Data collected for the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture has recently been publicized, and as expected, Sampson County is still leading in a multitude of areas. As we are fully into the harvest season, I thought it might be interesting to take a moment to review where we rank in North Carolina, as well as nationally. In some areas we can also compare how things have changed from the previous census, taken in 2007.
Sampson county census data reveals that we now have 1067 farms, an 11% decrease from the 1203 reported in 2007. However, the average farm size has grown from 267 to 273 acres, but total farmland in the county has reduced 9%, from 321,454 acres to 291,635.
The economic impact and market value of products sold in Sampson has increased by 5% to $1,258,793,000. This ranks us 2nd in the state in agricultural products sold, with livestock and poultry being 82% of our total agricultural market and the remaining 18% in crops. However, our crop production leads the state, while we rank #2 in livestock and poultry (9% lower than Duplin County). Sampson’s total market value of agricultural products is just 1% less than Duplin, trailing by $17,628,000.
According to the 2012 census, Sampson now ranks #1 in the following:
Vegetable, melon, potato, and sweet potato sales (NC)
Turkeys (inventory, NC and US)
Hogs and pigs (inventory, NC and US)
The 2012 Ag Census data was compiled from 1067 farming operators, with 589 reporting farming as their primary occupation. The average age of our farmers is 56 years. For more details and comparisons within the census data, I encourage you to visit the website at www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2012/. As always, if we can be of service and provide more information, feel free to visit us at www.sampson.ces.ncsu.edu or call 910-592-7161.
(Editor’s note: Eileen Coite is the Director of the Sampson County Extension Center.)