Should all commodities be treated equal?

By Brent Jackson - Contributing columnist

I hope everyone is doing well and fared alright during Hurricane Joaquin. The state has been working with our affected residents and farmers to offer assistance.

I know many of our hog farmers are experiencing freeboard issues with their lagoons due to the excessive rainfall. Right now, the Department of Environmental Quality has extended the application deadline for Bermuda Grass until the end of October and they are expected to come out with further information this week. Feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or need any assistance from state agencies while recovering from the storm.

Question of the Week

Thank you to everyone who responded to the last question of the week about possible industries to help fuel rural economic growth over the next several decades.

We had several people ask about value-added products to complement agriculture. A value-added product is a product that has had something done to it to change its form and increase its worth and usefulness. A good example would be turning wheat into flour.

To help boost value-production, the N.C. Food Manufacturing Task Force was formed earlier this year. The task force is comprised of leaders in agribusiness, farming, scientific research-education and government to study and make proposals on how to grow the industry. I look forward to seeing what the task force recommends and working with them to move forward.

Someone inquired about hemp production in North Carolina as a way to boost economic growth. Although the actual growing of the crop would fall under traditional agriculture, there are a number of uses for hemp in manufacturing.

Senate Bill 313, which is sitting on the Governor’s desk, would allow for N.C. to set up a pilot program and begin issuing licenses for growing hemp. Hemp oil can be extracted and used as an ingredient in epilepsy medicine, and the hemp fibers can be processed by a decortication center and used to make materials like rope.

I am interested to see how the hemp industry plays out in North Carolina. The North Carolina Industrial Hemp Commission will be formed to oversee hemp production and is tasked with raising $200,000 of private money before licenses can be issued.

This week, I would like to hear from you on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is a trade deal between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The trade agreement has a special “carve-out” for tobacco, which bars corporations from bringing suit against nations in the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) court for enacting policies that have a negative impact on their industry. This would prevent tobacco companies from challenging public health regulations that would harm the tobacco industry.

Do you believe that the United States should support an agreement that has a special clause for tobacco, or do you feel that treating all commodities equal should be a necessary part of any trade agreement?

I look forward to hearing from you.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can assist you in any way possible.

Brent Jackson is a N.C. senator representing District 10, which includes Sampson, Duplin and Johnston counties.

By Brent Jackson

Contributing columnist

Brent Jackson is a N.C. senator representing District 10, which includes Sampson, Duplin and Johnston counties.

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