Friday, June 26, 2015

New Found Respect

In the short period of time that I have been interning with the NC Department of Agriculture, I have learned more about state government than most would care to know. I have also had the privilege of meeting some of the most kindhearted, genuine, and all around great individuals in the form of our great states legislators.

Coming from a humble blue collar family, living in a small rural community, I had little knowledge of the workings of our state government. With this internship, I now realize how fortunate the people of North Carolina are. The fifty senators and 120 representatives that combine to form our states General Assembly are some of the best people I have met. Each and every one of them comes from hugely diverse backgrounds and they chose this path in government with the knowledge that no matter what, someone, somewhere is not going to like the decision they have made.

I have many friends on various social media accounts that have no problem publically ridiculing their legislators for what occurs in Raleigh and often are blamed for things they had no control over. The citizens across this great state are often quick to assume and pass judgment on issues they do not fully understand. Many people across the state have not the slightest clue about the inner workings of state government and receive their information/news from unreliable, mostly biased, media outlets that put their own spin on a story and pass it off as truth.

I know very few people who are thoroughly informed on the issues surrounding our state, but yet many times these same uninformed individuals are the first to cast the first stone and degrade their elected officials and formulate their political ideology on the basis of warped and misconstrued half truths.

We as a society are quick to forget just how much our elected officials sacrifice for the betterment of their communities. Putting politics and individual opinions aside, each and everyone of our legislators have a passion for North Carolina and want to see her thrive, not for their own benefit but for their children, grandchildren and communities. Yes, it is true that our officials are paid, roughly 13,000 dollars a year for the time they spend in the Capitol City.

I can honestly say that none of them do it for the money. Yes, many of them are successful business owners or independently well to do and can afford to be in Raleigh three-four days a week, for months on end but pause for a moment and realize what they do sacrifice.

Many Senators and Representatives travel 3-5 hours, some even more, to come to Raleigh away from their families and lives, to represent the people of their communities and to attempt to pass legislation to better their constituents lives. Throughout my time here I have observed a few things, these officials are normal everyday people with spouses, young children, grandchildren and careers of their own. Each week during session, they come to Raleigh to work on Monday afternoon and work tirelessly until Thursday evening and on occasion into the wee hours of Friday mornings, depending on the bill before the body.

In my opinion; the constant barrage of negativity from constituents, media, and various organizations, partnered with the daily conflicts contributed to differences in opinions/politics among legislators, and lastly the time spent absent from their loved ones, missing all of those little moments in life that the general public is fortunate enough to experience and often takes for granted, it has become clear to me that our elected officials are underappreciated and get a bad wrap overall when it is not necessarily deserved.

Speaking to the people of North Carolina, yes per the U.S. Constitution we as citizens have a right to voice our opinions and we should but it is my experience that instead of constant complaints and slanderous remarks, try toning it down a little. I am not suggesting that protests should cease or implying that citizens rights should be infringed upon, I am simply stating that your elected officials are people too, and they draw the short straw more times than they should.

I would dare to say that the average citizens of NC could not handle having an equal amount of negativity in their daily lives in comparison to their legislators. Too often we as citizens get caught up in the politics and media, believing every bit of information on the all-knowing internet that we read. If we really wanted to be informed, we would take the daunting task of reading bills, some of which are hundreds of pages long. It is impossible to know every detail of every bill, use a little common sense and understanding in the formulation of your opinions is all I am conveying with this post.

Count your blessings that you live in a place where your voice can be heard, without the fear of punishment.

I close by saying that respect, kindness and understanding go much further in voicing an opinion rather than excessive, incoherent ramblings about an issue you're not fully informed on.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Future is Bright

On Thursday, June 18th, 2015, Governor McCrory along with Commissioner Troxler and the Dean of CALS, Dr. Linton announced the formation of a new task force. This task force is stacked full of leaders in Agriculture across the state from various industries, different backgrounds and expertise.

The goal of this task force is to develop existing businesses and to attract new food manufacturing businesses to North Carolina and to grow the Agriculture economy of North Carolina from 78 billion to 100 billion over the next five years. The task force is made up of around thirty individuals who have been charged by the state of North Carolina to accomplish this feat and to me this is one of the most fascinating and exciting developments in the realm of NC Agriculture in my lifetime and possibly ever.

The workload that I envision for these members will be excruciating but the benefits in my opinion far outweigh the costs, this could potentially put North Carolina at the forefront in agriculture on a global scale. If this task force completes this, which I believe they will, it could have our states economy teeming with many other businesses as well, not only in the agriculture sector. This is definitely something I will be following until 2020, when the goal is supposed to be reached.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Catching Up

This is my first post  this summer and although I am behind on my posts, I have learned a tremendous amount by working with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

During this first month I have been to many different committee meetings regarding Finance, Transportation, Agriculture and various other meetings. I have been exposed to the legislative process in both the House of Representatives and the NC Senate. I have also been exposed to issues facing the Agriculture of NC, including the outbreak of HPAI (High Path Avian Influenza) in the Midwest US mainly the states of Minnesota and Iowa, that in the future may affect the states thriving poultry industry.  I have also gotten my feet wet with International Trade relations and currently working on a project to expand the exports of North Carolina. I have found that policies both domestically and foreign have strict regulations on the goods that are exported abroad.

Much of this experience has been dedicated to researching and furthering my knowledge in the realm  of public policy, particularly dealing with Agriculture. I now have an in depth understanding of how policy is developed through the legislative process and no one person can implement them alone. To achieve a goal it takes people skills more than any other skill and knowing what makes individuals tick, over having an understanding of the policies themselves. Yes, having an understanding of bills are important but to truly implement your ideas within the bill, people skills and communicating effectively are the most important factors.

I have been exposed to more information than I can possibly take in at one time, but the bits and pieces I do gather will benefit me greatly in the long run. I can see now why its been said the arena of "Policy is like drinking from a fire hydrant".

The general public has no idea what their Representatives and Senators do on a daily basis and from my experience, if they did know, the public might have a new found respect for them considering the grind of holding a political office.

I look forward to what the rest of the summer holds for me and if it is anything like the first month, it will be full of  interesting experiences and an expansion of knowledge particularly for my own benefit.