News Roundup

News Roundup: Aug. 20-26

By on August 26, 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.

  • “Demand high for southern sweet potatoes,” The Packer: As national demand for sweet potatoes continues to increase each year, suppliers have prepared to meet this need. George Wooten, president of Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co., Chadbourn, N.C., said overall acreage in North Carolina is up over last year, and that’s good, because demand is up too. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, North Carolina growers planted 54,000 acres in 2013, 73,000 acres in 2014, and 87,000 acres in 2015. Charlotte Vick, a partner in Vick Family Farms, Wilson, N.C., agreed, saying demand looks to be good both domestically and internationally. Norman Brown, director of sales and co-packer relations for sweet potatoes for Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC, Idaho Falls, Idaho, said the company has been experiencing double-digit growth in sweet potato sales for the past three years, and he expects this trend to continue for the upcoming crop. …
  • “Farmers to vote on self-assessed tax benefiting N.C. State ag projects,” Richmond County Daily Journal: Farmers will have an opportunity to vote whether or not a tax put on feed and fertilizer for agricultural research will continue. Susan Kelly, director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Office for Richmond County, explained that the Nickles for Know-How referendum is being held to let users and produces of feed or fertilizer decide if they wish to continue the self-assessment program. The funds, about $1.4 million annually, are collected by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and then allocated by the N.C. Carolina Agricultural Foundation, Inc.’s 148 volunteer Board of Directors to support agricultural research and extension projects at N.C. State University benefiting agriculture in North Carolina. This program has been in place since 1948, and the law requires that a new referendum be held every six years. A two-thirds favorable vote will mean that growers are willing to continue to assess themselves to support agricultural research and education. The assessment is $0.15 per ton on feed and fertilizer produced in North Carolina. …
  • “Field of dreams: The rise of agritourism in WNC,” Mountain Xpress: Three long wooden tables stretch out beneath a canopy of trees, their boughs drooping with the weight of strings of high-hanging Edison bulbs. The tables are set: 30 mismatched plates with knives, forks and cloth napkins. Canning jars are filled with fresh-cut flowers. It is a beautiful day, with a Carolina blue sky dotted occasionally with white clouds that look like biscuit dumplings. One could not ask for a more idyllic setting for one of Sebastiaan Zijp and Ariel Dixon’s “The Farmer’s Hands” farm dinners. Held twice a month on their almost impossibly picturesque 2-acre Madison County farm in the shadow of their 150-year-old farmhouse, the dinners are cooked in the family’s kitchen. Zijp is a chef, having attended the now-defunct Dubrulle French Culinary School in Vancouver, which was absorbed by The Arts Institute there. As guests mingle and meet, fill glasses of wine for one another and stroll between the gardens, chicken coops and greenhouse, the husband-and-wife team are hard at work preparing an eight-course meal for the crowd. As the sun continues its descent, the family-style platters arrive at the tables and the visitors pass them around. Spring pea soup with mint and prosciutto, a house-made pickle plate and grilled Caesar salad are served. …
  • “Troxler announces availability of agricultural grants,” Bladen Journal: The N.C. Bioenergy Research Initiative is seeking grant proposals focused on research and development of agricultural and forestry-based feedstocks for bioenergy production, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced. The N.C. General Assembly approved $1 million in funding for the 2016-2017 budget cycle. Nearly $74,000 has been committed to multi-year projects that were started with the 2015-2016 grant cycle, leaving over $926,000 for new and existing projects. The grants are designed to focus on projects that boost energy production from North Carolina agricultural and forestry products, offer new opportunities for agribusiness development and support cooperative research for bioenergy production. The deadline to submit proposals is Sept. 30. …
  • “Program provides training, land access to young farmers,” Hendersonville Times-News: Getting into the farm business is tough and the aging crop of farmers gets older each year. The good news is a local program has received federal funding to help grow the next generation of farmers. The Farm Pathways program — a collaboration between the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Organic Growers School and WNC Farmlink that aims to deliver whole farm training, farmer-to-farmer networking and farmland access — has received $598,030 from the United States Department of Agriculture for expansion and to keep it running for another three years. The program is designed to support and attract new growers as demand for locally grown food and the average age of farmers continues to climb. The retention and success of new farmers in the area has been low, according to Organic Growers, and prospective farmers face several challenges including access to land, capital, skills, support and training. …
  • “This farm to plant its crops in Greensboro’s food desert,” Greensboro News & Record: Fresh produce should arrive in one of Greensboro’s food deserts late this summer. Food grown in the community. A worker for the Urban Farming Enterprise planted about 100 cucumber seeds in a greenhouse on Phillips Avenue, in the midst of one of the city’s largest food deserts. N.C. A&T researcher Terrence Thomas said this is part of an effort to address health and nutrition in the community and to teach people how to incorporate fresh produce into their diets. “The whole idea is to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to the community at a reasonable cost,” Thomas said. “Not just providing fruits and vegetables — to have them understand the role of fruits and vegetables in diet.” This is in a community that has gone without a grocery store since late 1998, when Winn-Dixie closed its doors, one of 17 areas in the city that are considered food deserts. A food desert is any census tract in which at least 33 percent of the population lives at least a mile from a supermarket and more than 20 percent live below the poverty level. When it’s fully operational, this greenhouse will contain a variety of products — cucumbers, tomatoes, greens and lettuce. …
  • “The 10,000 Barns of Madison County,” Asheville Citizen-Times: Drive just a few minutes north of Asheville on the interstate or up the old river highway and Madison County quickly turns rural. You’ll pass by more barns than people in the countryside. “We believe we are the barn county,” said Sandy Stevenson, director of the Madison County Visitor’s Center. But just how many barns dot Madison’s countryside, no one had really counted until Taylor Barnhill came along. “I started driving up and down the road and doing a windshield survey,” Barnhill said. It quickly averaged out to five barns a mile in some sections of the county. With a conservative estimate of 10,000 barns, Madison likely boasts a barn for every two residents. But Barnhill believes it may be closer to 17,000 or more. …
  • “Blacklands Crops Bouncing Back After Waterlogged Spring & Summer,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Three weeks of dry weather has helped crops in the Blacklands of North Carolina gain some ground after a soggy spring and early summer according to Beaufort County Extension Director Rod Gurganus: “It’s been a little bit of a mixed bag. We were wet early on and then some places remained wet, we dried out in some spots, in fact, we’ve had a run of dry weather here for about three weeks, in some areas that haven’t seen this much dry weather in two, two and a half years. So, we are a little drier in some areas but we’re seeing the effects of the wet weather early in the season, with some combines rolling in the fields we’re seeing some variations in the corn fields, less than 100 bushels, then you’re up to 250, then back down below 100. So, we’re all over the place in some spots where we had some of that early season water that really hurt us.” …

Tar Heel Kitchen: Baked Tomatoes Au Gratin

By on August 25, 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

Credit: Felicia Perry

Food Business Almanac: Food photography

By on August 24, 2016

NCDA&CS’s Agribusiness Development Section offers resources that agribusiness owners and food entrepreneurs can use to grow and manage their business. In today’s age of instant sharing, good photography can be the thing that sets your food business apart from your

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic: Southeastern Urban Wood Exchange

By on August 23, 2016

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” The N.C. Forest Service and the Urban Forest Council have launched a Web-based resource for cities and towns that want to do something with

News Roundup

News Roundup: Aug. 13-19

By on August 19, 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. “$45M Golden LEAF grant makes NCSU plant research facility a reality,” Triangle Business Journal: With help


Got to Be NC recipes: Texas Pete Roasted Corn and Poblano Salad

By on August 18, 2016

Where can you find Platinum Lady, Silver Queen, Bodacious and Dazzle? If you live in North Carolina, check out your farmers market. There are still several varieties of late-season corn for sale. Grilled, baked, buttered or canned for later use, corn is versatile.


Strong as an Oak: Trees should be OK against seasonal pest

By on August 17, 2016

Summer is winding down, which means backpacks, No. 2 pencils, and the orangestriped oakworms are back! This native caterpillar is black with orange stripes and has two conspicuous horns near its head. Every year as we head into the last few

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic: August crop report predicts strong corn crop

By on August 16, 2016

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” We’ve been hearing about this being a good year for corn in North Carolina, and the latest USDA crop report backs that up. The

A lab employee runs a sample through the MALDI-TOF for a quick diagnosis.

New instrument quickens veterinary diagnostic lab’s services

By on August 15, 2016

The mission of the N.C. Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory System is to assist veterinarians, the animal industry and state residents in diagnosing and responding to animal disease. Thanks to a new state-of-the-art instrument, the lab system will be able to fulfill

News Roundup

News Roundup: Aug. 6-12

By on August 12, 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. “North Carolina corn farmers have never seen a crop like this,” Southeast Farm Press: As