Troxler becomes North Carolina commissioner of agriculture

More than three months after the November election, Republican Steve Troxler will be sworn in as North Carolina commissioner of agriculture.

Democratic incumbent Britt Cobb conceded on Feb. 4, 2005, ending a dispute over lost votes in Cateret County in coastal North Carolina. Cobb had argued for a new statewide election, but said he conceded so Troxler would not introduce 1,412 voter affidavits as evidence of his win in the election.

The statewide tally in November showed Troxler ahead by 2,287 votes. Some 4,438 votes were dropped by a computer malfunction. Cobb said he worried that the introduction of the affidavits would set a precedent for future races.

Cobb, who was appointed by Gov. Mike Easley after former commissioner Meg Scott Phipps resigned amid scandal, is credited with stabilizing the department.

Troxler becomes the first Republican to head the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He ran unsuccessfully for the office in 2000 against Scott Phipps.

In an interview published last year with the Southeast Farm Press, Troxler said he would be a hands-on ag commissioner, “relying on the expert advice of experts in various fields.”

He said he plans to meet with the department’s 1,344 employees.

“The first thing I want to do is to put in a section that deals with ag policy both in North Carolina and nationally and figure out what we can do to make it better,” Troxler said in a Farm Press interview last year.

He also pointed out the transition for farmers after the tobacco buyout, the struggling dairy industry in the state, agri-tourism and farmland preservation as priorities

A self-described “dirt farmer from Browns Summit, N.C., who’s seen the world,” Troxler grows flue-cured tobacco and wheat. He and his wife, Sharon, have two sons.

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