06/16/14 — Crops make an impact

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Crops make an impact

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 16, 2014 1:46 PM

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Vinson Price carefully checks heads of wheat to make sure the kernels are dry enough to be picked. Recently, afternoon showers have put the moisture rate on the borderline for some local farmers, but after a few dry days, they will begin harvesting the grain.

Agriculture and agribusiness had a $1.035 billion economic impact on Wayne County in 2012, up from $763 million in 2007. Agriculture and related businesses accounted for 8,916 jobs -- a 20.5 percent share of total county employment.

Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2012 Census of Agriculture ranks Wayne County third in the state in the market value of agricultural products sold at $577,224,000.

"Wow," said Wayne County Commissioner Bill Pate, chairman of the board's Agriculture Advisory Committee.

Pate said he was struck that the economic impact value not only increased by more than $200,000, but that the number of farms had decreased.

That shows that more is being produced per farmer, he said.

According to the census, the number of farms in Wane County decreased by 22 percent, from 723 in 2007 to 563.

However, the average farm size increased by 40 percent, from 242 acres in 2007 to 340 acres in 2012.

"It shows that apparently education in agriculture is working," he said. "I don't think people really realize the huge impact that it has in this county. It is unbelievable in my mind."

The latest figures will greatly bolster the county's efforts to build a $12 million regional agriculture center, he said. Those efforts will include the search for public and private funding.

"When we go to those people whom we hope will donate to the cause, which will be small growers up to large growers, to help be part of this because it is part of their future and part of Wayne County's future and agribusiness," Pate said.

Pate said he thinks the figures also will carry a "lot of weight" with state officials. The county has asked the state to convey the old state-owned dairy near Cherry Hospital as the site for the center.

Also, local legislation has been introduced the state Senate seeking a $3 million appropriation for the project.

The economic impact data was compiled by well-known N.C. State University economist Dr. Mike Walden from data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Commerce and North Carolina-based IMPLAN LLC that provides economic analysis data and tools for its customers.

The $577,224,000 in market value of agricultural products sold, up from $501,176,000 in 2007, include $158,348,000 in crops including nursery and greenhouse (second in the state) and $418,876,000 in livestock, poultry and their products (third in the state).

Duplin County leads the state with market value of agricultural products sold at $1,276,421,000 (up nine percent from $1,176,272,000 in 2007) followed by Sampson County at $1,258,793,000 (up five percent from $1,196,332,000 in 2007).

Duplin ranks seventh in crops including nursery and greenhouses at $133,773,000 and first in livestock, poultry and their products at $1,142,648,000.

Sampson is first in crops including nursery and greenhouses at $223,102,000 and second in livestock, poultry and their products at $1,035,690,000.

Other local rankings in market value of agricultural products sold are Lenoir County, sixth at $312,368,000; Greene County, ninth at $273,977,000; Johnston County, 10th at $265,179,000; Pitt County, 13th at $215,908,000 and Wilson County, 22nd at $179,632,000.

Wayne County ranks:

* 2nd in tobacco, $51,930,000

* 3rd in hogs and pigs, $218,337,000

* 5th in fruits, tree nuts and berries, figures withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual operations; poultry and eggs, $196,128,000

* 6th in grains, oilseeds, dry beans and dry peas, $63,023,000; aquaculture (including fish, aquatic plants, crustaceans and mollusks), 1,125,000

* 8th in vegetables, melons, potatoes and sweet potatoes, $12,339,000.

Top crop items by acres are:

* 3rd in soybeans for beans, 64,945; wheat for grain, all, 39,167; winter wheat for grain, figures withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual operations

* 9th in corn for grain, 22,327

* 13th in cotton, all, 15,985.

Top livestock inventory items by number are:

* 4th in turkeys, 1,560,897; hogs and pigs, 637,481

* 15th in pullets for laying flock replacement, 127,588

* 17th in broilers and other meat-type chickens, 2,774,753

* 26th in layers, 82,855.

North Carolina ranks eighth in the nation with an annual market value of agricultural products sold of $12,588,142,000 (up by 22 percent from $10,313,628,000 in 2007).

It ranks first in tobacco, $732,772,000 and in poultry and eggs, $4,837,026,000.

The state ranks second in the country in cut Christmas trees and short rotation woody crops at $67,097,000 and in hogs and pigs at $2,873,988,000.