Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with the Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”
Strawberry season is in full swing across North Carolina. And in state government, another season is beginning: budget season. But it’s not nearly as much fun as strawberries.
Gov. Bev Perdue rolled out her budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year in mid-April. Wednesday the General Assembly reconvenes to start its own budget process. And that means the heads of state agencies will be stating their cases for funding for their programs and services.
Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler has already been doing this for a couple of weeks now because the governor’s budget proposal would cut the department by 7 percent, or about $4.2 million.
To fully understand the impact of the governor’s budget on the NCDA&CS, you have to go back in time more than 10 years. The NCDA&CS budget proposed by the governor for 2010-11 is $56 million. That’s $500,000 less than the department’s actual budget in 1999-2000.
Over that same period, the size of North Carolina’s general fund budget has grown more than 46 percent.
Adjusted for inflation, the department’s budget has actually gone down, but responsibilities have gone up. There are more food manufacturing firms and retail locations to inspect. The department also has improved its response to food safety events. Agricultural centers have expanded, and demands on state farmers markets have increased. The duties of the NCDA&CS animal welfare program have expanded, too.
In the past 10 years, the department also has added an Emergency Programs Division that is charged with planning for and responding to natural and man-made threats to agriculture and our food supply.
If you look at all of this, it’s obvious that the department is already doing more with less. But it’s rapidly reaching a point where that isn’t feasible anymore.
Listen in as Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda Garrison talk about the budget.
The Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.