“Every time that there has been any type of disaster in North Carolina, the Department of Agriculture and I have been there before, during and after the disasters to help people get through it and get back on their feet,” Troxler said in a Sept. 8 interview with UNC-TV.
Wadsworth said the commissioner of agriculture, someone running one of North Carolina’s biggest industries, should care about social, environmental and economic justice.
One environmental issue she said wants to address is doing more than just writing relief checks for those who have suffered through natural disasters. Additionally, Wadsworth said she wants to emphasize the reality of climate change.
"And that means someone who cares about social, environmental and economic justice, someone who wants to create a more just sustainable and equitable future that works for every single person who calls North Carolina at home instead of just a select few," Wadsworth said.
Wadsworth said she believes the legalization of cannabis could be an opportunity for farmers in North Carolina. Since it's already legal in several states and Washington, D.C., she said it is only a question of when will it be legal.
“I've talked to farmers, whether they're Republican, Democrat, Independent, they’re all very excited," Wadsworth said. "And it's also an economic opportunity for our cities and counties.”
She said she believes after the COVID-19 outbreak — and the state experiencing major budget shortfalls — the additional money brought in by the hemp market could possibly fund other public goods, such as public education, mental health or public transit.
Troxler told UNC-TV he believes the next emerging crop for North Carolina is stevia or purple carrots.
“The problem is, a lot of people jumped into the hemp industry — the market was not there before we produced the product, so we overproduced,” Troxler said in the UNC-TV interview. “Is there a future for hemp in the future? Yes, probably, but not at the level people went at it this time.”
With the absence of the state fair, as well as the interruptive transfer of agricultural goods in schools and universities to grocery stores, Troxler said coronavirus has negatively affected the way farmers think about the market.
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Troxler said he thinks COVID-19 needs to be taken seriously, especially if you live in a large city.
"We need to get through this and maintain all the health where we can maintain," he said.
Wadsworth said COVID-19 has shown how broken the health care system is. She believes this is an opportune moment for bridging the rural-urban divide through investments in rural broadband and rural health care.
“I also think it's really important to talk about our farm workers, who are the backbone of the agricultural industry and who right now are contracting COVID-19 at even higher rates in the rest of the population,” Wadsworth said. “I think it's past time to put humanity back into governing.”
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