The State of Farming: Beaufort County farmer shares his personal experience with COVID-19, navigating around pandemic

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Editor’s note: It’s been a year since the coronavirus pandemic changed things in Eastern North Carolina, around the United States and the world. 9OYS is devoting a series of stories, videos and podcasts where we get a perspective on those different parts of life in ENC and how things have changed.

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PINETOWN, N.C. (WNCT) – Nine On Your Side is taking a look at the impact of COVID-19 and the state of parts of our everyday life since the pandemic started a year ago.

The foundation of Eastern North Carolina is built on farming, and we’ve seen the toll COVID-19 has taken on the industry. But farmers still planted seeds in the ground. 

Larry Boyd is a third-generation farmer from Beaufort County. He’s never worked another job in his life, and not even COVID changed that.

“We farm about 6,500 acres of road crops, corn and soybeans, wheat and oats,” he said. 

Coronavirus did change the way other people live life and the start of the new year was harder than he expected.

Larry and his wife, Sandra, both recently fought and recovered from COVID as life on the farm kept going.

“Really, the actual day-to-day operations on my farm have not really changed that much,” Boyd said.

Businesses around him and his farm were much different.

“Their surrounding industries and supporting industries that service the farmers, those were the ones that saw more restrictions from companies,” said Rod Gurganus, the Beaufort County Extension Director.

Boyd shared what has had a bigger impact on the industry than COVID.

“Technology is the new way of farming. Now 1.5% of the people do what used to take 50% to do,” Boyd said. “With technology, that number is going to keep getting smaller.”

The pandemic still built barriers and now meetings, educational events, and many other things have all turned virtual.

“It’s not the same as a personal face-to-face meeting which we love to do because there is a lot of interaction that goes on between the farmers,” Gurganus said. 

COVID still is a threat to farmers, so they follow guidelines like everyone else. As the world keeps navigating through the pandemic Boyd is hopeful that people will realize where and who their food comes from because that’s one thing that will never change.

“Every time you sit down to eat a meal, you need to remember to thank a farmer,” Boyd said.

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