News Roundup: May 3-9

By on May 9, 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.

  • “Heavy rains damage Franklin County crops,” WRAL: Heavy rains across central North Carolina caused extensive damage to crops, especially strawberries. Farmers at Vollmer Farm in Bunn said more than three inches of rain fell in an hour earlier in the week, damaging their crops.  “All of our ponds flooded into each other. Our entire back of our farm was flooded,” said farmer, Russ Vollmer.  According to a state agronomist, the flooding damage is not wide-spread on farms across the area. In the case of Vollmer Farms, 5,000 pounds of organic strawberries were damaged by the downpours. “You can’t prepare for this type of devastation,” Vollmer said. The farmers took to social media in attempt to sell the damaged berries at a discounted rate. The damaged berries sold out. “I feel blessed. I feel blessed right now,” Vollmer said.  …

 

  • “Farmers getting older, scarcer in North Carolina, according to latest farm census,” Winston-Salem Journal: Farmers in North Carolina are slightly older and a little scarcer than they were a few years ago, according to a new census released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday. Agriculture remains North Carolina’s largest industry, contributing $70 billion a year to the economy and employing more than 17 percent of the work force, according to the state agriculture department. The federal census, which comes out every five years, shows that industry is aging and becoming more centralized.  …

 

  • “Oskar Blues buys North Carolina farm,” Times-Call (Longmont, Colo.): Just as it has done in the Longmont-Lyons area, Oskar Blues is expanding its footprint in North Carolina to go beyond just being a company that brews craft beer there. As first reported by the online news site Ashvegas.com, Oskar Blues has bought a 145-acre farm that it is naming the Reeb Ranch, in honor of the company’s brand of mountain bikes. Reeb is beer backwards. The farm is located about eight miles from the brewery that Oskar Blues opened in Brevard, N.C., a year and a half ago, according to spokesman Chad Melis, who confirmed Ashvegas.com’s report…He said that along with the Pisgah National Forest, which can be accessed by riding straight from Oskar Blues’ brewery in Brevard, Reeb Ranch has direct access to the DuPont State Recreational Forest, another mountain biking Mecca, Melis said. …

 

  • “A Short-Term Solution for Deadly Pig Virus: Raise Fatter Hogs,” Business Week: Around 7 million pigs have died over the past year in the U.S. from porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, a disease that does exactly what its name suggests, leading to leaner pork supplies. But Americans haven’t lost their appetite for ribs and bacon, so farmers have been compensating for the reduced headcount by raising larger animals. …

 

  • “Letter: FDA hurts brewers, farmers, consumers,” Hendersonville Times-News: President Ronald Reagan famously said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ ” The federal government has an uncanny ability to make things unnecessarily worse when it oversteps its authority into areas it has no business being. We’re seeing an example of this now with a misguided Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule that threatens an age-old, mutually beneficial relationship — and will potentially cost businesses and consumers millions of dollars. For centuries, brewers have shared a symbiotic relationship with local farmers and ranchers to affordably and safely dispose of their grain leftover from the brewing process. Brewers will donate or sell the “spent” grain to farmers to use as feed for their livestock. But now the FDA’s ill-advised big-government policy threatens this long-lasting relationship — and both industries stand to be hit with huge costs. …

 

 

  • “NC Ag Commissioner Wants To Mow Down Project Haystack,” Rhino Times: In a move likely to ruffle the feathers of some economic development officials in local and state government, North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler plans to hold a press conference at the Guilford County Prison Farm near Gibsonville on Wednesday, May 14 to express his fierce opposition to the proposed giant data center park known as Project Haystack. … He said the press conference will be part of his attempt to stop the proposed $103 million project that would be built on about 1,800 acres of what’s now largely farmland. …

 

  • “Farm to School Programs Focus of House Committee,” Southern Farm Network: The House Study Committee on Food Desert zones made several recommendations and proposal after three meetings and presentations from more than 30 stakeholders in anticipation of the short legislative session. Recommendations include the Committee submitting its findings on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to the FDA, encouraging local education agencies to increase participation in school breakfast and the Farm to School programs, and appointing a Joint Legislative Study Committee to further study the issue. The Committee voted to recommend that these findings be shared in a letter to the FDA. They also decided to “encourage” the Department of Agriculture to continue working to expand the North Carolina Farm-to-School Program, where food from local farms is brought into schools. …

 

  • “UDI gets OK to build farm,” The Herald-Sun: A local nonprofit has secured the City Council’s permission to build a 5.9-acre “aquaponics” farm at East Cornwallis Road and Industry Lane. The 6-0 vote came at the request of the UDI Community Development Corp. Its leader, Ed Stewart, said the project should create about 40 jobs. UDI is working with a local aquaponics advocate, Kevin Hamak, who intends to grow fruit, vegetables and fish. Water circulating through the fish tanks will fertilize the soil the plants grow in. …

 

  • “Chatham County to break ground on new agriculture center on Thursday,” News & Observer: Chatham County will break ground Thursday on a new building near Central Carolina Community College that will allow it to move its agricultural agents out of a cramped county building in downtown Pittsboro. The land for the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center is now a wooded lot on U.S. 64 Business west of Pittsboro. About 25 acres of the 100-acre county lot will go toward the center, and the rest may be used for future college expansion, said Sam Groce, director of N.C. Cooperative Extension of Chatham County…There will be office space for members of the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Chatham County, the Chatham County Farm Service Agency, Soil and Water Conservation District and Natural Resources Conservation Service. The forestry service, which now meets in a garage, will have office space to store records and meet with clients. …

 

  • “Fire at Harnett County farm kills thousands of chickens,” Fayetteville Observer: An estimated 19,000 chickens died in a fire at a commercial farm in Harnett County on Thursday, fire officials said. Spout Spring Fire Chief Alan Jarvis said a chicken house at Pilgrim Farms on Marks Road was fully involved when firefighters arrived Thursday afternoon. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, he said. …
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