North Carolina has a rich agricultural heritage and today, our state’s agricultural industry that includes food, fiber and forestry contributes $78 billion to the state’s economy, accounts for more than 17 percent of the state’s income, and employs 16 percent of the work force.
North Carolina is one of the most diversified agriculture states in the nation. The state’s 52,200 farmers grow over 80 different commodities, utilizing 8.4 million of the state’s 31 million acres to furnish consumers a dependable and affordable supply of food and fiber.
The Tar Heel State produces more tobacco and sweet potatoes than any other state and ranks second in Christmas tree cash receipts and the production of hogs and turkeys. The state ranks seventh nationally in farm profits with a net farm income of over $3.3 billion. Net income per farm in the state is over $63,000.
Sampson County and its neighboring counties comprise a key component of this North Carolina agricultural economic engine.
The cornerstone of the state’s and region’s agricultural industry is the family farm, many who have been in operation for years. A special recognition program from the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services honors those families who have owned or operated a farm for 100 years or more. This program is the Century Farm Families.
History of Century
In 1970, the North Carolina State Fair undertook the largest agricultural project in the fair’s history. To highlight the theme of its 1970 State Fair, “Salute to Agriculture,” State Fair officials initiated a search for all families who have owned or operated a farm in North Carolina for 100 years or more. More than 800 farms qualified as a Century Farm.
Century Farm families were honored at a luncheon held in Dorton Arena at the 1970 N. C. State Fair. Agriculture Commissioner, Jim Graham, emceed the event and Lt. Governor Pat Taylor was the featured speaker. The Commissioner congratulated the families for their contributions to North Carolina. “The strength and depth of North Carolina lies with you people who have held the family farm together. You are the fountain head of our economy.”
Since then, Century Farm families have been honored in other ways including periodic events during the State Fair and recognition in a commemorative book, North Carolina Century Farms: 100 Years of Continuous Agricultural Heritage that was published in 1988
Today, there are about 52,000 farms in North Carolina, but only about 1,600 have the distinct honor of being a N.C. Century Farm. This Century Farm family program celebrates the many contributions farming has made to the state.
To learn more about the Century Farms program, what farms in Sampson County are Century Farms or how your farm can qualify to be named a Century Farm, visit http://www.ncagr.gov/paffairs/century/index.htm
Century Farms Q&A
What are the requirements for Century Farms?
To be eligible for Century Farms, a farm must have had continuous ownership by a family for 100 years or more. This ownership can be determined from an abstract from a title or original records such as the original deed or land patents. In some cases, other authentic land records are acceptable. Contact the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Public Affairs office at 919-707-3002 if you have further questions.
Are there any benefits to becoming a Century Farm?
The Century Farms program is strictly a recognition program. While there are no tax breaks or incentives for being part of the program, you can be proud of your family’s agricultural heritage when you display your certificate and road sign.
How do I apply for Century Farms?
You can download an application on the NCDA&CS website or contact the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Public Affairs office at 919-707-3002 to have an application sent to you. Applications can be printed off the Internet and submitted by mail. Proof of land ownership must be submitted with the application.
When can I become a member of Century Farms?
Applications are always being accepted for admittance into Century Farms.
My relative was a member of Century Farms but now I own the farm, how do I become a member?
The farm, not the owner, is considered part of the Century Farm program. To have your name listed as the owner of the farm and to be included in Century Farm activities, contact the Public Affairs office at: 919-707-3002 or mail to Century Farm Family Coordinator, Public Affairs Division, N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, 1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1001. To change your contact information, please submit an update form.
How often are the reunions held for Century Farm Families?
Historically, Century Farm Family reunions have been held every five years during the N.C. State Fair. However, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler had so much fun at the 2005 reunion that he decided to hold them more often. The next Century Farm Family reunion is slated for the 2016 State Fair.