Producing Excellence shares compelling stories of American farmers and ranchers, both newcomers to agriculture and producers who span generations.
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J.P. Davenport & Son
Products: Seed treatment, cotton, peanuts, corn, wheat, soybeans and tobacco
Size of Operation: 3,600 acres, 450,000 bushels of treated seed
Years in Business: 45
Farm Credit Partner: AgCarolina Farm Credit
Years Working with Farm Credit: 12
Five generations after their family first established their farm in 1902, brothers Charles and Lawrence Davenport expanded what was a 300-acre tobacco farm to its current 3,600 acres supporting a multitude of commodities, employing an important lesson they learned from their father to reinvest earnings into the business.
At the same time, they’ve garnered equal success in expanding the family’s seed processing business, launched more than 40 years ago, tripling its capacity and diversifying its product lines. Back in their father’s day, J.P. Davenport & Son was able to process 10,000 bushels of soybeans in a year’s time. A significant expansion in the 1970s enabled them to handle ten times that amount, and in 2010, they built a state-of-the-art facility that increased processing capacity and added storage for 250,000 bushels of soybeans. This more recent growth is built on a strong relationship with DuPont’s Pioneer Seed Co., which contracts the Davenport’s seed for area growers. “The new facility allowed us to triple our volume to condition and package upwards of 6,000 – 7,000 bushels of soybeans in a 10-hour work shift,” says Lawrence’s son David, who joined the company along with his cousin, Dave Sawyer, in the 1990s.
The Davenports have further capitalized on their seed processing investments by using their facility to treat 200,000 bushels of wheat seed annually, a business line that, unlike with soybeans, puts all the responsibility on them for the full production and sales cycle. Much of the wheat seed they process comes from their own farm, a valuable crop they protect with insurance through AgCarolina Farm Credit. They also process seed from 20 – 30 other local producers. After cleaning, the company markets and sells the wheat seed through more than 40 regional seed dealers.
Looking beyond their business success, the Davenport family is also dedicated to protecting the natural resources of which they are caretakers. They developed their first land conservation plan in 1983, and today work with wildlife organizations to enhance their program beyond traditional conservation techniques. These efforts earned them recognition as the “N.C. Conservation Farm Family of the Year” by the N.C. Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts. “Conservation is just something that’s been handed down over the generations,” says David. “We take care of the land because the land is what we have to hand down to the next generation.”