01/01/12 — County farm receipts grow in 2010, stay fourth in state

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County farm receipts grow in 2010, stay fourth in state

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 1, 2012 1:50 AM

Cash receipts from farming in Wayne County grew by more than $14.5 million in 2010, an increase of 4.3 percent over 2009, according to the state's latest Agricultural Statistics Yearbook.

The growth, from $338,565,242 to $353,118,304, was enough for Wayne County to remain the fourth-leading agricultural county in the state.

Duplin County remains the state's top agricultural county with 2010 cash receipts of slightly over $1 billion -- an increase of $125 million over its 2009 total of $877,469,103. Sampson County remains second with a 2010 total of $921,268,024 up from $843,945,098 in 2009. Union County is third at $409,874,134 down from $423,037,580 in 2009.

Statewide cash receipts from farming grew to more than $9.6 billion in 2010 -- an increase of more than $400 million over the 2009 total. Net farm income in the state reflects income from production in the current year, whether or not sold within the calendar year, rose 18 percent in 2010, to $3.3 billion. The 2010 numbers, which were just released, are the latest available.

Livestock, dairy and poultry accounted for nearly 66 percent of farm cash receipts in the state, while crops made up 34 percent. The state's top commodity was broilers, at $2.6 billion, followed by hogs at $2.2 billion. The top crop continued to be greenhouse and nursery, at nearly $765 million.

The county's growth comes as no surprise to Cooperative Extension Director Kevin Johnson.

"We are usually in the top 10," Johnson said. "That we are fourth doesn't surprise me. In 2007 we were ahead of (third-ranked) Union County, but they have increased their poultry. Union County has a lot of cropland, but its poultry industry is quite extensive. What drives them is their poultry industry.

"I think what makes us really great is that we are very diverse. We have broilers, but we also have turkeys and swine and farmland."

However, higher cash receipts do not necessarily translate into more money in a farmer's pocket, Johnson said.

The cash receipts are driven by higher commodity prices that are fueled in part by speculators, he said.

"Pork prices have increased, but input prices -- corn, soybean prices have doubled," he said. "Don't think the integrators make more money, they could be making less. World markets, world supply and demand, determine the prices."

Johnson said that the commodity prices that have been high for some time are being to slowly drop.

The cash receipts totals also are affected by government payments -- mostly money being paid out through the tobacco buyout program that started 10 years ago. As that program winds down there will be less money and not only just for the farmers since the buyout payments go to the people who own the tobacco quotas, not all of whom are farmers, Johnson said.

Government payments in Wayne County totaled slightly more than $15.1 million in 2009 and almost $17.2 million in 2010.

Other cash receipts in the county include:

• Livestock, dairy and poultry: $248,653,000 in 2010 (sixth) compared to  $203,053,000 in 2009 (seventh)

• Crops: $87,293,000 in 2010 (fifth) compared to $120,407,000 in 2009 (fifth).

Wayne County dropped from 10th to 18th among the state's 100 counties in corn production and from sixth to 13th in soybeans. Tobacco, the county's top cash crop, experienced a slight decline from third to fourth place.

"Corn won't be any better next year and tobacco will be worse," Johnson said. "Soybeans should be up. Cotton will be better, but because there will be more acres."

The county's 2011 corn crop was devastated by drought that claimed approximately 70 percent of the harvest -- a loss of about $11 million.

What had been expected to be a good tobacco crop was hard hit by Hurricane Irene in August. The storm's high winds laid the tobacco plants over making it impossible to harvest by machines.

Farmers rushed to harvest what they could before the wind-bruised plants could prematurely ripen and rot in the fields.

About 60 percent of the crop was lost resulting in an $18 million to $20 million loss.