From the tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
I don’t know about you, but I am happy to have winter behind us. The warm weather we experienced in mid-March has me excited about the growing season. I am sure I am not alone.
I see a lot of farmers out in the fields getting ready for the season. And I was recently at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market in Colfax and there were already a good number of plant vendors at the market. Most of the growers I talked with said the warm weather was really going to bring shoppers out. I can assure you, shoppers won’t have a problem finding good quality plants.
Whether you farm 100 acres or have a backyard garden, at some point you have probably experienced crop damage from wildlife. As you can see from the article above, the estimated damage is quite extensive in North Carolina – in excess of $29 million last year.
As mentioned in the article, more than half the farms that were surveyed reported using hunting as a means to help control the wildlife population and to reduce damage to crops.
To help farmers and hunters connect, we recently set up a Web site at www.ncagr.gov/hunt. On this site, farmers can list their land for lease for hunting, and potential hunters can search for available hunting leases.
In some areas of the state, the deer population seems to be thriving. Even in some of our more urban areas, there are deer sightings in the most unlikeliest of places. If this service helps farmers be more profitable by reducing crop loss, then it will be worthwhile.
This is a new Web site, so we are still trying to get the word out about it. Quite a few hunters have already signed up, but as of press time, no farmers have signed up with land for lease. I expect that will change as more people learn about the site.
The process to sign up is pretty simple. You will need to create a user ID and password to get started. A step-by-step page will lead you through the process.
By creating a user ID, landowners can keep their personal information private until they are ready to be contacted.
I hope farmers will take advantage of this free service. Be sure to share this information with others who may be interested.