Other Farmers

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  • Mike Weaver

  • Mike Lanigan and Edith Barabash

  • Jerry and Steve Carroll

These North Carolina Veterans Successfully Transitioned Their Farm from Hogs to Mushrooms

When they realized they were losing five dollars on every pig leaving their farm, brothers and veterans Jerry and Steve Carroll gave up hog farming and started using their barns for storage. Later, their friend Shahane Taylor helped them convert one of the barns to a full-fledged mushroom farm. Today, Carolina Mushroom Farm provides North Carolina with seven varieties of delicious mushrooms through wholesale and farmers markets, and the company ships its mushroom supplements all over the country.

The team retrofitted the old hog barns with the heat and AC units needed for temperature control, ordered their first mushroom spawn, and officially launched Carolina Mushroom Farm in 2016.

Carolina Mushroom Farm grows seven different types of mushrooms, including specialty varieties like lion’s mane and king trumpet. They also produce and sell four mushroom supplements, which Shahane describes as “super foods for the brain that have great medicinal benefits.”

The farm distributes its products through foodservice providers, produce-box delivery, and in-person consumer channels such as farmers markets, proving that diversification is essential to running a successful business.

“Farming is 50–50 being a farmer and being a businessman,” Shahane says. “Both skill sets are absolutely needed.”

Jerry, Steve, and Shahane’s business is a roaring success and a perfect example of Transfarmation’s potential. Carolina Mushroom Farm’s products are available for purchase on their website, and they sell their mushrooms at farmers markets in Raleigh, Morrisville, and Colfax.

The top four percent of farms account for 69 percent of U.S. farm sales, while the bottom 76 percent of farms make up a mere 3 percent of sales.

Forty-five percent of U.S. farmers have a negative net income. The median net poultry farm income was $13,140 in 2018, meaning half the poultry farmers in the country earned less than this amount.

Four percent of U.S. farms control 58 percent of farmland, while 13 percent of U.S. farms control 0.14 percent of farmland.

Fifty-five percent of poultry farms have debt, while 67.7 percent of dairy farms have debt.

Family farm Chapter 12 bankruptcies grew by almost 20 percent from 2018 to 2019. Ninety-five percent of dairy farms are family farms. There were 3,281 fewer dairy milk operations in 2019 than in 2018.