Archived Opinion

Research farms will benefit from more efficient system

We want the state Agricultural Research Station in Waynesville to remain open, but the Senate budget proposal that attempts to weed out duplication and conduct agricultural research more efficiently isn’t such a bad idea.

A proposal in the budget now being debated in Raleigh would consolidate some of the state’s 18 research stations and turn over the administration of all the farms N.C. State University. Currently NCSU owns six of the farms but they are staffed by state Department of Agriculture employees. The majority of projects at the farms are conducted by NCSU professors and researchers.

The intent of the bill, according to its supporters, is to consolidate administrative costs while continuing to provide the research needed for the state’s $68 billion agricultural industry.

“Right now, what we have is a system where we’re running two personnel systems, two purchasing systems and two completely parallel structures — one for university field laboratories and one for the research stations,” said Steve Leath, the associate dean and director of the N.C. State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in an Asheville Citizen-Times article. “So basically, we have duplication in all administrative capacities.”

Sen. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, said the three test farms in the West — one in Waynesville, one in Fletcher, and one near Boone — have unique characteristics that should preclude their closure.

“We believe there is some duplication, but it’s not in the west,” said Queen.

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Even huge states like California have fewer agricultural research stations than North Carolina. And, in every state except ours, all of them are run by the university system.

North Carolina has long had a tradition of supporting farms and taking whatever steps it could to help the agricultural industry. Those who say this proposal is an assault on farming and want to nix the whole idea merely to save their research station are missing the larger point. By maximizing efficiency at the test farms, more money can be funneled to them for agricultural research into new crops and new production methods.

In the end, this proposal is an attempt to do more for our farms, not less.


Franklin tames the beast

Franklin town aldermen refused last week to grant Home Depot incentives the company had requested for its new store.

Way to go, aldermen.

According to an article in the Macon County News, Home Depot representative Arnold Arrowwood of Canton had asked the board for tax breaks and infrastructure freebies totaling more than $1 million.

“We decided we didn’t want to start giving economic incentives with a business like that,” Mayor Joe Collins said.

Aldermen Bob Scott said he was proud the board would not be “bullied” by the likes of Home Depot. He also pointed out that a company executive had been given a $45 million golden parachute last year, which obviously means the company isn’t wanting for money.

Soon, we hope, the era of providing economic incentives to huge corporations will completely fall by the wayside in this country. Instead of making these corporations richer, economic development models should be turned upside down so they provide small businesses with the tax breaks and incentives they need to build home-grown companies that will keep adding jobs and contributing to their communities for generations.

Chalk one up for common sense in Franklin.

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