We asked a few friends of CALS: What do you want to see in rural North Carolina’s future? And how can CALS help?
Pattie Mills, Co-owner
JP Davenport & Son, Greenville
“Rural farms are slowly disappearing. Because agriculture is so vital to the economy of rural North Carolina, it’s important that we continue to find ways to increase production in these areas and also bring new opportunities to rural farm families. We must find ways to incentivize more companies to invest in our rural communities by buying North Carolina products.
“The continued support and investment of CALS in areas like the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative is so important to ensure that our rural communities will be able to continue to live and feed their families through farming.”
Steve Griffin and Archie Griffin, Owners
Griffin Farms, Washington
Steve: “We need to teach these kids that agriculture is more than just driving a tractor — there are so many fields you can go into with an agricultural background.”
Archie: “I think CALS can get people interested in coming back to rural North Carolina by setting up internships: have students come out and spend some time in order for them to connect with what farmers have going on. One day is not going to cause a student to really appreciate it out here.
“CALS can also continue with their leadership courses — for instance, Blake Brown’s Executive Farm Management Program. That class … made me realize that while rural NC might be small, you’re not detached from the rest of the state.”
Brent Jackson, NC Senator
“We need jobs that attract new residents and businesses and help retain the young people who come from rural areas. We need to ensure that rural North Carolina has the same quality of life and job opportunities that our urban areas offer. And to have the jobs, we’ve got to have the infrastructure to support growth.
“CALS can be a bridge between urban and rural areas. … I think more support is needed for research and development in new … crops that can diversify the range of crops our farmers can grow. … Anything CALS can do to strengthen its presence in our rural communities is a benefit all around.”
Rob Fleming, Co-Owner
Fleming Brothers Farms;
NC Cotton Producers Association
“CALS can help provide the support rural North Carolina needs by taking care of our kids — getting them in to NC State, refining them and sending them back out to better their communities and themselves.
“As these commodities move forward, applied research helps us stay in front of things instead of behind. NC State Extension’s specialists provide a connection to put research back on the farm and keep us moving forward.”
Dan Gerlach, President
Golden LEAF Foundation, Rocky Mount
“I hope that we would have vibrant communities … for our farmers to be the most productive in the world; for our manufacturers to be bustling; for tourism to be vibrant; and for education and health care to be world class.
“CALS teaches the young people who are going to help transform the agricultural economy. … CALS has recruited great, world-class researchers. … Their results must be put into service first and foremost to North Carolina’s farmers and growers.”
Patrick Woodie, President
NC Rural Economic Development Center, Raleigh
“In the immediate future, we need to see robust deployment of broadband infrastructure to fill the gaps of coverage that exist across rural North Carolina, and we need to see that be affordable. We’ve also got to figure out a way to see more of our rural families covered by healthcare. … and to do a better job retaining businesses and growing our entrepreneurs.
“The work CALS is already doing through agricultural research and development ultimately leads to job creation. … When it comes to solving our healthcare gaps, as well as connecting people to the information and expertise of the university, Extension is one of the key ways that happens in rural communities.”