From the tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
In late March, I was pleased to help N.C. A&T State University recognize Don and Alease Williams of Sampson County as the 2016 Small Farmers of the Year. This year marked the 30th anniversary of Small Farms Week, which highlights the important contributions of small farms across this state.
The Williamses’ farm produces free-range pasture pork from farrow to finish using heritage breeds Hampshire and Chester White.
According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, we have around 50,000 farms in the state. Of that, 82 percent of them are 180 acres or less in size.
The economic impact of these businesses is anything but small, especially in our rural communities where farm dollars support ag supply stores, trucking operations and other community businesses and government.
North Carolina’s agriculture and agribusiness industry is $76 billion strong, leading our economy and creating jobs in areas where big industry doesn’t exist. This industry has been the foundation of our state and has helped build some of our biggest cities. I cannot begin to imagine what North Carolina would be without agriculture and agribusiness.
And we are working hard to support this industry and position it for future growth. I am confident that agriculture and agribusiness will be a $100 billion industry moving forward.
Some people may look at agriculture as an industry of the past, but it is anything but that. In fact, with a growing global population that will need to eat, we are going to need each and every farm we can get to keep up with demand.
That represents a tremendous opportunity. We are fortunate in North Carolina to have many farmers such as the Williamses, who understand what it takes to produce food. They are good at it and we can all be thankful for that. Their success means we have a locally grown safe, affordable and abundant supply of food choices.
As we head into the growing season, I encourage you to support your local farmers whenever possible. Look for local products in your grocery stores, at restaurants and at farmers markets and roadside stands. Your support helps boost our economy and keep agriculture strong in this state.
And thank you to those who toil to proivide us with safe wholesome foods.