I had the distinct honor of speaking at the North Carolina Farm Bureau Policy Day yesterday, July 30th.
North Carolina is committed to the agriculture industry. We are well aware of the 52,218 farms in this state, the 8.4 million acres of farm land, and the $78 billion dollars that the industry contributes to the state’s economy every year.
The industry is robust and accounts for more than 17 percent of the state’s income and employs 16 percent of the work forces. We produce more tobacco and sweet potatoes than any other state and we rank high in production of Christmas trees, hogs and turkeys. We must continue to be an Ag friendly state.
Where have we come from?
After having the highest personal and corporate income tax rates in the Southeast, we are making strides towards a simplified, more fair system. Personal income rates have been reduced and flattened to 5.75 percent. The corporate income tax rate has been lowered to 5 percent. The standard deduction, or the 0 percent tax bracket, is now $15,000 for folks married filing jointly. We have come very far in order to encourage a climate of economic growth.
Where are we going?
We now live in a service based economy. Folks go to places of business not only to buy goods, but to have services rendered. We must allow our tax code to reflect this new reality. Along with continued expansion of the sales tax base, we want to bring down the personal income tax rate, increase the 0 percent tax bracket (or called the standard deduction), and focus on putting more money in the pockets of hard working North Carolinians.
On the Budget:
The Plant Sciences Initiative at North Carolina State University is something I believe in. As Agriculture is the number one industry in our state, we must focus on innovative, job based investment that plays on our strongest attributes. Not only will this industry and scientific based endeavor be a great asset for the state, but could create many jobs for years to come.
Other issues important to agriculture in the state budget include the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences initiatives and numerous tax related issues.
Agriculture has been the cornerstone of our history, and will be integral in the future success of our State.
-David R. Lewis