Editor’s note: Walter Smith is running for Commissoner of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. He is the only Yadkin County resident running for a statewide office in this year’s election. He is running against Scott Bryant, a Democrat, Bill McManus, a Republican, and the incumbent candidate Steve Troxler, also a Repulican.
Political Affiliation: Democrat
Education: Graduated from N.C. State University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering
Professional: Born and raised on a tobacco, row crop and live stock farm, taught vocational agriculture, retired from USDA Farm Service Agency, former mayor of Boonville, served on the Yadkin County Voluntary Agriculture District Board, currently a member of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Agriculture Foundation, and owns and operates a poultry farm in Yadkin County.
“As executive director of the Yadkin County Farm Service Agency, my one priority was to provide courteous, prompt and efficient service to the farmers. We did everything we could do to cut through some of the red tape for the farmers. I will cut red tape in NCDA and make them the responsive and efficient agency in state government. NCDA is a complex agency that has 21 different divisions. They are responsible not only for agriculture, but also for the NC Forest Service, the Soil and Water Division, food safety, drug safety, weights and measures, amusement ride safety, and pesticide licenses, to name just a few. NCDA is such an expansive agency, that people often do not know where to call with a problem. I will establish a Hotline for taxpayers to call with problems, concerns, or suggestions.
“There are many critical issues facing agriculture in the future. We are losing farmland at an alarming rate. The average age of a farmer in North Carolina is 58, and there very few young farmers available to replace them when they retire. Production and energy costs are soaring. Migrant labor issues are starting to make it harder to find sufficient laborers. Our agriculture research stations are under attack. As commissioner, I will form partnerships with our land grant universities, farm groups, commodity associations, and private industry to identify our most pressing issues and find viable solutions.
“Food safety is a major concern. I will place a greater emphasis on insuring North Carolina has a safe food supply. We need to do a better job promoting our products so when consumers in other states and countries see the North Carolina label they automatically associate it with a safe and healthy product. I want North Carolina to be number one in food safety.
I have been involved in agriculture my entire life. I will provide a strong voice for agriculture, agribusiness, and the consumers in this great state. I will be a full- time commissioner and will fight on your behalf.”