Meet Melvin Slade: a NC Farmer Moving Beyond Crisis

Melvin Slade (shown here with his grandson Memphis) is a 65-year-old second generation farmer growing 150 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat full time near Pamlico Beach, NC. Hurricane Florence drowned his soybean crop and like so many others, Mr. Slade feared the worst – losing both his farm and his legacy.

A Sunday School teacher at his church handed him a local newspaper clipping about our farmer crisis hotline. On October 9th, Melvin called and our Case Manager Tyler Whitley answered.

Tyler helped Mr. Slade apply for USDA loan relief and Disaster Unemployment Assistance. They initiated soil sampling to determine the extent of saltwater damage to his land and developed a plan to remediate the soil, generate income, and make Mr. Slade’s farm more resilient to disaster. They’re now negotiating a cover crop seed donation that would help Melvin transition from a petroleum-based fertilizer to a more sustainable method for rehabilitating the land and preparing it for spring planting.

In a normal year, our farm advocates and case managers handle an average of 30-40 in-depth cases with farmers in financial crisis. In this extraordinary year of back-to-back hurricanes, we have broadened the reach of our hotline and farm advocacy with ads in local newspapers and direct farmer outreach. As a result, we’ve reached 44 additional farmers impacted by the hurricanes. Our work with these folks will likely span several years – but we can’t do it alone. Please help sustain our efforts to support farmers like Melvin challenged by the realities of extreme weather events.

Our intensive and relational case management approach to farm recovery often reveals underlying strategic opportunities. For Melvin, turning the farm over to his grandson Memphis is top priority after addressing the impacts of the hurricanes. Memphis is studying agriculture and environmental technology and plans to graduate from NC State in 2020. Tyler and Mr. Slade are already developing a succession plan.
“I didn’t want help at first but when I talked to Tyler I felt comfortable. I don’t want to lose the farm. Tyler is helping us improve the farm so I can pass it down to my grandson.”
Melvin Slade, Beaufort County, NC

Melvin Slade’s story is a common one. Please help us keep families on their farms.

Whether you’ve already given, plan to give, or you simply follow our work – thank you. We take working with you very seriously and farmers like Mr. Slade directly benefit from your concern and generosity.

The Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our EIN # is 56-1704863. Financial information about RAFI-USA and a copy of our North Carolina solicitation license are available from the Charitable Solicitation Licensing Section at 888-830-4989. This license is not an endorsement by the state of North Carolina.

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