From the Desk of Senator Brent Jackson
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Office of NC Senator Brent Jackson 10th District
Good Afternoon,

I hope everyone had a great Martin Luther King Holiday this past Monday, and spent time reflecting on all that he stood for. Let's all remember what we accomplish when we work together. 

Earlier this month, Ross Barnhardt and I, along with first-time attendee Senator Bill Rabon, attended the State Agriculture and Rural Leaders (SARL) conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. SARL is a group of state legislators and agriculture industry representatives from across the United States and Canada that get together every year to discuss and study issues and policies affecting the agriculture industry and rural communities. I have had the privilege to attend the conference the past 4 years and have served as a SARL board member for the past several years. 
This year, we had the chance to look into several important issues. One of the more fascinating topics was on creating jobs in rural America. We met with several groups who have worked on setting up state assisted venture capital funds to allow investors to invest in startup businesses in rural areas. Capital investment and sustainable, profitable businesses will be crucial in building our rural communities.
We also looked into issues facing state governments in implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, which is a major federal law that reforms the way we approach food safety and is largely implemented by the states. I feel confident that North Carolina’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is taking the necessary steps to ensure that we are ready for the new regulations, and I am ready to work with the department on any statutory changes they need to help conform to the federal law. In fact, NC Department of Ag Consumer Protection Assistant Commissioner, Joe Reardon, was one of the panelists who presented to the SARL group and is a food safety expert.
Another issue we looked into was emergency response and disaster recovery. Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Chief of Staff, William Rachal, gave us a presentation on how their state has responded to flooding and hurricane disasters in the past. As you can imagine, Louisiana has a lot of experience in flooding recovery, and it was great to learn about their experiences and programs as we plan a second disaster recovery bill for Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina.
One of the more insightful actives we participated in was a panel of millennials who answered various questions on their views of farmers, agriculture, how they make food selections, and where they believe their food comes from. Their answers proved that the ag community has to do a better job connecting to young people. Many of them associated their food with the company that was packaging and selling the food, and not the farmer.
Before we concluded the conference, the SARL group passed a resolution in support of reforming the H-2A wage rate, which has been increasing around 40 to 50 cents an hour each year over the past few years. It is our hope that Congress and the President will take action to reform and stabilize the H-2A wage rate and add predictability to farm labor costs.
We also had a breakout session on international trade. Louisiana was an appropriate location for these discussions since they have one of the largest trade ports in the nation. Specifically, we discussed NAFTA, CAFTA and TPP. I know some people have varying opinions on these trade deals, but in the aggregate, they have and are increasing our overall trade numbers nationally.  I think it is very important for any trade deal going forward to treat all industries the same, and not carve out any ag industry from these trade negotiations, but overall, fair, free trade is a plus.

Besides presentations on various issues, we also took several site tours of ag related facilities, including: a catfish processing plant, crawfish growing farm, Monsanto’s Round Up facility, one of Archer Daniels Midland’s (ADM) grain elevator on the Mississippi River, and toured the Louisiana Capitol.
I would like to thank all the SARL sponsors and give a big “Thank You” to Dr. Carolyn Orr and her staff who made this year’s conference possible. This year’s conference was a success and I look forward to taking the information we learned and using it to strengthen North Carolina’s ag industry and our rural communities. 

Here we are at ADM’s grain elevator.

Here is a cargo ship loading grain at ADM’s grain elevator.

Here is a barge being unloaded at ADM’s grain elevator.

Here, NC Senator Bill Rabon, Ross Barnhardt, and I are in the Louisiana State Senate Chamber.

Here is a picture of a crawfish farm outside of Baton Rouge. Crawfish in Louisiana are a double crop in most cases to rice, as is shown here.

It was pleasure to meet Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture, Mike Stain. He is a strong voice for the farming industry and I enjoyed discussing issues that face the ag community. I also had the pleasure of presenting Commissioner Strain with what I told him was a “real good” box of NC Sweet Potato, in which he was delighted to receive. 

Fellow NC Senator Bill Rabon and I won a pair of mittens during a trivia game with the Canadian delegation. Canada is a vital trading partner to the United State and it was great to have them at the conference.

Question of the Week

Last week, I asked if you could choose one thing to be accomplished in this legislative session, what would it be? The most popular response I received was in dealing with House Bill 2. I agree, and the legislature has made it a priority to address this issue during the 2017 session in a proper, efficient way so that we prevent issues like this from arising in the future. 

This week, I would like to ask your opinion on in-state tuition. How long do you think you should have to be a resident in North Carolina to qualify for in-state tuition for a North Carolina university?

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can assist you in any way possible. 

District Headlines
TranSource Donates Diesel Engine to JSCC

TranSource Trucks and Trailer Center recently donated a Mack diesel engine to the Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technology Program at James Sprunt Community College. TranSource is a company that offers medium and heavy duty sales, parts, service, leasing, and maintenance in eight locations across North Carolina. The donation of the Mack diesel engine is important to the students of James Sprunt Community College, because it ensures that they are working on the most up to date equipment. This means they are more technically and mechanically equipped to handle the machinery in the industry today. Many products move across this country with diesel powered engines and trucks, therefore it is important for technicians and individuals in the field to know how to keep the most up to date machinery operating efficiently.
NCDOT to Improve Intersection

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has recently received permission from the Johnston County Board of Education to make improved changes to the intersection of Cornwallis and Cleveland Roads. They plan to make the intersection safer through adding a 15 foot wide easement that will be almost 234 feet long and will lead to a turn lane onto Cornwallis Road. This easement will run adjacent to Cleveland Elementary School, but will not disrupt any signage or display of the school. The goal of the easement is to help deal with congestion in front of the campus, reduce the number of accidents, and to make the area safer for parents dropping children off and other everyday travelers.
Mountain-To-Sea Trail meet in Sampson County

During a Monday meeting with Newton Grove Mayor Gerald Darden and other town commissioners, Bill Scott and members from the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail presented a resolution and provided an update on the progress on adding a Coastal Crescent Track to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail route. The Mountain-To-Sea Trail is a scenic route that stretches 1,150 miles from the Great Smokey Mountains to the Outer Banks in which travelers are able to see the state’s natural, rural, cultural, and historic sites. The Coastal Crescent Trail would provide hikers another option to travel through eastern North Carolina. Mayor Darden and Newton Grove have shown support for the Mountain-To-Sea Trail and the addition of the Coastal Crescent Trail. Scott plans to visit other cities to seek the same support he received in Newton Grove with the Coastal Crescent Trail, and ultimately advance the Mountain-To-Sea Trail as a whole.
District Spotlight 
50 years of service in any field of work is hard to achieve and an outstanding accomplishment. George McGill is the Harrells Volunteer Fire Department Chief and was recognized during their annual appreciation dinner for just completing 50 years of work with the Harrells Volunteer Fire Department. McGill was presented the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award, and received many other acknowledgments from Harrells mayor, Jimmy Moore. McGill has served his state, county, town, and community admirably. He has contributed to the construction and maintenance of a new fire department building, growing the department in the number of volunteers, starting a satellite station in Ivanhoe, and led fundraising efforts. Please join me in thanking Chief George McGill on his amazing accomplishment of 50 years of service in the Harrells Volunteer Fire Department. Your dedication to your community and assistance of others is admirable, Chief.
In Closing
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative in the North Carolina Senate.  I read every email that comes to my legislative account and I encourage you to reach out to me with your thoughts and concerns.  If you would like to stay informed of my actions in the legislature, I encourage you to friend me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter using the links at the top of the page.  If you would like to subscribe to this newsletter, please email Alex Fagg at  
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Copyright © 2017 Office of Senator Brent Jackson, North Carolina General Assembly, All rights reserved.

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