Wednesday, June 29, 2016 Rural Counts for North Carolina

Written by Jason Gray, Senior Fellow of Research and Policy at the North Carolina Rural Center

Connection to place and land is the heart of rural North Carolina. It is what defines rural from urban. It also reflects the positive connection of what we do to where we live. Rural work and culture is not, as some would have us believe, “nonurban” – a null set waiting to become something else. The rural life has inherent worth and value.

Agriculture is a major expression of this worth and value. The North Carolina Rural Center believes that the sustainable, productive use of land, timber and marine fisheries is one of the defining characteristics of rural life, despite the inherent physical and financial challenges. North Carolina’s strategic location in the middle of the eastern seaboard places its agricultural production near a large percentage of the country’s population. The topographical variety and temperate climate makes North Carolina an agriculturally diverse state, second only to California. One of the greatest job creation opportunities available to rural North Carolina is the focused effort to increase the amount of value-added production that occurs near where the product is grown. Continued good stewardship of our state’s immense natural resources affords us the opportunity to maintain a desirable quality of life.

In April of this year the Rural Center released a ten point advocacy package. More than just a policy advocacy package to engage state and federal policy makers, it is also a statement of what we believe works. Advocacy point #8 is Develop Opportunities for Agriculture and Natural Resources, including Biotechnology and Value-Added Food Processing. We identified the following sub-strategies to do this:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 Communication is Key

Being a successful farmer in the 21st century means more than owning a tractor and a few acres. It means having the ability to adapt to constantly changing situations and environments, staying up-to-date on cutting-edge technologies, and knowing how to effectively communicate with employees, the public, government officials, salesmen, scientists, and lawyers, just to name a few. What’s sometimes overlooked when we talk about all of the important things farmers do is the simple but essential act of farmer-to-farmer communication. It’s National Pollinator Week, so today we’ll take a closer look at one way in which farmers are working together using a new voluntary communication tool called DriftWatch that is gaining momentum across the US.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 Agriculture Spotlight: NC Wine and Grape Industry

It’s been more than 100 years since our last boom in the wine industry, when North Carolina led the nation in wine production until Prohibition in the 1920s. In fact, North Carolina is home to the first cultivated wine grape in the US – the scuppernong. Luckily for wine drinkers, grape growers and wineries, the industry has rebounded in a big way. In the past 15 years, North Carolina’s Wine and Grape Industry has flourished as large and small investments in grape growing and wine production are increasing and winery tourism has taken off. This week, we will spotlight the growing economic impact of the Wine and Grape Industry.

winery graphic

Wednesday, June 8, 2016 Hawkes Co. Update: A Win for Landowners

About two months ago we reported on a case being argued in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. The case was US Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., and it dealt with landowners’ rights to judicial review when they are told by the Corps that their land contains waters subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. For more background on the case you can read our April 6 blog post here.

Last Tuesday the Supreme Court issued a unanimous but narrow decision in favor of the landowners in Hawkes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 Remember to Vote on June 7th!

June 7th. That’s next Tuesday. Mark it on your calendar. Circle it. Put it in your phone and set a reminder. That’s because next Tuesday, June 7th is the date of North Carolina’s Congressional primary election. (The ballot will also include a North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice race and possibly local races too.) You might be thinking, ‘but I already voted in a primary back in March’ and you’d be right. But without getting into the weeds too much, your vote in any Congressional race during the March primary hasn’t been counted and probably won’t ever be counted. The primary election on Tuesday, June 7th includes Congressional races again and this time your vote will be counted*, so it’s important that you go vote.