News Roundup: Sept. 27-Oct. 3

By on October 3, 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.

  • “Pilot plant adding pork processing,” McDowell News: Thanks to a $75,000 grant, the Foothills Pilot Plant will be able to expand its operations into small-scale pork processing. The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission (NCTTFC) recently awarded just over $2.3 million for 22 new grants for agricultural and economic initiatives across the state. The grants place a high priority on projects that address ways to train people for new careers, stimulate the agricultural economy in local communities, help farmers with innovative ideas and strengthen sales of local foods, according to a news release. One of these grants awarded by the NCTTC is $75,000 for the Foothills Pilot Plant. This money will help the plant start processing pork and serve the needs of small-scale pork producers. Located at 135 Ag Services Drive off of N.C. 226 South, the Foothills Pilot Plant opened in January 2012. It is the first community-administered, non-profit meat processing plant in the entire nation that is also inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The plant processes chickens, turkeys, ducks, rabbits and geese for small growers throughout the entire Southeast. …
  • “China has potential as regular customer for U.S. peanut exports,” Southeast Farm Press: With an anticipated U.S. market carry-out of about 1.1 million tons of peanuts this year, more customers will be needed, especially if growers decide to plant another 1.3 million acres or more next spring. “Our peanuts have to go somewhere,” says Jeff Johnson, president of Birdsong Peanut Company. And like others, Johnson thinks China might have potential as a regular customer. “It looks like we’ll have a planted crop of about 1.3 million planted acres, and at 2 tons per acre that’s a crop of from 2.4 to 2.6 million tons,” said Johnson at this year’s Southern Peanut Growers Conference, held in Panama City, Fla. “We carried in about 1 million tons, and we’ll carry out about 1.1 million tons. These are consensus numbers, from various brokers and USDA. It’s a very big carry-out.” At the same time, he says, peanut exports are booming. “We were averaging about 315,000 to 320,000 farmer stock tons under the old peanut program, but we’ve doubled that. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is the yield per acre.” Going back to 2004, U.S. growers were averaging under 3,000 pounds per acre in yield, he says, with average yields that were similar to those in China and far behind those being made in Argentina. “That jump in peanut yields is unprecedented – it has never happened in any other crop. In 10 years, we’ve gone from being the most expensive producer to the cheapest, and basically it’s because of yields,” says Johnson. …
  • “NC Farmers Work to Fight Food Shortage,” Time Warner Cable News:  Some North Carolina farmers scrambled up eggs at the Got To Be NC Jamboree Sunday. “Eggs are one of the highest quality protein you can eat, a lot of people like them … kids and adults as well and they’re easy to cook,” said Jan Kelly, N.C. Egg Farmers Association executive director. The street festival was held in honor of Hunger Action Month, and a way to promote North Carolina farmers like John Brinn, with Rose Acres Farms. Brinn and other farmers are working to end the food shortage that impacts more than 650,000 people in central and eastern North Carolina. “We just enjoy providing to the community … that’s what we do when we have the opportunity,” said Brinn. The N.C. Egg Farmers Association donated a quarter-million eggs to the Central and Eastern North Carolina Food Bank. “There are people that really don’t have enough food … and whether it’s here in Wilmington, or eastern North Carolina or United States, they’re all over,” said Kelly. North Carolina ranks 12th in egg production in the United States, and farmers produce more 7.5 million eggs per day. Brinn hopes the festival will help raise awareness. “I hope it raises awareness, because without food, it’s really our country’s best national defense…so we need our farmers and we also need to know where the food comes from, and to know that people are working hard to feed a lot of people,” said Brinn. …
  • “October means apples in Asheville,” Asheville Citizen-Times: Apples are a key part of North Carolina’s agricultural economy. The state usually ranks seventh nationally in apple production, with more than 300 commercial apple operations and 10,000 acres of apple-bearing orchards. While 40 percent of the state’s crop is sold as fresh apples, the rest is made into apple products, like sauce and juice. Increasingly, juice from apples is being fermented to make hard apple cider, but extracting the juice leaves behind a lot of pulp, known as pomace. And at least one local jam-maker is learning how to turn those leftovers into a jar of goodness. Walter Harrill of Imladris Farm makes apple butter using local apples as well as pomace from Noble Cider and Hickory Nut Gap Farm. “The apples produce two things for the apple butter,” said Harrill. “One is flavor, and the other is texture.” …
  • “NC poultry growers facing registration period,” WRAL:  North Carolina poultry growers who want to join the National Poultry Improvement Plan and get a registration number are facing a fee. The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says growers will have to pay a $50 registration fee plus 10 cents per bird tested beginning Wednesday. Growers with an existing registration number will need to pay a $10 annual recertification fee and pay 10 cents per bird tested to maintain their status. The fees were set by the General Assembly this summer to help cover costs incurred by the department to administer the program. The program,was established in the 1930s to improve poultry and poultry products on a national level and to eliminate Salmonella pullorum, which caused up to 80 percent mortality in young flocks.
  • “US (NC): Sweet potato growers hope for respite from the rain,” Fresh Plaza: Coming off a short crop last season and dealing with strong demand domestically and abroad, North Carolina’s sweet potato growers are hoping this year’s crop can be swiftly harvested. But constant rains along with cold weather could delay harvesting. Such adverse conditions could prevent the state’s growers from harvesting a full crop. Earlier this month, reports suggested an overage of planted sweet potato acreage in North Carolina. Ceccarelli cautioned that for the first time in over 15 years, as the crop 2013 terminated earlier than the new 2014 crop, as a result no overlap between both seasons occurred. “Contrary to previous years when we would still have old crop cured to offer clients, most would prefer paying extra for a cured sweet potato offering longer shelf life versus a new crop uncured sweet potato hence allowing us to store and cure the new crop for our Thanksgiving and export business but this year we had no choice but to sell and ship only new crop uncured sweet potatoes as that was the only sweet potato we had to offer. Therefore any excess acreage planted will be by far already consumed!” said Ceccarelli. …
  • “Local chefs try to support North Carolina fishermen,” The Daily Tar Heel: It’s about a three-hour drive to the nearest coastline from Chapel Hill — 162 miles to Wilmington , 178 miles to Atlantic Beach and longer to get to other seafood hotspots on the Outer Banks. Yet many Chapel Hill restaurants claim to serve fresh, local seafood — shellfish, shrimp and even mahi mahi. Squid’s Restaurant and and Oyster Bar’s executive chef Andy Wilson, whose restaurant doesn’t promise that its seafood is local, said it is difficult to only serve seafood from North Carolina. “We have things like snow crab and calamari and lobsters (and) oysters — a lot of things on the menu that we can’t get locally,” Wilson said. “We have a pretty big menu here at Squid’s. It’s a bigger restaurant and all of the things that are local that we can get aren’t available year round.” Wilson said he uses local shrimp when he can, but since it’s not available year – round, he sometimes uses “Latin farm-raised shrimp.” “We try to offer a little bit of everything, so if this was a small restaurant that just specialized in local seafood, we would do that. But some of our stuff does come from other parts of the world,” Wilson said. “We try to keep everything domestic.” …
  • “Prime Picking Time: A Look at NC Fall Harvest,” WFMY: Farmers in North Carolina project a plentiful fall harvest, as several fall fruits had a good growing season due to the relatively mild summer. The Piedmont Triad Farmer’s Market in Colfax already is adorned with fall favorites from several farmers from across the state. Four farmers joined WFMY News 2’s Good Morning Show Tuesday and talked about crop projections for this year. J&J Greenhouse, based in Alamance County, said it has produced more than 10,000 chrysanthemums (mums) this season. Employee Bonnie Yokely explained the mum is a perfect fall flower,due to its hardiness and preference for cool temperatures. Mums require only six hours of sunlight per day and once-a-day watering. They are historic flowers, dating back to the 17th century. The North Carolina fall harvest is ready for picking and eating. Mums are among the flowers in season and on display at the Piedmont Triad Farmer’s Market in Colfax. WFMY News 2 Naturally, pumpkins also are in prime season this time of year. Though typically a “minor” crop for most North Carolina farmers, they are a primary crop for Roger’s Trees, based out of Stokes and Allegheny Counties. Owner Roger Hester explained growing conditions for pumpkins were slightly dryer than usual this year, causing them to ripen faster than normal. But, the pumpkins are overall well shaped with the desired long stems. He said this season, he was able to also grow the largest gourd he ever has grown. …
  • “Tidbits: N.C. food shows on UNC-TV,” Winston-Salem Journal: Two North Carolina food programs will return to UNC-TV this week for new seasons. Season two of “Flavor, NC” will premiere at 10:30 p.m. Thursday. This series profiles farms and other food producers throughout the state. The first episode focuses on shrimping around Brunswick County. Season two of “A Chef’s Life” will premiere at 7 p.m. Sunday. This show follows Vivian Howard of Chef and the Farmer restaurant in Kinston as she sources local food traditions and cooks in her restaurant. Season two will chronicle Howard’s efforts to open a second restaurant. …

 

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