The race is on! For North Carolina Ag Commissioner that is. For the month of October we’ll be speaking with two-term republican incumbent Steve Troxler and his democratic opponent Walter Smith on key issues affecting the largest economic driver in North Carolina…agriculture. First, Walter Smith introduces himself:
“I was born and raised on a family farm in southeastern North Carolina. We grew tobacco, cotton, row crops and livestock. I went to NC State University and received a B.S. in Ag Engineering. I then went and taught vocational agriculture in Beargrass NC. From there I went to work with the US Dept of Agriculture, where I stayed for over 33 years. I own and operate a poultry farm in Yadkin County. I have also been the mayor of Booneville. I’ve had experience both politically and agriculturally. I have a vast background in agriculture, spending my entire life in it. I’m looking to bring that experience to the Department of Agriculture as Commissioner and make some changes and create more jobs.”
Today we hear Smith’s thoughts on securing funding from the General Assembly, whose members are becoming more and more removed from the farm:
(Ronda Garrison)With more state legislators coming from urban areas with little or no experience with agriculture, state funding has continued to become a challenge to convince members of the general assembly that agriculture is worthwhile. What is your plan for working with members of the assembly to get the funding that is so important for research and to keep NC’s agribusiness economy growing?
“We need to educate our legislators. Many do not have a background in agriculture like they did at one time. The ag industry is the number one industry in NC, generating $72 billion in income and accounts for 17% of the jobs. Its very important to the economy of NC. The best potential for growth for any industry in NC is in agriculture. We need to keep our agriculture strong and keep our rural communities viable.
Studies have shown that the public investments in ag research have a direct impact at the consumer level. In fact, the ag professional magazine did a study that showed for every dollar invested in ag research, it results in a return of ten dollars in benefits to the economy.
We must impress on our legislators that investing in ag research is a smart investment for the future of NC and it benefits every single person in NC.”
Tomorrow, we’ll hear from Steve Troxler, incumbent candidate on securing funding for agriculture from the North Carolina General Assembly.