Walter Smith of Yadkinville officially announced his candidacy for the office of North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture & Consumer Services. Smith has an extensive background in agriculture. He was raised on a family farm in southeastern North Carolina, received a B.S. from North Carolina State University in Agricultural Engineering, and then taught Vocational Agriculture before going to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. He also served on the town council and as mayor of Boonville.
Smith recently retired from USDA and now owns and operates a farm in Yadkin County. He spent more than 30 years with USDA serving farmers and administering federal farm programs. He said while with the Farm Service Agency his top priority was to provide prompt, courteous, and efficient service to every farmer that visited the Farm Service Agency.
Smith said he wanted to announce his candidacy during the Thanksgiving holidays to remind people that when they give thanks for the food they eat to remember to thank the farmers who made the meal possible. In 1960 one farmer could feed 26 people. Today one farmer feeds 155 people.
He noted, “The face of agriculture is constantly changing and we have to ensure that farmers and agribusinesses are able to adapt to the new challenges they will face in the 21th Century. North Carolina needs new innovative leadership for the Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. We need someone who can get agribusiness moving forward again, someone who will make decisions based on common sense and not politics, and someone who will stand with the people of North Carolina and not special interest groups.”
That is why he said he is running for commissioner of agriculture and consumer services. Growing up on a family farm he learned early on that most problems can be solved using good common sense. Too many politicians seem to forget where they came from and lose all common sense after being elected to public office. Smith said he will listen to the citizens of North Carolina and will not let special interest groups or politics influence his decisions.
Smith lost a close election in 2012 in his first statewide race as the Democratic nominee for commissioner of Agriculture & Consumer Services. He said, “We have the same problems today we had in 2012. North Carolina is still one of the top states in the loss of farmland and family farms; we have had very little growth in value added income from agribusinesses the past three years; and the Department of Agriculture and & Consumer Services has failed to take a stand to improve animal welfare.”
The N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services serves not only agriculture but also is responsible for consumer programs such as food safety; weights and measurement of motor fuels and propane; establishing standards for the care of animals at animal shelters, boarding kennels, pet shops, and public auctions; assuring consumers that foods, feeds, drugs, and cosmetics are safe, wholesome and properly labeled; and protecting and improving our soil and water resources.
Everyone in North Carolina is affected by actions taken by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Smith said as commissioner, “I will be a strong advocate for agriculture, agribusiness, animal welfare, consumer safety and the protection of our natural resources. I will bring the same professional and dedicated service to the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services that I did when working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”