Alumni Making a Difference: Phillip J. Haynie III
Phillip J. Haynie III isn’t only a fifth-generation farmer from Reedville, Virginia, he’s also an informal ambassador to the agriculture industry.
In addition to running a high-quality grain operation where he grows soybeans, corn, wheat, and barley on the family farm, Haynie, (agricultural and applied economics, ’99) regularly addresses students and policymakers about issues affecting the agriculture industry.
A proponent of precision agriculture, he has spoken to students at Virginia Tech to encourage them to consider nontraditional careers in the industry, perhaps as engineers, who can develop increasingly automated and sophisticated farming systems, or as seed geneticists, who can someday provide a more drought-resistant or disease-tolerant strain of seed.
He also takes time away from the farm to educate policymakers about the challenges facing farmers.
“I enjoy engaging with audiences,” said Haynie, who has visited Kenya, South Africa, and Cuba as a representative of the agriculture industry.
A member of the National Black Growers Council, Haynie is also an advocate for minority farmers. The organization is critical to building a network for minority farmers, whose numbers have dwindled from 1 million in the 1920s to fewer than 15,000 in the last decade.
His advocacy for minority farmers through the council and the agriculture industry in general was recently recognized by the Obama administration, which named Haynie a Champion of Change.
“I feel really passionate about giving back to the agricultural community,” he said.