As we conclude our series on the candidates for North Carolina Ag Commissioner, republican incumbent Steve Troxler discusses the issue of aging farmers across the nation and in the state, and what his plans are for bringing young people into the business:
“The first thing I knew had to happen to bring younger people back into agriculture, there had to be the economics there to entice them to come to the farm. One of the things we have done in the Department of Agriculture is to really raise the awareness of local foods. With the “Got to Be NC” program and other marketing programs we have the local food movement in NC is very strong and that creates opportunity at a small level with high value crops for young people to get into it without a lot of capital and land investment and be able to make it at the farm level and start a career.
The other thing that I knew had to happen was there had to be a change of attitude in the public about farmers and what they do. For many years, the non-farming public looked down on farmers as different and didn’t treat them with the reverence they deserve because they do supply all the food. I have seen a massive change in that attitude over the past eight years and now we are recruiting farmers though our marketing division to grow fresh produce for our large grocery chains in NC. When I see a grocery store that has a life size cut out of a farmer in the produce section, so that people understand where the food supply comes from, that is a change.
I have also seen a change of attitude at the university level. We have young people at NC State and A&T State that want to get into agriculture and see it as a viable occupation. Some have not even grown up on a farm. I have taught a class at NC State over the past few years and in doing that I am encouraging these young people to get into agriculture and helping them understand there are many careers in agriculture outside of just being on a farm. Especially in the agribusiness arena with the technology that we have, there is a great need for people with a knowledge of technology to enter into agriculture to be that next generation that takes agriculture forward.”
The economic impact of agriculture and agribusiness to North Carolina’s economy has held in the mid $70 billion range for several years, but Commissioner Troxler has a goal of $100 billion:
“One hundred billion dollars in agricultural impact for the state of North Carolina is a goal of mind and I know how reachable that goal is. With the ability to operate without some of the regulatory restraints that we have had in the past, that many businesses have been under. If we can get North Carolina to focus on its strength, agriculture and agribusiness, it will carry this state forward in a short period of time.”
And in closing:
“This has been a wonderful eight years that I have been Commissioner of Agriculture, it has been an honor. I want to continue to grow North Carolina agriculture and agribusiness over this next term and with my position in national leadership be able to take North Carolina’s story even further than its been taken before.”
That concludes our series on candidates for Commissioner of Agriculture. To see more installments of the series,click here and vote on November 6th!