Under the Dome

Dome: Auditor Wood questions future of state ag loan program

October 3, 2013 

State Auditor Beth Wood is questioning whether an obscure agricultural loan program run by the state should continue, saying it’s operating at a loss and issuing few new loans.

The N.C. Agriculture Finance Authority issued four new loans totaling $622,670 in 2012 and one new loan for $590,000 through the end of February. All told, the agency administers 47 loans with seven staffers, down from 169 loans at its peak in 2004, state auditors found.

It has operated at a loss for four straight years at about $270,000 a year.

Auditors questioned whether the authority was “cost effectively” meeting its legislative mandate, saying if the authority is abolished by the legislature, it could return $1 million to the state’s bank account.

Created in 1986 within the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the authority is led by 10-member board that includes Commissioner Steve Troxler. It was formed to fill a void in agricultural loans and administers loans for farm ownership, agribusiness projects and disaster relief.

Frank Bordeaux, the authority’s executive director, issued a response saying he disagreed with the suggestion that the organization’s purpose be re-evaluated. He said it has helped increase farm income and preservation and emphasized that all loans are up to date or paid in full.

He wrote that the agency has made adjustments, cutting two employees and creating a website to increase awareness about its programs.

Hagan targeted in online ads

A conservative group called Heritage Action American is targeting U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a North Carolina Democrat.

The group is promoting online advertisements that say: “Tell Senator Kay Hagan: Don’t Shutdown the Government to Save Obamacare.”

The ad campaign began quietly last week and is expected to last through this week. But a Heritage Action spokesman said it could continue if the shutdown goes longer. The North Carolina ads are part of a $50,000 campaign that includes Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska – states where Democratic senators face tough re-election fights in 2016.

Shaw gets new gig

U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis announced Tuesday that he hired Jordan Shaw as his campaign manager and spokesman. Shaw serves as Tillis’ communications director in the House Speaker’s office, and he previously worked in the same role for the N.C. Republican Party.

“Jordan and I have developed a solid working relationship that will be critical for me throughout this campaign,” Tillis wrote in an email to supporters.

The new gig will elevate Shaw’s role, and he’ll work with the campaign’s general consultant Paul Shumaker. Shaw will take a leave of absence from the N.C. General Assembly in early October to make the transition, Tillis said.

Quotable Burr

North Carolina’s Republican senator, Richard Burr, is quoted in The New York Times saying he doesn’t get the House GOP’s position.

“I can’t blame them for anything other than being sold a line that wouldn’t work, seeing the outside support and saying ‘maybe, maybe, maybe,’ ” Burr said of House conservatives. “Well, you know, that train only in a children’s story actually gets to the top of the hill.”

Staff writer John Frank

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