Peanuts are the Barnes Family business. The Barnes family has been farming peanuts in northeastern North Carolina since 1917.
In 1946, upon returning from World War II, George Dallas Barnes got together with three other families to start a peanut company working directly with American peanut farmers to “shell” peanuts. The partnership resulted in Severn Peanut Company being born. George’s son, “Mutt” Barnes got involved with the company from the first day, later becoming its president and leading it until the 1980s.
In 1958, Meherrin Agricultural was formed to provide services to farmers in the southeastern United States. Today, Meherrin Ag & Chemical has more than 40 locations in eight Eastern Seaboard states. The company services farmers who grow millions of acres of peanuts, corn, cotton, fruit, grain, soybeans, tobacco, turf and vegetables with seed, chemicals and fertilizers.
Hampton Farms was founded in 1989 to complete the circle of service. While Severn Peanut Company shells the peanuts, Hampton Farms roasts, packs and markets finished peanut products, including a growing line of peanut butter and in-shell flavored peanuts. Hampton Farms sells under its own brand and is also one of the country’s top producers of private-label in-shell peanuts and peanut butter.
Mutt’s son, Dallas took over leadership of the organization in 1990 and leads it today as its president and CEO.
Since the 1990s, the company has grown from a few hundred employees to well over 1,000 today. The growth has come through internal growth and acquisitions. During this time, the company has acquired a number of companies ranging from Martinelli’s Peanuts in Springfield, Massachusetts, to Jimbo’s Jumbos in Edenton, North Carolina, and Portales Select Peanut Company in Portales, New Mexico. Acquisitions continue to this day, while the company seeks new opportunities for the future.