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Ag Commissioner Sows Seeds for Farm Support

Posted February 19, 2007

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— North Carolina farmers and their farmland are losing the battle with growth, according to a state report released Monday.

The state had 1,000 fewer farms last year than in 2005 -- that ranks as the most nationwide -- and the state lost 3,000 farms in 2004.

State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said the General Assembly needs to make farm support a higher priority in state budgets. State support would help preserve working farms and protect farmland from development, he said.

"We've got to try to give them a choice -- the choice to stay in business, to bring another generation of farmers to the farm and to make sure that this country can feed itself," Troxler said.

Any state aid would come too late for Dan Andrews, whose family raised tobacco on a Harnett County farm just outside Fuquay-Varina for five generations.

Just over a year ago, Andrews gave up the life of a tobacco farmer to become an entrepreneur. He closed down the farm and turned the into the Drake Landing Hunting Preserve.

The move capitalized on his love of hunting. The former farm now offers hunting tours and a clay pigeon shooting course for outdoor enthusiasts. It also keeps the land in his family's hands.

"The toughest thing I've ever done in my life is sit down and show my father the numbers on what we were making off a crop of tobacco," Andrews said. "After he looked at them, he said, 'Son, you have no choice.'">

Troxler said he know he has a tough sell -- even with a budget surplus last year, the farm trust fund didn't get a dime in state money.
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  • Haygrower Feb 19, 2007

    WRAL we need more news coverage on saving the farms in NC

  • Haygrower Feb 19, 2007

    THanks to our cty commissioners in wake cty concrete is destroying our country way of life if you try to talk to commissioner Joe Bryan about the preservation of the family farm he doesn't want to here it neither does Tony Gurley they will tell you they love development-MR.Troxler we need help bad here in wake county because we have no politicians in office who care about the country all they see is that green back dollar as they snuggle to their developer friends-they could at least follow the Johnston cty example in keeping the heavy growth around and inside the city limits.Help desperate to keep a little country in Wake CTY.

  • Fuquay Resident Feb 19, 2007

    Yea, Mr Andrews turned his farm into a hunting preserve. Now it's like living in the hood. All weekend long starting at 6 AM, all I hear is gun shots. BANG! BANG! BANG! all day all weekend long. Everyday on my way home when I drive by his place, I roll my window down and tell the ducks to "Fly away, fly away, they're going to shoot you" but they don't listen. The ducks are trained to fly from one pond to the other and then hunters are in the flight path and shoot them down. Maybe he'll put some fish in a barrel and let people shoot them too or put some deer in a pen for people to shoot.

  • rand321 Feb 19, 2007

    I am still suprised by the little support that the NCDA provides for sustainable and organic farmer. With the increase in organic food consumption and other humane/sustainable projects, coupled with by local, one would think the higher margins would help the smaller farms to make up for the lost tobacco revenue.

    Having more local produce, cage free poultry and eggs would be a major plus for North Carolinans. They should also be able to find markets in the northeast once again.