Leaders in agribusiness, farming, research, higher education and government met this week in Raleigh for the first meeting of the N.C. Food Manufacturing Task Force. This task force was formed with the goal of creating jobs and expanding agriculture-based businesses.
The task force is comprised of 35 members with expertise in agriculture, meat and dairy production, crop production, agribusiness, food processing, food packaging, transportation, education, government and economic development. Core leadership members include Dean Richard Linton, N.C. State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Commissioner Steve Troxler, Lt. Governor Dan Forest and N.C. Department of Commerce Secretary John Skvarla.
Commissioner Troxler described the task force as a dream come true for agribusiness in North Carolina. “Both the Dean (Linton) and I agree there are a lot of opportunities out there and entrepreneurial farmers and agribusiness owners interested in the development of new value-added products,” Troxler said. “We’ve got to play to our strengths in North Carolina and agriculture is our strength. At $78 billion a year, it is our number one industry and there is room for growth. By 2020 we can grow agriculture to a $100 billion industry.” Click the audio link below to hear Commissioner Troxler discuss the Food Manufacturing Task Force.
An economic feasibility study done by N.C. State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services estimates that advancement of a Food Processing and Manufacturing Initiative could add nearly 38,000 jobs and $10.3 billion to North Carolina’s economic output within five years. “Many of these jobs will be created in rural North Carolina where jobs are needed,” Troxler added.
Goals of the task force will be to develop a strategic plan to leverage existing activities in food processing and manufacturing; establish a statewide food processing and manufacturing organization directory and database; create a plan to develop a proactive industrial recruitment campaign for new business development; foster the growth of food manufacturing entrepreneurs; and increase training and outreach.