Jimmy Dixon was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2010 and is currently serving his fourth term representing Duplin and Wayne counties. He chairs the House Agriculture Committee, is Vice-Chairman of Appropriations, and serves on numerous other committees as well. A few years after graduating from Wake Forest University in 1969, working for Procter & Gamble and teaching school, Rep. Dixon returned to his roots in 1973 and started a farming career raising poultry and vegetables for forty one years until his ‘semi-retirement’ in 2014.
His poultry operation grew over the years to raising about 700,000 heavy tom turkeys each year. His main crop production was string beans, cucumbers, and peppers.
He and his wife, Bobby Jean, have five children and six grandchildren.
Question #1: There are only five North Carolina legislators (about 2% of the General Assembly) who list farming as their occupation. As a farmer, what perspective do you bring to the General Assembly? Conversely, is there anything you’ve learned as a legislator that has given you new perspective on the farm?
As a farmer in the General Assembly, I understand that there are many good reasons that we have remained a free nation for these many decades. However, all those reasons combined may not equal the fact that we have been able to feed ourselves and produce an extra amount of safe economical food and fiber to help feed a hungry world.We must never lose the ability to feed ourselves!I have learned as a legislator that the great challenges facing farmers are, in part, twofold. First, government can change the rules in the middle of the game and increase regulations that strangle efforts to be productive. Secondly, special interest groups have leveraged influence within Corporate Board Rooms across the nation that facilitate retail boycott to promote undue regulations and change practices harmful to many safe and well established farming production methods.
Question #2: Has there been one agriculture-related policy provision that you have felt most passionate about, or that you feel would have the most positive impact on farmers?
I think two of the most important legislative actions taken since I have been in the General Assembly are the passage of H405 Property Protection Act passed in 2015 and H467 Agriculture and Forestry Nuisance Remedies passed in 2017.I have probably been more passionate about these two bills than any other bills we have passed because of their far reaching positive effect on our ability to unshackle farmers from misguided special interest groups who rely on the sensational and abnormal portrayal of some of our farming practices.
Question #3: What agriculture-related issues are you working on in preparation for the 2018 short session?
We must remain a right to work state and prevent outside groups who want to forcibly implement policies in an attempt to unionize some of our farming operations against the will of farmers and their workers.
Question #4: Obviously, you’re very involved in agriculture policy at the legislature. What is another policy area you spend a lot of time working on?
Outside of agriculture policy, I work to fine tune our budget for the benefit of all organizations and citizens of North Carolina.
Question #5: Earlier we asked about how your experiences as a farmer give you a unique perspective in the General Assembly. Despite that, why is it important for you to hear from other farmers about issues affecting their farming operations? What advice/tips would you offer farmers that might help them give their legislators a better understanding of the challenges and rewards associated with farming?
As legislators, we need constant input from farmers and others across the state about the challenges they feel are being improperly placed on them by government that negatively affect their ability to produce safe, economical and reliable food and fiber to help us continue to be a free nation and enjoy the liberty given to us by our Creator.
Answers modified slightly for format.