More than a half million acres of farmland has been lost in the state in a five year period, that's according to the latest U.S. Census of Agriculture.
The U.S.D.A. conducts the farm census every five years. It shows the state had 8.5 million acres of farmland in 2007, compared with 9.1 million in 2002.
Buncombe, Edgecombe, Hyde, Moore and Perquimans counties led the state in farmland loss, each seeing decreases of greater than 20,000 acres.
The census also found the number of tobacco farms in North Carolina dropped by almost 70%. The state agriculture commissioner says the end of federal price supports in 2004 led to the retirement of many tobacco farmers.
Commissioner Steve Troxler says despite the drop in the number of tobacco farmers, 174,000 acres of tobacco was harvested in 2008, the most since 1999.