News Roundup

News Roundup: Feb. 6-12

By on February 12, 2016

News Roundup - this week's top news stories about NC agriculture

Each week we round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from news outlets across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories.

  • Our View: If it’s tasty, the Army learns, good food wins converts,” Fayetteville Observer: Like many of us, the Army knows that prodigious consumption of fat-laden fast food can lead to fat-laden soldiers. And so Fort Bragg leaders were right to be concerned about the growing profusion – and popularity – of fast-food restaurants just beyond the post’s gates. Meanwhile, at the 2nd Brigade and 18th Field Artillery Brigade Dining Facility, business was slow, especially at the “Healthy Bar,” which soldiers found considerably less than exciting. So the post gave its healthy food a facelift, opting for fresh meats, vegetables and fruits – even fresh herbs – and also gave its cooks the license to make Army food tasty and attractive. It worked. Before the Healthy Bar’s reinvention in January, it barely drew 50 soldiers for any meal. A month later, it’s already up to 150 at most meals. And it looks as if those numbers will grow – to a chorus of good reviews. …
  • Demand for sweet potatoes keeps N.C. superstars Nash Produce busy,” The Produce News: There’s no question 2015 was a busy year for Nash Produce of Nashville, NC. The continued increase in consumer demand for sweet potatoes led to an increase in acreage and doubling the company’s storage facilities, and there’s no end in sight to the growth curve. Nash has a network of growers across North Carolina, ensuring ample volume and a guaranteed supply regardless of growing conditions or problems in any one area. The company has also seen a huge increase in demand for value-added products like microwave-ready individual servings and 1.5-pound steamable bags. “It is so fun to be a part of the upswing in demand of a superfood like sweet potatoes,” said Director of Marketing Laura Kornegay Hearn. “We like to think of sweet potatoes as the best of both worlds — the perfect choice to satisfy the craving for a potato but with more nutrition and taste. They offer an entire new element to the potato world in that they are naturally sweet but can be cooked sweet or savory. Not to mention that they are packed full of vitamins and nutrients.” …
  • Waynesville lumber company recognized for exports,” Smoky Mountain News: Waynesville lumber company Oaks Unlimited Inc. got recognition in Raleigh last week, named 2016 Exporter of the Year by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It exports 75 percent of its production to a dozen countries outside the United States. “Oaks Unlimited has shown the world the quality of North Carolina forestry products for more than 40 years,” said Steve Troxler, N.C. Agriculture Commissioner. Specializing in high-quality, kiln-dried ash, cherry, hickory, poplar, red oak and white oak, Oaks Unlimited recently purchased 10 acres next to its existing facility to add a boiler, dry kiln and lumber shed. It offers lumber certified through the Forest Stewardship Council, and Appalachian hardwoods verified sustainable by Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers.
  • Tyson Foods to move ahead with Monroe expansion, adding about 56 jobs,” Charlotte Observer: Tyson Foods said Tuesday it will move forward with a proposed $5 million expansion of its Monroe chicken processing plant. The Monroe plant is one of the top employers in Union County and already employs around 1,500. The expansion would add about 56 new jobs, the company has said. Last month, to help land the project, Union County commissioners approved incentives worth up to $115,000, and the Monroe City Council authorized another $110,000 in incentives. “We are so glad the support we demonstrated has resulted in our winning this latest project and securing even more employment opportunities for years to come,” Monroe Mayor Bobby Kilgore said Tuesday. Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson has operated the facility in Monroe since buying it from Holly Farms in 1989. …
  • Perdue Farms expands North Carolina poultry site,” US poultry and meat processor Perdue Farms has announced a US$10.9m investment in expanding operations at a plant in North Carolina. The investment into the Rockingham plant in Richmond County will see another 30 employees hired over a three-year period. “We are pleased to continue to invest in the Rockingham facility and in our associates. This expansion brings additional jobs and new capabilities to strengthen the Rockingham plant going forward,” said Kendall Casey, Perdue Foods’ director of operations in Rockingham. “We appreciate the county and state’s support to help make this happen. Governor [Pat] McCrory and Agriculture Commissioner [Steve] Troxler have been wonderful partners in this initiative”. The investment was boosted by a performance-based grant of up to $90,000 from the One North Carolina Fund. “I would also like to thank the City of Rockingham for their continued partnership with Perdue and the county to make this plant successful and to allow for the continued expansion of the Rockingham operation. Without their infrastructure investment and support over the years, this operation would not be viable,” Casey added.
  • Barstool: From pit stops to his own destination,” Triad City Beat: People easily wrote off Chris Megginson’s vision for a wine bar, a place that would also serve beer, meat and cheese, all exclusively sourced from North Carolina. And they were probably right to do so. After all, when Megginson started laying the groundwork for such a place, he’d never run a business like it. As a social worker based in Winston-Salem, Megginson covered several surrounding counties for Stop Child Abuse Now, a non-profit agency. He’d duck into places as he traveled, noticing vineyards and breweries popping up. But this happened before North Carolina’s craft-beer boom, when vineyards were replacing tobacco operations but still suffered from a strong stigma as an inferior — and usually overly sweet — product compared to the rest of the market. Some people in the industry thought he must be out of touch. …
  • Buying The Wrong Gas Could Cost You Thousands,” WFMY: Seems like the price of gas keeps getting cheaper by the day. Monday it’s selling for an average of $1.77 per gallon in North Carolina. But if you buy the wrong gas, 2 Wants To Know found it could end up costing you much more. Just ask Matt Rivenbark. With barely enough time to blink after pulling out of the Quick N-Ez on the edge of downtown Charlotte his 325i BMW:  “Just started stuttering and then it completely stopped,” Matt said. “I was probably like less than a quarter mile outside the gas station. It was right outside.” Matt says his mechanic ran a test and proved the problem was bad gas with water in it. The total repair bill $570 bucks. State inspectors like Valerie Thoms confirmed there was water in the line at Matt’s station around the time he filled up last summer. Quick N-Ez paid for repairs and since fixed the problem. But Thoms says other stations have had water in the gas too. …
  • Letter: Spay-neuter fix needed in N.C.,” Fayetteville Observer: We at Robeson County Humane Society support the Jan. 29 editorial (“Shelter: Haven shutdown highlights weakness in law.”) concerning the Haven and the need for our legislature to promote a low-cost spay/neuter program in North Carolina. One was established in 2001 for low-income pet owners, and it has provided funds for thousands of surgeries in our state. Unfortunately the law was changed a few months ago so that significantly fewer citizens are now eligible for this service. In the past, a person could apply for the service in participating counties if someone in the household received food stamps, Medicaid or Health Choice. Now, the household must have income lower than 100percent of the federal poverty level. Our opinion is that this decision was very shortsighted; as your editorial points out, fewer animals translates to less need for animal control services and large shelters such as the Haven. We encourage our North Carolina House and Senate members to revisit eligibility requirements. Allocating additional funds to this program would be another giant leap forward in addressing the issue of animal overpopulation in North Carolina.  Jason Britt, president, Robeson County Humane Society
  • Local foods conference set,” Anson Record: Local foods is one of the fastest-growing segments of United States agriculture, according to the USDA. The Charlotte Metro region may be experiencing even greater growth than much of the counties in the country due to our proximity to rural farm land, explosive growth in population and the value placed on healthy foods. For the second year, the N.C. Cooperative Extension and Rocky River Local Foods Association will host the Southern Piedmont Local Foods Conference to bring farmers, producers and interested consumers from throughout the region for the sake of local foods. Held at the Union County Agriculture Service Center, the Southern Piedmont Local Foods Conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 3 and registration is $35. Specialists, Extension agents, tradesmen and professionals from throughout North Carolina will have sessions on numerous subjects related to local food production. …
  • What to expect for food prices in 2016,” Triangle Business Journal: Weather extremes and lower commodity prices put a drag on North Carolina producers in 2015 and PNC economists see more of the same for 2016. As a result, bankers are seeing an increase in requests for larger lines of credit, according to PNC. On the consumption side, predictions show modest growth. Food prices will stabilize in 2016, with household staples like dairy, meat and vegetables increasing by about 2 percent. “This aligns with what we hear about the economy in general — gradually and slowly improving,” says Warren Graeff, agriculture banking and market manager for PNC Bank, who will attend the Southern Farm Show that kicks off Wednesday and runs through the end of the week. “People feel more confident about eating a healthy diet, and consumption patterns tend to reflect the general mood about the economy.” Agriculture is no small business in North Carolina. Farmers here generated $13.5 billion in total cash receipts in 2014, ranking North Carolina eighth in the nation. …
  • Multimillion dollar ag projects key parts of North Carolina bond package,” Southeast Farm Press: A $2 billion bond package will be on the March 15 North Carolina primary ballot and will include funding for a new plant science research building at North Carolina State University and funding for a new laboratory complex for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The Connect NC Bond has the backing of Gov. Pat McCrory, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, the North Carolina Farm Bureau and state commodity groups. The bond earmarks $85 million for the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative which will lead to the construction of the state-of-the –art plant research center on the N.C. State Centennial Campus in Raleigh. and $94 million for the new laboratory complex in Raleigh. …
Farmers markets are a great place to find unique gifts, such as handcrafted lavender soap, for your special someone.

Love is in the air at your local farmers market

By on February 11, 2016

Looking for something sweet for your special someone this Valentine’s Day? Look no further than your regional farmers market. The markets in Asheville, Colfax, Charlotte and Raleigh are open year-round, and have a great selection of special treats for your

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Throwback Thursday recipe for N.C. Sweetpotato Month

By on February 11, 2016

February in North Carolina is sweet potato month. What’s not to love about these nutritionally-dense and versatile potatoes? We’ve pulled out the 1989 Goodness Grows cookbook and found a recipe for a sweet side dish provided by Wingfield Farm in


Cutting to the chase: Prune trees in winter months

By on February 10, 2016

When it’s cold outside, it’s completely expected to want to stay indoors, sipping hot cocoa, where you can still feel your fingers and toes. Being outside is typically reserved for those hurried steps to your car or those moments when

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic: Recapping the 2016 Ag Development Forum

By on February 9, 2016

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” The 11th annual Ag Development Forum on Feb. 4 drew more than 300 people to learn about challenges and opportunities in North Carolina agriculture.

USDA designates 4 more NC counties as primary natural disaster areas because of rain, flooding

By on February 8, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Alamance, Chatham, Person and Rockingham counties as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by excessive rain and flooding that began July 13, 2015. Farmers and ranchers in the following counties

News Roundup

News Roundup: Jan. 30-Feb. 5

By on February 5, 2016

Each week we round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from news outlets across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories. “Our Coast’s Food: Keeping It Local,” Coastal Review: “Easy beast,” I said to chef Kyle

Game Day Meatballs

Local Dish: Game Day Meatballs

By on February 4, 2016

We’ve noticed that Super Bowl excitement is at a higher level than usual as fans can’t wait to cheer on our very own Carolina Panthers to a Super Bowl win. To get ready for Sunday’s big game, we thought we

Robert Earl Jones, Sr.

Black History Month: Robert Earle Jones Sr.

By on February 3, 2016

The North Carolina Agricultural Hall of Fame was created by the 1953 General Assembly to honor North Carolinians who have rendered distinguished service in the science and art of agriculture. The Hall of Fame room on the first floor of

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic: Ag Forum set for Feb. 4

By on February 2, 2016

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is hosting two events aimed at farmers and agribusinesses on Thursday in the Holshouser