While most of this year’s short session for the North Carolina General Assembly was focused on hammering out a budget, NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler says a couple of bills with agricultural implications did make it through:

“One of the things we did was exempt farm buildings from building rules if it is located outside the jurisdiction of the city or town.”

According to Troxler, this legislation will be of particular importance to roadside stands that sell produce:

“A farmer who operates a produce stand that is no larger than 1000 square feet that are acknowledged by our department as certified road side farm program, will be looked at differently than they would be if they were strictly a commercial operation. We heard a lot about farmers who couldn’t make changes to seasonal roadside stands because of building code requirements.”

And another passed by the General Assembly this year involves the movement of farm equipment:

“The bill instructs the Department of Transportation to credit process to authorized farmers to operate equipment on certain kinds of highways where they would not have been able before.”

Retail Sales Dip

Retail sales figures are out from the Commerce Department and show a dip in spending, of 0.5 percent, from May to June. Retail analyst Burt Flickinger says economic uncertainty and the hot weather is weighing sales down:

“What is holding us back are the categories that were very strong earlier in the year. For example, building material and garden are down 1.6%, we see the national drought really affecting spending there.”

USDA’s Food Stamp Program Paying for the Wrong kind of Publicity

Top Senate Ag Republican Pat Roberts is demanding answers from Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack on taxpayer-funded food stamp radio ads modeled after Spanish Soap Operas. Roberts wrote Vilsack for a full accounting of taxpayer-funded SNAP promotional campaigns for the last 10 fiscal years – including languages used, food stamp dollars spent, states and entities funded and sign-up results…

“We are spending millions of taxpayer dollars to advertise the food stamp program and the SNAP program as modeled after a soap opera. And then we are hearing about grants to states that have signed up more people than their quota. This is very disturbing.”

Roberts feels President Obama wants to recruit as many people as possible to enroll in food stamps and says he has some serious questions about that. Not good at a time when House Ag Republicans and Democrats just had a huge fight over food stamp cuts that are four-times the size of Senate-passed cuts. Roberts was asked if the Spanish Soap Opera style ads complicate farm bill politics in the House…

“It definitely gets peoples attention, but what are you doing advertising about food stamps when we have an outreach program in the USDA that does a good job of reaching people who truly need them.”

Roberts says Senate Democrats drew red lines against bigger food stamp cuts in the Senate Farm Bill – knowing the House GOP would cut more. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.