Hudson, local farmers dig into agriculture concerns

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 30, 2013

SALISBURY — Rowan farmers dug into issues ranging from a possible farm bill to low-income nutrition programs during U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson’s agricultural tour stop at the Rowan County Farm Bureau Wednesday.
The Republican congressman planned the visit as part of a series of farm-focused stopovers in North Carolina’s 8th District, which he represents. The district now covers much of southern and eastern Rowan.
Poultry, dairy, cattle and crop farmers alike turned out for the discussion at the bureau’s building just off Mooresville Road on Wednesday morning.
Hudson told the group he expects an agriculture bill to be in the works by the spring. Hudson is on the House Agriculture Committee.
But Hudson warned that the bill may be targeted heavily as legislators look to tighten their belts on the budget.
“The agriculture bill has always been a favorite for cutting,” Hudson said.
“But 85 percent of the bill is nutrition. The program side is where we’re getting bang for the buck. I’ll be fighting for cuts to the nutrition side.”
Kim Starnes, of Four S Farms, was one of about two dozen agriculturalists in attendance.
Starnes said one of his biggest gripes is people don’t realize farmers get a marginalized percentage from farm bills.
“A lot of the media play it up, make it look like the farmers are getting all this money that comes from the farm bill, but we’re not,” Starnes said. “We’re getting 15 percent.”
Most of the funding goes to things like crop insurance and conservation, Starnes said.
“People don’t tell the side about the combines being higher or fertilizers — we’re paying four, five, six times higher than we were a few years ago,” he said. “You never hear that.”
Citing proposed cuts to low-income nutrition programs like SNAP cards, Hudson said he will support making deep cuts, but not at the expense of farmers.
The freshman congressman also brought up the issues with inheritance tax, saying he’s heard concerns at nearly every other stop.
“I call it the most immoral tax out there,” Hudson said. “After this week, I’m kind of feeling like, it seems to be a priority.”
The latter end of Wednesday’s meeting turned into a general distaste for the government and concerns about federal spending.
Many at the discussion said they felt the country was headed in the wrong direction. Hudson said America had developed a “culture of dependency.”
“I’ll tell you part of my philosophy, and you’re included,” farmer Murray Corriher said. “I’ve never met a politician who I felt was better qualified and more deserving to spend my money than I am. The problem we have as I see it … the government keeps expanding — the government makes no wealth — as we shrink the wealth-producing sector and increase our spending sector, we’re headed to bankruptcy.”
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.