesting to packaging.

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Pamlico Packing Co.

Pamlico PackingPamlico Packing Co. is one of the oldest seafood companies in North Carolina. It was established in 1941 in Vandemere, N.C. by Mr. Earl Holton. The business under Mr. Holton operated initially as an oyster and finfish processor but within a few years the shrimp fishery became equally important to the business and local fishing communities. In 1976 Mr. Holton sold the business to Ed Cross, a Raleigh “transplant”, who knew nothing about the seafood business but loved the local fishing industry and its people.


After surviving a few lean years with very little shrimp and fish being caught, Mr. Cross decided in 1981 to diversify the business by building a crab processing plant. Its purpose was to process North Carolina crabmeat, which became known as Pamlico Packing Co., Inc. The crab plant grew from 15 local employees to reaching a peak of over 110 full-time and seasonal workers. The company also expanded into the foodservice business offering fresh and frozen North Carolina seafood deliveries to restaurants and retail markets throughout the Carolinas.


Once again in the early 1990’s it became obvious there was a need to diversify so the company purchased a second processing facility and installed freezing equipment that is used for flash-freezing (called “IQF”) shrimp and other seafood. This was the early beginning of our effort to produce and market the best tasting shrimp in the world, which is packed under our flagship brand currently “Carolina’s Finest Seafood.” This effort continues to grow today, and we hope we have helped consumers recognize that North Carolina shrimp are one of the most premium quality shrimp in the market. We want consumers to know when they buy North Carolina shrimp they are also supporting the fishing communities throughout eastern North Carolina. This support is vital when competing against ultra-cheap imports that make it difficult for domestic fishermen and processors to survive.


In 1996, Ed unofficially retired even though he continues to work today. His two sons, Doug and Don, now manage the business and the company has expanded into other areas of the seafood industry including importing and exporting as well as preparing to introduce a new line of value-added seafood products. Pamlico Packing Co. is considered THE premier supplier of fresh and frozen headless shrimp in North Carolina.


We understand that some customers require a broad selection of seafood from around the world, so we make every effort to maintain inventory according to their needs. While Carolina’s Finest Seafood is considered THE source for North Carolina fresh and IQF headless shrimp, we also supply restaurants, retail markets and wholesalers with a large choice of North Carolina seafood and other U.S. east coast delicacies. These include fresh and pasteurized North Carolina crab meat, soft crabs, head-on shrimp and a large assortment of fish. Please review our products page for more information about North Carolina fresh shrimp and the many other species of NC seafood we have to offer.


Pamlico Packing Co. is constantly striving to improve our customers’ seafood procurement experience. One of the main cornerstones of our success is the ability to deliver to our customers only the highest quality seafood in the market with consistent product net weights and counts. Our NC fresh seafood will exceed expectations every time.


Our family offers you, the customer, a wealth of market knowledge and experience that will enable you to make sound, money saving decisions that will help increase your business’ profit margins. For complete details and to learn how you can start reaping the benefits of offering North Carolina fresh seafood to your customers please contact us today.



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Carolina Classic Seafood

For decades we’ve been naturally raising the best-tasting Catfish on the planet.


Our catfish cooks up white and flaky, with a firm texture that works well in any fish recipe. Whether grilling, broiling, baking, poaching, frying or steaming – you will find that Carolina Classics Catfish retains a mild, sweet flavor that pleases palates of all ages.


We bring this native American fish, farmed with simple and natural methods, to you as an excellent seafood choice that is safe and healthy. You can find our catfish at great retailers like Whole Foods Market nationwide, and fine dining establishments like Chef & The Farmer, Husk, and 18 Seaboard. And now, you can have a fresh box of gourmet catfish fillets delivered directly to your door!



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