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From the tractor by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler

I often share the story of one of my college professors telling our class that the biggest challenge for farmers is not the weather, insects and disease, or up and down markets, but good ag policy.

I am not sure I believed him entirely when he said it, but his words have stuck with me over the years, and throughout my farming career have been proven true time and time again. It’s one of the reasons I decided to run for office – to help steer discussions toward good and effective agricultural policy.

In the department, we continually monitor state and federal legislation that could impact agriculture to be sure the voices of North Carolina farmers are heard. I know how critically important it is to stay on top of these issues.

For that reason, I have been encouraged by two recent appointments made by the Trump administration, including one of my former staff members, Ray Starling, who was named as special assistant to the president for agriculture, trade and food assistance. Also, former Georgia Governor and agribusinessman Sonny Perdue was selected to serve as agriculture secretary.

Both men understand the challenges farmers face daily in running a small business. They also know the impact ag policies have on those businesses, and both are versed in Southern farming issues, hopefully making them strong advocates for the region.

Ray served as chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis. He also served as Sen. Tillis’ chief counsel and then-Speaker Tillis’ general counsel and senior agriculture advisor in the N.C. General Assembly. He was the general counsel for the department, has private practice experience from several years at Hunton & Williams and has taught numerous agricultural and food law courses. Ray grew up on a Century Family Farm in southeast North Carolina, and received a bachelor of science degree in agricultural education from N.C. State University and a law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.  

I feel fortunate to have had Ray on my staff because of his commitment to the farming community here in North Carolina, and his dedicated work to ensure good agricultural policies statewide and nationally. I hated to lose him to Sen. Tillis’ office, but took comfort in knowing we had a passionate and extremely knowledgeable ally in Washington, D.C.

I know Ray understands the landscape in Washington, but also has a deep passion for agriculture because of his farming roots. He is a bright star and I am proud that he will have the opportunity to serve farm families and agribusinesses at the highest level.

I look forward to working with both men going forward.


NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Andrea Ashby, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3001; FAX: (919) 733-5047

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