The agricultural industry in North Carolina exported more than $3.75 billion in 2011, according to recently released data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's International Trade Office. That is a record for the state and was an increase of half a billion dollars in exports over 2010.
"Our International Trade Office is working to make North Carolina agriculture an international-based economy by 2025," says Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "The new numbers show how North Carolina farmers are rising to meet the food and fiber demands of a growing world population."
North Carolina boosted exports in 17 categories according to the report. Producers in the state had impressive increases in exported pork, cotton, chicken meat and wheat. Exports of cotton increased in value from $306 million in 2010 to $509 million in 2011. Additionally, some of the state's other top performing commodities improved significantly year over year in 2011, when compared to the year before. Pork exports were worth $707 million in 2011, up from $595 million in 2010. The value of chicken meat exports rose from $391.7 million in 2010 to nearly $466 million in 2011.
The value of wheat exports rose from $46.7 million in 2010 to $220.7 million in 2011.
However, tobacco exports from the state saw a decrease in 2011, due to crop damage in the eastern part of the state caused by Hurricane Irene.
"Overall, we're very pleased with these numbers," Troxler says. "And they don't even take into account the additional $1.5 billion in forestry products, such as wood, pulp and paper, the state exports annually."
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services notes that exports support about 36,000 jobs directly on farms and indirectly through food processing, storage and transportation jobs. Agricultural exports also increase farm prices and boost farmer incomes.
For more information on agricultural exports, including a breakdown of exports by commodity, click here.