Today’s Topic: N.C. Farm Act becomes law

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

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Photo of Gov. Pat McCrory and Commissioner Troxler

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, right, shakes Gov. Pat McCrory's hand after McCrory signed the N.C. Farm Act. Also on hand was Sen. Brent Jackson, one of the bill's primary sponsors.

Last week, Commissioner Troxler was on hand when Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a piece of legislation that many N.C. farmers will welcome: the N.C. Farm Act of 2013.

The legislation had overwhelming support in the General Assembly. It passed the House by a vote of 109-3, and the Senate approved it 41-3.

In this week’s interview, Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss a few of the many provisions contained in the bill, focusing on some limited liability protections for farmers.

The Farm Act limits the liability of North Carolina farmers who invest a lot of time and money in becoming certified by the USDA for Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices and have taken other steps to ensure food safety. This applies only to farmers selling to wholesalers and retailers. It does not apply to farmers selling directly to consumers.

The bill also eases the worry that animal exhibitions, petting zoos and animal-based educational programs have with getting insurance. And it also exempts operators from liability for the inherent risks of farm-animal activities.

Insurance costs are skyrocketing for those who operate farm-animal activities. More and more, operators can’t even get the insurance necessary to do business. Commissioner Troxler points out to Rhonda that for the first time in its existence, the Got to Be NC Festival didn’t have a petting zoo this year. Concerns over liability also have made it harder for agricultural education programs, such as FFA, to use animals in their work.

The Farm Act doesn’t contain a total exemption from liability. But it should help farmers and others maintain these popular activities that have become a key component for educating people about agriculture in North Carolina.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler talk with Rhonda about the Farm Act.

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Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

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