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Piggott on 4th Congressional District Farmers Briefing Panel

Piggott, second from left, provided a perspective on the state of NC agriculture.

U.S. Representative David Price (NC-04) hosted a ‘Farmers Briefing’ on December 16th, 2019 at the North Carolina Rural Center in Raleigh, NC. Patrick Woodie, President of the Center, providing welcoming remarks where he reminded the audience that rural and urban North Carolinians, and farmers specifically, have more in common than one might think. For example, we all share natural resources such as water and urban restaurants serve food from rural North Carolina. Woodie emphasized there is more than unites North Carolinians than divides the population.

Congressman David Price updated the group on the forthcoming appropriations bill and United States-Mexico- Canada Agreement (USMCA). He expects these resolutions to be approved soon. He also explained that while he represents a largely urban area, there are still agricultural interests in the region. Price stated he understands the importance of his district’s agricultural industry as well as that of the entire state.

He then introduced the panel, NC State ARE Professor Nick Piggott, Kelly Dale of the Rural Advancement Foundation, and Tina Miller, with the Durham-Orange County Farm Service Agency (FSA). Nick briefed the group on the challenges farmers are facing today. Each challenge inserts risk into the farmer’s business and mitigating that risk can be extremely difficult. Risks include weather (too much rain or drought) and disease (ie. swine fever, avian flue, nematodes).

Nick further explained that farmers are facing a loss of economic profit from geopolitical factors like trade wars and limited access to free trade and international markets. He emphasized the need for investment in Research and Development and a strong crop insurance program to manage risk. Nick also explained that NC State plays a key role by fulfilling its land-grant mission to conduct timely research and provide science-based solutions to the growers in North Carolina through the Cooperative Extension.

Tina and Kelly shared information about resources that their organizations offer such as small grants, farm loans, and assistance with many United States Department of Agriculture programs. Tina stated that the nature of farming in the Triangle region is changing, especially in the decline in dairy operations and increase in niche crops. North Carolina must continue its partnerships between federal, state and local agencies and other stakeholders to address these changes and support North Carolinians in agriculture and the industry as a whole.