Agriculture is a vitally important industry in North Carolina. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler notes the economic impact of agriculture and agribusiness in the state is almost $70 billion and that nearly 650,000 jobs in the state depend on the industry. That is a story that is important to get out.
That is why the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is sponsoring the Commissioner's Speakers Series at four state universities in March and April. The first session was held at N.C. State University on March 21 and will be followed up with the second lecture on April 11 at 5 p.m. The second NCSU lecture will be held in Riddick Hall, Room 321. Speakers at the NCSU lecture include Peter Daniel of the N.C. Farm Bureau, Sue Langdon of the N.C. Sweet potato Commission, Gary Gay, NCDA&CS Food Distribution, N.C. state Sen. Brent Jackson and state Representative Efton Sager.
Three additional sessions in the series will be held at University of North Carolina campuses, including the Asheville campus on April 4 at 4 p.m., the Charlotte campus on April 18 at 4 p.m. and the Greensboro campus on April 25 at 6:30 p.m. (more details of these to follow at the end of this article).
The lecture series will be moderated by Commissioner Troxler. It is meant to educate college students about the issues facing modern agriculture and today's farmers.
"The average age of a farmer in North Carolina is 57," Troxler says. "We need events like this to help young people understand the importance of agriculture and encourage them to consider careers in ag-related fields."
During each session, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler will lead a panel of farmers, agribusiness leaders, restaurateurs and legislators in a discussion on various agricultural topics. Session topics include the challenges of feeding a growing world population, examining the major components of the proposed farm bill and stimulating the local foods movement in North Carolina.
All events are open to the public and admission is free.
The April 4 Forum at UNC Asheville will be held at 4 p.m. in the Wilma M. Sherrill Center.
The UNC Charlotte session will be held April 18 at 4 p.m. in the Cone Center, McKnight Hall.
The April 25 session will be held at the UNC Greensboro in the Elliott University Center. A reception begins at 6 p.m. in the Elliott University Center Cone Ballroom A with the forum following at 6:30 p.m. in the Elliott University Center.
Speakers at those three events will be named later. For more information, visit the website www.ncagr.gov/paffairs/SpeakersSeries.htm.