Local News

N.C. Farmers Push General Assembly For Changes

Posted February 13, 2003 10:14 a.m. EST

— There was once a time when agriculture drove North Carolina's economy, but a new study says it is the fourth largest money-making industry in eastern North Carolina.

Despite an industry on the decline, farmers say they still have power in the General Assembly. Farmers gathered at the Legislative building Wednesday with a wish list of items.

Many said they are worried about cuts in research funding, higher land taxes, and strict environmental regulations.

"Our farmers are really facing a crisis situation and the budget was very tough last year. That challenge is going to be ever greater this year," said N.C. Sen. Marc Basnight.

Experts said the agricultural industry may not be what it used to be, but it still contributes $59 billion to North Carolina's economy every year.

"We can't forget. And I don't think we will forget the facts that underlie the support of why we have agriculture and why we need agriculture," said Larry Wooten, the president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau.

"It's quite a challenge for us at this time you know. We got to, somewhere or another, we need to try to close the gap between rural and urban America," said Sen. Charlie Albertson, who serves on the N.C. Senate's agricultural committee.

Farmers said they are worried about the growing gap and the threat it poses to their way of life.