News Roundup: Sept. 20-26

By on September 26, 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.

  • “Bumper nut crop gathered,” Wilkes Journal-Patriot: Michael Crouse, assistant county ranger with the N.C. Forest Service, is out to give squirrels a run for their money when it comes to gathering acorns and other mast. Crouse said that when he isn’t busy with other responsibilities in the next four to five weeks, he’ll be out collecting wild nuts and seeds in Wilkes County for the state nursery in Goldsboro. It’s an annual chore for forest service personnel statewide, but James West, who heads the state nursery in Goldsboro, said nut and seed inventories are at an all-time low because so few were gathered last year due to adverse weather. “All indications are that many if not all species have adequate seed on the trees for this time of year. Seed production tends to follow cycles like that and this fall looks to be a banner crop,” said West in a recent email to forest service personnel. …
  • “NC Tobacco Trust Fund awards $2.3M to agriculture projects,” The News & Observer: The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund commission has awarded more than $2.3 million in grants to 22 agriculture and economic projects across the state. The grants included projects that boost local farming initiatives and that award scholarships to students in tobacco-dependent communities. The commission prioritized initiatives that target small farmers, as well as innovative and financially stimulating projects. The state General Assembly created the commission in 2000 to support farmers and businesses affected by the decline of the tobacco industry. Funds come from a set appropriation in the legislature’s budget every two years. Outside reviewers, a subcommittee and the NCTTF board work together to finalize grantees. …
  • “Could Sanderson now look south to locate plant?” Robesonian: While Cumberland County officials continue to debate whether they want a Sanderson Farms chicken processing plant in their community, other communities — including Robeson — are showing interest in the proposed $113 million chicken processing plant that could create as many as 1,000 jobs. “Robeson County considers all opportunities for economic development,” Greg Cummings, Robeson County’s economic developer and industrial recruiter, said this morning. “If Sanderson Farms determines that Robeson County can meet their site need and operations criteria, we are open for discussion of the opportunity.” …
  • The sweet potato — a delicious superfood, “ Salisbury Post: The newest crop out there in September is sweet potatoes, a North Carolina favorite. North Carolina is No. 1 in the nation for total acres of sweet potatoes, so it’s no wonder the sweet potato was chosen the official North Carolina vegetable in 1995. Among the many outstanding facts about this superfood is sweet potatoes may have been around since the dinosaurs were here. Can’t you just see T. rex chomping on a few bushels as a side dish with his velociraptor? The North Carolina Department of Agriculture says the Coastal Plains are the hot spot for growing the sweet potato, with Nash County being a top producer. …
  • “Farm tour a reminder of sources of our food,” Asheville Citizen-Times: When Carolyn Bradley asked the middle schoolers she taught for nearly three decades where their milk came from, she often didn’t like the responses. “Mayfield,” some would respond, referring to the dairy products company. Others would simply say, “The supermarket.” One of the reasons Bradley and her husband, Mike, participated in the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s annual farm tour Saturday and Sunday was to improve the odds the next generation of students can provide better answers. Or, as she put it, “so that local people can come and see how their food is grown.” The Bradleys’ farm just north of the Madison-Buncombe County line was one of 37 farms in seven area counties on ASAP’s tour this year. …
  • “Cabarrus meat-processing plant caters to farmers throughout 10-county area,” Charlotte Observer: Max Cruse helped butcher his first cow when he was 12, and he’s been involved in the trade ever since. Cruse is an instrumental figure behind Cabarrus County’s first large-scale, state-regulated meat-processing plant, which dozens of cattlemen across 10 counties use. Now 77, the owner of Cruse Meats mostly just answers the phone and takes orders while his thriving meat plant continues to attract farmers from a large part of the state. Similar operations are 75 or more miles away, in Wilkesboro and Greensboro. Cruse said the project has exceeded his expectations. …
  • “Tobacco buyout comes to end,” Robesonian: The federal tobacco buyout program is coming to an end, pulling millions of dollars from an already fading industry once known as Robeson County’s “cash crop.” According to Giles Floyd, director of the local Farm Service Agency, the Tobacco Transition Payment Program has consistently provided Robeson County tobacco producers with about $18.7 million each year since it was established under the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004. “I’m disappointed it’s ending,” Floyd said, a tobacco farmer himself. “That’s quite a bit money that’s not coming into the county.” With the passing of the Tobacco Reform Act, U.S. tobacco production was deregulated, along with a system that guaranteed minimum prices for tobacco. …
  • “Farmer thinks ingredient in feed sickening, killing cows,” WSOC: Cows that produce milk you could be buying at the grocery store are sick and dying on one North Carolina dairy farm. The farmer thinks it’s because of an ingredient in the cow’s feed and the state is now investigating. In Harmony, North Carolina the sight of dead and dying cows is unsettling for farmer Kenneth Ladd. “This has totally destroyed us out here. Our loss is way into the millions of dollars,” Ladd said. Ladd says four years ago, his cows started dying. He says he should have at least 500 cows but right now he has 175. “It’s not a simple issue, there’s not a silver bullet,” Joe Reardon, the assistant commissioner of consumer protection at the State Department of Agriculture said. Reardon says the state has been searching for a cause for years. In 2012, experts who visited Ladd Dairy saw “cows had neurologic signs,” while others had “severe foot problems” and “bleeding from the nose.” …
  • “Some Tobacco in Trouble,” Southern Farm Network: Wet and cool weather here at the end of the growing season is causing tobacco farmers, sitting on one of the best crops in years, a problem. Don Nicholson, Region 7 Agronomist with North Carolina Department of Agriculture says producers in the central Piedmont are really struggling: “Its gone from a marathon to being a sprint here at the end. Its time to get it in the barn, the tobacco is pushing for it.” And while producers planned their crop to utilize barn space, Nicholson says the weather has caused that plan to go by the wayside: “The rain we’ve had has taken a crop that was already ready to one that is over ripe in places. We have a lot of growers who are over on the barn space. They had planted different varieties to come off at different times but this year with the conditions it hasn’t worked.” And diseases are starting to show up, as well: “A lot of diseases are showing up, brown spot is out. And its deteriorating the leaves. The target spot has been bad in the past but its not a big issue in my region.” …
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