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Thanks, North Carolina farmers

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be possible without farmers and farm workers. They are the backbone of North Carolina’s economy.

According to Economic Contributions of North Carolina Agriculture and Agribusiness, a new handbook from NC State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, agriculture and agribusiness – food, fiber and forestry – generate $76 billion in value-added income in North Carolina every year. That makes them the top value-added sector, accounting for 16 cents of every dollar. Agriculture and agribusiness also mean jobs: 17 percent of all jobs in North Carolina, in fact.

In North Carolina, there are 49,500 farms covering 8.4 million acres. The state is tops in the nation when it comes to some foods that are prominent at Thanksgiving feasts: We rank No. 1 in sweet potatoes, for example, and No. 2 in turkeys.

North Carolina is also a leading producer of chickens, with $3.8 billion in annual sales, while hogs and pig bring in $2.8 billion. Cash receipts from crops total $4.2 million, with tobacco, soybeans, corn, sweet potatoes and cotton leading the way.