News Roundup: July 4-11

By on July 11, 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.

  • “Hurricane Arthur Damaged Hyde County Corn Crops,” WUNC: The path that Hurricane Arthur took last week hit an area of the state where a lot of corn is grown. And several farmers will be affected. Leoneda Inge reports on corn damage in Hyde County caused by Hurricane Arthur. State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and staff traveled by Forest Service plane to see the crop damage first hand. …
  • “Pig virus devastates production,” Fayetteville Observer: The way Amanda Hatcher sees it, the deadly porcine epidemic diarrhea virus “is still a work in progress.” Hatcher is a livestock agent from Duplin County, which along with Sampson County, rank first and second in hog production in North Carolina. “This is not just an economic impact. It’s something terrible. Something difficult,” Hatcher said. “It’s like a problem, and you have to find a solution.” The virus has killed an estimated 8 million pigs nationwide, mostly pre-weaned piglets, over the past 14 months, according to the National Pork Producers Council. …
  • “Many questions surround stevia production in North Carolina,” Southeast Farm Press: Stevia is so new to North Carolina that researchers and farmers say there are far more questions than answers on producing the crop, but because of an established market and growing demand, they are committed to expanding acreage in the Tar Heel State. Stevia uses similar production practices as tobacco, which makes it as a good joint crop with tobacco in North Carolina. However, David Shew, professor of plant pathology at North Carolina State University, said farmers must do their homework. …
  • “Keeping gas stations compliant,” WNCT: It’s a routine we’re all too familiar with, filling up at the pump and we all want to make sure we’re getting what we pay for. John Gurkin is an area supervisor for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Standards Division. He and his team of inspectors make sure you’re not getting cheated. …
  • “NC funds 6 cellulosic biofuel, bioenergy research projects,” Ethanol Producer: North Carolina recently awarded six projects a total of $500,000 through the state’s Bioenergy Research Initiative, which is a program of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Special consideration is given to projects that focus on field and forest crop production for cellulosic ethanol feedstocks. “We are excited to have the opportunity to explore bioenergy potential through these grants for North Carolina’s agricultural and forestry industries,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, in a press release. …
  • “N.C. beekeepers meet here: Importance of sharing information emphasized,” Wilkes Journal-Patriot: Illustrating that there is no “perfect way” to raise honeybees, Dr. David Tarpy, state apiculturist, quipped in an interview Tuesday that asking five beekeepers the same question can result in 10 different answers. Amid challenging times and new questions for people with honeybees, said Tarpy, North Carolina still leads the nation in beekeepers per capita partly because of the willingness of the state’s beekeepers to work together and share what they know. He said this strength of the community of beekeepers and growth of apiculture in the state is reflected in the N.C. State Beekeepers Association (NCSBA), which has grown from a membership of about 1,200 when Tarpy started teaching at North Carolina State University 11 years ago to over 4,000 now. …
  • “US (SC): Using science to grow better strawberries,” Fresh Plaza: “North Carolina is able to grow strawberries because of all the science and technology that is devoted to the crop,” said Debby Wechsler, executive secretary of the North Carolina Strawberry Association. “It’s really what is known as intense management. It takes a lot of care. It’s not like you just throw them out and let them grow.” A good example of that intense management can be seen on the Waller Family Farm in Durham, NC. Mark Waller farms 40 acres of strawberries on what used to be a tobacco farm. Customers can pick their own strawberries or visit the market he runs during the strawberry season, which lasts anywhere from April through June. …
  • “Dollar General in Eden fined for price-scanning errors,” Greensboro News & Record: A Dollar General store in Eden has been fined for a high rate of price-scanning errors, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The store, located at 519 Morgan Road, paid $600 in civil penalties. An initial inspection found an error rate of 6 percent, according to the department’s Standards Division. A second inspection in April revealed an error rate of 2.67 percent. …
  • “Taxes on e-cigarettes benefit Big Tobacco, Big Government,” Charlotte Observer: From Stewart Dompe, an adjunct professor of economics at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, and Adam C. Smith, an assistant professor of economics and director of the Center for Free Market Studies at Johnson & Wales University: North Carolina recently levied a five-cent tax on each milliliter of nicotine liquid used by electronic cigarettes. E-cigarettes are a new technology that allow smokers to inhale their fix via a cloud of water vapor, flavor and nicotine, and are widely viewed as an aid for nicotine addicts to kick the habit. …
  • “Business, ag groups call for immigration reform,” Asheville Citizen-Times News: A group of business, manufacturing and agriculture leaders, including a nursery owner from Western North Carolina, is pushing for Congress to take up immigration reform this year. “The issue of immigration reform cannot wait any longer,” said Burt Lemkes, a co-owner at Van Wingerden International, a large greenhouse operation in Mills River. “Our businesses are hurting, and our employees and employers are scared.” Lemkes spoke during a conference call hosted Wednesday by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a coalition of more than 500 Republican, Democratic and independent mayors, as well as business leaders who support immigration reform as a way of creating jobs for Americans today. …
  • “Fantastic Peanut Season Underway,” Southern Farm Network: It’s hard to remember a better year for growing peanuts than this one says Bob Sutter, CEO of the North Carolina Peanut Growers Association: “Its been good this year. Most everyone has plenty of water and for the most part the entire crop looks good.” As to USDA’s planted acres report last month, Sutter says the report showed more peanut acres in the Tar Heel State: “We went up to about 90,000; a 10,000 acre increase.” …
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