TheFirstFurrow

Thursday, July 27, 2017 Grassroots in Action

Today, possibly while you are reading this, North Carolina Farm Bureau leaders are gathering in Raleigh for 2017’s Policy Review Day. No, we’re not talking about insurance policies, but rather policies that address emerging issues and areas of concern to North Carolina farmers. Things like labor, transportation, property rights, taxes, regulatory reform, and more. It’s a day for NCFB’s farmer members to come together to talk about what’s going on at their farm, and to start figuring out how to solve tomorrow’s problems.Photo by John Lambeth

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 The Future of Farming

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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 Eighty Years of Service for North Carolina Farm Bureau

In a few days, North Carolina Farm Bureau members and voting delegates will travel to Greensboro, NC for the organization’s 81st Annual Convention. The event is a celebration of the year’s work: growing the membership, advocating for farmers and rural families, telling the story of North Carolina agriculture, and investing in the future of our state. But the convention is also the culmination of the year’s policy development process — a process that, for 80 years, has exemplified the true grassroots spirit of Farm Bureau.

The following commentary is by North Carolina Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten, first published in the Winter 2016 issue of NC Field and Family.

16-167-wooten_020ret5x7North Carolina Farm Bureau is proud to celebrate 80 years of service to the farm and rural families of our great state. With the unwavering support of our volunteer leaders, our legacy as the Voice of Agriculture will continue for decades more.

Born from the economic disaster of the Great Depression, NCFB was established March 2, 1936. Those 2,000 farmers, in 24 counties, are now more than 530,000 families across 100 counties. During our second annual meeting in September 1937, our first six policy resolutions were approved. As our grassroots policy positions have expanded, so have our legislative accomplishments:

  • 1952 – NCFB encouraged the establishment of the Nickels for Know-How referendum. This program is credited with helping save cotton as a viable crop through its funding of boll weevil research.
  • 1958 – NCFB helped win renewal of the 1934 Reciprocal Trade Agreement Act, holding a Trade Act Rally, publishing editorials, and coordinating grassroots contact with Congressional representatives.
  • 2004 – NCFB efforts played a major role in securing the $10.14 billion tobacco quota buyout – an unprecedented legislative accomplishment included in the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004.
  • 2015-16 – NCFB was the leading advocate for the $2 billion Connect NC Bond Act, which included agricultural benefits, as well as improvements to higher education, state parks, National Guard facilities, and water and sewer infrastructures across the state.

Because of the vision and dedication of our farmer leaders, Farm Bureau is a respected and unified voice representing our members. Legislative engagement remains our core mission, but it is not Farm Bureau’s sole policy mandate.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 REPOST: NC Agriculture by the Numbers

This year’s election is about a month away, and with candidates finalizing their messages and making one last push towards election day, we thought it would be a good time to remind everyone just how important agriculture is to our state.

graphic_ag-by-the-numbers_v6

Sources: NCDA&CS, USDA NASS, NCSU CALS

 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 Grassroots in Action

Last week, North Carolina Farm Bureau held its annual Policy Review Day. No, we’re not talking about insurance policies, but rather policies that address emerging issues and areas of concern to North Carolina farmers. Things like labor, transportation, property rights, taxes, regulatory reform, and more. It’s a day for NCFB’s farmer members to come together to talk about what’s going on at their farm, and to start figuring out how to solve tomorrow’s problems.Photo by John Lambeth

Just a quick bit of background: North Carolina Farm Bureau is the state’s largest general agriculture organization. We have more than 500,000 member families, of which more than 40,000 are farm families. We have members in all 100 counties representing all of agriculture – row crops, animal agriculture, tree farmers, fishermen, beekeepers, small farms and big farms, conventional and organic. We’re not a government agency, we’re a non-profit. Our mission is to advocate for farm and rural families.

Photo by John LambethWe’re a true grassroots organization. We have thousands of farmers from all over the state who actively participate in the policy development process to tell us what they need. Those farmers and the policies they enact guide the organization. NCFB’s policies and programs seek to preserve, support and improve agriculture in our state. These policies protect farmers and rural families and help ensure that our nation’s supply of food, fiber, and other commodities is safe and abundant, now and in the future.

Photo by John LambethEvery year, this process of developing ideas into policy kicks off with Policy Review Day, continues through the fall, and concludes at NCFB’s Annual Convention. During the fall, thousands of farmers weigh in on policy resolutions at meetings in all 100 counties. Before any of these resolutions can become official policy, they must be vetted by a 100-person committee and approved by 600 voting delegates. Both the committee and the delegate body are comprised of North Carolina farmers representing all 100 counties in the state.

Photo by John LambethThis process is grassroots in action. It provides the foundation for every decision, program, and activity we undertake as an organization. And frankly, it’s something we’re proud of. And it’s why elected officials and decision makers turn to Farm Bureau as “The Voice of Agriculture™”.

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 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, May 25, 2016 International Trade Booming in North Carolina

Last week we discussed a couple of reasons some farmers choose to sell their farm products locally at farmers markets, roadside stands, and pick-your-own sites. While selling locally is an important market for some farmers, others are venturing into new markets through international trade.