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Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:59 AM CST

As a young football player, Ralph Britt gained recognition on the gridiron as a tight end with the North Carolina State University (N.C. State) Wolfpack and then, for a season (1987), with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But these days, the owner of Britt Farms is recognized as one of his state's premier corn growers.

My football days now seem like a lifetime ago, says the 49-year-old farmer, from Calypso, in eastern North Carolina.

While attending N.C. State, Britt earned a master's degree in agricultural economics that has proven more valuable to his business than his ...

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