MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. –University of Mount Olive alumnus Daniel Owen Kornegay, II is a third generation farmer. He and his father own and operate DOK Farms LLC. The farm’s 1,200 acres includes four finishing hog houses, cattle, and various crops.
“Farming is a family tradition for most,” he said. “For me, it is all I have ever done or ever wanted to do.”
Kornegay knows that farming is a gamble, even on a good year. There are so many factors that affect the bottom line including weather, insects, disease, transportation prices, demand, etc. Added to the list of uncertainties this year is the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are really not sure how the Coronavirus will impact grain and produce prices,” he said. “There is also uncertainty in the livestock and hog markets.”
In addition, COVID-19 has impacted how they go about their daily chores. When you have a small farming operation such as theirs, with three full time employees and seasonal workers as needed, you can’t afford for anyone to be out sick. “Each person has their own designated tractor, we try to avoid riding together, we have hand sanitizer in each vehicle, and we also have masks on hand,” Kornegay shared.
Beyond those precautionary measures, Kornegay notes that life on the farm is pretty much the same. “Farming is hard work and very long days,” he said. “There are no 9 to 5 days, and very few weekends off. But when you absolutely love what you do, you stay motivated and do everything you can to make the best crop possible.”
To balance the many risks associated with farming, Kornegay has found diversification to be pivotal. In addition to grain, DOK Farms LLC grows squash, corn, cucumbers, beans, and sweet potatoes. “Our decisions are based on price and land rotation for the most part,” he said.
Kornegay credits his farming and business acumen to two things – family tradition and his degree from UMO. However, he is quick to admit that he was hesitant about attending college at all.
“I will be honest, when I first started at UMO, I did not want to be there,” he recalled. “I knew all I wanted to do was farm and I didn’t think I needed to go to college. But, as time went by, I began to enjoy it more and more. I enjoyed the people and my experiences. By the time graduation came, I was proud of my time and accomplishments at UMO.”
At UMO Kornegay developed lasting friendships, made useful connections in the agriculture world, and increased the depth and breadth of his knowledge in all things ag related. “However,” he said, “it was the professors who impacted me the most. They guided me and helped me in so many ways.”
Kornegay graduated from Princeton High School in 2013, where he was a member of FFA all four years. He received the Diversified Crop Production Proficiency Award at the State FFA Convention in Raleigh. Kornegay graduated from UMO in 2017 with a bachelor of science degree in agricultural production systems: business. He resides in Princeton, North Carolina and is a volunteer fire fighter with the Oakland Fire Department.
“Although agriculture is a challenging and stressful career, I have been around it my entire life. It’s a lifestyle, and I cannot see myself doing anything else,” he concluded.
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has education service centers in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Forces Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.
–Rhonda Jessup, University of Mount Olive