In our current social and physical environments, there is an ever-present potential of multiple threats to agriculture. Avian influenza, BSE, ag-terrorism and other food safety threats, as well as natural disasters like hurricanes, all offer challenges to public officials. The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently held an event called AgFIRST to let politicians know how NCDA can respond if agricultural disasters do occur.
U.S. Reps Walter Jones, David Price and Brad Miller, as well as congressional staff members, planned to attend the event, Aug. 8, at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, in order to hear how NCDA uses technology to protect the public from agricultural threats.
State legislators scheduled for the event included, among others, Reps. William Brisson, Lorene Coates and Alice Underhill, as well as N.C. state Sens. Stan Bingham and Janet Cowell.
In addition to issues surrounding food safety, NCDA also discussed how the department is increasing consumer demand for N.C.-grown food. Efforts along this line include the department's highly visible and successful, "Got to be NC Agriculture" promotion.
NCDA points out that agriculture and agribusiness make up the state's largest industry, employing 17% of the workforce and contributing $68 billion to the state's economy every year.