What’s New in the North Carolina Agriculture Industry

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There can be no doubt that agriculture is of paramount importance to the North Carolina economy. No longer just a sweat-equity operation, today’s agricultural business is a high-tech industry requiring nurturing and support.

FACT: North Carolina's agricultural industry, including food, fiber and forestry, contributes $78 billion to the state's economy, accounts for more than 17 percent of the state's income, and employs 16 percent of the work force.

Within 700 miles of NC borders are 170 million U.S. and Canadian consumers, and 65 of the country’s top 100 metropolitan areas.

Part of the success of agricultural business in North Carolina is the expansive transportation infrastructure required to get foods and products to this vast market. The state features:

  • Air: Sixth largest airport hub in America along with 11 regional and more than 100 general aviation facilities.
  • Sea: Two deep-water international ports in Morehead City and Wilmington, easy access to the Port of Virginia, and two strategically located inland terminals in Charlotte and Greensboro.
  • Rail: Largest consolidated rail system in the country with more than 3,200 miles of track.
  • Highway: Second largest highway system in the nation, spanning more than 98,000 miles. The intersection of major north-south and east-west interstates make North Carolina a natural hub for trucking access to points nationwide.

The world’s population is expected to grow by 2 1/2 billion people in the next 30 - 40 years, and the climate is expected to rise. Researchers at North Carolina State University estimate that these changes will require increased productivity by 75% on less land with more resilient crops that withstand heat.

FACT: North Carolina produces more tobacco and sweet potatoes than any other state and ranks second in Christmas tree cash receipts and the production of hogs and turkeys. The state ranks seventh nationally in farm profits with a net farm income of over $3.3 billion. Net income per farm in the state is over $63,000.

To meet these challenges, technology in agriculture is more widespread and important than ever. Examples of today’s technology at work in the agriculture industry includes:

  • Air & soil sensors
  • Equipment telematics
  • Livestock biometrics
  • Crop sensors
  • Drones
  • Rapid iteration selective breeding
  • Agricultural robots
  • Precision agriculture
  • Synthetic biology
  • Vertical farming

FACT: North Carolina is one of the most diversified agriculture states in the nation. The state's 52,200 farmers grow over 80 different commodities, utilizing 8.4 million of the state's 31 million acres to provide a dependable and affordable supply of food and fiber.

197B7361.jpgIn addition to solid infrastructure, access to the latest technological advances, and a diverse agricultural landscape, the state supports agricultural business with a variety of state programs, including:

NC Agricultural Development
& Farmland Preservation Trust Fund

Established in 2005, these monies are used to fund public and private enterprise programs to promote profitable and sustainable family farms with assistance with production, agritourism activities, conservation agreements, and more.

NC Organic Certification Cost Share Program

Growers, handlers and processors are reimbursed 75%, up to $750, the cost of obtaining federal organic certification for each category in which they are certified.

Guides and Manuals

The state provides a step-by-step guide for starting your own food-based business, a guide to fresh NC produce, a NC Seafood Directory, and more.

Agricultural business is an important cog in the engine that drives North Carolina’s economy. For agribusiness of all kinds, the necessary natural and economic resources to thrive are in abundance here in North Carolina.

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