Family farms fading

Posted October 23, 2008

— Though some family farms have been in operation for more than a century, the state has seen a downturn in the number of farms in operation in recent years.

More than a million acres of farmland have been lost over the past 12 years. Several years ago, North Carolina led the nation in the number of farms lost.

“Young people haven’t been coming back to the farm,” Troxler said. “(What) worries me probably more than anything else (is) that 10, 15 years down the road we won’t have people out here to do the farming,” N.C. Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said.

Farmer Fred Burt said his family got a land grant for their farm in 1750.

“I’m the eighth generation and my son who’s getting ready to take over is going to be the ninth generation,” Burt said.

Burt was among the family farmers honored on Thursday at the N.C. State Fair.

He points to rising fuel and fertilizer costs for driving some people out of the industry.

Farm land is also an easy target for development, which has been another reason for the state’s loss in farm acreage.

In 2005 the state created a grant program to help farmers keep their land.

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  • The Gooch Oct 24, 2008

    Thank you to WRAL for this article. There are few topics more relevant than where and how we obtain our food. Brightly lit supermarkets with colorful packaging have become the norm. This, unfortunately, makes it all too easy to forget that someone somewhere grew or tended to what ends up on our plates. During and after the 1950s farming became industrialized and mechanized allowing more food to be produced by fewer farmers. This also brought the need for more chemical fertilizers and herbicides to tend these massive farms. If over-used these end up destroying the soil and polluting nearby streams and rivers. Ostensibly, with fewer people needing to farm the rest of society is “freed” to pursue more important vocations. But honestly, what does it say about us when feeding and clothing the world is something we’re trying to escape; something we're too good for? So, thank you to every farmer for everything that you do. We literally could not live without you.