News Roundup

News Roundup: Feb. 18-24

By on February 24, 2017

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.

  • “Yadkin County tobacco grower attends NC State Tobacco Short Course,” The Yadkin Ripple: Ben Hobson, a Yadkin County young farmer, participated with 45 other tobacco farmers and industry representatives recently in the 2017 NC State Tobacco Short Course in Raleigh. Hobson has been farming five years with his father, Derrick, at Hobson Farms near Boonville. Last year they grew 150 acres of flue-cured tobacco and 700 other crop acres in their farming operation. During the week-long course, which coincided with the Southern Farm Show and the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina’s annual meeting, participants took part in the educational program aimed at helping them better understand all facets of tobacco production and marketing. The two days of classroom studies covered everything from greenhouse production of seedling plants to curing leaf ready for market. The group also spent a day participating in a flue-cured tobacco grading session. …
  • “Orange County’s Board of Adjustment to Determine Whether the So-Called Party Barn is Really Being Used as a Farm,” Independent Weekly: On Monday morning, the basketball court of Cedar Grove Community Center is filled not with athletes but with farmers. They’re here to learn about a topic you’d think they’d be experts on: What exactly does it mean to be a farm? “How many of you are farmers?” the discussion’s moderator asks. Hands shoot up across the crowded room. “How many of you plan to pass that on to the next generation?” The hands go up again, this time with less confidence. Among those with their hands raised are Kara and Chris Brewer, owners of a twenty-two-acre property on Morrow Mill Road known as the Barn of Chapel Hill. But not all of the Brewers’ neighbors in rural Orange County think they deserve to have their hands in the air. The Brewers’ plan to grow flowers and chestnuts and host weddings on their property has become central to the debate of what should—and should not—constitute a farm in North Carolina today. Six neighbors have appealed, for the second time, a building permit awarded to the Brewers. That appeal will be heard by the Orange County Board of Adjustments on March 13. The Brewers’ stance is simple: they’re following the law. In May 2015, they were issued a USDA farm number, one of five items that, under state law, qualifies a property for bona fide farm status and, in turn, exemption from county zoning laws. …
  • “Feed a Bee launches RFP for $500,000 pollinator forage initiative,” SatPRNews: Bayer, in coordination with the new Feed a Bee steering committee, today announced a call for proposals to establish additional forage for pollinators in all 50 states by 2018. Bayer’s Feed a Bee program, currently in its third year, has rallied more than 900,000 individuals and 117 partner organizations to plant more than 2 billion wildflowers across the U.S., creating and expanding forage areas for pollinators. Through this new initiative, Feed a Bee will build on the success of the program to fund forage initiatives and plantings for pollinators in every state in the U.S., working with organizations across the nation. To further the reach of Feed a Bee and contribute to additional forage development, the Feed a Bee Steering Committee, comprised of more than a dozen Feed a Bee partners, including R.D. Offutt Company, Sweet Virginia Foundation, Project Apis m., amongst others, as well as representatives from the Bayer Bee Care Program, will distribute $500,000 in funding over the next two years. …
  • “Farmers fret frost could kill early blooming fruit,” WRAL: (Video) The unseasonably mild temperatures could spell disaster for area farmers, who watch worriedly as peach trees and strawberry plants bloom weeks before the start of spring. A cold spell in the coming weeks could wipe out the fruit, so farmers are keeping an eye on the forecast and preparing for a frost. “It’s like a gamble, but with peaches, the gamble is higher because of the frost,” said Will Williams, a second-generation peach farmer in Moore County. Williams’ family has more than 5,000 peach trees scattered across several orchards near Candor, and they’re planning to plant 1,700 more. He said he’s seen all too often when warm February temperatures turn to disaster with a March cold snap. “Just last year, our field crops were fine, but our peaches, we lost like a lot of our peaches,” he said. Farmers try a variety of methods to protect the precious buds from cold weather, such as spraying trees at night to encapsulate the blooms in a thin layer of ice and protect them from the colder air. Williams said his family uses windmills to circulate warm air aloft down to the plants. They have two up already and plan to erect another next week. “It makes it warm on the bottom, right around the trees,” he said. “That’s all you’re worried about is the air right around the trees to hit this. So, if you can change that a few degrees, you’ll save your peaches.” …
  • “North Carolina farmers face large supplies, subdued demand,” Southeast Farm Press: Large supplies of crops and livestock and subdued demand will mean low prices again this year, but there is hope for recovery in 2018. So says Blake Brown, Hugh C. Kiger professor and Extension economist at North Carolina State University, speaking at this year’s Ag Development Forum at the Southern Farm Show in Raleigh Feb. 2. “We have big supplies in most areas right now,” Brown said. “This will make for continued downward pressure on a lot of commodity prices this year, but hopefully we’ll get through this year and get back in balance the coming year.” In 2015 (the 2016 number aren’t available yet), North Carolina had net farm receipts of $11.6 billion. Of that figure, $7.96 billion or 68 percent came from the livestock sector, with chickens, broilers and hogs the biggest segment. Crops represent the rest of the figure at $3.68 billion in 2015. Both crops and livestock are vital to the North Carolina economy, Brown said. This year will be another year of large supplies in both hogs and poultry. The cow herd is way up and cattle prices are also down. The bright spot for livestock producers is that feed prices are also down. “That’s not good news for crop farmers, but it is good news for cattle feeders and for the hog industry and poultry industry,” Brown said. …
  • “Theron Maybin, ‘Mayor of Green River’ and ag icon, dies at age 73,” Hendersonville Times-News: Theron Maybin, one of Henderson County’s most well-known residents, died last night at age 73. Maybin’s accomplishments over the course of a long, full life — as well as his contributions to the community — are too many to list, friends say. But the Vietnam veteran was especially known as a staple in the agriculture community and in his church, and was often referred to as “The Mayor of Green River.” He was inducted into the inaugural Walk of Fame for Henderson County in December. “He was one of the most giving people that I’ve ever met,” Henderson County Cooperative Extension Director Marvin Owings said this morning. “There’s no one that was a bigger proponent of agriculture in the county than Theron Maybin. He will be truly missed.” …
  • “Region’s peach trees blooming too early, leaving farmers worried about cold snaps,” Charlotte Observer: Peach Grower Jeff Crotts looked at the peach blooms in his Lincoln County Orchard Thursday and just shook his head. “I’ve never seen blooms this early,” he said. This winter has been the warmest he can remember. He says now it has put his 2017 peach crop in jeopardy. “Nothing we can do about it, just pray that the good Lord wants us to have it this year,” he said. Once peach trees bloom, the crop is vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Most blooms and small peaches can survive temperatures near 32 degrees. But if that drops into the mid-20s, Crotts says, that poses a huge danger. …
  • “Immigration: Ag leaders speak out as employees skip work,” Hendersonville Times-News: The owners of several local agriculture businesses have penned a letter to Meadows, Burr and Tillis asking them to support immigration reform legislation that allows them to keep their workforce. The Town of Mills River’s Agricultural Advisory Committee crafted the letter Thursday and addressing it to U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis. “Congress must pass legislation that preserves agriculture’s experienced workforce by allowing current farm workers to earn legal status,” the letter says. “For future needs, legislation must create an agricultural worker visa program that provides access to a legal and reliable workforce moving forward. This visa program needs to be market-based and have the flexibility to meet the needs of producers, including those with year-round labor needs, such as dairy and livestock.” …

Recipe Roundup: Awesome Appetizers

By on February 23, 2017

WRAL reporter Brian Shrader and our own Lisa Prince feature seasonal recipes in their weekly Local Dish Cooking segment. This month, Brian and Lisa feature award-winning appetizers. Billy Narron from Middlesex won 1st place in the N.C. Pork Council’s cooking

Rohan Mohammed, a chemistry technician, loads the custom-designed automated dispensing unit that adds solutions to extract soil humic matter and plant available nutrients.

Agronomic Services lab making equipment upgrades with peak-season soil testing fees

By on February 22, 2017

New equipment at the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Soil Testing lab in Raleigh is helping speed up the time it takes to process soil samples, and is also adding to safer working conditions for employees. Funding for

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic: Corn growers to vote on assessment Feb. 22

By on February 21, 2017

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” North Carolina corn growers will vote Feb. 22 on a six-year continuation of their commodity assessment program. The Board of Directors of the

Tobacco Short Course participants

Seven NCDA&CS employees take part in 2017 Tobacco Short Course

By on February 20, 2017

Seven NCDA&CS staff members participated in the 2017 N.C. State Tobacco Short Course in Raleigh. The following NCDA&CS employees took part in the course: Josh Mays, regional agronomist for Anson, Guilford, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph and Richmond counties; Carla Pugh,

News Roundup

News Roundup: Feb. 11-17

By on February 17, 2017

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. “Warning bells issued for nematodes in Carolinas,” Southeast Farm Press: Both Clemson University and North Carolina

Tar Heel Kitchen: Fried Sweet Potatoes

By on February 16, 2017

Since 1926, the Agricultural Review has been a free newspaper published by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. For many years, The Tar Heel Kitchen was a featured column written by the department’s marketing home economist. These recipes

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic: B&H Foods expands recall of pimento spread

By on February 14, 2017

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” On Feb. 9, B&H Foods of Charlotte expanded its recall of Ruth’s pimento spread to include additional products, all of which were

Faces in the Field: George Revels

By on February 13, 2017

Author’s note: Sometimes life just gets in the way. Like for us when Hurricane Matthew hit just a few days before the N.C. State Fair last October. This blog post was written and just waiting to be posted when I got a

News Roundup

News Roundup: Feb. 4 – 10

By on February 10, 2017

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. “919 Beer: Sweet potato lager,” WRAL: (Video) February is Sweet Potato month and what better way