Letter to the editor: Keep all options open for Davie farms

Published 9:48 am Thursday, July 7, 2022

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To the editor:

Recent developments in the agricultural market have caused great concern to all farm families. Input costs have dramatically spiked with little to no chance for profitability. Farm diesel cost has risen beyond $5 per gallon. In some areas of this state and nation scarcity of diesel fuel, fuel filters, and other items badly needly items for farm operations have compromised farm security. Furthermore, scarcity of fertilizers such as anhydrous fertilizer and liquid nitrogen have substantially added to input cost. Farmers in the region are paying in some cases 3 times the prices they had budgeted based on past growing yields.

Sadly, one year ago, Davie County lost its last dairy farm. Davie is down to a handful of working family farms dependent upon crop cultivation.

Sensing the danger to farms in the region, The Forks of the Yadkin and Davie County History Museum has been in continual conversation with area farms. The museum –  being one of the largest farms in Davie County – has taken a lead in searching for answers to these growing threats to farm survival. We’ve explored alternatives to nitrogen for growing corn and other grains.

Unfortunately, this region lacks resources common to other counties. Hog and dairy lagoons where nitrogen could be utilized are more common in eastern NC. Poultry is more common in this region. Chicken houses can supply some needs for soybean cultivation. However, there isn’t enough poultry production to supply grain fertilizer needs.

Understandably, some of our farms have attempted to weather skyrocketing fuel cost to truck in forms of potash and poultry manure from other parts of the state to meet local farm needs. The result has caused farm acreage to narrow. To avoid high nitrogen cost for corn and other grains, farms have shifted to soybeans. Some have left acreage unattended. This trend has been reported common across the state. Consumers have already noticed a considerable jump in food cost.

Ironically, this higher cost of food does not transfer to better prices for the farmer. Instead, many of the remaining family farms are teetering on liquidating assets. Food prices are expected spike even higher this fall.

The answer to quell the upcoming food and crop crisis is difficult. The museum is actively working with the NC Agriculture Committee and Commissioner to help find solutions. It’s an all hands-on deck approach. Like many other farms we have looked into solar farming as a tool. Pulling revenue from solar leasing to help other farms was explored. Decommissioning cost of solar farms was anticipated. Those cost and others were contracted to be covered up front before a single panel was put in place. Such cost provisions were not unique to our farm. We studied them from consultation with other farms doing similar practices across the nation.

All working farms face the same battle with the farming cycle. To make a profit they must manage, sun, water, fuel, and fertilizer needs.

In today’s environment farming is facing challenges not seen since the 1920s. Increasingly, to survive, the farm needs every tool possible. Forcing landowners to give up on solar options only makes matters worse.

In Davie County, a moratorium is being proposed on solar farming. Ironically, according to the plan, solar farms would be more conducive to industrial development sites. Once again, the farmer being pushed aside. All we ask is to keep all options open.

Let’s hold off such moratoriums and work together to keep family farms thriving in Davie County.

Mark Hager, President

The Forks of the Yadkin and Davie County History Museum