RALEIGH — At a May 19 event ahead of the annual Got To Be NC Festival in Raleigh, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced that the economic impact of agriculture and agribusiness in the state has risen from $92.9 billion last year to over $103.2 billion this year.
Agriculture is North Carolina’s top industry and accounts for one fifth of the state’s workforce.
NC Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Dr. Sandy Stewart delivered the news at the event as Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler was unexpectedly called away.
“When I took office in 2005, the economic impact of agriculture and agribusiness was $59 billion and $100 billion seemed like a good goal to work toward. In 2016, I made a prediction that North Carolina’s agriculture and agribusiness industry would soon reach $100 billion,” Troxler said in a press release. “I’m proud to say that we’ve reached that goal and surpassed last year’s economic impact by more than 11%. Reaching this milestone is a big accomplishment for everyone in agriculture and agribusiness and proves how much we can accomplish when we are all pulling together.”
Troxler’s statement said that the over $103 billion economic impact figures were from N.C. State economist and professor emeritus Dr. Mike Walden.
The figures use the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics and reflect the state’s economic value of growing, processing and delivering food, natural fiber and forestry products.
“We are blessed to have a strong, resilient, and engaged agriculture community that includes farmers, agribusiness owners, commodity associations, agricultural associations and effective leadership in the North Carolina General Assembly,” Troxler said. “I can assure you we will set new goals and keep North Carolina agriculture growing.”
Speakers included Interim NC State University CALS Dean John Dole, incoming CALS Dean Garey Fox, NC A&T State University College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Associate Dean Antoine Alston, NC Farm Bureau President Shawn Harding, and NC Grange President Jimmy Gentry. Both Sen. Brent Jackson (R-Sampson) and Rep. Jimmy Dixon (R-Duplin) were also on hand to deliver remarks and congratulations.
A theme among all of the speakers was that of the partnerships built between research, agribusiness, lawmakers, and farmers. Several of the speakers highlighted the importance of the family farm and of small farms, referring to them as the “foundation” and “backbone” of the state’s agricultural industry.
Following the economic impact announcement there was an event celebrating N.C. Forever Farms, which are farms that have a permanent conservation easement.