News Roundup: Aug. 9-15

By on August 15, 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.

  • “Grafting operation called ‘a day to remember’ in farm economy,” Hendersonville Lightning: A global partnership’s decision to locate a plant-grafting operation in Mills River was described as a “monumental” recruitment coup and a “day to remember” for the business of farming in Henderson County and Western North Carolina. The international venture, a partnership of American, Italian and Israeli companies called Tri-Hishtil, announced the greenhouse operation that will bring 125 agricultural, marketing and management jobs to a 42-acre site formerly owned by Van Wingerden International on NC 19. Company officials and local agricultural leaders said the Mills River operation represents the first large-scale vegetable-grafting operation of its kind in the U.S.  …
  • “NC forest ranger from Morganton killed,” Morganton News-Herald: A state forest ranger from Morganton died Wednesday afternoon at Tuttle Educational State Forest. Education Ranger Jimmy Halliburton, 31, died while he and other forest staff members were trying to remove a tree that had fallen in the road, according to information from the state forest service. The crews were trying to use a tractor to remove the tree when the tree hit Halliburton in mid-section. EMS responded but Halliburton was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the information from the state. “We are heartbroken over the loss of Jimmy Halliburton, and our prayers are with his family,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. …
  • “North Carolina Pork Had Been Surging In Russia… Not Anymore,” WUNC: Last year, according the State Department of Agriculture, North Carolina exported about $3.7 million in meat products to Russia. So far this year, that number has increased ten-fold, to $40 million. Now that Russia has banned the import of American beef, pork, and poultry products, that surge will come to a halt. Russia released the list Thursday for what Western products it will no longer allow into the country. The move comes in retaliation for U.S. and European sanctions leveled against Russia as a consequence for its interventions in Ukraine. The news is not a death knell for meat producers (nearly all of North Carolina’s exports to Russia come from the two Smithfield plants in Clinton and Tar Heel). But it will likely mean lost revenue. “The world demand for meat is greater than the supply,” said Peter Thornton, Assistant Director of the NC Department of Agriculture’s International Trade Office. “Yes, you will find a different market. But each time you lose a buyer you lose one more person who will influence the price in a positive direction. So that will have an impact. Hopefully it’s only slight. But it’s nothing you ever want to see.” …
  • “Popular No Calorie Sweetener Being Grown in the Carolinas,” Southern Farm Network: The alternative, no calorie sweetener, Stevia has been under cultivation in North Carolina since 2011 on private lands as well as research plots. Molly Hamilton, Extension Assistant in the Department of Crop Science with NC State: “It is winter hearty, but we had a really hard winter this year and there was a lot of kill in the fields. We are looking at what temperatures it can tolerate and what types of soil it is best grown in. We are expecting that this crop will be harvested for 3-5 years. The growth comes on in the spring and its harvested 1-2 times in the summer then it dies in the winter and resprouts in the spring.” …
  •  “Hops farming takes root,” The Wilson Times: The increasing interest in craft beer in North Carolina has taken off and inspired Guilford and Pam Leggett to grow their own hops in Wilson County. The idea came from their son, Justin, a homebrewer, and resulted in the Leggetts planting their first crop in April on a patch of land off Packhouse Road where they eventually plan to build a house. What they didn’t expect was to have a bumper crop at their first harvest, Aug. 2, and plans are already in the works for a second harvest in September. “We had no idea we would have 50 pounds of hops with our first harvest,” said Pam Leggett. “We were told we would have no hops this year.” …
  • “Growing a new cash crop with Chinese medicinal herbs,” Asheville Citizen-Times: The tobacco raised by Western North Carolina farmers once provided a good cash crop for a product deemed unsafe by the U.S. Surgeon General. Now farmers could make good money raising herbs for better health through traditional Chinese medicine. “These mountains have been growing medicinal herbs forever. A lot of these herbs grow well here and it’s more sustainable agriculture,” said Amy Hamilton, who operates Appalachian Seeds Farm & Nursery in Rutherford County. Hamilton is a founding member of the Appalachian Botanical Alliance, a cooperative of women exploring how to grow and market healing plants from a medical tradition halfway around the world. …
  • “Q&A: Why Farmers Markets Are Growing in the American South,” National Geographic Daily News: Federal assistance programs allow low-income regions to enjoy the season’s bounty. For many living in the lower reaches of the United States, it’s a touch of southern comfort: Farmers markets—with offerings of peaches, sweet corn, watermelon, and cantaloupe—are cropping up across the region, filling “fresh food deserts” with local produce and offering healthier alternatives to low-income families. New data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that between 2013 and 2014, five of the states that saw the biggest increase in farmers markets were in the South — Tennessee (20.2 percent), Louisiana (12.1 percent), Texas (6.6 percent), Arkansas (5.4 percent), and North Carolina (4.8 percent). Combined, the five states now support 725 unique markets. …
  • “Race-team owner’s NC vineyard marks 10 years,” Lexington Dispatch: Richard Childress is best known for developing world-renowned race teams, but his name has now become known in a different industry where his demand for perfection has led to a successful winery that is celebrating a major milestone. Childress Vineyards is holding a variety of special events to pay homage to 10 years of wine making. “It’s gone by so fast,” Childress said. “It’s been good. Like everyone else, we have been through challenges, but we’ve had so much support from locals in Davidson County and tremendous support from throughout the state.” …
  • “Port could be home to new cold storage warehouse,” Wilmington Star-News: Plans have been submitted to the city for a major cold storage warehouse to go up at the Port of Wilmington. The plans, submitted Wednesday, call for a 101,537-square-foot building on 6.72 acres at 1 Shipyard Blvd. It will be 44 feet tall, said Charles Schoninger, who heads the facility’s developer, USA InvestCo. The warehouse will have 3 million cubic feet and approximately 11,000 pallet positions, according to its website. …
  • “Sweet potatoes lead produce hit parade in North Carolina,” The Produce News: North Carolina produce crops brought in $608 million last year for fruits, vegetables, nuts and berries. And sweet potatoes led the way, Kevin D. Hardison is quick to point out. Hardison is a marketing specialist with a 14-year career in the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Raleigh that brings a working knowledge of the 60 kinds of produce grown in the Tarheel State. “We’re ranked first in the nation for growing sweet potatoes,” Hardison noted, gesturing toward racks of publications touting North Carolina vodka, butter and chips made from sweet potatoes, microwave-ready yams and even recipes for gourmet meals with sweet potato French fries. …
  • “Deadly U.S. Pig Virus Can Be Carried In Animal Feed: Study,” Reuters: A research study has shown for the first time that livestock feed can carry a virus that has killed about 13 percent of the U.S. hog herd, the study’s lead author said, confirming suspicions among farmers and veterinarians battling outbreaks. The findings, published this month in the peer-reviewed BMC Veterinary Research journal, bring increased scrutiny on the feed industry in the fight against Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PEDv. The fast-moving virus has killed an estimated 8 million piglets since it was first identified in the United States last year, pushing U.S. pork prices to record highs. …

 

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