Local News

Ag Candidates Seek Seat as Sodfather Retires

Posted October 26, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT

— After 36 years in the office of Commissioner of Agriculture,Jim Grahamis not running for re-election. Two people are battling to fill the seat.

Meg Scott Phippsis the daughter and granddaughter of North Carolina governors and grew up around farming and politics.

"I was raised here on the dairy farm in Haw River and was active in 4-H," she says. "So, I've always had an interest in agriculture, and it's what gets me excited."

Phipps is an agricultural lawyer and feels her legal skills will help North Carolina's farm community.

"I have a lot of experience in government relations and the legal background in agriculture will be a big asset to the department," she says.

Two of the biggest issues in North Carolina agriculture are the hog and tobacco industries' futures.

"I feel strongly that the industries, especially the hog industry, has been put down unfairly by the media," Phipps says. "The tobacco industry is in transition. It is still a strong crop in the state, and if we get the China market, for instance, opened up and get that product sold, we still grow the best,"

RepublicanSteve Troxlerlives and works on his family farm in Brown Summit.

"During the time I've been farming, I've also taken the time to be involved in leadership," he says. "I think it is imperative that this person has the heart of agriculture."

"The only way you can have the heart of agriculture is from experience on the farm, experiencing good crops, bad crops, failed polices concerning agriculture," he says. "I think it's an experience factor that I bring to the table and strong leadership."

He wants to obtain new markets for tobacco and use science to examine the hog industry.

"We were once the leader in the world production of tobacco. We've lost that market, and we have to try to obtain that market again," Troxler says. "We've got to look at the environmental problems and use science to evaluate what the problems are and use the research to try to fix these problems, if they exist."

For what it is worth, both candidates do have pick-up trucks and faithful dogs.