State Rep. Jon Hardister has filed House Bill 472 – a bill that would provide a full match in funding from the state for federal funds that go toward supporting agricultural research at NC A&T State University as well as the Cooperative Extension program there.

The legislation, if it passes, will add $2 million a year for those programs at NC A&T.  One benefit of the additional funding is that it would enable the school’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences to strengthen its research in a variety of fields, including sustainable agriculture, food safety, nutrition and wellness.

The Cooperative Extension would also benefit.  That program would use its share of the money to expand its local and urban agriculture initiatives including those oriented toward at-risk families.

Other sponsors of the legislation are Rep. Josh Dobson, representing McDowell County, and Reps. John Faircloth and Ashton Clemmons, who represent parts of Guilford County.

Hardister said after filing the bill that it’s important for the state to support the agricultural industry in Guilford County and across North Carolina, and he said the bill submitted would do just that.

“This legislation will provide critical support for advancements in agriculture,” Hardister said, adding that he and the other legislators responsible for the bill know that there’s exciting work in agriculture being carried out right now by the university.

According to Hardister, the academic research and other work taking place at A&T is having a very positive impact on agriculture across the state.  He said the money will help promote not only education about agriculture but also jobs and economic activity.

As one can imagine, officials at A&T are thrilled by the new development.

Mohamed Ahmedna, the dean of A&T’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, said soon after the bill was filed that it should help the university and the entire state.

“This bill would allow us to do even more to boost the local and state economies through our research and outreach,” Ahmedna said. “We appreciate the leadership shown by the legislators who crafted this bill.  HB 472 represents a wise investment in A&T as well as in public health and well being.”

University officials say the legislation will help ensure that A&T continues to receive critical federal funding.  Not getting a full state match jeopardizes that funding.