Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.
On July 6, 2011, I was recognized as a “Champion of Change" by the Obama Administration. This allowed me the opportunity to have a roundtable discussion with rural leaders from around the country and government officials to discuss the progress happening in rural America.
It was quite an experience to be on my combine harvesting wheat on Tuesday and sitting around a table in the White House with President Obama on Wednesday. I must say, this was an experience for an ol' country boy!
As I sat listening to President Obama, I remembered how as a child I would listen to my grandfather and father talk about their experiences as African-American farmers. Their triumphs and pitfalls inspired me to return to the family farm when I completed my education in Agricultural Economics at Virginia Tech. Now I am able to share my experiences with the next generation through my participation with the National Black Growers Council (NBGC) by advocating to increase the efficiency, sustainability and productivity of black row crop farmers.
Philip Johnson Haynie, III serves on USDA's Plant Variety Protection Act Board and on the Agricultural Advisory Council for Virginia's first congressional district. P.J. is also a member of the National Black Growers Council, a coalition of African American commodity growers who advocate for the 21st century policy needs of Black growers and the future of Black growers.