We know some people love to talk about politics, and some avoid it at all costs. But either way, it ends up affecting all of us. That’s why in this election year, we think it’s important to talk about one race in particular. This year we have a chance to elect a new Commissioner of Agriculture here in North Carolina (and if you’re not in North Carolina, check the sample ballots in your state to see if you’re holding elections for this office).

Primary voting is currently in full swing, so maybe you’ve already voted. If so, we’re sending you a virtual high five! If not, you might want a bit more info, so we’ll go over some basics here. Then we’ll talk about the office not everyone pays attention to, but we find it extremely important.

The Basics:

In North Carolina early primary voting began February 13th, and people can vote at various early voting sites in their county. Official primary election day is March 3rd. Polls are open on election day from 6:30am to 7:30pm, and voters can find their election day polling place, affiliation, and districts on the state board of elections site

Why Vote?

Every time elections roll around, unless you’re super excited about a particular ballot measure or candidate, you might fill in your choice for president and skip the rest. Or you might not go at all. We get it, life is busy! But did you know that the most important decisions about your day to day life, money, and your kid’s schools are not made by the Executive branch? Nope, the Legislative and Judicial branches of government are the ones who have the most impact on your life. 

This means that as citizens it benefits us to do some research and head to the polls for EVERY election, not just the big exciting ones. 

NC Commissioner of Agriculture:

Now here’s something that affects our business, all farmers, and you if you use hemp products: the office of NC Commissioner of Agriculture. The Commissioner of Agriculture is in charge of the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and their primary goal is “protecting, maintaining, and enhancing the ability to produce an adequate supply of food and fiber in North Carolina.” (http://www.ncagr.gov/Commissioner/CommissionerRole.htm)

The person who holds this office is also responsible for other regulatory programs in the state designed to promote the health and safety of citizens. They are in charge of over 75 laws and programs in several different areas including state farm operations, forest protection, and agricultural environmental issues.

In addition, the Commissioner works with the General Assembly to promote the enactment of legislation beneficial to agriculture and other matters important to the well being of citizens of North Carolina.

So you can see how important it is to us, and other farmers, that we have someone who has our best interests at heart. And now that hemp is a major issue here in NC, and lots of people are using it to improve their quality of life, it’s going to have a greater effect on a larger number of people. 

The Candidates:

Here are the candidates, and a short description of where they stand on hemp to get you started (but we highly recommend that you look them up for yourself). 

Steve Troxler (Incumbent) 

Troxler has served as commissioner since February of 2005, and has recently supported various versions of a smokable hemp ban including one set to go into effect later this year.

Walter Smith

Smith ran against Troxler in 2016 and lost. He is in support of keeping smokable hemp legal to grow and sell as well as legalizing medical marijuana.

Jenna Wadsworth

Wadsworth graduated from NCSSM and NC State before becoming the youngest woman to ever be elected to public office in North Carolina. She is also in support of hemp and medical marijuana, and promises to help farmers transition into that market.

Donovan Alexander Watson

Watson, a farmer himself, said he supports hemp farmers and wants to use the power of the office to “build relationships with legislators to pass cannabis-friendly provisions within the law to streamline the regulatory and consumer service side of the business.”

These quick, blog-friendly summaries are probably not enough to give you a full picture, so we highly encourage you to visit Ballotpedia and look up each candidate on your ballot (not just Commissioner of Agriculture!)

Remember, your vote is important, so get out there and do it. Go early if you can, and wear your cool “I voted” sticker all over town!

Here are the sources we used for this post: