Local News

Troxler Vows To Help Farming Community As New State Ag Commissioner

Posted February 8, 2005 3:05 a.m. EST

— Republican Steve Troxler was sworn in Tuesday as the new state agriculture commissioner.

Troxler made quite an entrance into his post. After his swearing-in at the State Fairgrounds, he rode a tractor to the state Ag Department.

"As the people get to know me, we are going to move this department forward and we are going to be the best Department of Agriculture in the United States as quickly as we can get it done. It's that important to North Carolina," Troxler said.

Soon after the ceremonial changing of the guard, Troxler's day of celebration turned to a difficult day on the job. Hundreds of farmers who came to support Troxler at his swearing-in are concerned billions of dollars in federal support will soon be lost.

"We've come to rely on these subsidy payments. They keep us in business," farmer Doug Lee said.

Lee is worried that President George W. Bush's 10-year plan to trim nearly $6 billion from government farming programs will cripple family farms.

"We'd have a very hard time making ends meet," he said.

As a Republican, Troxler said he will work quickly to form relationships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and prevent major cuts.

"Farming is a crisis every day and my job is all about crisis control, so I will handle it as need be," he said. "We're going to fight to make sure farmers get their share."

Troxler's swearing-in comes after Friday's State Board of Elections meeting, in which Democrat Britt Cobb conceded.

"All along we knew we won and we knew we were right, and that's what kept us going during this time," Troxler said.

After November's election, Troxler led the agriculture commissioner's race by 2,200 votes, but 4,400 were lost in Carteret County.

Troxler asked those voters to sign affidavits and said they mathematically proved he won. But before they were considered, Cobb conceded.

"I was fearful the affidavits would be accepted and it would set a terrible precedent," Cobb said.

The question of affidavits was left unanswered, so was how the state board of elections was going to resolve the race. While Tuesday's inauguration fills a seat, it does not fix problems in the process. The State Board of Elections asked two times for new elections in this race. Both times, a judge denied the request.