This is the issue. Agribusiness is too important a piece of our tax revinue to not be aware of it and appreciate its needs. Depending on the year and what different people count as a business related to agriculture, agribusiness accounts for between 57% and 86% of Newberry’s revenue. Under any equation, the majority of Newberry’s tax revenue comes from agribusiness. As a farmer, I’m well aware of the challenges that Newberry and this country faces within it’s agriculture industry. One of those challenges is changing the common misperception that agribusiness is somehow different than other kinds of business. Agribusiness is the leading industry in Newberry. It employs the most citizens, and it has the most potential for growth. When our farmers do well, our retail stores do well, and our tradesmen do well. In short, the heart of this city is it’s agriculture. When we fail to support a business that supports our farmers, we only end up hurting ourselves and depriving the city of potential revenue. Newberry is facing numerous developments. We have the Easton Sports Complex that is bringing in new and exciting events, and the Nations Park is going to change the face of Newberry as well. The question is how are we going to meld recreation and agribusiness to the mutual benefit of both?
One answer is agritourism, and in fact, Newberry has a head start here as well. The Corn Maze and Dudley Farms are perfect examples of agritourism. Agritourism is one way agriculture is supplementing its industry. As more and more people find themselves living in congested cities, the chance to visit farms and get away from the noise and the lights is becoming rarer and rarer. Newberry can capitalize on having one of these industries up and running and one of these on the horizon. The obvious benefit of agritourism is that it not only becomes a financial benefit to the farmer to keep his farm as a working farm but it is also to his benefit to keep it green and visually pleasing, which is what is so exciting about this for Newberry’s future!
Agriculture is changing. Small farmers, twenty acres and under, are finding a niche in organic and all natural foods. As fuel costs rise, stores are having to buy local. Both of these changes are great for Newberry! Organic and all natural are labor intensive ways of farming, which means more jobs. Buying local means farmers will have a market for their goods. We need to start fostering this relationship now so that, when fuel costs are unmanageable, Newberry will already be situated handle the change in the market. We need a Newberry Farmers’ Association to address the needs and opportunities ahead of us, and I need you to share any ideas that you have in order for Newberry to capitalize as a community! Please, leave your comments below.