I live in Yadkin County. I am a member of North Oak Ridge Baptist Church. I have two sons and two grandchildren. I was raised on a family farm in Robeson County. We grew tobacco, cotton. row crops, and small grain. We also had beef cattle and hogs. I received a BS in Agricultural Engineering from N.C. State University. After graduating I taught vocational agriculture at a high school in Martin County. I later took a job with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture where I was the Executive Director of a field office in Yadkin County. We administered the tobacco program, federal farm programs, conservation programs, disaster programs and made loans to farmers. I worked directly with the farmers to help them find programs that benefited their farming operation. I now own and operate a poultry and industrial hemp farm in Yadkin and Robeson Counties. These experiences have given me firsthand knowledge of the issues and problems facing farmers today. I learned a lot about agricultural programs, which ones work to help the farmer and which ones do not. I want to be your next Commissioner of Agriculture so I can help the farmers and rural communities survive and expand. I also understand the need to streamline rules to make it easier for farmers to sign up for and follow program regulations.
I have been and currently serve on several state wide boards and committees such as the N.C Agricultural Foundation Board, the Farm Bureau State Hemp Advisory Committee, the Horne Creek Living Historical Farm Board, Green Rural Redevelopment Organization (GRRO), Yadkin County Chamber of Commmerce. Yadkin County Voluntary Ag. District Board, and the Yadkin County Extension Advisory Leadership Council. They have given me the chance to expand my knowledge on the different types of agricultural operations throughout the state and the chance to work with nonprofit organizations that benefit underserved farmers and rural communities. I also had the opportunity help set state wide recommendations and policy on agriculture.
We are losing farmers and farmland at an alarming rate. North Carolina has been and continues to be one of the leading states in the nation in loss of family farms.One of the main reasons is that farmers cannot make a profit growing traditional crops. We need to find more crops that can be grown by farmers that will generate a profit. We must find more markets for these new crops and for our existing crops.. One such crop that could help is industrial hemp. I am one of a very few farmers in North Carolina that grows hemp for both CDB and fiber. This crop has the potential to help save farms, revitalize rural towns and communities. and generate hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy of North Carolina. I also support the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes..This could open up new opportunities for farmers and help generate additional revenue for the state. We simply cannot rely solely on the traditional crops now being grown in North Carolina.
I was elected to the Town Council and as Mayor of Boonville; NC, a small rural town in Yadkin County. We have the same needs and issues of every other rural town in North Carolina. My duties were to represent the town as the top official, to see that the people who lived there were protected and had adequate services, promote existing local businesses, and recruit new industry. Serving as Mayor gave me better insight as to what rural towns and communities need to survive and grow. I will use that knowledge to help revitalize rural towns and communities.
Growing up on a farm taught me many important lessons that I have used all my life. My father taught me the value of putting in a full day’s work. We worked long hours. He always told me that farmers don't quit until the job is done. My parents were well respected in the community and they demanded that we treat everyone with respect and dignity. We had a very unique population In Robeson County, approximately a third Native Americans, a third African Americans, and a third Caucasian. When my father looked at the people in our community he didn’t see the color of their face, he only saw the face of a neighbor and that’s what he taught me.. He wanted me to get a college degree, but he always reminded every problem can be solved using the knowledge I learned and a good dose of common sense.
I have tried to live my life using the lessons I learned growing up on a farm. We need a Commissioner who is going to treat everyone fairly and equally. When important decisions are made, they need to be made based on what is good for all of North Carolina using good common sense and not based on partisan politics or special interest groups. We need a commissioner who will work whatever hours it takes to get the job done. Above all we need someone who will listen to the people who elected them and remember that we work for all the citizens of North Carolina and not the other way around.
I promise to you that I will be that person. I will fight for you and with you to keep agriculture in North Carolina strong and bring back the rural family values that this state was built on.