News flash: Farmers own a lot of land. In fact, they own about 8.3 million acres in North Carolina, which is more than a quarter of the state and is roughly the size of Maryland and Delaware combined. It’s not surprising, then, that they pay attention when the General Assembly takes up bills relating to eminent domain. Last week the N.C. House of Representatives passed an eminent domain bill, H. 3, by a large bipartisan vote. It’s a good bill, so let’s use this opportunity to briefly talk about eminent domain and why H. 3 is needed.
This week, we thought we’d explore a topic familiar to most people in the agriculture community: land-grant colleges. In the process of researching the history of land-grant institutions, we stumbled upon a fantastic write-up from the folks over at Back Story Radio, and instead of trying to out-do them we figured we’d just share their content with you. We hope you enjoy!
We hear it all the time. We throw it around with authority – “oh, it’s a land-grant school.” But what exactly does that mean? And where did the land-grants come from?
If you’ve watched the news recently, then you’ve probably heard President Trump discuss trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). While we aren’t going to get into the details of either trade deal, we do want to emphasize the importance of agricultural exports to our economic success as a nation and here at home in North Carolina.
Agricultural Exports in the U.S.
To keep it short and sweet, the graphic below demonstrates the importance of agricultural exports to the U.S. economy and lays out several good reasons why there is a great need for a trade deal that works for agriculture. Two key points to pay careful attention to:
- The $129.7 billion in total value of U.S. agricultural exports actually surpassed USDA’s forecast
- The $1 Trillion in total value of U.S. agricultural exports since 2009 is the strongest period for U.S. ag exports in history
The North Carolina General Assembly gaveled in its 2017-18 long session a couple weeks ago, but so far the action has mainly been getting bills filed and holding a few committee meetings. As state legislators prepare to roll up their proverbial sleeves, let’s take a moment to talk about a few issues we’ll be watching this session.
The “Future of Farming” immediately conjures thoughts of auto-piloted drones, advanced self-driving tractors and maybe even robots working the fields. While that sounds cool and great advances have been made in agricultural technology, the reality is that the future of farming lies in our young farmers.
Farming is vital to our nation’s health and security, and remains an in-demand career. In fact, young farmers have never been more essential to the future success of our nation. That’s primarily because nearly 25 percent of all farmers are over 55 years old. Think about that. Within the next 20 years, we could have a major drop off in active, full-time farmers at the same time that food demand and world population will be higher than ever before.
For those reasons and many more, North Carolina Farm Bureau works tirelessly to discover and prepare agricultural leaders to succeed in the workplace and on the farm, and to become knowledgeable advocates for agriculture. We understand that a greater focus must be given to our future farmers and agriculture leaders, and that resources and creativity are needed to keep the future of agriculture strong and steadfast. That’s why we continue to develop and expand our Young Farmer and Ranchers (YF&R) Program.
Last week, the 2017-18 General Assembly opened this year’s session, and in a few weeks they will dig in on their new legislative agenda. As you probably know, Republicans hold a 74-46 majority in the NC House and a 35-15 majority in the NC Senate. In the NC House, there are 19 new members, seven Democrats and 12 Republicans; in the NC Senate, there are five new members, all of whom are Republicans.Demographic information is important to understanding the composition of the legislature. Instead of looking at the usual race or gender breakdown, we decided to take a look at another bit of demographic information: occupation. Based on NC House and NC Senate Clerk Reports, the leading occupations are attorney, business owner, real estate broker, business executive, and consultant.
So how many farmers are there in the legislature?
Growing up on our small farm in Travis County, Texas, I would occasionally see the survey form from the Texas Crop and Livestock Reporting Service on my dad’s desk. Dad retired as a pilot from the US Air Force after a 28-year career, including flying B-29’s during WWII in the Pacific. My parents bought the rural house and acreage in central Texas so that, among other reasons, my two brothers and I could learn the lessons of hard work while they held down jobs off the farm. Little did I know at the time that I would one day be a “bureaucrat” sending out those survey forms to thousands of farmers across the nation. During my 32 ½ years working for USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service (formerly known as the Crop and Livestock Reporting Service), I have seen and measured firsthand the tremendous changes in agriculture – yet the reason for conducting agricultural statistics surveys really has not changed.
The holidays are finally here, and that mean many of you either already have or soon will be decorating your Christmas Tree. What you may not realize is just how lucky we are here in North Carolina to have a large, thriving community of Christmas tree growers. In fact, North Carolina Christmas Trees are so famous they have been selected as the White House Christmas Tree a dozen times since 1970. So this week, in the spirit of the season, we’re lighting up the NC Christmas Tree Industry!