This report contains estimates of the number of new farms and the number of exits from farming in North Carolina for various periods of time between 1978 and 1992. Entrance and exit rates are based on the latest information provided by the Census of Agriculture about the total number of farms in each county as well as the number of years operators reported managing a given farm. Comparing characteristics of new farming operations with those that have existed for a longer period of time provides insights about some elements of the evolving structure of agricultural production in North Carolina. The total number of farms in North Carolina decreased more than 40 percent between 1974 and 1992. The rate of turnover in farming operations between 1987 and 1992 was not as great, however, as during the previous decade. Substantial variation in the rates of change in farm numbers and the ratios of entrants to exits among counties indicate that factors influencing the number and turnover in farming operations have not operated uniformly throughout the state. Regional differences in farm number changes and total acres of farmland indicate more consolidation of farming operations in the eastern part of North Carolina relative to other parts of the state. Much of the decrease in the number of farms in North Carolina has been concentrated among smaller farm size categories including those up to 220 acres in size. Nevertheless, nearly 60 percent of all new farms in North Carolina between 1978 and 1992 had less than 50 acres of farmland. Many new farms as well as those that have been in operation for longer periods of time appear to be part-time operations in that only a little over half of all farm operators in 1992 considered farming to be their principal occupation. An increasing proportion of farm operators, especially among those reporting farming as their principal occupation, are 65 years of age or older. This suggests increasing rates of management turnover in farming operations are likely. Considerably larger proportions of new farms, relative to farms that have been in operation for longer periods of time, are tenants. On the other hand, the largest proportion of continuing farming operations, especially among those with annual sales of farm products of $10,000 or more, were part owners. Consistent with the continuing shift in composition of agricultural production in the state; an increasing share of new and continuing farms in North Carolina are livestock oriented. Nevertheless more than 3300, or 42 percent of all farms that began operations between 1987 and 1992 had 50 percent or more of their total receipts from cash grain or other field crops.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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