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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Lauch Faircloth, July 16, 1999. Interview I-0070. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Specialized farming will take over industry

Faircloth considers the future of farming in the United States. He is confident that free-range chickens and boutique greens will never occupy a significant part of the market, and that specialized farming, which he does not describe very clearly, will take over.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Lauch Faircloth, July 16, 1999. Interview I-0070. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JM: Final thoughts as we kind of sum up on this long trajectory of agriculture and its history in North Carolina and more generally? [Are there] other things that I haven't pointed to that you think are important parts of this? LF: I think that the eastern part of the state and outside of the urban sprawl areas [are important]. Everybody's waiting and talking about, “I sure hope it sprawls in my direction. Bring it on.” If you've been sitting in a four-room house with one bathroom for a hundred years and someone starts talking about four million dollars, sprawl all sounds pretty good. If you're living in a twenty-room house and want to ride to the beach, it's probably nicer to have seen it as a cow pasture. But farming will--. Two very effective types of farming are moving in and will tend to dominate agriculture, probably nationwide, but certainly in the south for over the period of the next forty years. You'll see the highly efficient agricultural companies. They'll grow corn. They'll grow soybeans or they'll grow hogs. They will run a dairy. They'll grow sweet potatoes and have big grade machines and big warehouses and big sweet potatoes or asparagus. They'll be strictly commercial. I mean, we've got six hundred acres of asparagus. You'll have the commercial packinghouse, the uniformity, the quality, and that will supply the market. Then you're going to see part-time farming. These will be people that probably own the land. They bought small farms and are doing specialized farming, too, but in a different way. [They’re growing things like] herbs. A lot of them will cater to the free-range chicken house, which will always be an infinitesimal segment of the market. They will raise a few eggs from so-called range-roamed chickens. They'll find them in the weeds and buy some from the grocery store to supplement their sales. You're going to see a lot of that because there is a nostalgia for the farm the way it was. These will be part-time. This will not be, by any sense of the imagination, their principle source of income. In fact, what they will do is serve as a conduit for laundering money. They will spend three thousand dollars a year on the farm and sell the produce for cash and write off the difference. JM: You don't see any that trend towards any specialized, boutique vegetables and so forth -- romantics and all that? You don’t think that's likely to change the relative market share to any appreciable degree? LF: No. I think you'll see the rise of organic farming and boutique farming. That’s a good description of it. Herbs, that's going to be fast-moving and [so will] specialized vegetables [such as] bibb lettuce from the local summer season’s little hothouse, and that type of thing. Yes. But the seventy-acre farmer, midsized, will disappear. It will become a cottage industry, supplemental income, which is very good, and a nice way of life and maintains the small farming and the little specialized boutique stuff that the commercial farmer can't. It’s like General Motors turning out six cars a year of a special, little kind. So farming will do-- JM: Let me thank you. We're at the limit of our time. LF: One thing, [the] biggest change in agricultural that you're going to see is very little farming. This is the biggest change you're going to see in agriculture. Vegetables will all be grown under what we call plastic. I don’t know if you've ever seen it or not. As you go back out of town, on the right hand side if you see that field of cucumbers, that man picked those cucumbers fifteen times. Now he sprayed and killed the vines because he's getting ready to put another crop in right back on those same beds, but you see the pepper. That is really specialized farming. Under that bed, throw up the dirt and they put a canvas. You can stop and look at it. JM: Yeah sure. LF: He'd be glad for you to. JM: Sure. LF: Then a plastic over that, and then in that is a what they call a trickle line or hose. You know how it works? JM: Sure. LF: They throw fertilizer and water. That’s what it's coming to with all vegetables.