From the Tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
In my role as Agriculture Commissioner it is important for me to listen to the concerns of farmers and ag groups and to listen to ideas about how to help our industry remain strong,
Two upcoming activities are taking place to give farmers a chance to stand up and be heard and to provide updates and insight into critical farm legislation.
On Jan. 31, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will be hosting the annual Agriculture Development Forum at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh in conjunction with the Southern Farm Show.
We are still finalizing details as this paper goes to press, but the program will focus on the latest on the Farm Bill debate in Congress, agricultural economics as related to biofuels and farmland preservation, and an agricultural outlook for 2008.
This will be a good opportunity for farmers to hear more about important issues that affect their business, ask questions and share ideas with one another.
We expect to draw national and state leaders to discuss the current status of the Farm Bill and its potential impact on North Carolina farmers and various commodities. Likewise, we hope to draw state and business leaders in the field of biofuels and renewable energy to talk about the prospects of this industry.
I invite each of you to make plans to attend the forum. It will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Holshouser Building. The program starts at 10 a.m. and lunch will be served.
Because of the weather, this has been a difficult year for agriculture in this state and region, and we face a number of issues that require immediate attention. But it is also important for us to keep an eye focused on the future and be prepared for changes on the horizon and trends that will shape agriculture in ways we have not experienced before.
Nearly every week I read another article talking about growth issues, overcrowded schools and roads, the costs of providing services to new development, water issues and more.
A number of county boards of commissioners are starting to talk about slowing growth and increasing or implementing impact fees to pay for services. The ongoing drought, the worst in recent memory, has generated concern about water and sewer capabilities to meet existing needs and how new growth will create new demand for a finite resource.
All of these issues represent reasons why I believe farmland preservation is a statewide issue, not just an agricultural issue. This will be something I hope we can discuss at more length at the forum.
The second activity I want to mention is the Census of Agriculture, which is conducted nationally every five years. The information gathered in this survey helps decision makers understand the impact of agriculture locally, regionally and nationally.
The census-taking activities have already begun in North Carolina. Forms were mailed in late December, and I’d encourage every producer to fill theirs out and return it by the Feb. 4 deadline. Make sure your farming operation is counted.