From the tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
I was pleased to recently be able to host my counterparts from 17 Southern states and the U.S. Virgin Islands for the annual summer meeting of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture. The SASDA summer meeting wrapped up my term as the group's president, and I turned the gavel over to Hugh Weathers, the Agriculture Commissioner of South Carolina. Our neighbors will host the SASDA summer meeting in 2012.
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has been involved with SASDA for many, many years, as well as the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Both organizations help address agricultural needs and issues and bring about change in federal agricultural policies, with SASDA specifically working on issues relevant to Southern states.
This involvement has led to closer ties and better relationships with other states ag departments and gives us a greater voice at the national level, which has been beneficial especially as we have worked jointly on federal legislation and in times of natural disaster.
I am extremely proud to call North Carolina home and it gave me a great deal of pleasure to be able to show our guests some of what our great state has to offer agriculturally and culturally. We were very fortunate to have outstanding sponsor support for this meeting. Without their generosity, we would not have been able to put this event on.
We put together a pretty ambitious schedule of tours and events that showcased tobacco farms, a dairy operation, the Upper Mountain Research Station, the Vernon James Center at the Tidewater Research Station, the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market, cigarette manufacturer Lorillard, wineries, Ashe County Cheese and the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point.
Visitors saw Christmas trees in various stages of growth and heard about tree research being conducted. They heard about the different stages of tobacco production, harvesting and curing and saw the finished product at the cigarette plant. In addition, the visit to the military base highlighted the common ground agriculture and the military share in protecting farmland and allowing for adequate buffers for military bases.
Our guests also saw examples of the different types of soils we have in North Carolina through a tour of Blacklands Farms. And they enjoyed a great variety of North Carolina fruits, vegetables, cheeses and meat products that were part of the meeting meals.
Again, I want to thank all our sponsors and all of the farmers and sites that participated in hosting this meeting. Everyone truly showed the very best North Carolina has to offer.