Agricultural rally to be held on Monday
State leaders are planning a rally to discuss the importance of agriculture in North Carolina and the NC Farm Act.
After six committee hearings, 11 votes and nearly ten hours of debate, the NC Farm Act of 2018 passed the General Assembly on June 15. The bill currently awaits action from Governor Roy Cooper.
“Agriculture and Animal Agriculture are vitally important to the economy of Lenoir County,” said Eve Honeycutt, Livestock Agent for the NC Cooperative Extension Service for Lenoir and Greene Counties. “Our farmers are the backbone of our culture, communities, and lifestyle.”
Gov. Roy Cooper must sign or veto the bill by June 25th. If no action is taken, the bill will become law without his signature. If the bill is vetoed, the NC House and Senate can override that veto but must do so by a 3/5 majority of those present and voting.
Honeycutt said people need to firmly support the Farm Act and what it can do to protect the farms that sustain our county.
“Farmers need to know that their government will protect them while they are responsibly feeding the world,” Honeycutt said.
The rally is meant to show the governor the number of people who are impacted by agriculture.
Rep. John Bell said agriculture is the largest economic impact we have in the state of North Carolina.
“It's around an $80 - 85 billion economic impact to our state,” Bell said. “In Eastern North Carolina and the district I represent. It's by far the number one economic impact.”
According to the NC Farm Act of 2018, frivolous nuisance lawsuits threaten the very existence of farming in North Carolina.
In 1979 the General Assembly enacted the State's first effort to protect the ability of farms to continue to operate as surrounding development encroached. Recently a federal trial court incorrectly interpreted the North Carolina Right to Farm Act in a way that contradicts the intent of the General Assembly and effectively renders the Act useless in offering protection to long-established North Carolina farms.
“The Farm Act can help protect against future lawsuits that could affect the farmers' livelihood,” Honeycutt said.” It will not prevent the ability of a neighbor to sue, but it will help make sure the claims are founded before a lawsuit can proceed. The Farm Act reinforces the legal rights of farmers to operate their business as long as they are responsible.”
Bell wants to help push legislation to protect agriculture because it is the livelihood of both our state and our region.
“Right now a lot of people feel agriculture is under attack from frivolous lawsuits,” Bell said. “If these lawsuits continue and get out of hand not only are they going to prevent our agricultural industry from growing, but you're really going to put local family farmers out of business and we don't want that to happen.”
Honeycutt said she hopes that the rally will help our legislators understand the huge impact of agriculture and why it needs to be protected.
“Most of our politicians are several generations removed from the farm, so we have to remind them how farmers are our only link to a safe and wholesome food supply,” she said.
Bell said the rally is an opportunity for the agriculture community to make their voice heard in Raleigh.
“Hopefully at the end of the day the governor will choose to sign the farm bill,” Bell said.
The rally will be held Monday, June 25 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Centennial Mall in Raleigh. Speakers include; Lt. Gov. Dan Forrest, Commissioner Steve Troxler, NC Senate President Pro tempore Phil Berger, NC House Speaker Tim Moore, Sen. Brent Jackson, Rep. Jimmy Dixon, Sen. Dan Blue, Rep. Darren Jackson and more.