From the tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
I want to thank all of the folks who joined us at the N.C. State Fair this year. We had quite a time. We would have liked a few more clear days, but all-in-all, the event was a big success.
Once again, we drew a big enough crowd on the first Friday to put tobacco in the barn in Heritage Circle. This has been one of the events I look forward to every year.
(I feel like I can say that now that tobacco is no longer strung by hand and cured in this manner. Back in the day, saying you enjoyed putting in tobacco would have gotten you a lot of “opportunities” to help.)
We had a great time with the tobacco stringing competition that was held in cooperation with the Duke Homestead Historic Site. This year we had 11 teams compete for bragging rights and prizes from the John Deere Ice Cream Boys booth.
The Bensonites, a team made up of Nancy Stewart and Susie Allen of Benson and Peggy Gaddis of Clinton, took home top honors.
I am glad so many folks were able to see a little of North Carolina’s tobacco heritage on display.
Speaking of tobacco, I was pleased to host 22 tobacco buyers from China at the State Fair. Many of the visitors were officials we met on the trade trip to China this summer. The group was in North Carolina for a week meeting with representatives of U.S. Tobacco Cooperative and others involved in exporting N.C. tobacco to China.
Our visitors, including the head buyer for China Tobacco International, seemed to have a good time, and we were delighted to extend to them the same warm hospitality we received while on our trade mission.
Our efforts to expand trade with China seem to be paying off. We have received word that China will be buying 52 million pounds of North Carolina tobacco this year, a 25 percent increase, which is significant.
China’s demand for tobacco is great, and North Carolina and U.S. producers grow some of the highest quality leaf in the world. I hope this will be the start of even more trade opportunities in the future.
If you missed this year’s Fair, I hope you’ll plan to join us Oct. 14-24 in 2010.