From the tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
As we come to the end of another year and I think back on all that has happened, what we have accomplished professionally and personally, the groundwork we are laying for the upcoming year, and even the recent world tragedies, I can’t help but have a profound sense of gratitude. Because even in our difficult times, there are still many reasons to feel blessed.
We have so much to be grateful for every day; from the small things we too often take for granted, such as a beautiful fall day, a breath of fresh air, a stand of pine trees, our health, a full plate and a full stomach, to the larger ideals that we also take for granted such as our freedom, our sense of community and our faith.
Each of these ideals comes with a price tag of service, personal resolve and sacrifice, and a steadfast belief and commitment to something bigger than oneself. These ideals stand as our foundation, and strengthen and support us as a country and as people during challenging times.
In November, I was fortunate to welcome my fifth grandchild, Summit Steven Troxler, to the family. It is a blessing to see the family grow, but I also appreciate how they influence my thinking and my focus.
Having grandchildren reinforces my belief that we must work hard to ensure there is enough farmland and forestland to provide for future generations. It also confirms to me the importance of research in meeting future food needs.
Every generation hopes for things to be better for their kids and grandkids. From a technology perspective, we have made great strides in the last 30 years. Just think about the first cellphones and how large they were and how little they did in comparison to the mini-computers that today’s smartphones are. We will need to make similarly large strides in food production to keep up with the growing global population.
I believe we are up to the challenge.
As I think back over the year, I am so proud of the work of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and our many partners.
A few department highlights for the year include:
Providing support to the state’s No. 1 industry, which provides food, fiber and fuel for the world.
Building strong partnerships with our military to enhance mutually beneficial open land;
Working to create more global trade opportunities and to establish the necessary infrastructure at our ports to allow farmers to use them for overseas shipping;
Planning and preparing for the possible introduction of highly pathogenic avian influenza, including sending some of our veterinary staff to assist with depopulation efforts in the Midwest. I hope this ends up being an exercise in emergency preparedness, but the experience of other states shows us that we cannot take this threat lightly. We simply have too much at risk not to be prepared.
Facilitating the popular and successful Farm to School program, which in 2014-2015 generated nearly $1.4 million in sales of North Carolina commodities to 80 participating school systems across the state.
Successfully rallying agricultural supporters from across the state to Raleigh to remind legislators of the importance of the state’s $76 billion agriculture and agribusiness industry.
Offering assistance and advice to farmers, residents and landowners on a variety of topics, including forest management plans, soil testing recommendations, organic cost-share grants, agribusiness development, farmland preservation grants, soil and water conservation programs, marketing plans and more.
Hosting a successful State Fair, which posted the second-largest attendance in its history with more than 1 million visitors. Also, recording the largest Junior Livestock Sale of Champions, with $176,000 in sales.
This is only a partial list of the many programs and accomplishments of the department. The work we do day-in and day-out affects each of us, not just farmers. As consumers, we all benefit directly from the success of our farmers. Their success helps keeps food in the United State affordable, abundant and varied, also a blessing.
This year as you gather in the midst of the excitement and bustle of the holidays, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on all the things, big and small, that are blessings in your life. As a challenge, let us also be mindful of this spirit of gratitude throughout the year and not just during the holiday season.
Every day, let’s choose to look at the day through grateful hearts and eyes.