Topics include farmland preservation, improved marketing efforts, economic growth and sustainable agriculture initiatives
Three local land trusts, Catawba Lands Conservancy, Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina and The Land Trust for Central North Carolina, are partnering to host the “Farming for the Piedmont’s Future: A Regional Farmland Preservation & Agricultural Development Forum” on Dec. 1.
This regional forum will bringing together county officials, planners, leaders and farmers to share information and ideas, and discuss issues affecting the future of farming in a 11-county Piedmont region of North Carolina. The counties of focus include Alexander, Cabarrus, Catawba, Cleveland, Davie, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Rowan, Union and Mecklenburg.
How to improve marketing efforts in the 24hr information age, writing successful business plans, and understanding local and state policies that support agriculture will be among the topics of the information sessions.
According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, there are more than 52,000 farms in the state, of which 8,471 are within this 11-county region. The gross annual income from the sale of crops, livestock, and livestock products in North Carolina in 2010 was $9.6 billion, of which $1 billion in sales were from within the 11-county region. North Carolina ranks first in the country for the production of tobacco and sweet potatoes, and second for items including Christmas tree receipts, turkeys and fresh strawberries.
“It’s so vital that we continue these conservation efforts because local farming is a rich and important part of our heritage, our way of life and an important aspect of sustainability,” said Tom Okel, executive director of Catawba Lands Conservancy. “To make a farming preservation impact locally, we have to think regionally. And we have to act quickly, too, to save farmlands so that they continue to be a viable industry for future generations. That’s why this partnership with our regional land trusts to support this farm forum is so important.”