Local News

N.C. farmers remain on shaky financial ground

Posted November 23, 2009 5:00 p.m. EST
Updated November 23, 2009 6:16 p.m. EST

— A combination of oversupply of product, the down economy and feed prices driven up by ethanol production have many farmers on shaky ground, North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler said.

“That is a cinder block around the neck of our pork industry and poultry industry and the dairy industry when they're trying to keep their heads above water,” Troxler said.

Earlier this month, Coharie Farms, the pork production company owned by the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Lauch Faircloth, filed for bankruptcy protection.

In a written statement, the company cited two years of losses attributed to the recession, fears about H1N1 when it was called the swine flu, and high feed prices driven by demand for corn in ethanol production.

Bryant Worley, a poultry farmer in Princeton, said he has felt the effects.

“Our income is down, but we’re weathering the storm,” Worley said Monday.

Troxler said this is the shakiest time he’s seen for farmers since he took office in 2005. Reducing the oversupply of animal products is a key first step in solving the problem, he said.

Troxler and others have been trying to convince lawmakers to tap into North Carolina pork, poultry and dairy products to help feed those in need through programs like WIC (Women, Infants and Children), a federal program designed to provide food to low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women and infants and children under 5 years old.

“We haven't been able to get Congress to bite into this, to understand the dire need that's out here,” Troxler said.

For now, farmers like Worley plan to keep pushing forward.

“We're going to put our shoulder down and we'll get through this,” Worley said.