From the tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
At the top of this page, I hope you will take time to read the article about new pollinator programs we are initiating in the department to help boost the habitat for pollinators. As many of you may know, there has been a decline in the bee population in the United States. Bees are generally thought of as the workhorses in terms of plant pollination. And pollination is essential to agriculture.
If you farm or are a landowner, I hope you will consider dedicating space for pollinator habitat on your land. It seems like a pretty easy way to help out the insects and animals we rely on for much of our food. We will be talking about this issue and our efforts more in the future. I look forward to showing you what these habitats look like in bloom, and seeing what impact they have on pollinator numbers.
Agriculture and agribusiness remains our No. 1 industry, and production numbers for 2014 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicate another strong year for our farmers.
We saw record yields for cotton, peanuts and sweet potatoes, while soybean yields tied the record set in 2012.
Although not a record, we also saw the largest production of tobacco since 1998. All-in-all, we finished with a good year despite the cool, wet spring that kept many farmers from getting in their fields earlier.
The one lower-performing commodity was corn, which fell 16 percent below 2013 production. I attribute that drop largely to a shift in production, with growers choosing to plant 90,000 fewer acres.
A lot of factors influence production choices, especially price, and yields can drive commodity prices up and down because of their impact on supply and demand. As farmers are making decisions for 2015, I know they will be looking at commodity prices and available supply.
Here is a snapshot of the 2014 commodities production numbers:
Cotton acreage held steady at 460,000, but the yield jumped to a record 1,049 pounds per acre, up from 1,014 pounds per acre, which was the previous record in 2012.
There were 93,000 acres of peanuts grown in North Carolina in 2014, with an average yield of 4,300 pounds per acre, 200 pounds more than the 2012 record.
Soybean production jumped 42 percent to 69.2 million bushels due to more acreage being planted. Yield was 40 bushels per acre, which tied the record in 2012.
Farmers also planted more acres of sweet potatoes in 2014, increasing production to 15.8 million hundredweight, a 49-percent increase from 2013. Yields topped the previous record by 10 percent, jumping to 220 hundredweight per acre.
Tobacco production totaled 453.9 million pounds, a 25-percent increase from 2013 numbers.
I hope 2015 proves to be a successful year, too.