Few North Carolina industries have faced more hurdles during COVID-19 than our farmers and agribusinesses. And few industries will be as vital for our state’s recovery and continued success. In a recent newsletter published by the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association, NC Chamber General Counsel Ray Starling shared his thoughts on President Biden’s 2021 Trade Policy Agenda and 2020 Annual Report, and what it could mean for job creators in these key sectors.
Ray explains that while there are certainly differences between the Biden and Trump administrations when it comes to their attitudes on foreign trade, the new agenda is perhaps most notable for closely echoing several policy signals from the previous administration that bode well for American producers. Among these signals are statements in support of expanding opportunities for the nation’s farmers and standing up to manipulative foreign trade practices that limit America’s access to global markets. Of course, as Ray notes, it remains to be seen exactly how these priorities will be pursued by the new administration – but the early focus on farmers and domestic producers is an encouraging sign, and one that mirrors the need to support these industries here in North Carolina.
Before the pandemic struck, North Carolina’s agriculture and agribusiness sectors were running on all cylinders, generating more than 16 percent of our gross state product ($92.7 billion) and employing 772,000 people (one-sixth of the total workforce) in 2018. Now in 2021, as we work to put the worst of the virus behind us, our advocacy team is focused on enabling these industries to achieve and ultimately surpass this pre-pandemic potential by:
- Safeguarding and strengthening the COVID-19 liability protections secured during the 2020 session that are allowing agribusinesses and other job creators to reopen safely and responsibly without fear of unwarranted legal reprisals
- Opposing burdensome regulations that place undue constraints on farmers, agribusinesses, and their suppliers, especially those that threaten the continuity of the food supply chain, which will be a vital engine of our recovery
- Supporting policies that increase legal and regulatory predictability around food manufacturing, enabling North Carolina to become a more attractive state for agribusiness investments
- Promoting forward-thinking infrastructure strategies that can fully support North Carolina’s projected population growth, with a focus on enhancing connections in rural and underserved parts of the state
- Championing talent development programs that better prepare today’s students for the jobs of tomorrow, including future career opportunities in farming and agribusiness
As we wait to see what a new federal trade agenda will mean for American agriculture, know that North Carolina’s farmers and agribusinesses will always have a watchful ally on state-level policy matters here at the NC Chamber. We are proud to be among those organizations working to empower these industries not just to survive, but to thrive in a post-pandemic North Carolina.
View our 2021 legislative agenda to learn more about our efforts to support agribusinesses and other job creators as you work to fuel North Carolina’s relaunch from COVID-19.