Sampson County – Rooted in Agriculture
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If you’re traveling around Sampson County this time of year it’s pretty obvious our farmers are in peak season for many locally grown commodities. In an agriculturally diverse county like Sampson, that could mean anything from harvesting cabbage, planting sweet potatoes, irrigating corn, loading a trailer of hogs, cattle, or poultry. Across the 604+ thousand acres in Sampson, there is something ag-related going on everywhere you look.
According to the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture, just under 50% of the county is farmed. The average farm size is documented to be 314 acres, up from 273 acres documented in the 2012 census. While the size of Sampson County farms has grown according to the Census, the number of farming operations has decreased by 10%, to 960.
With so much agriculture to surround us, it is also significant to note that Sampson County is the most diverse agricultural county in North Carolina. According to the latest North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services statistics (2017), Sampson ranks #1 in the state’s production of sweet potatoes (*NC ranks #1 in sweet potato production, providing 60% of the US supply) and turkey, fruit and vegetable production, #2 in pork, #3 in soybeans, #5 in cattle, #6 in corn, #8 in broilers and cotton, and #9 in eggs. Sampson ranks second in the state in total cash receipts of agricultural products, with a total of $796 million, being the second largest county in cash receipts for crops and livestock at $162.9 million, and $796.3 million respectively. Cash receipts are the total amount of crops and livestock sold in a calendar year, according to the USDA Economic Research Service.
Why is Sampson County such a great place to farm? Did you know that Farm Futures Magazine once ranked Sampson the “Best place to farm in the US”? It could be that we have better than a seven-month growing season, due to our mild temperatures, and an average rainfall of 49 inches/year (this past year has certainly been an exception!). Add this up with more than 300,000 acres in farmland, 13 different soil types, the right topography, and you have the components to success. Top that with our dedicated, innovative, hard-working farmers, along with a host of industry support businesses and employees across this great county, and you’ve got the answer. Did you know that 53% of our county’s employment is linked to agriculture?
So, the next time you take a drive through the second largest county in the state (Robeson county is largest with 607,208 acres), take pride in knowing that the land connecting these Sampson County roads provides food and fiber to our great state, our nation, and our world. If we add our size, diversity of commodities, and economic impact through farming, that makes us the greatest “agricultural” county in North Carolina.
Be sure to join us as we celebrate agriculture this fall at Sampson County Ag Day! Our date changed a few times due to Coronavirus, but we are back on track and planning the best Ag Day ever on Saturday, October 30, 2021. More details and updates can be found by visiting our Ag Day webpage or by calling the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Sampson County Center at 910-592-7161.
*Farm Flavor. Facts in this article were compiled from 2019 North Carolina Agricultural Statistics, NCDA&CS and USDA NASS.