Ive spent my entire career in the turkey business and spent most of it working with turkey farmers across North Carolina. Weve faced our share of challenges through the years many of them beyond our control and subject to the whims of Mother Nature, the global marketplace and government bureaucrats.
Take our federal governments onerous Food for Fuel policy. It requires gasoline producers to blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol, a corn-based fuel, into our nations fuel supply by 2015. Advocates say blending ethanol will reduce carbon emissions and decrease our dependence on foreign oil. In reality, the mandate has been disastrous for consumers. By diverting 40 percent of our nations corn supply away from food supplies, food prices are escalating. A recent Texas A&M study pegged the increase in food costs at $40 billion and noted that it costs $1.78 in taxpayer subsidies to produce a single gallon of ethanol.
While the federal government continues to put obstacles in our way, weve been fortunate to see many positive changes at the state level. This year, North Carolina eliminated some of the most challenging burdensome government regulations facing our industry.
Gov. Pat McCrory and the N.C. General Assembly enacted a series of positive reforms that will strengthen North Carolinas poultry industry and benefit the 5,700 families who grow poultry in our state.
One new law allows farmers to haul more feed per load when traveling less than 150 miles. Its a relatively small change, but one that will make a big difference to help farmers operate more efficiently.
Other changes will limit unnecessary environmental regulations and better clarify when a farms operations can be classified as a nuisance. These bills have a far more reaching impact: They will protect our family farmers by allowing them to reinvest in their business rather than spend millions to comply with tedious government regulations or defend themselves from unwarranted lawsuits.
These efforts combined with McCrorys successful reform of our state tax system and unemployment insurance laws will have a positive and lasting impact on poultry producers across North Carolina.
Poultry is big business in North Carolina, creating more than 110,000 jobs in our state and helping feed the world. Regardless of where someone lives in the United States, if hes eating a chicken or turkey, there is a good chance it came from North Carolina. We produce the nations second-largest number of turkeys and the third-largest amount of poultry.
Those numbers may grow in the years to come now that we have a pro-business leader in the Governors Mansion.
McCrory and the Republican leaders in the N.C. General Assembly have demonstrated a commitment to support agriculture and other businesses in the Tar Heel State. That will help companies maintain and grow jobs regardless of whether they grow turkeys, develop cutting-edge technologies or run a small family business.
My own experience has shown me that dealing with complex government regulations is one of the greatest challenges facing a business. It requires a huge investment of time and resources that can be better used to build our businesses and support our employees.
Im proud that our business plays a small part in helping feed the world. And thanks to the positive reforms enacted by McCrory and the legislature, our job will become a whole lot easier. We hope that the federal government will follow suit and allow the market to work instead of continuing to place mandates like Food for Fuel on the backs of our consumers and family farms.
Scott Prestage, vice president of Prestage Farms, is the immediate past president of the N.C. Poultry Federation.