News Roundup: Feb. 1-7

By on February 7, 2014

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.

  • “N.C. Sweet Potato Commission to unveil new retail promotion for Sweet Potato Month,” The Produce News: The North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services will unveil a new retail promotion across the state in February in honor of Sweet Potato Month. The promotion, 52 Ways to Love Sweet Potatoes, will highlight the versatility and nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes. Components of the program include in-store displays, a branded website and a social media contest for consumers. The promotion will take place in February at 155 Lowes Foods, Piggly Wiggly and Ingles stores in North Carolina. …
  • “New species of root knot nematode in North Carolina causing problems,” Southeast Farm Press: I have been taking soil and nematode samples in Eastern North Carolina for 33 years. I’ve seen lots of changes in these years, especially with nematodes. The most drastic change has been the introduction of a new species of root knot — eloidogyne enterlobii. It is also called meloidoyne mayaguensis. These two names are used synonymously. Until a few years ago root knot was easily controlled by planting a root knot-resistant soybean variety after crops that were a good root knot host. Based on numbers from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture nematology lab from samples I have taken, these numbers would go from thousands per 500 cc of soil after a good host to zero or very low after a root knot-resistant soybean variety with no adverse effects on the soybeans. …
  • “Stink bugs pose continuing threat to crops,” News & Observer: When J.D. Rinehart noticed brownish, depressed areas on his orchards’ apples and peaches about five years ago, he thought the fruit was low in calcium. But spraying the fruit with calcium didn’t help. When University of Maryland researchers cut open his fruit and examined it, it became clear that the problem was much more damaging and unpredictable: stink bugs. Rinehart, owner of Rinehart Orchards in Washington County, Md., said stink bugs damage 10 to 20 percent of his crop every year. “They are a major, major issue in our orchards. It has really changed our approach to managing our applications of pesticides,” Rinehart said. “It’s nothing that you can take lightly.” …
  • “Congressman hails passage of 2014 Farm Bill,” Jacksonville Daily: U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, North Carolina’s most senior member of the Agriculture Committee, hailed today’s passage of the Farm Bill by the Senate as the final congressional action needed for the bill to become law.  The Senate followed the House’s lead from last week, and now the Agricultural Act of 2014 heads to the President’s desk for his expected signature. Congressman McIntyre stated, “This is great day for our farmers, families, and all North Carolinians! The passage of this Farm Bill shows how much we can accomplish when members of the House and Senate work together in a bipartisan way to address our nation’s most pressing needs. It has been an honor to work with my Senate colleagues to create a Farm Bill that will create jobs, save taxpayer dollars, grow our economy, and provide certainty for our farmers.” Congressman McIntyre is the number two Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, and was the only member of the North Carolina delegation to be named to the Senate/House conference committee to create the final Farm Bill. …
  • “Farm Bill affects NC Christmas tree growers,” WBTV: The controversial Farm Bill, passed by the U.S. Senate and headed to President Obama’s desk for his signature, cuts some subsidies and some food stamps, but also has provisions that affect specific farmers, such as Christmas tree growers. What’s been called a “Check-off” program will mean an assessment of 15 cents per tree sold, if the president makes the bill law. The 15 cents is designed to raise millions of dollars every year to go into a specific program of research and marketing for live trees.  …
  • “Fayetteville farmers happy with passage of farm bill,” Fayetteville Observer: Cotton, corn and soybean farmer Sherrill Jernigan, who grows cotton, corn and soybeans in of in eastern Cumberland County, greeted this week’s passage of the overdue federal farm bill, which provides almost $100 billion annually to help poor people eat and farmers stay in business, with wary relief. Jernigan and other growers have been stuck in limbo for the past two years, not knowing whether or how Congress would reauthorize the crop insurance and other federally subsidized programs that give farmers economic stability and security in an industry subject to the whims of the weather and volatile world market forces.  …
  • “Research money small but vital part of farm bill,” Charlotte Observer: A group of scientists at Michigan State University huddled around a computer screen earlier this week — not poring over scientific data but watching a webcast of the U.S. Senate. Among them was Rufus Isaacs, an entomologist who leads a team of U.S. and Canadian scientists working to enhance bee pollination of crops. Isaacs was anxious to see if the Senate would approve the long-delayed farm bill, and with it continue the $8.6 million federal grant critical to his pollen project’s survival. The Senate passed the legislation and Congress sent it to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign the bill Friday on Isaacs’ campus in East Lansing…The nearly $100 billion-a-year federal farm bill, passed after 2 ½ years of legislative wrangling, does two main things: Almost 80 percent of the money goes to food stamps for the needy, and around 15 percent is designated for farm subsidies and crop insurance subsidies. The pledge of hundreds of millions of dollars for agricultural research is a relative drop in the bucket, but it’s pumping money into universities across the country, particularly for advanced agricultural research. …
  • “Final tobacco buyout payment comes a bit later for NC farmers,” News & Observer: North Carolina tobacco farmers are having to wait a little longer than usual to receive their final payment from the Tobacco Transition Payment Program. Since the tobacco buyout payments began in 2005, farmers have typically received their annual payment in mid-January. This year, however, the farmers won’t receive their first payment until later this month. “Basically what’s going to happen, is sometime in February the farmers should receive approximately 95 percent of the payment that they would be normally receiving,” said Jay Boyette, commodity director for the N.C. Farm Bureau.  …
  • “7 new ‘climate hubs’ to help rural areas adapt,” Charlotte Observer: Aiming to help rural communities deal with climate change, the Obama administration is creating seven regional “climate hubs” that will serve as clearinghouses for information and outreach about extreme weather across the U.S.Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was to announce the new hubs Wednesday at the White House. The hubs fulfill one aspect of a broader climate change plan that President Barack Obama unveiled last year. Based at existing Agriculture Department facilities, the hubs aim to help farmers and rural communities fight climate change and adapt to weather changes.  …
  • “Food industry seeks voluntary GMO labeling,” WRAL: People who want to know more about genetically modified ingredients in their food would be able to get it on some packages, but not others, under a plan the industry is pushing. Large food companies worried they might be forced to add “genetically modified” to packaging are proposing voluntary labeling of those engineered foods, so the companies could decide whether to use them or not.The effort is an attempt to head off state-by-state efforts to require mandatory labeling. …
  • “CVS to end sale of tobacco products by Oct. 1,” Winston-Salem Journal: The sale of tobacco products in pharmacies has seemed to be a health care contradiction to many. CVS Caremark’s years of wrestling with the issue ended Wednesday with its decision to stop selling all cigarette and smokeless tobacco products in its more than 7,600 stores by Oct. 1. …
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