It has been an honor to serve as your Commissioner of Agriculture for two terms. On my very first day, I promised to work with the employees of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to make the Department the best in the nation. Now, seven years later, I can tell you that we’re doing just that.
I have spent my entire career in agriculture and agribusiness, helping to make it our State’s number one industry. My work has included the operation on my family farm in Browns Summit, numerous agricultural leadership roles and now as Commissioner of Agriculture.
I understand this industry inside and out, and have the vision and leadership ability to continue to move us forward.
Let me tell you a little about what we’ve accomplished in the Department of Agriculture during the past seven years.
Ensuring food safety is an area of concern for all North Carolinians. The Department’s Food and Drug Protection Division is the leading food protection agency in the United States and Canada. We now have an ISO 17025 accredited lab, one of only five labs to earn this certification in the entire country.
More than a million people came to the State Fair for two straight years. Both the State Fair and the Mountain State Fair have earned national recognition.
Preserving our scarce farmland for future generations has been one of my top priorities, and we have made significant progress. Voluntary agricultural districts have been set up in 83 counties, and more than 6,000 acres of farmland have been saved from development.
We’ve even done our part to make sure school students have a healthy education by delivering nearly a million dollars worth of fresh North Carolina fruits and vegetables to the public schools.
At the same time, we have been aggressive in helping farmers and agribusiness grow and expand their markets. We even opened an office in Beijing, China to introduce the world’s largest country to North Carolina products. We now export more than $3 billion worth of agricultural products from North Carolina.