Economist to update agriculture oulook


Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Local farmers have an opportunity this week to find out what’s going in the agriculture industry.

AgCarolina Farm Credit is a leading agricultural lender in North Carolina that has 12 branch offices across Eastern North Carolina, including one in Rocky Mount. The company will host an agricultural economic update session starting at noon Friday at Nash Community College’s Brown Auditorium. 

The member-owned cooperative will also host an economic update session at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Senator Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center in Williamston. Dinner will be served at the session in Williamston, while the session at NCC will be a lunch event.

Dr. Blake Brown, a professor and extension economist in agricultural and resource economics at N.C. State University, will be the guest speaker at both events. Dave Corum, president and CEO of AgCarolina Farm Credit, said Brown will lead the discussion about the current and future trends in agriculture economics.

John Bledsoe, marketing specialist for AgCarolina Farm Credit, said Brown will provide important information to the agriculture community that will play a major part in the decisions local farmers will make about their farming operations in 2018 and beyond. As the top industry in the state, agriculture contributes $84 billion to the state’s economy, according to figures from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Figures also show that agriculture is a huge economic driver in the Twin Counties. In 2015, Nash County’s crop cash receipts were ranked seventh with more than $105 million, while Edgecombe County was ranked eighth with more than $89 million in crop cash receipts.

“Farming and agriculture tend to have some negative connotations, but it’s definitely big business by incredibly intelligent people,” Bledsoe said. “These are million-dollar businesses that are trying to make it with the most and best information possible. What we’re trying to do by bringing in Dr. Brown is to put the best North Carolina State (University) has in our community to bridge any gaps.”

Corum said volatility is a staple of the agriculture industry with regard to supply and demand. Skipper Jones, senior vice president of marketing and communications at AgCarolina Farm Credit, acknowledged natural disasters in the past such as Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 caused major losses for farmers in Eastern North Carolina.

However, Jones said, 2017 has been a more positive year for agriculture because there weren’t any major weather disasters that occurred in the state.

“That means a lot of the farmers that have low crop operations have really good yield, but the commodity prices are still low,” Jones said.