News Roundup: Dec. 7-13

By on December 13, 2013

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. Click on the links to go straight to the full story.

  • “Reid says Senate will not extend farm law,” The Washington Post: Government dairy subsidies that affect the cost of a gallon of milk are set to expire at the end of the year as farm-state lawmakers said Tuesday that they do not expect to have a new farm bill — or an extension of current law — before Jan 1. Expiration of the current dairy subsidies triggers 1930s and 1940s law, outdated statutes that could upend the commercial dairy market and eventually cause the price of milk to rise. But Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat, said she has assurances from the Agriculture Department that the price spikes would not happen before the end of January, and she and House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, a Republican, say they hope to have a final farm bill deal by then. …
  • “Growing E-Cigarette Market Addressed at 2013 Tobacco Day,” Southern Farm Network: Recently, at the 2013 Tobacco Day, NC State Extension Economist and professor Dr. Blake Brown addressed new threats and issues for the tobacco industry, and one that’s gaining momentum is e-cigarettes. Brown discussed the issue with Southern Farm Network’s Bob Midles: “Electronic cigarettes are a fairly recent technology. They have been made possible by advances in battery technology that basically vaporizes a nicotine solution. We are seeing that market grow rapidly. Its still small, about $2 billion worldwide. Worldwide the tobacco products market is $800 billion.  …
  • “Tillis urges agricultural industry short session should focus on immigration reform,” The News & Observer: House Speaker Tom Tillis, a Republican who wants to run against Sen. Kay Hagan next year, spoke at the North Carolina Farm Bureau’s annual convention on Monday and brought up immigration reform, urging the agricultural industry to weigh in with suggestions. The Farm Bureau came out in support of the immigration bill the U.S. Senate passed earlier this year. The bill would include a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, stronger border security, better entry-exit records to make it harder for people to overstay visas, and a verification system for employers. When the Senate voted in June, Hagan was for it. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican, voted against it. The U.S. House of Representatives has declined to take up the Senate’s comprehensive approach, however. Tillis at the time said he probably would have voted “No” along with the majority of Senate Republicans, but that he didn’t know enough about it to say for sure. The state House under his leadership has failed to pass comprehensive immigration bills. But Tillis told the Farm Bureau that the next legislation session should focus more attention on immigration reform. That would be an unusual move in a short session, when controversial topics generally aren’t on the agenda. Tillis invited Farm Bureau members to “give us some ideas of more things we need to do around immigration policy and help me communicate across this state why effective immigration policy is so critical and so important to this industry.” …
  • “McCrory to light State Capitol Christmas tree,” The News and Observer: Gov. Pat McCrory is ready to light the State Capitol Christmas tree. The ceremony is scheduled for Thursday and begins at 5 p.m. with the lighting of luminaries and performances by local musicians. The lighting is set for 6:15 p.m., when McCrory is to go to the south grounds of the Capitol to light the 24-foot tree from Peak Farms near Jefferson. After the lighting, the public is invited to attend an open house inside the state capitol to see trees donated by Cartner Christmas Tree Farm of Asheville that have been decorated by the N.C. Department of Agriculture with home grown fruits and vegetables.  …
  • “State steps in to stomp out fire ants,” Gaston Gazette: Fire ants are on the move and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture is trying to stop their march. Starting next year, a fire ant quarantine has been issued to cover all of Lincoln County and neighboring Catawba County. The new quarantine is adding extra regulations to the handful of nurseries in the area. Gaston County has been under the quarantine for more than 10 years, but only half of Lincoln County was ever covered. East of U.S. 321 was under the quarantine, the rest of the county was not. …
  • “Congress needs to act on Farm Bill,” News and Observer: Congress is expected to adjourn for the holidays without taking action on the one of its fundamental tasks: renewing the farm bill. This shouldn’t be a difficult bill to pass. It sets that nation’s food and nutrition policy including food stamp funding and levels of crop subsidies. It’s usually renewed every five years. …
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