From the tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
In June, I participated in the first meeting of the N.C. Food Manufacturing Task Force,which was established by Gov. Pat McCrory to look at ways to grow the number of food manufacturing businesses in North Carolina.
The task force is composed of 35 members with expertise in agriculture, meat and dairy production, crop production, agribusiness, food processing, food packaging, transportation, education, government and economic development. Core leadership members are Richard Linton, dean of the N.C. State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, Commerce Secretary John Skvarla and myself.
Dean Linton and I agree there are a lot of opportunities out there and entrepreneurial farmers and agribusiness owners interested in the development of new value-added products. We’ve got to play to our strengths in North Carolina, and agriculture is our strength. At $78 billion, it is our No. 1 industry and there is room for growth. By 2020, I believe we can grow agriculture to a $100 billion industry.
It is estimated that through the efforts of the Food Processing and Manufacturing Initiative, we could add nearly 38,000 jobs and $10.3 billion to North Carolina’s economic output within five years. What excites me about this is that many of these jobs would likely be created in rural North Carolina, where jobs are desperately needed.
Some of the goals we will focus on include developing a strategic plan to leverage existing activities in food processing and manufacturing; establishing a statewide food processing and manufacturing organization directory and database; creating a plan to develop a proactive industrial recruitment campaign for new business development; fostering the growth of food manufacturing entrepreneurs; and increasing training and outreach.
We have seen numerous food businesses succeed in our state, and several new ones have opened in the past year or are in development.
I look forward to serving on this task force, and hope to have many new developments to report.