Most of us will be heading to the polls in November, but did you know this is a special year, allowing many of us another opportunity to vote? For anyone who has purchased feed or fertilizer in the past six years, we will have a chance to choose whether or not to support agricultural research, teaching, and extension at NC State University.
How, you ask? “Nickels for Know-How” is a referendum that began 65 years ago. In 1951, the General Assembly approved this referendum when requested by NC Farm Bureau and the NC State Grange. Farmers started the referendum by voting, way back then, and has continued ever since, with voting every six years across NC’s 100 counties.
How much is the assessment, and how much is raised annually because of it? For every ton of feed or fertilizer purchased, 15 cents (3 nickels) are sent to NC State’s Ag Foundation. This equates to approximately $1.4 million raised annually, and approximately $40 per farm.
What is the money used for? The Ag Foundation’s board of directors, which include farmer representatives from all NC counties, allocates the funds. The funds are used for NC State research, teaching, and extension…the 3 pillars our land-grant colleges are based on. Listed below are just a few examples of what these nickels have helped fund:
• Scholarships to bring and keep rural students coming to NC State
• Support of the NC 4-H Development Fund
• Support of the NC FFA Foundation
• Workshops for high school vocational agriculture teachers
• Feed mill efficiency and training programs
• Ag commodity, leadership, and legislative efforts
• College of Ag & Life Science commodity relations activities
• Recognition events for faculty, staff, volunteers, and donors
What about research? Here are several projects Nickels has supported recently. There are many more.
• Commercial turkey welfare and health
• Evaporative cooling in swine facilities
• Fire ant control
• Soil borne diseases of tomatoes
• Management of herbicide resistant weeds
• Improvements in sow reproduction, longevity and welfare
• Biomass for biofuel production
• Insect management in field and forage crops
• Nutrient management and utilization in swine farms
• Maintaining healthy honey bee colonies
What can you do to support Nickels for Know-How? If you purchased feed or fertilizer in the past six years, you can help by voting “yes” on Nov. 1. If a two-thirds vote is favorable across NC, our nickels will continue to support agricultural research, teaching, and extension for another six years.
For more information regarding Nickels for Know-How, and where to vote on Nov. 1, please contact the Cooperative Extension Center at 910-592-7161.
Eileen Coite is the director of the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center.