Top Crops and Livestock


What is this?

This measure uses data from the the National Agriculture Statistical Service and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services 2009 County Summary report, ranking crops and livestock produced in each county in North Carolina. We provide information on the total land in each of the top crops and the number of heads of the top livestock in comparison to vegetables, potatoes, and melons harvested for fresh market in each county in the Triangle region.

Why does this matter?
The top crops and livestock provide an indicator of what major commodity products are being produced in the Triangle and likely exported in comparison to vegetables, potatoes, and melons that are harvested for fresh market. Inventorying local production has important implications for establishing a baseline of the current agriculture land use is used for major commodity production compared to land used for local production.


What does it show?

Table 1. Acres used in 2007 for the top crops and number of heads for the top livestock in the Triangle region. Source: North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services and the National Agriculture Statistical Service (2010)
TopCropsLivestock3.JPG
In the Triangle, land used for crop production is primarily in soybeans (86,200 acres) and hay (57,500 acres) although there is significant acreage in wheat (24,400 acres), corn for grain (17,200 acres), and tobacco (16,600 acres). Hay and corn for grain are not grown for human consumption, while tobacco is but provides no nutritional value. Hay, corn for grain, and a significant portion of soybeans will provide food for livestock. People will consume the remaining soybeans and wheat but it is likely that these crops are shipped outside of the Triangle for processing, only to be shipped back to the Triangle for consumption.

Livestock production is primarily in broilers (42,000,000 heads), turkeys (798,000 heads), hogs and pigs (190,300 heads), cattle and calves (73,700 heads), beef cows (32,300 heads) and milk cows (2,000 heads). It is unknown precisely how much of this meat stays local but there is a good deal of meat produced locally that would help feed a significant portion of the Triangle’s population.

Vegetables, potatoes, and melons harvested for local market make up a much smaller amount of local agriculture production compared to the major commodities (10,567 acres compared to 201,900 acres). It is likely that a only small portion of the livestock is consumed locally so significant amount of the land used to raise livestock is likely for commodity production.

Limitations and Further Research

The top crops and livestock in the Triangle provides insight into the the amount of land used and the unit volume of the major commodities market compared to the fresh market. While the land used for the top crops and the number of heads of the top livestock provide a good indication of the the major commodity market and the vegetables, potatoes, and melons harvested for fresh market provides a good indicator of the local market the, data are from different data sources and should be interpreted as a coarse measure comparing food for local consumption to use in a major commodity market. Developing a method for inventorying local production needs to be established to rigorously compare local production to major commodity production.

Authors and Reviewers

Authors:: Kevin Bigsby, Aimee Schmidt and Elina Inkilainen

Reviewers:: Tandy Jones, Director of Special Projects, Triangle Land Conservancy
Nancy Creamer, Director of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, North Carolina State University

Technical Notes

Data gathered from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service reports is available online (http://www.ncagr.gov/stats/codata/index.htm - downloaded March, 2010). In this report, the rank of each crop and livestock (as compared to other counties in NC) is provided for each county. We selected the top 3 crops and the top 2 livestock ranked for each county and present that information.

Date on the vegetables, potatoes, and melons harvested for fresh market were gathered from the National Agriculture Statistical Service is available online (http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2007/Full_Report/Volume_1,_Chapter_2_County_Level/North_Carolina/ncv1.txt).

Crops inventoried by North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services include (1) barley, (2) corn for grain, (3) cotton, (4) hay, (5) Irish potatoes, (6) oats, (7) peanuts, (8) sorghum, (9) soybeans, (10) sweet potatoes, (11) tobacco, (12) wheat, and (13) nursery, greenhouse, and floriculture. Livestock includes (1) broilers produced, (2) cattle, (3) beef cows, (4) milk cows, (5) chickens, excluding broilers, (6) hogs and pigs, and (7) turkeys. Data was from 2008.

Here is the spreadsheet containing the data: