The Need

Why Farmers?

Small farms are vital to local food security and the state economy

Farming is a Vital Economic Driver: 

  • Revenue from agriculture accounts for 20% of NC state income. 
  • 17% of the NC workforce is employed in agriculture.
  • Annual income of $70 billion makes it the #1 industry in the State. 


The Health of NC Farming is Threatened

The state lost 1 million acres of forestland between 1990 and 2002, three quarters of this loss to urban development. Since 2002, North Carolina has lost more than 6,000 farms and 500,000 acres of farmland. This puts North Carolina in the unenviable position of leading the nation in farm loss.

The percentage of farms reporting net losses has grown from 54% to 58%.


Local Farms Support the Economy

Local markets, by contrast, are a growing industry. The value of direct sales to consumers by NC farmers increased almost 60 percent from 2002 to 2007, and the number of farms selling directly to consumers increased by 21% (data: NASS Census of Agriculture).

Farmers markets are one of the most direct ways that consumers can support local food access and farmer livelihoods.

Source: NC Agricultural and Development Trust Fund

Why Fresh Food?

In the midst of abundance, many North Carolinians lack access to healthy foods


Obesity-Hunger Paradox

North Carolina is one of the top agriculture states in the country, yet ranks second in the nation for the highest food insecurity rate for children under age 5 (24.1 %). (Feeding America, 2007)

While many children go hungry, North Carolina simultaneously ranks 5th in childhood obesity at 19.3%

Among children, obesity is associated with high cholesterol, liver abnormalities, diabetes, and becoming an obese adult.

Over half (65.7%) of all adults in North Carolina are obese or overweight. That is roughly 2 out of every 3 adults. (BRFSS, 2008)

The percentage of NC adults who are overweight or obese is significantly higher for low income and minority populations:

  • 75% of African Americans
  • 69% of Native Americans
  • 62% of Caucasians

Obesity is also associated with higher rates for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, asthma and arthritis.

Healthy local food systems offer a method of supporting farmers and meeting demands for healthy food, benefiting the environment, the economy and public health!