The NC Sweet Potato Commission is the recipient of the quarterly Industrial Appreciation Award from the Johnston County Economic Development Office. The presentation was made Monday at the Johnston County Commissioners meeting.
Economic Development Director Chris Johnson said agriculture was the largest industry in the county. Johnson said people drive past hundreds and hundreds of farms in the county every day. Agriculture is big business, representing $280 million in cash sales annually. Of that figure, $35 million alone comes from sweet potato sales. It also employs thousands of people.
Kelly McIver, Executive Director of the NC Sweet Potato Commission based in Benson accepted the award. “It was a great experience. It was so nice to be recognized not only for sweet potato’s but for agriculture and the importance of the industry in North Carolina and Johnston County.”
“We appreciate the support of agriculture and the agriculture industry in Johnston County,” Bryant Spivey, Director of the Cooperative Extension Service said.
“The sweet potato industry is a critical component of agricultural production in the county. Farmers grow over 9,000 acres of sweet potatoes in Johnston County. This crop provides both jobs for farm workers and also for folks that work year round in packing operations in Johnston County. Sweet potatoes are critical for keeping Johnston County farms profitable,” according to Bryant Spivey, Director of the Johnston County Cooperative Extension.
A total of 506,377 acres are farmed in Johnston County according to the 2007 census. There are a total of 1,245 farms with the average farm size being 156 acres.
Johnston ranks second in the state in flue cured tobacco production, ninth in soybean production, 14th in nursery production including greenhouses, and 15th in hay production.
In 2012, Johnston ranked 11th in the state in the number of turkeys raised and 12th in hogs and pigs.
Johnson said Johnston County was recently awarded a $35,000 grant from the NC Tobacco Trust Fund to research growing canola and canola seed production.