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Food Manufacturing Taskforce Nearly Complete


Food Manufacturing Taskforce Nearly Complete

Dr. Richard Linton, Dean of the college of Ag and Life Sciences at NC State Was a keynote speaker at the 11th Annual Ag Development Forum yesterday at the Holshouser Building at the State Fairgrounds.  While Dean Linton has been leading the charge for the Connect NC Bond Referendum coming up on the March 15th primary ballot, Thursday’s focus was on the Food Manufacturing Taskforce:

“I think the Food Manufacturing Task Force, that journey really began about two years ago when the State of North Carolina commissioned the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and NC State to do an economic feasibility study.  That study showed that if we could build a food manufacturing industry we could add 38,000 jobs in the state and add $10.2 billion to the economy.

So, this task force was formed very soon afterwards, it’s a 35 member task force that’s met over the last seven or eight months, and some of the things we’re talking about is what does it take to recruit, what does it take to incentivize food manufacturing companies to come to North Carolina and change biomass into a value-added good.  North Carolina has been very good at the furniture making industry and the textile industry, we know what manufacturing is all about, we think that this could be the new economy for manufacturing which involves food processing.”

You know, I think there’s people out there that don’t understand exactly what food manufacturing could mean to this economy, and I think the ‘can of beans’ analogy really sums it up in just a couple of sentences.

“Yeah, I’ve been using the ‘can of beans’ analogy for quite some time to give people a picture and an appreciation of how much value could be added to the ag economy.

So, if you take a can of beans, and let’s say you sell it for $1.00 in the grocery store, the beans inside might be worth six or seven cents, the can and the label might be worth 15 cents, but when that product is transformed and put in a can and processed, or its put into another good and it’s refrigerated or frozen, that’s where you get the 50 to 60 cents add on.

So, what we’re trying to do here is identify here is what kinds of products can we value add so that we can gain that economic impact which will dramatically increase our ag impact in the state.”

Possibly, another way to think about that, that’s 50 or 60 cents that we’re giving away to another state.

“Yeah, I used live in Ohio and work at Ohio State University and in Columbus, Ohio, that’s the food Mecca of the United States , we used to laugh at everybody else in the whole United States because of all the value we were gaining from their hard work and their risk.  There’s very little risk in food manufacturing, there’s a lot of risk in farming, things you can’t control.  I used to laugh at people many years ago, I’d rather laugh at others than have people laugh at us. So, I want to do whatever we can to be able to add value and turn that around for the state of North Carolina.”

And you plan on presenting a paper to the governor in a few short weeks.

“Yeah, so there’s two more next-steps, on February 18th the task force will meet for the last time, we will go over the finalized draft of the task force recommendations and final report.  Then we plan on meeting the governor in the middle of April to be able to present this information to him, and once this is received by the governor, all of this information will be available to the public on a website   the task force is creating.”'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.