News Roundup: Feb. 20-26

By on February 26, 2010

newsroundup11Each week we’ll round up the latest N.C. agricultural headlines from newspapers across the state and country, as well as excerpts from the stories. Click on the links to go straight to each paper’s full story.

  • Organic advocates optimistic about new USDA rules,” Charlotte Observer: New federal rules that define what makes milk and meat organic have natural food advocates optimistic that the government is committed to ensuring the label means something. U.S. consumers bought $24 billion worth of organic products in 2008. But for many, the purchases came with uncertainty about what they were getting for their money. “During the Clinton and the Bush administrations there wasn’t a lot of teeth in the enforcement aspect of it,” said Tom Willey, 61, an organic fruit and vegetable farmer in Madera, Calif. “Things have kind of been in a morass as far as enforcement for a number of years, but now we’re very hopeful that will change.” The optimism is based on U.S. Department of Agriculture rules announced Feb. 12 that require livestock to be grazed on pasture for at least four months a year to qualify for an organic meat or dairy label. The animals also must get at least 30 percent of their feed from grazing. Previous rules required only that animals have “access to pasture.” …
  • Perdue: 2010 looking bleak for state budget,” Wilmington Star: It will be another bleak budget for the state this year, Gov. Bev Perdue warned a group of mayors meeting in Wilmington on Wednesday. Laying off more state employees, eliminating half a billion dollars of programs and hiring outside contractors to perform some existing government duties are all possibilities as the state struggles to recover from the economic meltdown. “It’s my goal with the (legislative) session to focus on restructuring government,” Perdue said to the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, a group of mayors representing 26 of the state’s larger cities.  …
  • Program prepares to take pets in disaster,” Winston-Salem Journal: For many pet owners, their dog, cat or turtle is a part of the family. They would never think of going away and leaving them behind. But in the past, when bad weather or a disaster forced people to go to an emergency shelter, pets had not been allowed. That changed in 2006 when Congress passed the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, which allows for shelters for animals to be set up along with human shelters. The law was enacted after such natural disasters as Hurricanes Floyd and Katrina, in which people refused to leave their homes if they couldn’t take their pets. Officials with the N.C. Division of Emergency Management, the N.C. Department of Agriculture, Consumer Services and the N.C. State Animal Response Team held a training session in Lexington yesterday to show how the CAMET, or Companion Animal Mobile Equipment Trailer, program works. …
  • Field Report: Plow Shares,” New York Times: “Who brought their own wheelbarrow?” Rob Jones asked the group of 20-somethings gathered on a muddy North Carolina farm on a chilly January Sunday. Hands shot up and wheelbarrows were pulled from pickups sporting Led Zeppelin and biodiesel bumper stickers, then parked next to a mountain of soil. “We need to get that dirt into those beds over there in the greenhouse,” he said, nodding toward a plastic-roofed structure a few hundred feet away. “The rest of you can come with me to move trees and clear brush to make room for more pasture. Watch out for poison ivy.” Bobby Tucker, the 28-year-old co-owner of Okfuskee Farm in rural Silk Hope, looked eagerly at the 50-plus volunteers bundled in all manner of flannel and hand-knits. In five hours, these pop-up farmers would do more on his fledgling farm than he and his three interns could accomplish in months.  …
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