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2012 Census of Agriculture Shows Dramatic Increase in NC Crop Sales

From ASAP’s Local Food Research Center:

Today the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a preliminary report of the long awaited 2012 Census of Agriculture. Though county-level data is still to come, state-level data for North Carolina reveals interesting new trends.

Foremost among these developments is the growth in crop sales. Sales of crops–including nursery and greenhouse products–jumped a dramatic 65 percent between 2007 and 2012 from $10.3 billion to $12.6 billion. In fact, the increase accounts for over 75 percent of the $2.2 billion increase in total value of agricultural products sold in North Carolina in 2012 over 2007 sales. This jump was unique as changes in crop sales from year to year fluctuated relatively little (an average of 30 percent) between the five preceding censuses from 1987 to 2007.

This growth in crop sales is reflected at the national level. According to a press release from the USDA, “In 2012, crop sales of $212.4 billion exceeded livestock sales of $182.2 billion. This occurred for only the second time in Census history; the other time was 1974.” Nationally, crop sales increased 48 percent from 2007 to 2012 while livestock sales only increased 19 percent. We will not know the reasons for these historic changes to crop sales until the full report is released.

Other significant North Carolina findings include a decrease in both farms and farmland. North Carolina lost 2,703 farms and 62,560 acres of farmland between 2007 and 2012. The rate of farm loss in our state exceeded the rate of national loss in farms. The largest losses in farms in North Carolina occurred among farms 50 acres or smaller, who made up 60 percent of all farm losses. Still, these smaller farms continue to make up the backbone of North Carolina farming, representing 48 percent of all farms in the state.

Also of note, farming as a full time occupation is on the rise in North Carolina. In 2007, 46 percent of farmers reported that their primary occupation was farming. The new 2012 Census shows that nearly half (49 percent) of North Carolina farmers are farming full time.

What other insights will ASAP’s Local Food Research Center uncover within the 2012 Census data? Be sure to stay tuned for all of the details!

To discover more about the USDA Census of Agriculture visit their website.

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