James Allen “Jim” Graham was North Carolina's longest serving agriculture commissioner.
Jim Graham’s entire life revolved around agriculture. He grew up on a cattle farm in Rowan County and graduated with a degree in agriculture from N.C. State University in 1942. He began his career as an agricultural teacher, before becoming a research station superintendent. He also held positions as a fair manager, secretary of the N.C. Hereford Association and as manager of a farmers market before being appointed agriculture commissioner in 1964. He was elected to the post nine times. He continued to operate a cattle farm in Rowan County throughout his career. He chose not to run for a 10th term in 2000 and retired from a life of public service in January 2001.
During his years as agriculture commissioner, Jim Graham secured funding for a number of outstanding programs and facilities for agriculture and consumer services. These include programs to eradicate the boll weevil in cotton, eliminate pseudo rabies, cholera and tuberculosis in hogs and provide free soil samples to all North Carolina residents. He developed a network of five state-owned farmers markets and three agricultural centers and seven animal disease diagnostic laboratories across the state. He started the “Goodness Grows in North Carolina” marketing program, expanded the N.C. State Fair and set up a program to check every gas pump, scale and price scanner in the state for accuracy.