Young Farmer of the Day: Tate Mayo with Mayo Mills

by | May 17, 2024

Each year at the Got to Be NC Festival, we recognize three young farmers between the ages of 18 and 40 through our Young Farmer of the Day Program, presented by AgCarolina Farm Credit and AgSouth Farm Credit. These young farmers work hard every single day to further the N.C. Agriculture industry and build upon it as the next generation of leaders. Come out during the Got to Be NC Festival this year, May 17-19th, at the N.C. State Fairgrounds to help us recognize them and say thank you for all their hard work! 

As a third generation farmer and well-known member of the Tarboro community, Tate Mayo is making a strong difference at a young age for the N.C. Agriculture industry. In addition to being a full-time farmer and business owner, Tate is also the current mayor of Tarboro, as well as an agricultural teacher and FFA Advisor at North East Carolina Prep School. From farming to teaching, Tate is doing everything that he can to inspire the community to invest in N.C. Agriculture and educate the next generation on its importance.

In 1932, Mayo Knitting Mill was established in Tarboro by brothers Columbus and Benjamin Mayo. Along with the knitting mill, which is still in operation today, the Mayo family operates Mayo Farm where they grow many acres of cotton and peanuts. “The farm specializes in growing premium cotton on two separate farms in Eastern North Carolina, Mayo Farms and Piney Grove Farm, a subsidiary of Mayo Farms,” said Amy Robinette of Harris-Robinette Beef who nominated Tate for the Young Farmer of the Day program. “Once the cotton is harvested, it is sent to a yarn spinner for further processing and then made into socks at Mayo Knitting.” The knitting company, DBA Mayo Mills, is a member of our Got to Be NC Program. They produce a variety of locally made sock products featuring many fun designs, including flags, sports teams, farming equipment and more. “As an owner of Mayo Farms, Tate is actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the farm. His direct participation in planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops demonstrates his hands-on approach to agriculture and his deep connection to the land,” Amy said. Not only does Tate take pride in the hard work that he does on the farm, but also in the socks that are produced through the cotton that they grow and what those products mean to the surrounding community. “By vertically integrating cotton production with sock manufacturing, Tate showcases a creative and sustainable model for agricultural entrepreneurship,” Amy said. Through his hard work on the farm and his agriculture advocacy through teaching, the sock company, and his efforts as mayor, Tate has become a model of sustainable agriculture and community engagement in Eastern North Carolina.

Since the farms conception, the Mayo family has kept a strong focus on sustainability on the farm and innovating where possible. Growing multiple acres of cotton and peanuts can have it’s challenges, but the Mayo family always prioritizes a strong crop, healthy harvest and sustainable practice through the process. “The Mayo family has always maintained a commitment to sustainable farming practices to achieve the highest-quality cotton possible,” Amy said. “Today, Tate’s stewardship of the land and responsible agricultural management practices contribute to environmental conservation and the long-term viability of the farming industry.” Like many other family farms in North Carolina, Mayo Farms is steeped in agricultural history and legacy that is important to Tate to maintain and preserve for years to come. These sustainable practices are one of the ways that he aims to do that, by not only caring for the land in healthy ways, but also producing products that customers want to invest in over and over again. “The Mayo family has always been a staple in the Tarboro community, and Tate’s efforts to not only maintain that legacy, but also build upon it, are inspiring,” said Amy. “By exploring new opportunities and value-added products, such as Mayo Mills socks, Tate demonstrates his willingness to adapt to changing market conditions and explore innovative solutions to agricultural challenges.” Tate not only allows his passion for agriculture to drive him each day on the farm, but he also uses it to educate the community through his work as an agriculture teacher, FFA advisor, and Mayor of Tarboro.

Growing up in the agriculture industry sparked a passion in Tate that he wanted to share with the world. There’s no better way to educate on the importance of agriculture than by aspiring the next generation of leaders to get involved, find their place and start innovating! As an agriculture teacher at North East Carolina Prep School in Tarboro, Tate makes it his daily mission to do just that: educate and inspire. “Tate’s commitment to agricultural education as an ag teacher and FFA advisor highlights his dedication to empowering the next generation of farmers and leaders,” said Amy. “By educating and mentoring students interested in agriculture, Tate inspires future farmers and cultivates a culture of learning and innovation in the industry.” As an FFA advisor, Tate helps students to not only learn about agriculture in the classroom, but gain hands on experience through FFA events, competitions and more. “By providing these kids with both head knowledge and physical experience, Tate is building a knowledgeable and skilled workforce for the agricultural sector,” Amy said. In fact, Tate not only inspires students to get invested in the agriculture industry through his position at the school, but he also inspires adults in the surrounding community and beyond to become involved through his role as Mayor of Tarboro.

In 2022, Tate Mayo was elected as the Mayor of the town of Tarboro. In running for Mayor, Tate not only wanted to give back to the hometown that means so much to him, but also advocate for farmers in the area and advance agricultural initiatives throughout the community. “After being away for my education it came to me that there was no place that I’ve been that made me happier than being in Tarboro,” he said on his election website. “I am very fortunate to call this town my home and hope that I can give back as much to the town as the town has given me over the years.” Over the last two years of service, Tate has gone above and beyond to give back to the community, invest in the local agriculture and promote the interests of agricultural entities and farmers across the community. “Through his leadership and advocacy, Tate actively supports the growth and sustainability of the agricultural sector in Eastern North Carolina,” Amy said. “Through his dual roles as mayor and farmer, Tate showcases his leadership abilities and dedication to serving his community on a daily basis in a way that inspires others to do the same for the things that they believe in.”

Overall, Tate’s influence across the agriculture industry, especially in the Tarboro community, is what made him a deserving candidate for our Young Farmer of the Day program at the Got to Be NC Festival this year. Not only is he passionate about farming on a full-time basis, but he also works hard to educate the next generation of agricultural leaders and pass down the knowledge and experience he has to help them. “Tate’s dedication, involvement and forward-thinking approach exemplify his passion for agriculture and his commitment to advancing the industry both locally and beyond,” Amy said. “His passion and innovation serve as an inspiration to others in the agricultural community and make us all want to do a better job of impacting and furthering our state’s number one industry.” Find Tate and his family today at the Got to Be NC Festival either walking the grounds or riding in the tractor parade at 1 p.m. to thank them for all of their hard-work. He will also have sock products available in the Food Lion Local Goodness Marketplace throughout the festival, located inside the Agri Supply Expo Center, if you wish to try some for yourself! We are excited to honor Tate across the festival grounds today and look forward to seeing where the industry will continue to take him!