From the Tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
A century is a long time.
It is an especially long time for a farm to remain in one family’s possession when you think about all the trials and hardships farmers have faced through the years including the Great Depression, droughts, floods and growing development pressure.
I am proud that many family farms in North Carolina can claim 100 years of continuous ownership. In fact, more than 1,600 farms are part of our department’s Century Farm Family program, and we keep getting more applications for this program every month.
I was recently in Brunswick County to celebrate the addition of 32 new members to the Century Farm family fold. It was a great day and a great celebration of North Carolina’s number one industry – agriculture.
I am inspired by the stories I hear from these families and the pride they take in their land and profession. As a farmer myself, I understand very well how difficult it is to keep the land in the family, to turn down offer after offer after offer for your land and to toil long hours and never know if Mother Nature will cooperate with you on your crops.
The Century Farm program is a way to honor and recognize the sacrifice and dedication of these families who value, appreciate and work every day to preserve a way of life that is anything but easy.
Agriculture has been the backbone of our state’s economy since its founding. It is the reason we have first-class hospitals, outstanding universities and thriving urban cities. Agriculture still powers our economy to the tune of about $66 billion annually.
The Century Farm program started in 1970 as part of an ambitious agricultural project of the N.C. State Fair. That year’s fair theme was “Salute to Agriculture,” and more than 800 Century farms were recognized. We have continued to add farms every year as they have qualified for inclusion. Every five years, the State Fair has invited Century Farm families to celebrate this unique accomplishment and to recognize our state’s storied agricultural heritage.
I attended my first Century Farm program in 2005 and it was a great event. Close to 1,500 people took part in the reunion, and I thought then that we needed to do this more often than every five years.
So, this year we will be holding our Century Farm Family reunion on Wednesday, Oct. 22, making the reunion every three years instead of every five.
I hope Century Farm members will mark their calendars for this year’s reunion and make plans to attend. We will be sending out more information this summer and fall reminding members it is coming. I am excited about hosting the reunion again and hope we will have even more people attend this year.
Anyone with a farm that has been in continuous family ownership for 100 years or more is eligible to apply for the program. An application can be downloaded at www.ncagr.com/paffairs/century or may also be obtained by calling (919) 733-4216.
Applicants have to list the ownership of the land for the past 100 years. Century Farms receive a certificate and a metal outdoor sign signifying the farm as a Century Farm. Families are also invited to attend the reunion at the State Fair.
Century Farm families are the fiber that binds our agricultural past and present and they provide a link between our state’s urban and rural communities. I am proud of the commitment that all our farm families share to this way of life and to this connection to the land. We all benefit from their perseverance.