North Carolina agriculture supports a significant portion of the state’s economy and land use. North Carolina’s 46,000 farms grow over 80 different commodities. Agriculture is the second largest land use category, covering 6.9 million acres, or 20%, of the state’s land and open water area. In recent years, farms have experienced billion-dollar losses from flooding events related to climate change. Farmers have existing tools and programs that build resilience and sequester carbon. Coordination and increased funding for these programs and other nature-based resilience efforts are needed to mitigate future impacts of extreme weather.

As shown in the NC greenhouse gas inventory, the agriculture sector emitted 10.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2017, which is 7% of the total gross emissions of the state. Agriculture has potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and provide climate resilience benefits to both farms and communities. The NC Natural and Working Lands Action Plan recommends three strategies to provide mitigation and resilience benefits:

  • On farms, adopt practices and technologies that avoid or reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance biological carbon sequestration.
  • Improve manure management practices at large-scale animal operations.
  • In the supply chain, improve the energy and material efficiency of food processing, distribution, consumption, and disposal.

The Agriculture Committee of the Natural and Working Lands Stakeholder Group is composed of representatives from state and federal government, agriculture industry representatives, conservation organizations, and universities. Some examples of projects that implement recommendations from the NC Natural and Working Lands Action Plan are:

This program expands opportunities for agricultural resilience at the farm and community levels by testing ways to increase carbon cycling in southeastern production systems. The project is funded by grants from USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, the NC Agriculture Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, and a subcontract with Virginia Tech University under a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Collaboration Grant.

Contact for more information: NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation