WNCT

NC agriculture industry breaks record for economic impact

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – North Carolina’s agriculture economic value has hit a record-breaking amount.

In 2005, the agriculture industry was striving for $59 billion dollars. This year’s record-breaking amount is over $103 billion. Shawn Harding who is the president of NC Farm Bureau said this achievement means a lot on a state level.

“We say $100 billion in agriculture, certainly farmers are the first things we think of but it’s all the other jobs,” said Harding. “It’s the tractor dealerships, it’s the ones that supply fertilizer, it’s the people in the downtown that helps supply tires and batteries.”

Mitch Smith is a state agricultural extension agent for Pitt County. He said the economic impact record also helps employment.

“Agriculture is so important in terms of employment in North Carolina. Agriculture and Agribusiness represents 1 out of 5 jobs,” said Smith. “So with that expansion of agriculture, it represents an expansion into the job market for people who are interested in agriculture and more job possibilities for new graduates.”

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a statement this year’s goal surpassed last year’s economic impact by more than 11%. Officials say this is a testament to N.C. farmers and their resiliency.

“We’ve had challenges you know with storms, we’ve had challenges with the changing tobacco economy that was in our history. Our farmers keep figuring it out,” said Harding.

This year’s increase in money helps them continue research and production.

“In North Carolina, we’re number two projected in terms of the loss of farmland just behind Texas, so as we look at population models, it’s been predicted that we’re going to need to produce 70% more food in order to meet the demands of a rising population,” said Smith.

“We need this, and we need to be able to fund agriculture research so people are able to enjoy the benefits of agriculture.”

Harding and Smith said it’s important to raise awareness about the industry’s impact.

“Because only 2% of our population farm anymore. 98% have no connection to agriculture or where their food comes from. I would just like them to be proud of North Carolina that we’re continuing to have a strong agricultural presence here. Certainly support their local farmers in any way,” said Harding.

“We have the safest food source in the world here and we’re thankful for that, so I think continue to support agricultural policy that embraces agricultural research which enables us to meet the kind of challenges we will face in the future,” said Smith.

While this amount is a huge goal met, the industry looks forward to continuing to grow in the state.