Page 18 - 2018 in Union County
P. 18

                          in union county

A griculture, once the primary industry in Union
          County, remains a viable part of the economy.
          Pumping more than $502 million into the
economy annually, agribusiness is spread among wheat,
poultry, cattle, eggs, soybeans, corn and nursery/
ornamental plant production.

In order to embrace a community and its      annually to the local economy, placing         currently 4th state-wide and 11th nationally
people, one need only look to the past       it third among the state’s 100 counties        with 3 million produced each year. Central
to the culture and values that undergird     and 91st in the United States. Based on a      to this growth has been the access to
what Union County is today. In the 1920’s    study by NC State University economists,       processing. Union County boasts major
and 1930’s, life throughout the south was    agriculture and agribusiness employ 8.6%       processors - Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride,
a patchwork of small farms devoted to        of the total county workforce.                 Circle S Ranch and Simpson’s Eggs - firms
subsistence agriculture. Farms consisted of  Rather than be content with backyard           which together employ over 2,100 people.
a few chickens for eggs, a few rows of corn  flocks, Union County farmers recognized        This combined production of poultry to
for meal, possibly a cow and hog for meat    the potential that large markets, such as      make Union County the #1 poultry county
and milk, and cotton for clothing or as a    Charlotte, its neighbor to the west, had       in the nation based on 2015 data!
source of cash. As years of soil depletion   to offer. As a result, Union County poultry    Rather than accept a future facing
took their toll on production, and farm      producers became leaders in the concept        decreasing yields, Union County farmers
prices plummeted, many counties looked       of vertical integration. Vertical integration  led again by developing and adopting
to other industries to fuel their economy    is a process which brings all aspects of       a process of crop production known as
and feed their people. Union County, to the  production, such as genetics, health,          no-till. Instead of plowing, farmers plant
contrary, combined a thirst for education    nutrition, processing and marketing under      directly into the previous crop’s residue,
and a spirit of cooperation to propel        a single management umbrella. Such a           preserving topsoil, moisture and essential
agriculture into a position of wealth and    system provides the capital, management,       nutrients. The improved topsoil retention,
progressivism.                               and specialization to allow farmers to be      increased yields and the lowered cost of
Today, Union County farmers and              more efficient, establishing Union County as   this method of production led to Union
agribusiness represent over 15% of the       an industry leader. Today, the county ranks    County becoming a crop production leader
county’s economy. Forestry products          2nd in broiler production in NC with over      as well. Union County currently ranks #1
contribute $2.9 million and farm level       64 million birds marketed annually. Long a     in wheat, #8 in soybean and #14 in corn
income contributes $499 million dollars      leader in turkey production, the county is     production in NC with over 143,000 acres of
                                                                                            these commodity crops being produced in
                                                                                            the county.

18 | | in Union County | Union County Chamber of Commerce
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