Alabama may not be the breadbasket of America, but we certainly qualify as a major “Foodbasket of America” with our tremendous production of farm products, many of which are processed here and shipped throughout the world.
The sum total of the state’s farming, agribusiness and forestry sectors’ economic output is over $70 billion a year, or about 40% of Alabama’s gross domestic product (GDP). You would be surprised at the number of native Alabamians who are unaware of the importance of agriculture and forestry to our state’s economy.
When I began campaigning for the office of Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries back in 2008, it astounded me that most Alabamians do not know what is Alabama’s No. 1 industry that employs 2 out of 5 our workers.
This disconnect tends to run along urban-rural lines. You find it not only among children living in our cities who have no idea where their food comes from, but also among adults who firmly believe farming is a marginal business that is heavily subsidized by government. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When I first took the oath of office as Alabama’s Agriculture Commissioner, I realized that one of my jobs was to help inform the people of our great state how important and pervasive agriculture is and the scope of our mission in helping to feed the world.
As we have seen in other major agriculture producing states such as California, some government regulatory agencies are intent on depriving farmers of basic needs such as precious water resources and access to labor. Frankly, I don’t understand what this anti-agriculture agenda aims to accomplish other than put farmers out of business.
As an elected state official, I see my role as not only a regulator of agriculture and agribusiness but also as an advocate for this critical industry. In that advocacy, you will find me siding with economic freedom as the only successful means of cultivating a healthy business climate. That entails a minimum of government regulation and red tape, a minimum of taxes, and a maximum of cooperation between government and the private sector.
It is my goal for a second term as Alabama’s Commissioner of Agriculture & Industries to pursue policies that support agriculture and agribusiness, promoting them to markets outside of our state and nation, and protecting our food supply while ensuring the accuracy of the weights and measures of commerce. And, that the Department of Agriculture & Industries will be a much better agency as a result of my tenure.