The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.
Today is a special day in North Carolina. It’s the first day of our state fair, marking 147th time we’re celebrating the rich history of North Carolina and pay tribute to our local agriculture.
Farming has always been a major part of North Carolina culture and as the recent Census of Agriculture results showed, our farmers continue to hold one of the leading positions in the nation. In 2012, our state ranked #1 in the United States in poultry and egg sales at more than $4.8 billion. That year there were more than 160 million birds in the state.
We also have a large number swine. In 2012, North Carolina hog farmers had more than $2.8 billion in sales, putting our state in second place with only Iowa farmers selling more that year. We also remain the top producer of tobacco, more than $730 million in sales.
What many people don’t know about North Carolina is that we sell the largest number of Christmas trees of any state on the Eastern seaboard. In 2012, our growers cut nearly 4.3 million Christmas trees. Only Oregon growers cut and sold more trees that year.
Another lesser known fact revealed in the Census was that North Carolina growers also produce a large amount of dried herbs. Out of 15,000 U.S. acres dedicated to these crops in 2012, more than 7,000 were in North Carolina. That year, our growers harvested more than 390,000 pounds of dried herbs.
North Carolina farmers are also making inroads into new developments in agriculture. More than $15 million of our agriculture sales came from organic products. More than 2,500 of our farms also sold value-added products, such as wine, cheese, or jam in 2012.
As you can see, North Carolina farming has a long and proud tradition and a bright future. But don’t just take my word for it. Visit the North Carolina state fair or check out the Census of Agriculture online at www.agcensus.usda.gov.