No military experience.
1. What makes you the most qualified person to hold this position? (Be specific.)
As a third generation farmer, I know the significance of agriculture in the state of South Carolina, and the value of hard work. I have seen all sides of the agriculture community, from growing crops and distributing them, to policies established in Washington and Columbia that have and effect on our local farmers. It is essential for the Commissioner of Agriculture to have a firm grasp on issues that local farmers encounter everyday, and also know how our state government works. Additionally, I have the business understanding to help continue to grow agribusiness in South Carolina, and in turn grow the economy of our state, especially in rural area.
2. What will be your top three priorities if you are elected?
1. More investment in South Carolina in value-added processing facilities, using SC farm products. This will add to the more than 3,000 jobs created in the last 3 years in companies locating or expanding here.
2. Expansion of opportunity in the local food economy to more small farms and to new farms in South Carolina. This can be done by implementation of the ‘Small Farms Big Business’ study prepared last year.
3. Continue to increase domestic and international export of SC farm products through brand awareness in critical US and foreign markets.
3b. For incumbents: What do you consider your most significant accomplishments in this office?
As the Commissioner of Agriculture, I have fought to grow South Carolina. Since taking office, the number of farmers has steadily increased and more than 100,000 more acres of land are now being farmed. Additionally, the impact of agriculture on the state’s economy has grown to over $3 billion a year, and thousands of agriculture related jobs have been added. I began the Certified SC Grown branding campaign for SC farm products, which has had a huge impact on the farm economy of our state. The Commissioner’s School of Agriculture, in partnership with Clemson, is attracting some of our state’s brightest kids to careers in agriculture.
4. Describe at least one significant political position you hold that would clash with your political base.
My job is to focus on agricultural issues facing South Carolina, and I am proud of the job that I have done as the Commissioner of Agriculture. In a position that is so focused on one area, I do what I believe to be the right thing, and I do what I trust will be the best for South Carolina and its farming community. I am a proud member of the Republican Party and I am thankful that my party as supported me through my tenure as the Commissioner of Agriculture and stood beside my decisions. I have always counted on good policy decisions to take care of political discourse.
5. Have you ever been convicted of a crime, been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or had an ethics complaint filed against you? If so, please give the details.
6. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy or been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details.
7. Are there any personal details about you that voters would be interested in knowing?
I am a devoted husband and father, and whenever I get spare moment I enjoy spending as much time as I can with my family. I am also a member of Bowman South Methodist Church where I teach Sunday School.