McCall Farms makes $3 million gift to advance farming research
There are more than 25,000 farms across South Carolina, and farming is one of the state’s leading industries. It is also a primary focus of Clemson’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences. To help South Carolina farmers remain competitive both nationally and globally, McCall Farms is supporting Clemson with $3 million for critical research, establishing the McCall Farms Vegetable Breeding Endowment.
This endowment will support and enhance the vegetable breeding program within the college, specifically as part of the Advanced Plant Technology program. The program uses genomics-assisted breeding to develop improved vegetable varieties for production in the Southern United States. The APT program involves a statewide network of researchers supporting crop breeding and genetics in the Clemson University Agricultural Experiment Station.
Current projects in the vegetable breeding program include improving heat tolerance in green beans and disease resistance in leafy greens, muskmelon and watermelon.
The program, led by Stephen Kresovich, the Robert and Lois Coker Trustees Endowed Chair of Genetics, has made significant advancements to both the intellectual and operational capabilities of the University in crop agriculture. Improvements have been made in upgrading the research facilities at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center as well as other research and education centers across the state. Meanwhile, Clemson has hired some of the best and brightest new faculty for research positions at the RECs as well as the main campus. Funds from the McCall endowment will provide continuing support to this and other important research, improve equipment, provide supplies, and fund technical personnel salaries and graduate student research assistantships.
“Our research helps the more than 25,000 farms located throughout South Carolina in a variety of areas, including specialty crops, responding to weather and environmental changes, modernizing technology and field practices, and managing invasive species,” says President Jim Clements. “I am incredibly grateful to McCall Farms and the Swink family for their generous support. This donation will make a tremendous impact on farming across the state and beyond.”
Located in Effingham, South Carolina, McCall Farms understands the need for crop diversification and catering to consumer tastes. They established a canning operation in 1954 and work with a network of farmers throughout the state. They have several national brands of fruits and vegetables that are staples in kitchens across the country. McCall Farms is owned by Henry Swink ’68 and Marion Swink ’72 and operated by Woody Swink ’00, McCall Swink ’98 and Thomas Hunter ’06 — all Clemson alumni.
“While South Carolina farmers are some of the most efficient and productive in the world,” says CAFLS Dean Keith Belli, “this partnership with McCall Farms will be a catalyst for CAFLS’ efforts to provide research, teaching and Extension programs that continue to support the state’s agriculture industry as we tackle the challenge of sustainably feeding a growing state and global population.”