KCGLUF [0:00:00.0] Members and guest I would like to welcome everybody the House Committee on agriculture on this beautiful, beautiful February day. It’s good to be inside the building, we are thankful for your attendance here and look forward to very good presentation shortly. Today we have four pages with us that I would like to introduce first, Harrison McNeil from Randolph County sponsored by Representative Allen McNeil, Erin Kennedy from Cumberland County, Representative John Szoka, Hope Kim from Orange County, Representative Verla Insko, and Mark from Stanly County now, Representative Justin Burr, and Mark with us all the way from Germany. Welcome to our wonderful North Carolina weather, Mark we hope you pages have a great time here this week. Our Sergeants-at-Arm and I don’t think we have to use many bullets today so you can pick those away, Bill ??, Mark Hone and Joe Cook, we are grateful to have the Sergeant-at-Arms with us today. We have a wonderful presentation; we are very privileged to have with us Dr. Richard H Linton, he’s the Dean of the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and I would like for our pages to pay particular attention to this presentation, you might see something in this that gives you a little bit different view on what agriculture is really about in particular in North Carolina State University and that what state have to offer. Dean Linton has come into North Carolina at a very unique time in our history. We are in the process of a transition period from that which was traditional to different avenues and I have seen portions of the presentation that he would be given to us today, this will not be the last time that you will see this kind of, these proposals and so forth so Dean Linton to make this presentation to us and welcome to the House Committee on agriculture dean Linton. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I need an Engineer to be able to figure out which button to press. Good afternoon everyone I certainly wanna to thank all of you for being here today especially with the inclimate weather, I’m certainly wanna to reach out to Mr. Dickson and thank you for the invitation to be here. Today, I have been asked to talk about some important initiatives in North Carolina agriculture that have surfaced over the last several years, I will focus my presentation today on the North Carolina plant sciences initiative, we will also talk about two other important topics which is food manufacturing and student axis for a four year degree program. You should have four handouts that should be past around, there should be copy of my presentation which is six copies of slides per page, there should also be an abstract and executive summary on the North Carolina plant sciences initiative then there should also be a one page document on plant sciences and a one page document on student axis all very important topics that you are talking about today. You know, when you look at some of the challenges in agriculture and some of the challenges of a Dean of such a great college here in North Carolina we got a tremendous challenge in moving forward ahead, we got this great challenge of feeding the world and to be able to feed 9.3 people by the year 2050. So in the next 30 to 35 growing seasons we are gonna have to make tremendous changes to be able to double the food supply and enhance technology by 70 to 100%. And we have to deal with all sorts of challenges less land, less water, more pest and disease that still at the same time protecting our environment. So three years ago when I joined the State of North Carolina and North Carolina State University I went around the state and started a process of… [0:05:00.1] [End of file…]
Future which was a strategic plan, not just for the college of agriculture and life sciences but a strategic plan for the state of North Carolina when it comes to agriculture. And really the question we were trying to answer from an economic standpoint is how can we grow our number one economic engine in North Carolina and build jobs and enhance our economy? And five kinds of ideas surfaced from the strategic planning initiative a couple of years ago. They're listed here, one on leadership, one on student access, one on food animal products, one on plant science, so the outcomes associated with the plant sciences component of these ideas. If you recall, there were two legislative initiatives were bills last year that were supported to be able to do an economic feasibility study in two separate areas, and, and Jimmy Dixon and James Langdon were the two coauthors on the House side in moving this legislation forward. One of the economic feasibility studies was on plant sciences and the other was on food processing and food manufacturing. Those economic feasibility studies have been completed and they were delivered as, as promised January one of this year, and I think those have been made available to your committee. If for some reason they have not been made available to, to your committee, I'll just share with you a website here. It's CALS, which stands for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, .ncsu.edu and that full economic feasibility study can be found on the website. What I've handed out to you is a very small condensed version which just includes the executive summary and the abstract. I think in total, the document's about 170 pages. So again, today, I'd like to focus on the plant sciences initiative. And, and I guess I want to start out by saying that what, what's exciting about the plant sciences initiative is it's partnership driven and it's stakeholder driven. We arrived at the plant sciences initiative by visiting some 20 plus sites around the state of North Carolina and meeting face to face with over 3,000 stakeholders, and now a stakeholder driven process in partnership with Farm Bureau and the commissioner of agriculture. And many stakeholders throughout the state, we feel like the North Carolina plant sciences initiative can be the thing that can move agriculture forward in North Carolina. Certainly it's an aspiration for innovative research, and really the innovative research spans from opportunities to grow farming operations in rural North Carolina as well as growing our very exciting research triangle park initiatives just 20 minutes outside of Raleigh. We hope to be able to provide a competitive edge for our students. I think, as you see what we're trying to do with this initiative, we're trying to change our students. We're trying to change our students so they are focused on multi disciplines around agriculture, so they understand engineering, they understand economics, they understand plants, they understand animals, and they're also working with industry hand in hand to understand important and applied problems. We like to make our students better so that they're better equipped not only to start in the job market, but to provide leadership right out of the gate. And last and not least and maybe most important is this is a commitment to our heritage. It's a commitment to our farmers throughout the state of North Carolina. So you might be thinking, why plant sciences? Why, why here and why now? I think what's, what's unique to North Carolina is we have a very unique set of assets. We have almost every kind of climate, almost every type of soil type which gives us the ability to grow many different types of plants. In fact, if you look at different states in the United States, we're the third most diverse state when it comes to the production of different plant products. So I guess what I'm saying is we could take a new corn variety and grow it in five places in North Carolina and mimic what could happen in Iowa, in Indiana, in Pennsylvania, in Northern Georgia, and sites in Texas. No other state has that capacity and ability to be able to do so and in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, we can do this across 18 different research stations located throughout the state of North Carolina. The idea here is to be able to create jobs as well, and from the economic feasibility study, I'll show you some very exciting numbers related to two important economic indicators. One is jobs, and the other is an increase to our economy. Our goal is to be able to train tomorrow's leaders, but train tomorrow's leaders in a way that's not, that, that's never been done before. Of course, to be able to increase the ag profits both here and abroad, to be able to, to meet the goal
that the Commission of Agriculture has had for many years and wishes to grow the already strong economy of 78 billion to 100 billion by the year 2020. What's unique about this initiative, as you'll see as we start to talk more about it, is this makes a difference in people's lives in rural communities, especially farmers' lives, and it also makes a difference in the lives of people in urban components of North Carolina, especially surrounding those companies in Research Triangle Park. We can be the world leader in plant sciences in North Carolina, much like California is the silicone valley area in California for microchips, the state of North Carolina has the same opportunity to be world-class and world-best in the area of plants. Nobody else has Research Triangle Park 20 minutes away, coupled with the diversification in plant products with multiple soil types and multiple climate types. We've got a very unique scenario and situation here in North Carolina. This slide shows the overall economic impact shown from both economic feasibility studies, the Plant Sciences Initiative and the Food Processing Manufacturing Initiative. And the two numbers I want to highlight is the opportunity to be able to grow, in a 10 year period, up to 70,000 jobs and add 19.5 billion to the North Carolina economy, thereby growing our economy from 78 billion to the stated goal of almost 100 billion. A tremendous impact economically that can be done with the synergy of these two initiatives. So let's talk a little bit more about the Plant Sciences Initiative so that you can understand what we're trying to accomplish. Again, we're trying to take advantage of the uniqueness that we have in the state of North Carolina with the diversity of plant products and the diversity of climates and soil types around the state of North Carolina. This slide shows the different research stations that are coupled with the partnership of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture at NC State University. We're now trying to take advantage of this, to be able to grow plants and plant sciences within North Carolina. Our idea is to take advantage of these assets, bring great ideas to light, invest in research, and create a partnership where industry, academia, and government can be working hand-in-hand to leverage our ideas and to be able to leverage our resources. It's about innovative technologies. It's about developing new varieties. New varieties that are drought resistant, disease resistant, that produce faster, that produce at a higher quality. It's about producing new food products. It's about increased industry capital, job growth, and we'll show you those numbers in just a minute, and producing a workforce that's not only trained to work in the workforce, but trained for leadership opportunities. Our goal is to be able to produce, in an academic institution, is to be able to produce a pipeline of students. To be able to fulfill the needs of agriculture in the future. Today, in the state of North Carolina, we have about 30,000 new jobs in agriculture each and every year, and we've got to find a way to fulfill the need of the future, of more job growth development in the future. So I don't want to talk a whole lot about science, but just to let you know that the committee who did the economic feasibility study has said that we should be focusing on a much more different area. Rather than focusing on silo disciplines like crop science and plant science and soil science and engineering, they said what we really ought to be doing is focusing on the interdisciplinary network that brings all those disciplines together over areas such as crop protection, plant adaptation, precision agriculture, and agrasymbiotics. And this comes after interviews with over 180 different stakeholders, both in North Carolina and around the country that are focused in plant science areas. This is what the industry needs, these kinds of inter-disciplines and a workforce that can fulfill them. The Plant Sciences Initiative also works very well with the Plants for Human Health Institute, Kannapolis, North Carolina. I think as many of you know, that's focused on the utilization of plants for the betterment of human health, and I think this initiative fits well, and is a nice extension out to the use of plants for the benefit of human health. Here are some of the exciting job and economic indicators that came out of the economic feasibility study for the Plant Sciences Initiative. It's estimated in a 10 year period that we could grow by 32,000 jobs and enhance our economy by 9.2 billion, which are very exciting economic forecast numbers to look at
In order to be able to make this plant sciences initiative work effectively, we have three goals. That is to first build interdisciplinary teams, interdisciplinary teams again, that are made up of crop scientists and soil scientists and economists and engineers to study the real complex challenges, challenges like water use and water management, food security, food safety where an interdisciplinary team is required. The second is to be able to build business and academic partnerships. We envision this initiative involving hand in hand relationships with companies and hand in hand relationships with government, not only in the state of North Carolina but at the federal level. And the third goal is to be able to create a world class facility in order to create this energy and bring together the different interdisciplines, and bring together the synergy of business, academic partnerships, and government. This is the envisioned future of a complex that we're looking forward to creating. This would be a new plant sciences complex on the centennial campus on the North Carolina state university campus. This would be best in the world facilities, and as you look at this figure, if you look all the way on the right hand side, this area here would be segmented and separated for industry. And the idea is a company like BASF or Bayer Crop Sciences or even the corn growers' association could lease space in this facility and have access to an interdisciplinary network of scientists as well as students at the undergraduate and the graduate level. No one else in the country has tried to bring these interdisciplines together, and to be able to bring industry and academia together in this way, and we think it's a very important direction for the future. Just to give you an idea of what we're envisioning, again, world class facility that has best in class greenhouse facilities to be able to study plants, provide an environment for interdisciplinary collaboration and environment for exchange of ideas across both the interdisciplinary network of NC state scientists as well as industry that might also occupy the building. I've done this kind of job for 25 years and I've seen good ideas and I've seen really great ideas, and in my 25 years I've never seen an idea that has had so much interest and so much support. This is the Commissioner of Agriculture's, one of his most important initiatives. It's North Carolina farm bureau's number one interest this year legislatively, and it's certainly a very important initiative for the college of agriculture and life sciences in North Carolina State. Not only is industry interested from a, a support standpoint, but they're also putting funds together to be able to help move this initiative forward to be able to help create this plant sciences complex. And you can see, here to date just in the last couple of months the college in collaboration with state quota groups has been able to raise about $7.5 million. Our goal is to be able to raise $9 million during this legislative session. It's about new varieties and improved crops. I thought I would just provide one example of what we're trying to do but from any other plant. This is the story of the sweet potato. In 2005, the sweet potato was not a very important product in the state of North Carolina. Ten years later, we're number one in the country, number one in the country two fold more than any other state. It's because of interdisciplinary work around new variety development, it's engineers that are involved in the storage, and it's crop scientists that are involved in better crop production practices, to be able to take us from not even on the map to number one in the country. This slide also shows the different byproducts that have come from sweet potatoes. Sweet potato french fries which now represent about 3% of the market. Sweet potato puree that's used in baby food formulations around the country and around the world. We can, we can envision the future in plant sciences in having multiple stories like the sweet potato story, and we think North Carolina is a great place to be able to make this happen. I think this is low risk and high reward, that the plant sciences complex that I showed you is $180 million investment. That's a big investment. In order to be a world class facility that engages and brings together the different disciplines and also brings together government, industry, and academia, you need to have a world class space that compares with what's going on at Bayer Crop Science and ?? and BASF. And someone said boy, $180 million is a big number for agriculture if that's what the investment would be like
Long term, but I would suggest that we should think about it in a different perspective. Yes, $180 million is a lot of money, but $180 million investment represents one fourth of 1% of a one year return on the $78 billion agriculture industry. And whenever we invest in agriculture research, every $1 that is invested in ag research brings $19.20 back to our economy. I would argue it's a very smart investment moving North Carolina agriculture forward. In tandem with the plant sciences initiative, we've also had an adjoining initiative, which is the food processing and manufacturing initiative. I'll spend less time talking about that today, but it's about building a network. It's about building the opportunity of bringing ingredients together with packaging materials to produce value added products, things like canned food products or frozen food products or, or refrigerated food products. Value added products which make a tremendous difference in the economy. Let me give you a very simple example to think about. A simple can of green beans. If a simple can of green beans is $1, about six cents of that can is the beans. Seven to eight cents of that can is the can and the label that goes on the outside. The ingredients are put into the can and then sent up to the Midwest so that they can be processed in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus, Ohio will sell us that can back for 70 cents. All Columbus, Ohio is doing is putting beans in a can, putting the lid on it and cooking it. I would argue that North Carolina can put beans in a can and cook it. So we're trying to take a look at what kinds of opportunities can we connect different commodity ingredients with end finished products to be able to attract new investments and new, new companies coming to the state of North Carolina. The job potential and the economic potential if food manufacturing was ever to become a reality could be absolutely huge for North Carolina. You can see another 38,000 jobs and $10.3 billion. Six years, that's all it would take if the state of North Carolina can find a way to be able to build this new way of thinking, this new economy to replace jobs and from the textile industry and the furniture industry as an example. The steps that are ongoing with the food manufacturing initiative, there is a state wide governor's task force that's being discussed at the moment. In fact, I've got a meeting tomorrow with the lieutenant governor's office to talk about this task force which was mentioned in the state of the state address of, from our governor several weeks ago. We're also working, as part of the economic feasibility study, there was a recommendation in a series of steps to provide funding of $1.5 million over a three year period and we're working to get that externally funded to be able to help the state of North Carolina take a look at this, I think, wonderful opportunity. So as a summary, these are the two economic feasibility studies, North Carolina plant sciences, North Carolina food processing and manufacturing. The outcome, the hope, the dream on the plant sciences initiative is the creation of this initiative and as a part of that, as a plant sciences complex, which we're working on. And on the food manufacturing, there's a state task force and an external funding for the initiative. If we circle back to the plant sciences complex, what we're trying to accomplish is there's a need for $18 million to get this project started, for planning money, for creation of this facility, this world class facility. The $9 million that we are raising would be 50% of what would be required. We would be asking for the state for their help in moving this initiative forward. I also wanted to take just a few minutes if I still have the time. This was an issue that I spoke about at a breakfast a few weeks ago that Mr. Dixon was at that he really did wanted me to talk about, and it has to do with student access, student access to get a four year degree in agriculture. Let me give you a bad statistic. Jobs and agriculture in the state of North Carolina, 54% of those jobs are taken by students that don't have a degree in agriculture, that have never stepped foot on a farm. I think somehow we've got to change that. I think somehow, we've got to provide opportunities for kids who grow up on a farm that want to get a degree in agriculture and finding ways to be able to accomplish that even when it's very, very difficult to get into a state university. So that's kind of the driver that's led to this discussion. I just wanted to share with you global rankings. These are our global rankings in different areas of agriculture. You can see that we range from
Seventeenth to twenty-fourth in the world. Our goal is to be fifth in the world in agriculture. That’s our strategic plan in moving forward and being third in the United States. If you take a look at application trends for North Carolina State University, as it is with many other state universities in the state of North Carolina, there’s a lot of interest in coming to North Carolina State University and the application trends have significantly increased. That’s great news for the university. But, it also means that it’s more and more difficult, in order to get accepted into different colleges, including the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This slide shows the average SAT that’s needed across the UNC system. You can see UNC-Chapel Hill requires the highest SAT and North Carolina State is second. You can see there in the top right, the average SAT was at 1266 in 2014. This dean did not have a 1266, I guarantee you, and somehow I became dean. I’m not sure how that’s happened. But because the higher SAT scores, we need to be a little bit more creative in finding alternative pathways to get into North Carolina State. One of the things that we’re doing, which is supported the Cooperative Extension Service, is a program called ASPIRE. And, the goal of ASPIRE is to enhance and increase SAT scores. And, the ASPIRE program, you can see, is offered in 40 different counties in North Carolina. It involves 30 hours of instruction and it increases the SAT score by about 150 points. So, this dean plus ASPIRE has a chance to get into North Carolina State University. Without ASPIRE, maybe I don’t have that opportunity. But, we’re also trying to create pathways, alternative pathways to the 4 year degree. We have partnerships with a number of North Carolina community colleges and we also have a new program in house called the STEAM program and these programs are a combination of time at NC State and time at another university, in order to be able to accomplish this 4 year degree program. The STEAM program, which was just launched 2 years ago, but the way in which this program works is kids come are not accepted into the traditional 4 year degree program. This is another option. This is another alternative. They come to NC State the summer before their freshman year. They then leave for their freshman year and go to another university and then come back for their next 3 years, as long as they have a 3.0 GPA and have taken certain courses. It has made a significant difference in providing opportunities for kids and for students that would not have not been successful in the traditional route. It’s a very, very exciting program that’s got a lot of interest around the state, especially in rural communities where SAT scores are many times not as high as they are in urban communities. So with that, I know I’ve probably taken a little bit more time than you would’ve liked. But, again I thank you for the opportunity to be here to talk about what I think are very exciting things going on in North Carolina related to agriculture and related to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank You. Excuse me. Thank you very much Dean Linton and if they’re any questions or comments, we’ll take those from the committee members. While you’re thinking, let me say this. I would venture to say that not a single one of us in this room today gave 1 ounce of thought about what we were going to eat today. I would dare say that most of us think it'll be there tomorrow. I would dare say that it’s been several weeks or maybe several months since we or any of the folks in North Carolina gave a lot of serious attention to about what we were going to eat because we’ve had such a plentiful supply of it and we’ve been able to go out and get it when we need it. I believe that what we’ve witnessed here this afternoon and what I have seen at different times over the past year and a half, I believe that 50 or 60 or 100 years from now, when the history of North Carolina is written and agriculture is put into its proper place, those of us here today have been privileged to be present at the very genesis of a new direction for agriculture in North Carolina. And, I can’t emphasize that any more than that. And so, I want us to be excited about being a part of the House Agriculture Committee because in the absence of food.
What else makes a difference? And that's what we're talking about, not only being able to produce more food on less land with less water, but also putting it in a method that we can sell it to other people to satisfy their needs. If you have, I'm gonna make one more thing while I'm on my political stump speech here, and, and use the bully pulpit. I remember one time when I was a little teen fellow George, at Miss Eva James's store in the community of friendship. There was a man in there by the name of ??. He spoke to my uncle whose name was Huey, and he said this. He said Huey, you and I probably won't live long enough to see it, but our grandchildren may, and I'm one of those grandchildren now. That we may live long, they may live long enough to see a day when a man will be willing to trade one diamond for one potato if it's a pretty big potato. [SPEAKER CHANGES] A North Carolina sweet potato. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. So that's my stump speech for the day and I'm excited to be here. Dean Linton, thank you for your vision, and I consider myself to be privileged to be on the front end of this new direction that we're taking in, in North Carolina. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Whitmire. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you mister Chair. I grew up on the farm I live on today and definitely appreciate your briefing, and by the way it's national FFA week this week too. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes it is. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Two things. One the military research station, the incredible work that it does. I hope we can get a ?? of scientists back there. When it comes to the plant science initiatives that you briefed, I suppose that it will probably have some differences than the apparatus we have in Kannapolis in terms of its mission. Can you clarify that a little, please? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Sure, it's, it's completely different but synergistic. The plant sciences initiatives here will be about solving those complex global issues, things around water use and water management, food security, feeding the world, productivity, new varieties, food safety and security, bioenergy, things that involve plants as being a resource and source for human feed, for animal feed, and for bioenergy. If you really think about the work in which is done in Kannapolis, from a strategic standpoint, that would be a good addition or a good add on to a plant sciences initiative. If I were strategically trying to build it and put it together, it would be the second step rather than the first step. So I think it fits really nicely because at the end of the day, we know how important plants are gonna be, and we also know how important human food is gonna be for human health. And so the growth and the collaboration and synergism across both I think is gonna be very important. Another thing I will tell you that will be very, very important in our future outside of feeding the world and being able to double the food supply is at some point in time, we're gonna have to do a better job of connecting food and ag systems with human health. Like I've just been asked to share an APLU committee, which is the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities on a $150 million per year initiative from USDA which focuses on just that. We know that 85% of our healthcare costs are associated with chronic disease and things like obesity, and we know that agriculture and food systems, food systems have a big part in that, but we've never connected the two together. So Kannapolis would allow us to do that kind of ahead of our time. Strategically I think it makes sense. I think just the order is different than I would have done originally. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Queen. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes. How does this, we mentioned Kannapolis, but we've done, we've had a biotech center, agriculture has a very broad reach in North Carolina and we've, we've try to lead in past decades and we want to continue our leadership so I applaud that kind of ambition, because second best doesn't, doesn't get the apple any longer. You want to be world class. A couple of things, you mentioned when you were on the knowledge pipeline, that there are 30,000 new jobs in agriculture each year, is that correct? [SPEAKER CHANGES] That's correct. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That's sort of turnover or what does that represent? [SPEAKER CHANGES] That's more turnover than actual new jobs. There's, and what's happening with that transition is we're transition, transitioning from three groups of jobs
To one group of jobs. The three groups of jobs that we're transitioning from is agrobusiness, is animal sciences, and agronomy. And those are being transitioned into plant science related jobs. So the, the goal is that, and on the one pager that you've got it talks about 84% of jobs in the future in agriculture will involve a plant science component. So the 30,000 new jobs that I talked about are actually a transition, the delta's zero. With the plant sciences initiative and with the food manufacturing initiative, those are truly new jobs that are not here today. So it's a good point of clarification. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up, if I may. The, let's see, your access for students, I'm assuming you need more students in agriculture? [SPEAKER CHANGES] We do. [SPEAKER CHANGES] So the boys down on the farm aren't signing up or, or not getting in or. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, there's a couple of challenges that we have. We need more boys and girls. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Boys and girls. Yeah, FFA in my county is more young ladies than young men now. [SPEAKER CHANGES] So our college is 78% women, so it's much more, and some departments like animal sciences are more like 85% women, so that, that's also been a big shift and a big change. But the future is we are gonna need more students in the future, and the balance is going to need to change. The balance, we need to, to be able to have the heavy emphasis we have in animal sciences, because two thirds of our agriculture is the poultry industry and the turkey industry. But the difference is in moving forward the area that we're gonna need to grow to enhance our student numbers is around the plant sciences area to, to, to get us ready for the future. Today, about 20% of our undergraduate students have a plant science major and if 84% of the new jobs are gonna be in plant sciences, we've got to change that number. We've got to increase that number. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Brody. Co chair. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Dean. I just wanted to ask a question about the, the, the hydroponics or that type of industry. So far, as I know, the Lord hasn't moved us closer to the equator or anything, so we still have a, a seasonal economy for a lot of products but yet it seems like something like hydroponics or some of those are going to be able to take that production that we would actually have to import and, and be able to grow here. Could you give, just briefly on that and probably connect the two, the plant science project that you have? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yeah, I think it's a really good question. I think building new technologies, I feel funny. I've got to do this. I think building two new technologies is actually going to be very critical in being able to be able to feed the world and be able to double the food supply. I think hydroponics was one example of a technology that might allow us to get there. Another very exciting technology is growing food products especially vegetables and fruits in hoop systems. So we now have a farmer just outside of Wilmington. His name is Cal Lewis, and Cal Lewis is able to grow strawberries 365 days a year because he has these hoop houses and the temperature doesn't get cold enough that, with the protection of the hoop houses, we can extend our growing seasons. It's ideas like that with less land, with less water, with more challenging pests, it's ideas like that that we need to work through through our plant sciences initiative to kind of outsmart the challenges that we have. Hydroponics could be one. Hoop houses could yet be another. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative, and I can't see. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Willingham. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Willingham. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yeah. My question is this. You talk about the food processing. What is it, and that seemed to be low hanging fruit for us here in North Carolina. What is that we are not doing or what is it we can do to speed up that process of having process the food here, because we grow a lot of the, as you mentioned, a lot of the crops that we're sending out to be processed to come back that we pay more for. So what is it that we're not doing or what is it we can do to facilitate that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] And we have four minutes left. [SPEAKER CHANGES] So I think you've asked the $64,000 question that this government, that the governor's task force hopefully will come up with some solutions, and there's also some solutions that are in the economic feasibility study that's, that's published and online
...but it's about connecting ingredients with finished products, but more importantly it's about insentivizing business to want to come to North Carolina. Today, the hub of food manufacturing is in Columbus, Ohio. I spent over two years of my life as a department head of a food science and technology program because of my expertise in food manufacturing. And the reason it was in Columbus, Ohio was because in the 1960s, if you took a 500-mile radius and you drew it around Columbus, it represented seventy-percent of the population. And there were energy savings in Columbus, Ohio because it's cold in the winter and energy is less for freezing and refrigeration. Forty years later-- Fifty years later, things have completely changed. Now when you look at the southeast and you draw a 500-mile radius around Raleigh, North Carolina, you have seventy-percent of the population. So, there's a great opportunity to be able to shift the hub from where it is today to where it could be in the southeast. But, I think a big part of it is going to be about how can we make North Carolina more attractive than places in the Midwest, and I think that'll be the biggest challenge that the lieutenant governor's office, commerce, NC State, North Carolina Department of Agriculture -- and the many stakeholders that will likely make up this task force -- will help to try to come up with some recommendations. If we can figure that out, I think we could make a tremendous change and positive move forward. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Representative Riddell. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Dean. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You're welcome. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Real quick question. Can you give me a brief snapshot of the equine industry in North Carolina and trends for the future? [SPEAKER CHANGES] The equine industry? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yeah. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'm not going to have my specific data points here. I can tell you some of the things that we're doing. We're working with the vet school to be able to try to combine our programs together. The vet school wants to be able to create better facilities. We have land with not-so-great facilities, so we're working to be able to share our land and our not-so-great facilities, and the vet school's trying to be able to build new facilities on that land so that we can partner to be able to make a more efficient and a more synergistic relationship. Relative to the equine program, it's a pretty big piece of the animal science department. We have four faculty members out of about seventeen, so it's about twenty to twenty-five percent of what we do in animal sciences and continues to be a very important program in North Carolina. ...