From the tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
As I am writing this, we are at the halfway mark of the State Fair, and we are on pace to have a great year based on early attendance numbers.
As proud as I am to have strong turnout, my greatest satisfaction comes from seeing people having a good time with friends and family. It is a tradition that has played out for 148 years, and it is what connects generation to generation to this event.
I enjoy seeing the fair through my grandchildren’s eyes. Their perspective is very different from my own, but at the same time it helps shape my vision of what the State Fair should be and how we reach the next generation.
If you have come out to the State Fair, I hope you have noticed how many exhibits, competitions and displays feature agriculture. That is not by accident.
This event draws so many people who have little to no connection to agriculture, but we want to use this opportunity to highlight all the ways agriculture touches the lives of every North Carolinian. I can assure you that without agriculture and farmers, there would be a whole lot of deep-fried nothing to eat the fair.
One way we highlight the vitality of our livestock industry is through the livestock competitions. Animal agriculture accounts for more than 60 percent of farm cash receipts in the state, so it is a significant industry that provides jobs across the state.
For the second year in a row, we have set a new record with our livestock sale of champions, something that I am very proud of.
Through the generous support of our sponsors and buyers, we were able to award 24 scholarships worth $2,000 each to youth who have participated in livestock shows at the Fair. Several of them attended the sale this year and were recognized during breaks in the sales ring.
Winners of the grand, reserve grand champion and N.C. Born and Bred hogs, meat goats, market steers and market lambs receive 60 percent of the winning bids, with the remaining 40 percent going into the scholarship fund and ag education.
Following the sale, the winning animals went on display in the Expo Center for the duration of the fair. Some of the youth winners even stayed and answered the questions of fairgoers.
It is just this type of opportunity that helps consumers better understand where their food comes from.
I hope you had a chance to attend this year’s fair. If not, go ahead and mark your calendars for next year. We’ll do it again Oct. 13-23, 2016.