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Family farms fading

Posted October 23, 2008 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated October 23, 2008 6:22 p.m. EDT

— 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.