North Carolina State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler is asking the state legislature for special emergency powers that could be invoked in a natural disaster. This request comes in the wake of Hurricane Irene, which caused significant damage to North Carolina farms. Current estimates place the damage done by Irene at over $300 million.
The request also stems from a debate between Troxler and North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue. During the hurricane, Troxler asked Governor Perdue to temporarily suspend weight restrictions on North Carolina roads so that farmers could save as much of their crop as possible. Perdue declined a formal waiver, instead telling Troxler and state Highway Patrol to work with farmers they encountered on the roads.
However, many farmers say that that they were stopped by Highway Patrol officers. These stops in the midst of a hurricane represented an unreasonable burden on farmers trying to salvage their livelihood, many agricultural officials claim.
Troxler’s proposal would give the Agriculture Commissioner the power to waive or suspend transportation regulations, limitations on burning and destroying debris, and veterinarian requirements for animal deaths in an emergency.
The governor’s office has responded by stating that it is important to centralize emergency powers in one officer, rather than dispersing them to several departments and cabinets.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer