Who Ya Gonna Call? Agricultural Agencies & Services

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The term “agricultural production” covers just about any plant, animal, or fish one can imagine. Compounding this is that agencies that offer assistance may be funded by federal, state or county funds. Within each of these funding divisions, programs may be similar or they may be vastly different. This may make finding an appropriate agricultural contact difficult.

Below are some commonly requested agencies or groups that serve agriculture within this area. However, at the end of the article, there are also categories showing information or services that are not easily obtained, or not available at all. Both are sections are important.

NC. Cooperative Extension – Hopefully, if you are reading this article, you are aware of the mission and purpose of N.C. Cooperative Extension. We are in all 100 counties within NC. Below are some highlights of services, information, and agricultural efforts within this area:

  • Field Crop Production – On-farm trials, field demonstrations, pesticide recertification events, educational meetings, pest management, and on-site diagnosis for tobacco, cotton, peanut, soybean, corn, sorghum, hemp, and wheat are available by the Agents below.

Commercial Vegetables, Farmers Markets & Specialty Crops – For information on locally produced fruits and vegetables, local markets, or specialty crops within Lenoir, Craven, Onslow and Jones, contact Lisa Rayburn – email: lisa_rayburn@ncsu.edu or call 910-455-5873.

  • Consumer Horticulture – To contact someone regarding turf, ornamentals or landscape trees, contact the Agents below:
  • Livestock Production– For small herd or commercial animal production contact the Agents below:
  • Aquaculture – For information on aquaculture production contact Mike Frinsko: email:  mike_frinsko@ncsu.edu or call 25-448-9621
  • Forestry – Landowners or others with interest in forestry should contact Colby Lambert:  email:  colby_lambert@ncsu.edu or call (910) 814-6041.
  • Area Specialized Agents:

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) – A partial list that this office provides includes:

farm maps                               farm serial numbers               Farm Bill details

insurance programs                loans to farmer                       energy conservation

value added grants                 price support payments         disaster payment

crop reports                            damage reports                      crop history reporting

beginning farmer loans          loans for minorities and women

While this office offers much, much more, this list provides some of the more sought out program efforts. Contact information is below.

Craven & Carteret – 252-637-3567, ext. 2

Pamlico County – 252) 745-5064, ext. 2

Lenoir – (252) 526-9799, ext. 2

Onslow-Jones – (910) 455-4164, ext. 2

Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) – This agency is typically found within the same building and shares the same phone number as the FSA offices. The purpose of this agency is to offer educational, technical and financial efforts to protect plant, animal and soil resources. Cost-share funding for projects and equipment upgrades that protect these natural resources are available. This agency also works closely with the FSA office to ensure wetland protection. Phone numbers are the same as those for the FSA offices listed above.

Local Soil & Water Conservation Districts – These offices may serve a single county or multiple counties. Their function is similar to the NRCS but funding is generally from state or local funding.

Craven – 252-633-0397                                   Carteret – 252-222-6352

Pamlico – (252) 745-5064, ext. 3                     Lenoir – 252-526-9799,  ext. 3

Jones- 252-448-2341, ext. 3                          Onslow – 910-937-1306

NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA & CS)  – This is the primary regulatory agency for agriculture. This agency regulates all aspects of agriculture and standards. It also includes survey results and education. There are 24 divisions that serve our state. Commonly requested ones are listed below. An entire listing is found on the NCDA & CS home webpage.

pesticide license exams                      continuing education credits

inspects farms                                     inspects pesticide products

reviews pesticide complaints              regulates worker protection standards

issues fines for violations                    reviews all pesticide labels

All questions or concerns related to worker training, pesticide applications, trainings,  pesticide violation, etc., should be directed to this division at 919-733-3556. Regional Inspectors serve all counties directed to farmer compliance and for testing of products.

soil nutrients                           water quality for agricultural uses

nematode assays                    waste analysis

plant tissue analysis                educational material

Generally speaking, if one needs testing or information for plant growth, this division can assist. Regional Agronomist provide field services to all counties. To contact the Agronomic Division, call 919-733-2655.

  • Food & Drug Protection Division – This division address many aspects within agriculture but the most commonly requested section offers testing of animal feed and forages. This division also accepts complaints for all commercial feed sold within NC. Contact them at (984) 236-4820.
  • Marketing Division – This division provides marketing information for all commodities. It provides details and information for “Got to Be NC”, “NC Farm Fresh” farmer’s markets, local fairs and more. Century Farm information can be found here too. Contact this division at (919) 707-3100.
  • Plant Division – This division serves to regulate and test fertilizer and seeds. However, samples must be collected by an agent of the division. This division also concentrates on invasive pests and quarantines. Too, this division serves the apiary industry ….and more. Contact them at (919) 707-3730.
  • Standards Division – The Standards Division is a regulatory agency responsible for enforcing the North Carolina Weights and Measures Act (G.S. 81A), the Gasoline and Oil Inspection Law (G.S. 119), and the LP-Gas Inspection Law (G.S. 119 Article 5). Contact them at (984) 236-4750.
  • Agricultural Statistics – This division provides detailed state and county reports for all agricultural sales and production. Contact them at (919) 707-3333.
  • Research Stations – The mission, according to their webpage, is to manage crop and livestock facilities that serve as a platform for agriculture research to make farming more efficient, productive and profitable, while maintaining a sound environment and providing consumers with safe and affordable products. There are 18 research stations within the state sharing resources with NC State University. Contact this division at (919) 707-3236.
  • NC Forestry Service – This division issues burning permits, offers sales of seedlings, aids in development of woodland planning and more. Contact them at (919) 857-4801

Local County Forest Service & Ranger – This office works closely with the NC Forest Service but provides specific information related to the county.

Craven – 252-244-0295                       Carteret – 252-728-3793

Jones – 252-448-5531                         Pamlico – 252-745-3775

Lenoir – 252-520-2400                        Onslow – 910-324-3633

County Planning Departments and/or Inspections – This department provides inspections, permits for development, environmental testing, water testing and more. As such, if one is building a new building, adding to a structure, installing a pool, or transitioning land use from agriculture to solar energy production, this is the initial place to begin!

Craven County or call  252-636-6618.

Carteret County or call 252-728-8545.

Pamlico Inspections or call 252-745-3861

Jones County or call 252-448-1221

What Information is NOT Available or Difficult to Obtain

Many of the frequent request to NC Extension do not fall within our role or those within many government agencies. Examples of these are below:

Crop Insurance & Related Information – The FSA does offer catastrophic insurance as well as administers any funds federally appropriated by the US Congress for disaster relief. However, specific crop insurance is normally purchased by the producer from private companies ensuring production expenses.

Analysis of damaged trees –  In some cases, a county forester may examine a tree that is damaged for evaluation of whether to salvage the tree or not. However, this is most often performed for a fee by certified arborist.

Prices for locally grown commodities – No local branch of government or agency keeps track of locally produced fruit and vegetable prices.  The USDA Economic Research Service provides this database.

Current or Common Land Lease Rates – The USDA has an interactive web platform that allows one to input type of land, county, and additional data to determine the average annual lease rates for that county. Occasionally, the NCDA & CS will provide survey results with average rental rates by state average and region.

Current Value of Crops or Impact of Agriculture – The National FSA office and the US Agricultural Survey USDA and others do provide information regarding farm sales and impacts. However, this data often is only available a year or two after the production season ends. No agency tracks such data by month or year. The USDA does aim to predict US production, imports and exports but this data is published by state estimates, not local estimates. As such, one simply has to use the most current production levels and yields to multiple by current prices for an estimation.

Grants to begin Farming – These don’t normally exists. Read  Beginning Farmer Grants for Equipment and Other Resources