Every day, just about anywhere you travel across Sampson County, the magnitude of agriculture is around us. With fall here it is even more evident, tractors and combines active in the fields, harvesting, planting, plowing, picking, baling, irrigating, etc. It is a way of life here. Something that is such a huge part of our community, and the heritage of this county.
Recently I had the opportunity to dig deeper into just how huge agriculture is in Sampson County. Looking at the individual commodities and what our county produces and contributes on the state and national level is amazing. Impressive to say the least!
Let’s take a moment to review just where our county, our farmers and the many thousands of folks who work in the Sampson County agricultural community compare in our state and national ag. statistics. I think you will certainly be impressed. Exactly where do we stand you ask? Lets look at the 2012 Agricultural Statistics, compiled and provided by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
Here is where we rank within the top 10 in various agricultural commodities:
1- tobacco, turkeys, fruits and vegetables
2- swine, sweet potatoes & hay
4- soybeans & green industry
5- cattle & wheat
If you add this all up, we are by far the most diverse agricultural county in North Carolina. According to these statistics, the agricultural industry in Sampson County generates over one billion dollars in agricultural commodities annually, which is almost 22% of what the entire state produces!
Why is Sampson County so well suited to farming? It might be because there are over 600 thousand acres in the county, and 53% of this land is suitable for and being used for farming. There are more acres of farmland in Sampson County than any other county in North Carolina. We have the right land for farming, with thirteen different soil types, a long growing season, temperate climate, adequate rainfall, and gently rolling topography. When you put this formula together along with industry leaders of livestock, poultry, and crops within our county, it allows for tremendous diversification of all agricultural commodities. If you add forestry to the mix and the 300 thousand acres involved, now we are talking 87% of the county.
If you live in Sampson County, you are impacted by agriculture in some way. Whether it is the vegetables you bought at the farmers market, the job you have at Smithfield Foods or Prestage Farms, the gas you delivered to a tobacco farm, the pair of jeans or t-shirt you wear made of cotton, the hamburgers or chicken you grilled last night, or that sausage, egg and cheese biscuit for breakfast this morning. The list goes on and on and on.
Thank you Sampson County agricultural workers, farmers, managers, leaders, and supporters, young and old. You are what makes this great county who we are.
Editor’s note: Eileen Coite is the County Director with the Sampson County Extension Office.