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Tidewater Grain Chooses Sustainability because It’s the ‘Right Thing’

While sustainability is a buzzword in today’s society, it has been a genuine focus and way of life for farmers through many generations. Tidewater Grain is no different when it comes to practicing innovation and stewardship during the pursuit of sustainability. 

Tidewater Grain, started by two duck loving friends, is a rice farm in Eastern North Carolina that brought back Carolina Gold rice after more than a century. Al Spruill and Tommy Wheeler wanted to make their family-focused hunt club economical. A rice farm was a way to combine what duck’s love—water and long grass—with a profitable product—Carolina Gold Rice. 

To make it all work, there had to be a firm foundation in sustainability and innovation. It all began with wanting to do the right thing. “You know, what we did yesterday is not going to work tomorrow.  So, we have really refined the way we attack planting,” said Spruill. For Tidewater Grain, everything had to have a reason, from practices to soil application. 

It’s about more than just doing what’s right. For founders Tommy and Al, an important part of sustainability is being forward-thinking and innovative. Tidewater Grain has been working on some exciting opportunities to utilize more of their rice byproducts. For example, they are making a gluten-free flour from rice mill. They are even utilizing rice husks and getting creative with them.  

By being innovative, Tidewater Grain is not just trying to stay competitive in the market or be cost efficient. They are choosing this path to “create opportunities on their farm and make the world a better place,” said Evan Kleinhans, CEO of AgCarolina Farm Credit. “So, whether they're creating wildlife habitats, or exploring innovative ways to use rice byproducts, Tidewater Grain is an innovator in the ag industry,” Kleinhans added. 

AgCarolina Farm Credit is committed to being more than just a lender. We take a vested interest in our customers’ aspirations. “They [AgCarolina Farm Credit] are very much a partner and a friend that allows us to have real meaningful conversations about where we’re at, where we’re going, and some of the scary things that we’re doing between those two steps,” shared Wheeler. 

Our farmers’ commitment to sustainability and innovation is truly incredible. They work hard, take risks, and care about their impact on their communities and the environment while producing food, fiber, and fuel for our country. We are proud to play a small role in that process.


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