As we conclude our series on alternative crops in the Carolinas, Commissioners Troxler and Weathers weigh in on what alternative crops mean to their respective states. NC AG Commissioner Steve Troxler says having such a diverse ag economy is a point of pride:
“When you have such a diverse agricultural economy as we do in NC, it lends itself for the opportunity for success in a lot of different areas. One time we were almost totally focused on tobacco in NC, and the agricultural economy rose and sank on that economy. But now with all the things that we do in NC, and how diverse we are, it’s a leveling effect for the economy and one that lends itself to growth.
The tobacco buy out nine years ago has had a lot to do with it. But we had gotten in to doing a lot of diverse thing in NC before then. The rise in the pork industry in NC actually started before the buy out. We have grown these industries over time because of the resources that are available to us here in NC.
We rank in the top five in the country in several livestock and row crops. One of them happens to be trout. Who would think that NC would be ranked so highly? But we are because we have those good resources. Look at strawberries, blue berries, Christmas trees, a lot of different specialty crops that we have really gotten good at. That is value added for the Ag economy.”
South Carolina Ag Commissioner Hugh Weathers explains that alternative crops in the Palmetto State have had a focus on direct marketing in many areas:
“We have some diversification going on in both of those categories. It’s not the same old agriculture anymore.
The green industry is now our third category of crop revenue, it’s suffered a bit lately with the housing recession, so some of our farmers have retooled a bit, and so we may see some of those acreages come back. Things like sod will see better days ahead.
Fruits and vegetable producers are also benefiting from the local movement. Also, not only with direct marketing, like farmers and road side markets, where you have your traditional fruits and vegetables. But now you have farmers who are taking the marketing aspect one step further and doing the CSAs, selling their production before the season starts.”
North Carolina ag commissioner Steve Troxler and South Carolina Ag Commissioner Hugh Weathers
For more from our alternative crops series, click here