The North Carolina General Assembly gaveled in its 2017-18 long session a couple weeks ago, but so far the action has mainly been getting bills filed and holding a few committee meetings. As state legislators prepare to roll up their proverbial sleeves, let’s take a moment to talk about a few issues we’ll be watching this session.
Written by Dr. Randy Woodson, Chancellor of North Carolina State University.
This Saturday, November 19 at Carter-Finley Stadium, the Wolfpack not only play host to the Miami Hurricanes, but we will also be celebrating our 4th annual Ag Day, a time to recognize the many contributions that agriculture and our farmers make to our state. Agriculture built North Carolina, and people around the world depend on what’s raised and grown right here at home.
NC State University and the faculty and staff of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences work hard with partners across North Carolina to ensure our state’s agriculture remains strong. Because of these combined efforts, remarkable things are happening.
Last week we told you about the difficult year North Carolina farmers had in 2015. This week we want to show you how that bad weather has converged with a few other factors to put many farmers in a really tight spot as they prepare for the 2016 growing season.
First of all, weather is always a wild card in agriculture. Here’s a chart (Figure 1) showing how weather events have affected US corn production over the last 50 years. Nearly every decrease in crop yields can be attributed to some adverse weather event. Farmers certainly understand this and do everything they can to manage risk, but there’s only so much they can do when extreme events occur.
There’s no such thing as a perfect year when it comes to agriculture, especially considering the diverse geography and climate of our state. There will always be uncertainty when it comes to the weather—will we have a freeze, drought or flood? But in 2015 we had all three in a single year.
We could spend days discussing the role weather played in crop loss last year, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a farm that didn’t experience some sort of weather event. But today, we’ll focus on the Waterlogged Fall of 2015.
If you need help remembering what we’re talking about, this picture should help jog your memory.