Resource Highlight: Updated Local Farms and Food Profiles
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Agriculture matters in North Carolina. What does that look like? North Carolina’s agricultural industry, including food, fiber, and forestry, contributes $91.9 billion to the state’s economy, accounting for more than 17 percent of the state’s income, and employs 17 percent of the workforce.¹ Not all farms looks the same though, North Carolina is one of the most diversified agricultural states in the nation. The state’s 46,418 farmers grow over 80 different commodities, utilizing 8.4 million of the state’s 31 million acres to provide consumers with a dependable and affordable supply of food and fiber. Farmers use the income generated from their products to cover costs associated with land, equipment, labor, and other costs of running a business. The state ranks eighth nationally in Total Market Value of Agricultural Products Sold and the net income per farm in the state is over $86,645.
What does that mean on the county level? Consider one example: When school systems purchase food from local farmers, students benefit from access to healthy fresh produce, farmers benefit from sales into local schools, and the community benefits because these local sales are spent at other local businesses. This type of local business opportunity keeps farms in production, maintaining North Carolina’s agricultural asset base both in terms of land and farming know-how. And it keeps dollars spent on food circulating among other local businesses.
To provide a snapshot of the importance of agriculture on the county level, the N.C. Cooperative Extension Local Food Program Team, NC State FarmLink, and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) created an infographic for each county based on a comparison of 2012 and 2017 USDA Agriculture Census data. Visit the CEFS website for the current and previous set of county profiles (2007-2012).
This Local Food and Farms infographic helps economic developers, planners, local food advocates, and community members to understand the impact of their county and region to the overall NC agricultural economic impact. The economic indicators provided here can help local governments as they design ways to support agricultural businesses as key components of vibrant and resilient, local and rural economies. Each region in North Carolina presents a unique set of opportunities for sustainable economic growth and entrepreneurship. To help start the conversation, we created discussion points for the local farms and food profiles and recorded a webinar highlighting how to access and discuss the data points. The data is organized in easy shapes to make it easy to pull screenshots for presentations and conversations.
¹Net Cash Farm Income of the Operations and Producers: 2017 and 2012
This post was written by: Hannah Dankbar, Laura Lauffer, and Noah Ranells