why local for Goldsboro and WFI
Goldsboro AG video – check it out!!
Wayne County has a very strong agricultural history and its residents have a growing interest in the production and consumption of local sustainably produced foods. We have 25 commercial horticulture farms (includes vegetable, orchard, specialty herb and berry production), nearly 550 commercial animal or animal product farms (approximately 180 cattle producer, 100 goat producers, 250 hog producers, one goat cheese farm, and one honey producer), and nearly 150 farms dedicated to commercial commodity crops.
However, Wayne County, and North Carolina as a whole, face significant challenges that can be met and resolved by rebuilding the diminishing agriculture system in Wayne County and making sustainably raised, fresh foods accessible and available to all. In 2005, NC lost 1,000 farms, tying Florida and Tennessee for fist place in the nation (U.S. Department of Agriculture). Agriculture employs 17% of North Carolina’s workforce and contributes $68 billion to the economy (NC Agriculture Commission). In Wayne County, the agriculture and agribusiness food industry represents 21% of county revenues, approximately $648 million (Howard Scott, Wayne County Extension Director). Nearly 20% of Wayne County residents get their income from agriculture, and we rank third for total cash receipts (NCDA&CS, 2005). Our county is positioned fourth in the state for hog and pig production and third for turkey production (NCDA&CS, 2006). While agriculture is very important to the county, Wayne County residents still do not have adequate farmers’ markets to directly purchase locally grown produce from growers.
Unfortunately, Wayne County is following the national trends of diminishing number of farms. The average of farmers in NC is now 57 years, and fewer young people are willing or able to take over family farm enterprises. Nationally, the number of entry-level farmers replacing retiring farmers dropped 30% in the last fifteen years (Center for Rural Affairs). In Wayne County, the average age of farmers is 54 and increasing. According to the 1987 Census of Agriculture, there were 971 farms in Wayne County. By the 2002 census, the number of farms dropped to 722. This census also reported that immigrants are the fastest growing sector of farmers today, and Hispanic farmers are the fastest growing demographic group of new farmers in the country. The number of Hispanic farmers increased by 50% between 1997 and 2002 (from 33,340 to 50,000) (US census, 2002). In Wayne County, 6.6% of residents are Hispanic, and many have come from agricultural backgrounds. While many may have experience in various aspects of agriculture, they face many challenges trying to become farmers and landowners in the US. These numbers support that farmers from traditionally underserved populations are repeatedly at greatest risk and seem least likely to retain family farms or choose farming as a career path.
In addition to farm and farmer losses, the city of Goldsboro and surrounding rural areas in Wayne County face significant general economic and social challenges. Approximately 51% of the population in Goldsboro is African American and 43% is Caucasian. The median family income is $34,000 (national average is $48,201) and only 38% of the population own the homes in which they live (versus a national average of 62.4%). Wayne County at large has a population of 114,000 and is 74% Caucasian and 26% African American. The median family income in the county is $39,500, and 65% of the population own the homes in which they live. Both Wayne County and the city of Goldsboro have poverty rates that are well above the national average: 19.2% for Goldsboro and 17.2% for Wayne County (U.S. Census Bureau). We believe access to healthy food should be available to all residents.
The economic impact on Wayne County if local food purchases increased just 1% in the next year would result in over 4million dollars in food expenditures and over 6.5million in overall economic impact. see attached chart for figures This is above and beyond the huge social benefits a strengthened local, sustainable food system would bring to the farmers and residents in Wayne County.