News Roundup: Feb. 15-22

By on February 21, 2014

News Roundup logoEach 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.

  • “Latest Winter Storm Could have been Much Worse,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Last week’s winter storm, bad as it was, didn’t create the problems North Carolina Department of Agriculture anticipated explains Brian Long, Public Affairs Director for North Carolina Department of Agriculture: “We have gotten some reports of collapsed poultry houses. We do not have any reports of bird deaths from those situations though. The widespread power outages particularly in the southeast part of the state are a concern. Many farmers are using generators.”  …
  • “North Carolina tobacco growers prepare for unchartered territory in 2014,” Southeast Farm Press: There is a little more mystery surrounding the 2014 tobacco season than one normally expects, said the outgoing president of the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina at the organization’s annual meeting Feb. 7. Growers should think of themselves as explorers entering “uncharted territory,” said Brent Leggett, who grows flue-cured and fruits and vegetables near Nashville, N.C. Speaking at the meeting, which takes place as part of the Southern Farm Show in Raleigh, N.C., Leggett said that the last vestige of the federal tobacco program will come to an end this year. …
  • “Local vineyard wins prestigious state award,” High Point Enterprise: Ever since Ken Craven decided to spend his retirement years operating a vineyard, there have been plenty of days he wondered whether he’d made the right decision. Feb. 1 was not one of those days. That’s the day the N.C. Winegrowers Association awarded its annual Wine Grower of Excellence Award to Craven’s small vineyard in the Wallburg community, which he calls Chart’s Hill Vineyard. “It means that evidently I have done something right since I got started,” Craven says. “Childress (Vineyards) has won it, and Morgan Ridge (Vineyards). It puts me in the same category with a group of fairly prestigious vineyards and wineries in the state, so I’m honored and humbled by this award.” …
  • “Sierra Nevada closer to rolling out beer, could open to public in August,” Hendersonville Times-News: Just more than two years after announcing it had chosen Henderson County to open an East Coast expansion brewery, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. cleared a major hurdle on the way to rolling the first shipments of beer out of its facility in Mills River. While there still is more work to do before full-scale production commences, Sierra Nevada has achieved a spot-on flavor match between its two top-selling brands produced in Mills River and at the company’s Chico, Calif. brewery. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Torpedo Extra IPA — the No. 2-selling craft beer in the U.S. and top-selling IPA in the country, respectively — are now being brewed and bottled at the Mills River plant, but company spokesman Ryan Arnold said they are “still probably a couple of months out before we’re really pushing things out the door.” …
  •  “The System That Supplies Our Chickens Pits Farmer Against Farmer,” National Public Radio: After reading Christopher Leonard’s The Meat Racket, a against the contract-farming system, I decided to take a closer look at it. I drove to North Carolina and ended up in the kind of place that supplies practically all of our chickens: A metal-sided, 500-foot-long structure near the town of Fairmont. In the dim light, I see 30,000 little chicks scuttling around on the floor. “They’re 12 days old,” explains Craig Watts, who’s growing these birds for Perdue Farms. Perdue owns the chickens. It also supplies the feed that they eat. About a month from now, when the birds have grown to about 4.5 pounds, the company will send a truck to carry them away, and Watts will get paid. But he never knows how big his check will be. “It’s like that test you took in school — you kind of want to know how you did, but you really don’t? It’s that kind of feeling,” he says. The uncertainty is part of a peculiar payment system that the chicken industry uses. It’s often called a tournament. …
  •  “Pork industry experts explain efforts to tame hog virus ahead of HSUS video,” Meatingplace.com: The Humane Society of the United States plans to announce Thursday morning the findings from an undercover investigation into an agribusiness producer in Kentucky. The video will in part be related to efforts to stem the spread of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV), which is deadly to baby pigs but does not affect humans and does not affect the quality or safety of pork. HSUS showed the video ahead of time to New York Times Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof, who wrote about it in this morning’s edition.  …
  • “Ag census shows boom in farm sales,” Winston-Salem Journal: American agriculture has experienced a boom, with market values of crops, livestock and total agricultural products reaching record highs even as the amount of U.S. farmland declined, according to a new government survey. Continuing a long-term trend, the number of U.S. farms dropped to 2.1 million in 2012, about a 4 percent drop from five years earlier. But some of the bigger farms got bigger. The average farm grew from 418 to 434 acres. The state with the most farms: Texas, which saw the number of farms increase slightly over the five years. Still, it lost about 200,000 farmland acres over the same period. …
  • “The Essential Ingredient of Small-Business Exporting,” Intuit Small Business Blog: Somewhere in Fiji, someone is devouring a meal made with Bone Suckin’ Sauce, a lip-smacking and award-winning product exported by Ford’s Gourmet Foods of Raleigh, N.C. When former real estate appraiser Phil Ford re-created his mother’s recipe for barbeque sauce nearly 30 years ago, he never dreamed that today it would be sold in the South Pacific nation and 71 other countries worldwide. …
  • “NCFB Releases Study Results on Lack of Immigration Reform,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) On Wednesday, North Carolina Farm Bureau released results of a study on the impacts on agriculture and the food economy without meaningful immigration reform.  President of NCFB, Larry Wooten: “Last year we commissioned a study called the ‘Agricultural Workforce Study’ and it showed the impact of the failure to enact immigration reform on farmers. Of the farmers we interviewed, 18% said without immigrant labor and a stable labor supply they would not be in the farming business. …
  •  “Government’s red wolf program concerns some NC landowners,” News & Observer:  The wolves look ghostly at night, ears pricked up, eyes like highbeams in the dark. In a single evening, Jett Ferebee might see five or six of them – reddish-brown, sniffing at the camera mounted on his Washington County farm. They build dens in his tractor shelter. They feed on his rabbits. They drag deer carcasses into the woods. They eat the animals his family used to hunt. Ferebee’s land lies at the western edge of the Red Wolf Recovery Program, a 27-year federal project aimed at restoring to the far-eastern edge of North Carolina one of nature’s most fragile species. For the last decade, he has waged constant battle over the private land he describes as ruined by wolves, coyotes and the “super-coyotes” they breed. …
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