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NC Wing Partners With NC Dept of Agriculture

Dr. Jimmy Tickel
Dr. Jimmy Tickel, NC Dept. of Agriculture explains the AERT mission. (click image to view full size)
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New Mission Opportunity With Agriculture Emergency Response Team


During this past weekend’s Commander’s call, the guest speaker was Dr. Jimmy Tickel, a veterinarian with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Service’s Emergency Programs division.

Dr. Tickel introduced the assembled members to a very exciting opportunity for both the North Carolina Wing of Civil Air Patrol (NCWG), and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA&CS).

Recognizing a need by our state’s farmers following a natural disaster, the NCDA&CS developed an emergency response team known as the Agriculture Emergency Response Team (AERT). AERT is tasked with providing resources to assist farming communities during and after natural disasters. Dr. Tickel stressed” the training and support the current team received, stressed safety for all team members and volunteers, first”.

Farming is a very important industry in North Carolina, employing 1 of 8 North Carolina workers, and bringing in $77 Billion dollars to the North Carolina economy. Dr. Tickel stated that during Hurricane Irene, North Carolina sustained approximately $400 Million in damages, $300 million of that was directly associated with farmers or farming communities. The number of farming communities in North Carolina has been on a steady decline over the past 50 years, as the state moved to a more industrial base. In 1950 there were approximately 350,000 farms in North Carolina, and in 2008 the number had dropped to only 50,000; however, globally we must produce 50% more food or increase efficiency over 70% by 2050. Keeping these farmers producing is critically important to the economy of our state and the world.

Col. David E. Crawford, Commander, NCWG  reminded those assembled that the CAP is more than just a flying organization, that “As a humanitarian service organization, CAP assists federal, state and local agencies in preparing for and responding to homeland security needs”. Partnering with the NCDA&CS to provide needed manpower for its AERT fits perfectly into the Civil Air Patrol’s mission. 

The AERT focuses on 5 major areas, including assisting with restoring farming access, harvestability, fence repair, tarping and field debris removal. In addition to building the teams, AERT’s goal is to fill gaps that farmers and farming communities have through a webpage designed to allow these populations to match their needs with ready, available quick response manpower.

Recently, Col. Crawford, Dr. Tickel and Sharron Stewart Director of the NCDA&CS emergency programs, were able to observe cadets training for a ground mission. Dr. Tickel and Ms. Stewart were very impressed and stated that the cadets were a capable group of young men and women who could provide assistance readily because they could help with little chance for physical injury, they would require little additional training, and would not be required to assist for any lengthy obligation.

As this program continues to move forward, the North Carolina Wing looks forward to partnering with the NCDA&CS to fulfill this important function for our state.