The General Assembly comes back int ot session this week, and the big order of busines is the state budget. NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler says Governor Purdue's proposed budget was not kind to agriculture, proposeing a 7% cut in the Department's budget.
Troxler says to reach that figure, the Department would have to close one of the five veterinary labs, gut funding for lab equipment in the Food & Drug Protection and Veterinary divisions, and lose as many as 40 positions across teh department, just to name a few.
He goes on to say that to fully understand the impact of the Governor's proposal, you have to go back 10 years...the proposed figure is $56 million which is $500,000 less than the actual budget was in 1999-2000, while over that same period of time North Carolina's general fund gudget has grownmore than 46%. Adjusted for inflation, the buying power in the proposed budget would almost be 22% less than a decade ago.
While the budget has gone down, NCDA's responsibilities have gone up with more food manufacturing firms and retail locations to inspect, improved response to food sfety events, expanded agricultural centers and increased demand on Farmers' Markets, as well as expanded duties of the animal welfare program.
Troxler goes on to explain that in the past 10 years the Emergency Programs Division has been added, which is charged with planning for and responding to natural and man-made threats to agricutlure and food supply.
The Commissioner says that he's been meeting with legislators to let them know that the current level of service can't be maintained with these types of budget cuts.