Don Black’s Aug. 24 Point of View “The road to prosperity for Eastern N.C.” obfuscated that from Raleigh to Virginia’s deepwater ports, the roads, mostly, are better than interstates.
If interstates and big roads were the prime ingredients to regional growth, Rocky Mount, at Interstate 95 and U.S. 64, would be home to Volvo, Apple or SAS. The answer is elsewhere: Social and economic stratification rooted in an agricultural past overwhelmed by a new agricultural present contributes.
Contemporary farming demands, which are mechanized and efficient, do not readily permit accounting for economically disenfranchised persons in farming counties anymore.
When tobacco was king, communities thrived. Now when North Carolina cotton can go to Memphis, corn to Kansas City and potatoes to Plano, farmers have no stake in taxes on their productive lands. They profit, perhaps, but local public education and county services become secondary concerns. This is where the state can help.
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By incentivizing market development for new and different crops from which farmers can profit while diversifying land uses, those productive lands won’t need to be sold into “final crop” status to developers and road builders who have little stake in what happens locally once the roads are built.
Vincent J. Kopp