Christmas trees and the Thanksgiving meal – North Carolina agriculture is front and center during the holidays.

By on November 23, 2021

Summary: If you celebrate Thanksgiving with a traditional meal of turkey, ham, sweet potatoes and all the fixings, then you are celebrating North Carolina agriculture and North Carolina farmers as well. North Carolina agriculture is a top producer of much of the traditional holiday fare.

  • I was in Ashe County this past week for the send off of the White House Christmas tree from Rusty and Beau Estes’ farm in Jefferson and it was a grand event.
  • Well wishers lined the streets, the truck carrying the tree was led in by a team of ponies and a lot of people made speeches – including county and chamber of commerce officials, representatives of state and Congressional leaders and me! And, I almost forgot to mention there was cake, too.
  • It was fun day, and most importantly, it was a great way to recognize the considerable contributions the Christmas tree industry makes in Western North Carolina. And particularly the top tree-growing counties of Ashe, Avery, Alleghany, Watauga and Jackson.
  • I told those gathered that I am never surprised when a North Carolina tree is selected for the White House because I believe the prettiest trees come from right here in our state.
  • I know that I am a bit partial, but there is a reason that with this latest tree, a total of 14 North Carolina Christmas trees have graced the White House since 1971 with their beauty and fragrant bouquet.
  • Our Christmas tree growers raise truly exceptional trees, including the Fraser fir, which is often called the Cadillac of Christmas trees.
  • This year’s tree was 19 and a half feet tall and had been growing for 30 years.
  • Interestingly, this was not the first time the father and son team has sent a tree to the White House. Trees from the Estes farm made their way to Washington D.C. in 2008 and 2012, so it seems they have a knack for growing eye-catching trees.
  • I am incredibly proud of North Carolina’s Christmas tree industry.
  • We are the second largest producers of Christmas trees nationally, raising about 20 percent of Christmas trees in the country.
  • I encourage listeners to go ahead and get their trees early this year for best selection. I saw trucks loaded with Christmas trees headed East down the mountain and I have even seen some already at local grocery stores.
  • Wherever you shop for your tree, take pride in knowing that you are supporting North Carolina farmers by buying local.
  • The same goes for the Thanksgiving meal, too!
  • If you plan to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast with turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, greens and other fixings and desserts, you will most likely be enjoying some food raised right here in North Carolina.
  • Just in time for Thanksgiving, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service pointed out that in 2020, North Carolina ranked No.1 in pounds of turkey produced at 1 billion 134 million pounds. I think it’s fair to say that’s a lot of turkey.
  • It’s a safe bet that your turkey, ham or sweet potatoes are likely from a North Carolina farm since we are No. 1 or No. 2 in production of those commodities.
  • Hams — We rank No. 2 in the nation in hog production at 19.6 million head of hogs.
  • Sweet potatoes –We are No. 1 in the nation for sweet potato production, with 61.1 percent of the total U.S. crop being produced in North Carolina.
  • Eggs -We produce $451 million worth of eggs or over 4.07 billion eggs.
  • I am proud that North Carolina agriculture figures so prominently in so many families’ holiday meals and traditions.
  • So, this Thanksgiving, when you are saying what you are grateful for, please be sure to add North Carolina farmers in there for helping create so many wonderful lifetime memories.
  • This may not be the last time I talk about Christmas trees this year, but I wanted to take a minute to recognize the Estes family for representing North Carolina with the White House Christmas tree. And, I also want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!
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