Budget cuts could hurt crop research efforts
Posted February 22, 2009 8:45 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:13 p.m. EDT
Clayton, N.C. — North Carolina's population is growing while farmland is shrinking. That means farmers must find ways to produce more on less land. However, a tight state budget could hamper those efforts.
"The problems are still coming at us, though. We need more kinds of research that we do here, just to keep up with the various challenges we have,” said Dr. Barclay Poling, with North Carolina State University.
WRAL talked with Poling at the state's agricultural research station near Clayton. He said scientists and farmers are working together at 18 research stations across the state to find new ways to improve crops. But tough times are raising concerns that such work could be hampered by state budget cuts.
"The research stations are the seed corn for agriculture in North Carolina," State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said.
Troxler said the state's farmers are trying to keep up with the population boom by finding new ways to meet rising demand.
"We as farmers have to become more efficient, and the only way we can become more efficient is through research,” Troxler said.
Troxler is working with others to develop a plan for the research stations. It will be sent to the state Legislature by May 1.
"What we would like to see happen with the research stations is that they are modernized, so they are what they need to be for the future,” Troxler said.
Farmers aren't the only people who benefit from the research programs. The state's farms also donate fresh produce to food banks.