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Farm Bill’s advance carries strength for $111B industry

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(The Center Square) – Strengthening competition for specialty crops and improved access to safe drinking water in rural communities are among the North Carolina benefits reaped by the Farm Bill moving on from the Committee on Agriculture in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Other key impacts are the investments in the farm safety net, incentives to work, and nutrition assistance for those in need.

Agriculture is the state’s No. 1 industry at $111 billion in estimated economic impact.

“Beyond the farmgate,” said Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C., a senior member of the committee, “this legislation strengthens rural economies across the country, incentivizes work, and maintains vital nutrition assistance for those who truly need it while enhancing work opportunities so they aren’t trapped on welfare.”

Nutrition assistance has been a pivotal point for lawmakers.

House Resolution 8467 – the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024 – moves on ensuring Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture can address challenges through the Specialty Crop Foreign Competitiveness Report.

Also included are increased payments from 3 cents to 5 cents for economic adjustment assistance to textile mills. The proposal also protects North Carolina’s pork producers, collectively No. 3 in the nation behind Iowa and Minnesota with $3.1 billion in cash receipts, from what Rouzer calls “a patchwork of state-by-state regulations and reinforces the federal government’s role in protecting interstate commerce.”

The resolution includes assurance rural homeowners can access water quality testing and treatment for PFAS contamination.

PFAS, an acronym for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are widely used, long lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time. Studies vary on their harmful effects; more is known about their impact on animals than on humans. PFAS, the Environmental Protection Agency says, “are found in water, air, fish, and soil at locations across the nation” and throughout the world.

An animal disease prevention program is getting more funding to help protect the livestock and poultry industry. North Carolina ranks No. 1 nationally in poultry and eggs, and No. 4 in broilers (chickens) production.

Agriculture research facilities, such as is at N.C. State University, will also benefit from investments aligned with 21st research programs.

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