Succeeding to Farm Another Year

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It’s been a pretty good spring so far, with near-ideal weather for many farmers across the state. Farmers are hoping their good fortunes continue into summer and fall. Actually, that’s an understatement – they are praying for it, they are depending on it and they certainly need it!

Farming is a way of life, but for the farmers and ranchers who go to work on the farm every day, it’s an occupation where they must earn a profit to continue.

A farm is not only a farm, it is a very capital-intensive business. A farmer has many investments – equipment, buildings, employees, plants, crop support products and, not the least of all, their long hours of hard work and faith

in a good harvest ahead or healthy animals. Farming is expensive, risky work, but with good conditions, a good crop and good prices, a farmer can succeed to farm for another year.

Who among us doesn’t enjoy seeing the beautiful pastures and rows of crops along our roads as we travel the state this time of year? And of course, we all enjoy and require the bounty of food those farms offer us efficiently and affordably. As of 2017, each farmer in America was able to feed an average of 165 people. Our quality of life is tied to the state’s abundance of farms that feed us, host us and offer us beautiful spaces. Those fields and green spaces are good for our environment, too – cropland and forests offer buffers and a means for rainwater to recharge aquifers. And farms are good for local economies, as they boost their local tax bases without demanding much in the way of municipal services. The list of reasons why we need all our farms goes on and on.

But if a farmer can’t make a profit, we lose those benefits, piece by piece, farm by farm.

To profit, a farmer needs a buyer – that’s why access to markets at home and across the world is so important; a farmer needs affordability – that’s why input costs, which can be driven up through regulation and restrictions, must remain reasonable; and a farmer needs land – that’s why appropriate taxation matters.

The year 2018 ended with many farmers in the red, despite their best efforts. Hurricane Florence arrived just when many farm goods were ready to sell, and the storms put farms in their paths underwater. Farmers have faced uncertainty from numerous angles, and like any other businesses, they suffer a great loss without a clear path forward. Selling the farm was the only option for some. When a farm business closes and the land is sold for development, which is often the case in our growing state, it’s gone for good. When that happens, we all lose.

– Larry Wooten

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