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Saving Wilson County farmland: Agriculture survey focuses on viability, profitability

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension office is looking for input on creation of an agricultural development plan for Wilson County.

The Wilson County Agricultural Development Plan will provide a strategy to increase awareness of opportunities and appreciation of agriculture and forestry.

The plan is being developed as part of a grant from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund and will be administered by the University of Mount Olive.

Norman Harrell, director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension office in Wilson County, said the effort to develop a plan for the county was at the request of his predecessor, Walter Earle.

According to Sandra Maddox, director of the Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center at the university, more than half of North Carolina’s 100 counties already have an agricultural development and farmland preservation plan.

“We actually have three different surveys,” Maddox said. “One is for farmers. One is for agribusiness owners and one is for non-farm residents. We are interested in what the perceptions of Wilson County residents are about agriculture and the impact that it has on the county, so we really encourage that they take the survey.”

Maddox said a concern is the loss of land for farmland in North Carolina, which is one of the top states in the nation for farmland loss due to development and population growth.

The effort is to keep farms and farmland in production and to keep them viable and profitable.

Maddox said the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund is one of the oldest of its kind in the state.

“The trust fund was brought together to try and develop these farmland protection plans that would help to identify opportunities and challenges in each of those counties and all 100 counties across the state,” Maddox said. “How do we go about making people aware of the…

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