PELION (WACH) â?? Farming is big business in South Carolina. The value in cash receipts related to farming is about $2 billion annually, while the agribusiness industry has an estimated $34 billion dollar impact on the state, according to Department of Agriculture .
Among the many commodities that are farmed in the Palmetto State, cotton is the fourth largest, nearly doubling over the last 2 years from $141,289 in 2010 to $235,728 in 2012. The Kneece Family in Pelion is among the larger farms in the state, helping to add to that number.
The Kneece family farm 3 primary crops a year-peanuts, corn, and cotton. It may come as a bit of a surprise that the farm, itâ??s hundreds of acres, three primary crops, in addition to 200 head of angus cattle, is operated by three people.
â??You have to do more with less,â?? says Loni Rikard of the Lexington Farm to City committee , pointing out that many people have a vision in their hard of large operations, with lots of people. â??Itâ??s just not the case.â?? Dispelling some of the misconceptions about farming, including the stereotype of farmers that is more that â?? Hee Haw â?? than the hard working, business savvy businessman that is by and large the profile of a farmer, is the mission of the Farm to City movement.
The committee was founded in 1995 with the mission of increasing awareness of how farmers and consumers depend on each other for survival. According to Rikard, each year, Farm to City Week is the Friday prior to Thanksgiving until Thanksgiving day, and includes a week of education, awareness, speakers, and hands on experiences.
The Kneece family, who was just finishing up this years cotton harvest when Tyler Ryan spent the day, relies on the 400 acres of cotton yield as a large source of survival. Luther Kneece explained that the harvest process is made up of 3 large steps. They include the picking of the cotton, which these days is done with a 6 row John Deer cotton picker . The cotton is dumped into a compactor, which compresses the cotton into large bales. These bales are then shipped to a processor, where they are stripped of seeds, sticks, and other debris. The cotton is died white, and then shipped to manufacturers.
Kneece says that the machines allow for efficient harvesting, cutting down on the need for manpower, and increasing the continually increasing need.
For the Kneece family, farming isnâ??t a job, it is a way of life. â??We work 7 days a week, with time off for church on Sunday and a couple hours with the family,â?? says Kane Kneece from inside the cotton picker, somewhere in the middle of a row of cotton. â??My life loves days when it rains, because then she gets to see me for a little bit.â?? Although the rain may slow down a harvest, there is always something to be done on a farm, points out Kneece. Farming is a 24/7 endeavor, working from before first light, to well into the evening, in all kinds of weather.
Once the last of the 400 acre cotton crop is harvested and shipped, the three member team of the Kneece family immediately look toward the next season of growing and harvesting, as is the lot of the modern farmer.
Tyler Ryanâ??s year long, hands-on investigative series into the modern farming world will include an inside look at dairy farming, harvesting collards, working with chickens and more.