Agriculture continues to have a major presence in Yadkin County, although, as with most of Piedmont North Carolina, the number of farms and the number of farmers continue to decline rapidly. The number of acres farmed and the number of cropland acres harvested, though, has shown only modest declines over the past twenty years. Nearly half the county’s land acres are still classified as farm, with much of the remainder as rural non-farm. As commercial farms have increased in size and economic value, farming as a way of life has given way to agriculture as a business, with relatively large investments in land, equipment, and other purchased inputs. Yadkin does, however, continue to support a large number of hobby farms or rural residences where the income from the farm is not a major component in continued use of the land, as shown by the latest Census of Agriculture data.
The 1997 (latest) Census of Agriculture shows Yadkin County with 884 farms on 101,838 acres. One hundred nineteen farms (top 13%) in the county had more than $100,000 in gross sales for the year; this group produced sixty percent of all agricultural sales. The smallest, by income produced, quarter of Yadkin County farms (actually 27%) produced less than one half of one percent of total sales. Total agricultural sales for the year were reported at slightly more than $50 million, and because of the local nature of sales and agriculture, most economists use a multiplier of four when discussing the value of these sales to the community’s economy. Estimated value of land and buildings for the county’s average farm of 115 acres was $269,462 with an additional $39,458 per farm of equipment, priced at market value. This totals more than $272 million worth of agricultural assets.
Flue cured tobacco, still grown on slightly less than three thousand acres (2001) in Yadkin, continues to be the largest single producer of agricultural income, although if all poultry and poultry products are lumped together, that total figure is of greater value. Poultry continues to increase in numbers in the county, both by expansion of existing operations and by the addition of new producers to the company rosters. All poultry are a part of the vertically integrated production and marketing system, as is our single large, swine facility. A large number of producers have some beef cattle, with fewer numbers owning goats or sheep. There are numerous pleasure horses. Dairy members (1997) were listed as 22, and declining. In addition to tobacco; corn soybeans, small grains, hay crops, and pastures completed the majority of farm enterprises. There are small acreages of fruits and vegetables, nursery crops, berries, and lately, grapes.
1999 Estimates of Farm Sales for Yadkin County:
Flue Cured Tobacco $13,220,379
Other grains $941,325
Fruits & Vegetables $795,858
Greenhouse & Nursery$1,170,000
Hay, other $227,500
Farm Forest $4,285,890
Poultry, Eggs $13,264,840
Other livestock $45,530
Government Payments $1,588.724
Non Farm – Forest$31,569
Land owners and prospective purchasers continue to seek ways to farm profitably in Yadkin, both by increasing size of traditional agricultural enterprises, and by alternative enterprises that have the possibility of greater value added per acre. Some farms will continue to be operated as hobbies or as the traditional “way of life”, supported by off farm jobs or other income sources. The value of the county’s rural setting to current residents, prospective buyers, and county visitors alike, although difficult to quantify, is a constant in any discussion of land use, tourism, or just as a “nice place to live.”
The North Carolina Tobacco Plant – Pilot Mountain