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House | June 3, 2014 | Committee Room | Agriculture Appropriation

Full MP3 Audio File

The Sergeant-At-Arms that is with us today are Marvin Lee, Bob Rossi and BH Bow. And today we’ve got a couple things we’re going to do. First we’re going to have a presentation from the Ag. Committee based from NC State Plant Science Research Initiative, and this is for discussion only, and after that we’re going to have State FFA President Carmen Honeycutt to make a presentation to us. And in case you’re interested while we’ve got the State President, she’s my great niece, and I vote ya’ll ought to hear from her, and I hope you’ll bare with me and not leave the meeting and be here for it. Marshall? [NO SOUND 0:46 – 1:34] [SPEAKER CHANGES] … as an agriculture teacher, which I did for many years, and it’s always good to be with the State FFA President. I wore one of those jackets once upon a time and some others in this audience did too; right Ray Starling? It’s a pleasure to be with you today, and I want to thank our Chairs for the great job they’ve done in shepherding an idea that came to us from stakeholders, and he asked today if I would come and share just a few update points about it. Our college continues to be known as and seen as one of the top colleges in agriculture and life sciences in the country and indeed the world, and we’re really proud of that, but one of the things you do is when you are continuing to do great things you want to continue to build upon that, so there’s been a lot of conversation from our stakeholders about how we do that. What I’m going to do over the next couple of minutes is give you an insight into a couple things that relate to two initiatives that are coming before you. One deals with the Plant Science Initiative and a second one that deals with food processing. So as we do that, let’s take a look for a minute at… see if I can operate this now. Does that need to be in there? There he goes. So one of the first questions we ask ourselves is “Why North Carolina?” And when we talk about the agriculture industry, we thought it would be good to give you a slide about North Carolina, and in terms of North Carolina agriculture, we know first of all that we have a big industry that begins on the farm, and if you listen to our Commissioner and others talk about that ongoing basis, we know that agriculture tends to be a huge economic driver, but it’s really because there’s people on the farm that make that happen. We have a lot of agri-business, a lot of s in between that work in education and other realms and research, but it really begins on the farm, and I think it’s important that we start there when we start any conversation about agriculture in North Carolina. The second thing we think about is our commodity organizations and all the groups that that brings together, and we’re fortunate in our state to have 90 plus commodity organizations that deal with various commodity groups and organizations that support agriculture and continue to do great things is our state. The third thing we think about is our department, and we have a great partnership with our Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and we’re always excited about the great things we see happening there, and just yesterday we were able to join them for an event over in Clayton on a research station to see some wonderful things that are going on there, so part of their leadership and their work. The fourth thing you think about is the private sector. When I name the private sector, I’m thinking about Research Triangle Park and all the things that we have there – the assets we have in that part of the word that deal with agriculture from research and innovation. And then you think about things that have happened in recent years in terms of developments in sweet potatoes and tobacco and poultry. All the innovations that have occurred, many of them are driven through partnerships between our institution, NCANT, and the private sector. And then the fifth thing we think about is those loan grant universities, and it’s always important for us at NC State to remember the great partnership that we have with North Carolina A&T State University. They are a great institution, and their Dean Bill Randle and our Dean Rich Linton really spend a lot of time together trying to build those partnerships. So if you’re going to talk about plant sciences, you’re going to talk about food and where we can go into the food processing, you…

?? to understand this piece first, and again I think it’s a good reminder for us to think about agriculture in that context. When we think about our college, the college of Ag and Life Sciences, we try to be strategic. Most of you know we went through a strategic planning process and through that came out with five core areas that really deal with what goes on not only in North Carolina but also globally, as we think about sort of the food system around the world. Because North Carolina is a global player, and that’s an important thing for us always to remember. That while we are always doing great things here, a lot of our technology and research has implications on feeding the world. Because we think about production and quality and accessibility and profitability. We think about stewardship of the environment. We think about food supply, to make sure it’s secure and safe. We also think about human health and how that intersection between health and wellness and great agriculture come together. Then we also think about leadership development, and how we create new leaders and future leaders for the ag industry. These are the five imperatives or strategic things that our college continues to work on and we partner again with the Department of Agriculture, private industry, NCANT and others to make sure these great things happen. Now as we think about agriculture itself, if you remember some of you who sit on the commission, the Ag and Forestry Commission, I shared some of these recently and this is a good set up for talking about plant sciences. That we think about what’s going to happen in agriculture on the horizon. We were asked a couple months to share with them sort of our best thinking, when we think about that we think about first of all plant sciences. Because we are so plant-centric in North Carolina. When you think about all that we grow. We grow practically everything but citrus. That’s about the only thing we don’t grow in this state, or can’t grow. Haven’t figured out a way to grow it on a mass scale yet. And when you think about plant sciences, you think about our ability to increase yields, to have pest resistance, new crops, water management, drought tolerance, things we can do and we have done. And much of that, the reason we’re big into that is because of the tobacco industry. I think that’s an important segue to always make, is that the tobacco industry because it generated so much for so long and continues to, it brought a lot of plant specialization to North Carolina, in particular to NC State in terms of plant breeders and people that were really some of the really smart people that deal in that sector. Another thing we think about is food processing. And this is an area that we think is really ripe for the picking and something I’ll talk about in a moment. But when you think about all that we produce, and you think about the fact that we send off a lot of our crops to the upper Midwest and to the Northeast to be processed, what if we could process it right here, and then have the value added here and create jobs in North Carolina, across the state of North Carolina? We think that’s possible, and that’s one of the things I’ll come back to in a moment because we believe and we all know that we’ve lost things like textiles and furniture making, and some of those things have certainly taken a hit over the years. But what if we could create a new manufacturing in the area of food processing? Wouldn’t that be great to find good jobs that people can have and we think that can be an economic driver in the future. So I want you to keep these two in mind, and I’m going to hit a few others just so you can know what we’re thinking about in terms of ag and life sciences. We’re also very concerned about food and nutrition and food safety. Those are not only issues in North Carolina but around the world. We think about the ability to improve nutrition for people, and hopefully have quality of life long-term. Agriculture intersects with all of that. We also think about the farm of the future and what that means in terms of technology, to help that person on the farm do a better job in terms of precision agriculture, making sure that the right treatments go into land and the right treatments go in terms of working with animals or whatever their area may be. But the farm of the future will certainly include analytics and working with farm equipment. Those kind of things we think are a part of our future in working with NC State. We also see a growth area in animal agriculture in terms of alternative feeds and how we can quit importing so much feed but grow it ourselves. Different kinds of feed that we can grow here and we think that’s going to be an important part of growing the future of animal agriculture in North Carolina and across the country. We also believe there’s a niche here, a local foods niche that’s really important. That’s a growing area in North Carolina. A lot of folks want that local food aspect. They want to be able to grow, to go and get it at the farmer’s market or whatever. And that is an economic driver in many communities and so we’re involved in that, trying to help build those kinds of linkages as well. We also see on the horizon the importance of preparing the next generation of agriculturists, to ensure that these young people that you’re going to see in a few minutes, that wear the blue and gold jacket of FFA, have a future in an industry, that there are good jobs and opportunities for them to grow. So these are seven things that we lay out. I wanted you to have a copy of that today as you think about the great strategic work that you have to do in terms of public policy and moving the state forward in terms of agriculture. Now let’s talk about two of those. Plant sciences first of all. When you think about North Carolina again, you think about the diversity of what we grow. What we can grow, we can pretty much replicate any soil type, any climate that you want in the US. Let me give you an example. If you go to Northeastern North Carolina, we can

…replicate the Midwest in terms of grow crops If you go to the Northeast, Northwestern part of the state, we can do what they do in the Northeastern part of the US in terms of Christmas trees and those kinds of things. If you go to the Far West, we have apples, which is exactly what they do in Northwestern US. We can pretty much replicate, and that’s why that research station infrastructure we have in partnership with NCDA is so important. It’s really important because we are able to generate new technologies, new ways of doing things that replicate them. So when you think about plants, and what we can do here, and you think about the infrastructure we have in terms of the College of Ag and Life Sciences, you also think about the infrastructure in the RTP. Phenomenal infrastructures there with major corporations; in fact, many would argue that we have within fifteen miles of us the highest concentration of plant science expertise from a private sector position as there is in the world with the companies that are in RTP and finding ways to work with them. So, we think about plant sciences, we’re thinking of an initiative that yes is going to be a part of NC State, but is also going to be a part of North Carolina’s future. Because as we work with those research stations and we work with private industry this will create jobs across the state and we know the majority of jobs in agriculture looking forward will be plant-centric, not only in North Carolina but around the U.S. so there is a lot of opportunity to think about that student experience, how we can drive economic development, how we can work with our external stakeholders – those who are on the farm today and those who will be on the farm in the future -- to do better things here. In terms of a big idea, one of the things we’ve given you is a handout that really shows the centerpiece to that being a complex that would hopefully be at Centennial complex some day that would allow us to really bring together not only the academic research piece of this not only the private sector in terms of renting out space and working collaboratively with private industry, but also being able to work with regulatory agencies and figuring out ways to work more closely together. It could be world class. And that’s an important thing for us to think about, if we’re going to do something, I think we have it in our ethic in North Carolina to do it well, and so we want to be about that. So, again, this is something we’re thinking about, and I know there’s some language, some legislative language to support a Plant Sciences Initiative, and it is a partnership between us and lots of colleagues across the State, including the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. So again, Plant Sciences is one area. A second area that we’re looking at really closely is food processing and this has caught a lot of wind the last year or so because some of the folks, including some in this room, began to think “If we grow it and then we ship it somewhere else to be processed, and they ship it back to us to buy from ‘em, why can’t we close that gap” And we believe we can. We aren’t going to be able to do it with everything we grow, but we do believe there’s opportunities there when you think about sending strawberries to Ohio where it becomes strawberry jelly, why couldn’t we make that jelly here? Why couldn’t we figure out ways to do it? Take any crop you want to take – why can’t we figure that out? And we believe we can, so there’s also language you’ll see that our stakeholders have driven for us and with us to ensure that we figure out how to do that. because we believe that if we can figure out ways to grow it, to process it, and then sell it from here, that’s going to be a good economic driver for many communities and literally it could affect all 100 counties of North Carolina. Again, it would be building on our assets, it would be about entrepreneurship, some new kinds of innovation, it could also be about job creation and bringing in certain kinds of companies that may want to come here as a result of that. So again, you’re going to see language and you have seen language that would support this kind of initiative (both of) these being feasibility studies in plant sciences and feasibility study in terms of food processing to figure out what can we do and then come back with you with a more defined plan. So we appreciate any support that you might have for those. So, with that, Mr. Chairman, I’m gonna stop and say “Thank you;” again, these things have been talked about a lot by many in this room through the Commission work. We have given you a handout that has the slides on it. If you have questions, we’d be glad to entertain those, and again, thank you for your support and leadership for Agriculture and Life Sciences in North Carolina. Speaker Changes: Any questions (mumbling) Original Speaker: Yes Sir Speaker Changes: Representative (sound like Pigg) Speaker Changes: Thank you Mr. Chair. I’m wondering where, or what role, NCA&T is playing in this. I know you made reference to it, but looking at the bill and in looking at the handout, there really doesn’t seem to be roles. Is there a way that you’re thinking about in incorporating A&T more? Original Speaker: Yes there is. Yes Sir. Representative (sounds like Pigg): Where would I find that in looking at the bill? Original Speaker: It’s a great question and it doesn’t show up in the bill, but what we plan to do is, we’re going to be creating an advisory group that’s going to help lead this charge. It’s not only going to be NC State, we’re just gonna be obviously the facilitator of it. We’re gonna involve NCA&T, the Department, we’re gonna involve… (Sound byte ends)

-department of the AG, we’re also going to be involving private industry, farmers and others to help us create what that should be. So they will be one of the key partners in the whole process. They’re going to be there actually, we’ve already had conversations, we’re talking to them yesterday, as late as yesterday about it so that, yes, they’re very much engaged in this because their niche, and they’re not certainly limited to this niche, but they do great work with small farmers. Many of you may know that. Dr. Randal[???] and his team do an extraordinary job and we partner very closely with cooperative extension in particular. That’s where you see a lot of that partnership there, and in the research arena and it’s really important that we grow that. So it certainly is not in any way not going to include them. They will included in the mix as we think forward about how we go forward, yes sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Luke [???] this summer when we had the activision[???] meetings they were there and they made presentation and very much a part of we were trying to do. So I thought it was a good connection, and we definitely heard from them. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Lucas[???] [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chair. Allow me to applaud the concept of food processing plants. I’ve long wondered why we ship our food out of the state to be processed at other areas and brought back for us to buy it. As we consider these food processing plants, I hope that we will give great consideration to processing it right in the rural areas where it is grown rather than sending it to Rawley[???] or to Charlotte[???] or to some other big cities in the state. Let’s provide some jobs in the rural areas. [SPEAKER CHANGES] If I can respond to that, representative. One of the things that this project – both of these projects is driven by stake holders. Many of our stakeholders are in rural North Carolina and the reason that they have brought this forward is they see this as a way to bring new jobs back into this rural area. So we’re right on line with you. A great statistic that our dean[???] and I were talking this morning, and he apologizes for not being here, he has a different meeting today on a similar kind of topic, but he said that his analysis has been that when you take a product that we grow, that about ten percent of the profitability of that product stays in the state. Ninety percent goes to the processing and somewhere, that’s the valuated part. So we’re losing a huge amount of opportunity by letting these products go out. So we hear that, we believe that it can be a stimulus for rural North Carolina, we can do some good things there, and we’re looking forward to figuring out how we can do that, so thank you for the comment. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Kerr[???] [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chair. What processing do we have in North Carolina now? [SPEAKER CHANGES] We have some, and some of you can probably tell me as quickly as any, I know there’s some bread processing that goes on in this state. There are some small groups that do some work in this area, but we just – when you look around and you look at what we do send out, we’re not, we’re missing so many opportunities. So, you can go to rural areas, you can find spots of it in small towns, but you don’t see what we think can really be an expansion. Again, I don’t want to over state it, we want to do a study on this to insure that the help happens at the right places because we don’t want to – when we get stewards[???] so that’s part of the study to show us where the gaps are, where we can do this. And we think again that’s something I might add to this representative Turner[???] that we want to add, we want to have commerce involved in that, we want to have all the partners, the department of AG again will be involved in that, other partners help us do that study. Again, we’ll lead it, we’ll facilitate it, we’re going to have a lot of partners to insure that it has that state-wide foot print. And there’s a lot of product too that comes from other states, like on the border. Like if you’re up on the north eastern border, there might be a product grown in the neighboring county that could be brought to us to process. That’s good, we’d steal anything from Virginia, South Carolina that’s fine with us! So there’s all that kind of thinking we’ve got to put into this too. Lots of opportunity there. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes [SPEAKER CHANGES] We used to have some dairy processing plants. Do we not any longer? [SPEAKER CHANGES] There still is some. And you’ll find those in some different counties. You’ll find dairies that do ice creams and milks and those kind of things. But again, it’s hit and miss. It’s entreprenurs who have been very thoughtful, small. We think we can build this out so it can be a real economic driver. And again, we just have to study to make sure before we set a heading. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Any others? Representative Qunn[???] [SPEAKER CHANGES] A couple of things, I havn’t heard Kanapolis[???] mentioned, that’s one of our institutions, you know, out of the old food processing space. We’re doing a lot of work there on nutrition and other such things. And then again, I’m from Western North Carolina, and our farms are --

Small. And they’re very specialized. And we’ve been for the last decade for sure, strong in niche processing. We’re taking tomatoes and making tomato sauce and we’re pickling everything that you can imagine. We’ve done all kinds of value-add, lot of (especially) retailing as part of that and so, it’s not the same all over the state. There’s a big agriculture in Eastern North Carolina and there’s very niche agriculture in Western North Carolina. But we have Blue Ridge food ventures, for example, community college incubator program does an incredible job that you might wanna look at as a model to be replicated in a lot of places. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We agree. As a matter of fact, you couldn’t have asked for a more different state in terms of agriculture than we have, you travel the state as you have and you see it full value and that’s somewhat what we see as a great opportunity that we’ve been figuring out. Cluster? [SPEAKER CHANGES] One other point, Mr. Chairman. The extension service is egg extension of our land grant universities all across the states. So, you have a network, a footprint all across the state. So, you are a good player to help coordinate a lot of good assets that are happening across the state. So, I hope you’ll certainly recommend this approach. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank You, Representative. Representative Horn. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank You, Mr. Chairman. I was involved in the food processing business in the sales area for quite a number of years and I recognize the great opportunities we have in North Carolina because we ?? raw materials, as you mentioned it. But, it’s critically important that we work across the silos of transportation and education to ensure that our kids come out through school, are aware of the many career opportunities in the food industry, not just being a farmer and that’s not just because those are the hardest working people out there I know. But, all of things it takes to be in food processing is technological issues, chemistry issues, transportation issues which brings me yet another one, and it’s critically important to food processors that we have an infrastructure that allows them to get their products quickly from the point of manufacture it into the hands of the consumer as we move into these just in time delivery sequences that most of the distributors and I’m hopeful that you’ll work closely to ensure that we have a good egg education and good work with our ports and our highways, freezer space at our ports, critically important for processing in this state. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank You, Representative Horn. Representative Ramsey. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I just wanted to follow up with Representative Turner. It’s common I can’t speak for other Agricultural sectors; I know from the dairy industry we have a few processors left in North Carolina. There’s a consolidation of those processors and one of our challenges of growing dairy in our state is every day, milk is shipped in the North Carolina. We’re a fluid deficit region and if our processors are able to obtain enough product, they’re moving milk from Texas in the Midwest into North Carolina. So, you have dairies like 100dairy down in high point milk van in western North Carolina. One of the challenges for farmers is that from markets too, where they have opportunities to obtain processors beyond just one processor. So, there’s some competition and like in the Midwest, you might be able to sell your milk to 5 or 6 different processors. Down here, you don’t have that option. [SPEAKER CHANGES] At this time, we thank you, Doctor ?? for being with us and we’ll close this part of the meeting and then I wanna bring up my great niece and now she’s gonna say a few words. She’s the president, North Carolina FAA and her dad is egg teacher and I had a lot to do with that too, since I was an egg teacher and he followed my steps, I ?? him four years in high-school. And, I’m very happy to represent to my egg committee Carmen ??. Carmen.

Well, I just want to start out by saying thank you for letting me be here today. I know you all are very busy and your time is very valuable, so I won’t talk as much as some of the other Honeycutt Ag teachers, but I’ll try to keep it a little short. But as I’m sure some of you know, agriculture education has three key components. We have classroom instruction, SAE, supervised agriculture experience, and then we have FFA. And I might be a little biased, but FFA certainly seems the most fun to me. But in the classroom, we learn the basics. And like you said, Representative, agriculture education is the key to the future of agriculture. It’s been mentioned here today. And we learn the skills in the classroom that prepare us to go out and to be that future in agriculture. And then the supervised agriculture experience, that’s our opportunity to get the hands-on experience with those skills. So that’s when we really learn how to do things. I have a three acre garden at home, and I have learned way more than I could have ever learned sitting in a classroom, by getting out and doing that hands-on experience. And I think that’s a really key component to agriculture education, and education in general. And then we have FFA. And I think what’s really unique about FFA is that it’s an opportunity to take all those skills, all those things we’ve learned, and to have the leadership, to learn the leadership, to apply those things to North Carolina as a whole. So, I’ve been listening a little bit to what you’ve talked about today with the food processing and I think FFA really prepares students in agriculture education to be able to branch out and to make some of those things come true. And I think the three circle model that I talked about with agriculture education kind of transitions over to FFA in general. So in FFA we have our own three components. We have our FFA camp, we have ag teachers like ?? mentioned. And then we have our blue jackets. And I won’t talk too much about all of that but FFA camp is a lot of fun for all of us. And this is when we really get to meet members from across the state. And that’s where we really start to learn about other counties and all the different agriculture products that are made in North Carolina. And it’s really interesting to see. We get to do a lot of fun things and we play sports. And I learned that I’m not very good at that, but I just spend a lot of time talking to everyone when I go to FFA camp. But that’s where we apply those leadership skills we’ve learned and that’s where we get to learn about other people’s products. And we get to see things from across the state. And the second part of agriculture education and FFA is our ag teachers. Like ?? said, he taught agriculture education and he had the I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not, but he had my dad and my uncle. So he had Honeycutts in his career. And I think our agriculture teachers are truly the core of FFA. Because those are the people that pass on that experience and that knowledge so that we’re prepared to go out and make the future as bright as we can make it. And I think they’re the cornerstone to the future of agriculture. And so they’re very important to all of our hearts and I know my ag teacher and my dad and my Uncle ?? have all been key players in what I’ve accomplished in FFA and in life and in agriculture. And finally, FFA has the blue jacket. And they’re not exactly comfortable on a 90 degree day, but they are a key tradition to FFA. Not many people can say that they wear a blue corduroy jacket every day. But I’ve had the opportunity to wear blue corduroy a lot this year. And it’s not as uncomfortable as it looks. Once you start breaking in the jacket, it’s really nice to wear. But it’s the unity that brings us all together. When you go a state convention, which is coming up really soon in June for North Carolina, you see all these blue jackets flood downtown. And it’s an amazing feeling to know that all of those people are there to support agriculture. And they are there to learn about agriculture and they want to be the future of agriculture. So I think that’s what really FFA is all about. We are preparing ourselves so that we can make the future of North Carolina and North Carolina agriculture as bright as we can possibly make it. So I just want to say thank you for your support for agriculture education, for FFA and for the industry we all love. Agriculture. So thank you for letting me be here today and I hope you all enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Carmen, and I appreciate all of you hanging around here. And

-I’m real proud of her. And that’s our business today, and yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chair, I was glad to stay around and hear maybe the most sense we heard all day and welcome her back to speak with us anytime. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Meeting adjourned. [END_OF_FILE]