Ag Commissioner Candidates Discuss Issues at Forum

Recently at a candidates’ forum hosted by the North Carolina Agribusiness Council, Democratic candidate for NC Ag Commissioner Walter Smith outlined the issues of his campaign:

“I have four main issues that my campaign is based on. Number one is strengthening the economy and adding jobs through strong agriculture. Number two is ensuring that we have a safe food supply. Number three is protecting our environment and number four is to treat our animals humanely.”
 

Achieving the goals he outlined, Smith presented a two-pronged approach:
 

“We can add billions of dollars into the economy and thousands of jobs by expanding our agriculture. Two key ways of doing this: one is being innovative and diverse. We need to think outside the box and have thorough diversity in our agriculture. The other is through aggressive marketing.”
 

Each candidate was presented with the same four questions, the first regarding biotech crops in North Carolina:
 

“Soon we will have to double the supply of food to feed the world. This can only be accomplished through biotechnology. There is no more land being created and the land we do have is being diverted away from farming. We will have to find crops with higher yields, and that are disease and drought resistant.”
 

The second question regarded the production of tobacco in North Carolina, protecting the producers, as well as expanding and protecting overseas markets for leaf, especially the Chinese market:
 

“We cannot be complacent with the markets we have, even with the Chinese market. North Carolina is the number one tobacco producing state in the nation, and the highest quality of flue cured tobacco in the world. That is why we have such a great demand for our leaf. We must continue the private and public research on tobacco to ensure that we maintain our high quality. Our universities and research stations do a great job. We also need to ensure that our farmers are using the most up to date technologies.”
 

We’ll hear more from democratic candidate for North Carolina Ag Commissioner Walter Smith tomorrow on Inside Agriculture, then we’ll hear NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler’s responses to questions regarding biotech, transportation, economic development, and tobacco.


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