Local News

N.C. Farmers Believe Phipps' Controversy May Have Negative Impact On Business

Posted May 14, 2003

— The campaign scandal of State Ag Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps is an unwanted distraction for farmers trying to keep their businesses afloat.

Jackie Thompson is making hay on his Wake County farm because the forecast calls for rain, but storm clouds are also gathering around the state agriculture commissioner. Two of Phipps' former aides have pleaded guilty for their involvement in financial wrongdoing in her 2000 election campaign.

"I'm not very satisfied with the disarray that's in our Department of Agriculture right now," he said. "Whichever way it needs to be done, I would like to see it straightened out."

Thompson said the situation needs to be straightened out because the state Agriculture Department is critical for his business.

"Last year when people did not have any hay, the Department of Agriculture was instrumental in stepping in and helping us hook-up, if you will, with farmers that were in need of hay," he said.

The scandal involving Phipps could have a major impact on the General Assembly and its handling of the state budget.

"It could have a significant impact on the budgeting process in the General Assembly and I think that is a critical nature, particularly this year," said Larry Wooten, president of the N.C. Farm Bureau.

The state Department of Agriculture touches everyone each day. For example, the department checks every scale in the state to make sure they are accurate. The department is also responsible for the accuracy of bar code scanners at retailers.

The state Department of Agriculture also regulates the safety and purity of food and medicine.

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