FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21, 2007
Brian Long, director|
NCDA&CS Public Affairs
(919) 733-4216, ext. 242
Troxler urges Navy to find alternative site for OLF
RALEIGH - Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler today sent a letter to U.S. Navy Secretary Donald Winter urging him to consider alternative sites for the proposed outlying land field in North Carolina. The Navy's preferred site, near the border of Washington and Beaufort counties, would affect 30,000 acres of farmland. The text of the letter is below.
"Dear Secretary Winter:
"North Carolina has a long and proud history with the military and agriculture. Both have played important roles in the growth of our state. Unfortunately, the Navy currently finds itself at odds with some of North Carolina's rural agricultural communities because of its plans to build an outlying landing field in Washington County.
"I'm as strong a supporter of our military as anyone. My father and his three brothers served in the Army during World War II. I am grateful for the sacrifices made by my father's generation as well as our younger soldiers and sailors. Their efforts have made it possible for me to do what I do today.
"However, my appreciation for everything the men and women of our armed forces do to protect our country doesn't change the fact that North Carolina has lost 300,000 acres of forest and farmland since 2003 and has led the nation in farm loss for two years straight. Putting the outlying landing field at the Navy's preferred site in Washington County would add to this problem, and we must work to find a more reasonable alternative.
"The project would affect 30,000 acres of farmland through acquisition and use restrictions. Eighty-nine percent of that acreage is used for production agriculture, including 17,000 acres where corn and soybeans are grown. These crops are important feedstocks, and the Navy's proposal would further reduce our state's limited supply at a time when both demand and prices are high. The current OLF proposal would cause estimated agricultural losses of up to $6 million annually.
"This isn't just about economics. In his State of the Union address, President Bush called for America to diversify its energy supply with agriculture-based fuels such as ethanol. The President said energy independence is a matter of national security, and I agree with him. We must develop renewable fuels as alternatives to foreign oil. We also must make sure that we can continue to produce our own safe and wholesome food supply. The Navy's proposal would affect our state's ability to help the country meet both of these goals.
"I fully understand that the Navy needs facilities to train its pilots for the protection of the United States, but the proposed location carries too high a price to our agricultural lands and economy. I certainly hope we can work together to find a more suitable site for the OLF in North Carolina."