News Roundup

News Roundup: Nov. 26-Dec. 2

By on December 2, 2016

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

  • “Family Trees: Selling Christmas trees more of a passion than a business,” Winston-Salem Journal: When Christmas tree lots start popping up all over the city, the horticulturist inside of me gets a little befuddled. Shrubs, trees and perennials are all commercially grown to provide homes with something that’s alive and vibrant. But most Christmas trees are essentially grown to die. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays, and I pick out a lovely cut tree every Christmas to adorn my living room. But when I consider that the tree I purchase, decorate and enjoy for less than one month, has been grown from a seedling for many years and then abruptly cut from its roots — well, that’s just strange. Strange or not, the Christmas-tree industry benefits many, from the grower to the consumer, and I am thankful to live in a state where this agribusiness is alive and booming. The cut Christmas tree business in North Carolina is huge. Our state produces almost 20 percent of all cut trees in the country. We are second in the nation in harvested trees. …
  • “First Year of Christmas Tree Checkoff Program,” Southern Farm Network:  (Audio) Yesterday, we heard from Bill Glenn, Marketing Specialist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture in regards to this year’s crop of Christmas trees. Today, we hear from Glenn about the new marketing, research and promotional checkoff funds from Christmas tree growers across the country. This is the first year for those checkoff funds: “That’s correct, they voted a few years ago…I say they voted, the petitioned the United States Department of Agriculture to set up a checkoff program, the Christmas Tree Promotion Board. This is the first year that they’ve collected assessments from growers, and they have recently started their first promotional campaign, which I believe is all web-based at this point. We had good support for the program, no problem at all with growers paying their assessments, and looking forward to that being a big benefit to the industry.” Glenn outlines the target market of Christmas tree growers: “Our target market, both on a national level and a statewide level is young families with small children. All the market research we’ve done for years says that if you can get families with young children hooked on having a real tree you’ve got a real tree customer at least until the kids are grown and out of the house. And it’s the biggest bang for our promotional buck, is promoting to those young families with children.” …
  • “Small Pecan Yield for Farmers in North Carolina This Year,” Time Warner Cable News: (Video) Many pecan growers across the state are reporting an 80 percent loss of crop this year, according to the North Carolina Agriculture and Consumer Services. Experts said the loss is due to a late spring frost and Hurricane Matthew knocking down a lot of the trees. As a result, wholesale dealers are bringing in pecans from other states, driving up the price. Growers said it’s tough to lose almost everything after putting in hard work all year. “You invest all that money on the front end hoping you’re going to get it back on the tail end. And when you lose a crop mid-season or at the end of the season, right when you’re expecting to take it to market, it’s heartbreaking,” said Eric Tachau, the director of grounds & farm operations for the Boys and Girls Home in Lake Waccamaw. Experts said North Carolina is one of the top 10 pecan producing states in the nation.
  • “Hemp could be grown in N.C. by 2017,” Smoky Mountain News: North Carolina is working to establish rules for a pilot program allowing industrial hemp production, with the newly formed N.C. Industrial Hemp Commission holding its first meeting this month. “Our goal is to have a 2017 industrial hemp crop, but there are many, many steps we must work through before we can even put seed in the ground,” said Dr. Sandy Stewart, vice chairman of the commission and director of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Research Stations Division. Before May 2017, when planting would begin, the commission must navigate many obstacles, including import protocols to obtain seeds, which would likely come from outside the United States.  …
  • “Ag-focused blogger tours of North Carolina,” The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is taking the stories of agriculture directly to consumers and foodies with the help of some social media friends. The department hosted separate farm tours in Eastern and Western North Carolina for bloggers, food writers and photographers, who got a firsthand look at fields, packing houses, processing facilities and markets. “Many of these bloggers have followings the size of weekly newspapers, and their followers share their interest in local foods,” said Heather Barnes, a marketing specialist for the department and a blogger herself. “By sharing the hard work that goes into agriculture with them, we can share the story of North Carolina agriculture with even more people – many who have never set foot on a farm.” Bloggers tour Apple Wedge Packers in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Photo credit: Stacey Sprenz. Barnes helped organize both events, which included stops that highlighted apples, aquaculture, muscadine grapes, jalapeno peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and a goat dairy. The fall tour covered about a dozen farms, food businesses and restaurants in and around Asheville. A similar tour was held in Eastern North Carolina in July. …
  • “Johnston tree farm helps families make Christmas memories,” News & Observer: Most live Christmas trees purchased in Johnston County arrive here via flatbed trailers from farms in Western North Carolina. But some come from a farm much closer to home. Johnstonians looking for the freshest Christmas tree – one they can cut themselves – need look no further than Northlake Christmas Trees and Nursery near Benson, where the air is full of the scent of evergreens. As they search for the perfect tree, visitors are welcome to bring their children to walk around the fields of trees and around the lake, rimmed by maple trees with brilliant yellow, orange and red leaves. Visitors can choose from a variety of trees, including white pine, Norway spruce, Scotch Pine, Leyland cypress, blue ice cypress and Concolor, Canaan and Douglas firs up to 15 feet. The farm also has smaller container trees for indoor decoration or to plant as landscaping, including Norway spruce, Canadian hemlock and dwarf Alberta spruce. …
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  • “Local farms, farmers get $600K from USDA,” Asheville Citizen-Times: If the life of a farmer sounds like a romantic notion – a return to the old ways of raising free range animals and growing real vegetables from the land – but you’ve never run a plow or planted a squash, there is hope. As farmland continues to decrease across the country and across Western North Carolina, two of the biggest barriers to farming in the mountains is farmer training and access to farmland. Enter “Farm Pathways: Integrating Farmer Training with Land Access,” a program that aims to educate, mentor and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers. Developed this year through a collaboration of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Organic Growers School, and WNC Farmlink, Farm Pathways has just been given the green light to plow ahead for another three years with a $600,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. …
  • “Dairy Diaries: Lincoln County milk production through the years,” Lincoln Times-News: There are fragments of former dairy farms, like the silos standing next to low barns that may be falling in, scattered throughout Lincoln County. At one time, Lincoln County was home to hundreds of working dairy farms, but many are now gone. Just 50 years ago, there were more than 150 dairy farms with approximately 3,862 dairy cows or, if divided evenly, 24 cows per farm, according to figures provided by Brent Buchanan, Lincoln County area dairy specialized agent for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. Today, there are just five dairy farms left in business, with a total of approximately 2,900 cows, which equates to 580 cows per farm. “A lot of dairyman came out of the service after World War II and had nothing to do so the government gave them a program where they would go to school and learn a trade or they would go into the dairy business,” said Dean Reep, a former dairyman in Lincoln County. “Then, in 1953, the boll weevil came in and wiped most of the cotton out and a lot of farmers got into dairy.” …
  • “There Are Bright Spots in the Tobacco Economy,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) At the 2016 NC State Tobacco day in Smithfield, Dr. Blake Brown, Extension Economist gave his annual talk on the state of the tobacco economy for about 400 growers and industry stakeholders. Brown says right now it’s hard to find bright spots, but they are there: “Well, we talked about some of the factors in the global market that are affecting flue cured tobacco this year. The prime one is that Brazilian flue cured production in up this year, they are our chief competitor in the world market, and the exchange rate situation, the strong dollar and the weak Brazilian currency does favor production in Brazil this year, hjopefully that will change. We are seeing the Brazilian currency strengthening some and the dollar leveling out some. So, hopefully that will make a better situation for all our exports in the future, but for this year, it still looks a little bit on the gloomy side. I think that what this means is that in the short term, it’s hard to come up with scenarios where we’ll see an increase in contracts this year, but I think the bright spots where US flue cured tobacco is countries where they’re producing more premium cigarettes, smokers are trading up their brands, and they’re looking for more premium tobacco to put in that blend.” …

In the Kitchen with Brian and Lisa: 10 Years of Local Dish

By on December 1, 2016

WRAL reporter Brian Shrader and our own Lisa Prince feature seasonal recipes in their weekly Local Dish Cooking segment. This month Brian and Lisa featuring family recipes for fall weather. This month, Local Dish celebrated 10 years on WRAL-TV. More

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic: Wildfires haven’t posed big threat to NC Christmas trees so far

By on November 29, 2016

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” Wildfires continue to burn in Western North Carolina, leaving some consumers wondering whether the fires could harm the state’s Christmas tree crop. Fortunately, the

News Roundup

News Roundup: Nov. 19-25

By on November 25, 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. “Christmas tree harvest not affected by drought, experts say,” Watauga Democrat: In the coming days

Grandfather Vineyard & Winery in Banner Elk is one of eight N.C. wineries in the new Appalachian High Country AVA.

North Carolina’s Appalachian High Country AVA becomes fifth in the state

By on November 25, 2016

North Carolina is home to 525 vineyards, more than 180 wineries and five designated American Viticultural Areas. What better way to celebrate Small Business Saturday than to take a trip to a local winery and support an industry that consists

Crews battling wildfires get an early Thanksgiving meal thanks to volunteers and agribusinesses

By on November 23, 2016

Crews fighting wildfires in Western N.C. will enjoy an early Thanksgiving dinner today after volunteers, businesses and agricultural groups came together to provide the special meal. Volunteers with the Research Stations Division are cooking and will be feeding 250-plus at


Tar Heel Kitchen: N.C. Sweet Potato Pie

By on November 22, 2016

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: Farm City Week and Thanksgiving

By on November 22, 2016

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” National Farm City Week started Nov. 18 and runs through Thanksgiving Day. It’s a week aimed at promoting greater understanding of where our food

News Roundup

News Roundup: Nov. 12-18

By on November 18, 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. “Popcorn passion: Yadkinville farm is only grower on East Coast,” Winston-Salem Journal: Shallowford Farms Popcorn


Tar Heel Kitchen: Idea for leftover Thanksgiving turkey

By on November 17, 2016

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