The closing of a farm -- even a large one -- doesn’t draw the kind of headlines or political hand-wringing that the shuttering of a factory or bank generally does. But a farm shutdown takes a toll on owners, employees and even consumers.
As North Carolina continues to seek new kinds of industries and businesses, the number of farms statewide has decreased from almost 53,000 farms in 2007 to about 50,200 in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The types of farming have changed, as well, from a day in the 1970s, when cotton and tobacco regularly competed to be the king of crops, to a more diverse landscape today.
In Nash County, for example, poultry and eggs generate about $60 million a year for local farmers -- the biggest local agricultural moneymaker by far, according to the Nash County Agricultural Extension Service. Tobacco and sweet potatoes run neck and neck for second place, each generating about $45 million per year.
Although the primary crops have changed, Nash County still relies heavily on farming.
The number of farms here increased from 478 in 2002 to 489 in 2007, the latest years for which that information was available.
Soybeans and hogs fill important niches among Nash County products, as well. And scientists continue to promote the area for the production of plants to be used for pharmaceuticals and other biochemical products.
With all of that in mind, it’s easy to see that farmers in the Twin Counties still play an important role in the area’s economy. That’s a good point to remember the next time you’re shopping for produce in grocery stores -- or the local Farmers Market.