News Roundup: Dec. 20 – Jan. 2

By on January 2, 2015

News Roundup logo Each 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.

  • “Christmas tree farms a gift for beneficial bugs,” Hendersonville Times-News: Sweat bees, like this one on a black-eyed Susan, are just one of the pollinators that utilize Christmas tree farms, according to an N.C. State University study. A year-long study of Christmas tree farms by a local N.C. State researcher finds that when it comes to pollinators and other beneficial insects, Christmas tree farms keep on giving long after the holiday season is over. Jill Sidebottom of the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River studied six tree farms in five Western North Carolina counties and found that field borders and groundcover around Christmas trees provide habitat for many beneficial insects. …
  • “The only thing that will feed the world is farmers,” Southeast Farm Press: Agriculture needs to avoid claiming that biotechnology will feed the world, says Steve Savage, a worldwide expert on agricultural technology. “There is no single technology that will feed the world. The only thing that will feed the world is farmers,” Savage said at a forum on agricultural biotechnology held at North Carolina State University in Raleigh Nov. 18. Savage is an independent communicator and consultant with Savage and Associates and brings experience from Colorado State University and DuPont. Savage was the keynote speaker at the forum that drew more than 500 participants. The NC State forum was held to address the challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2050. The forum looked at the technologies necessary to feed a growing population in a sustainable way. …
  • “Improved trade could benefit Cubans and North Carolinians,” News & Observer: Allan Henderson sold North Carolina apples to hungry Cubans for three years during a brief easing of trade restrictions, and he hopes for a chance to do business in Cuba again one day. “We have freedoms they just dream about, and some of those freedoms are just food to eat,” Henderson, whose Henderson Products sells fruit and vegetables in Hendersonville, said Thursday. “To heck with the politics. I would be ready to go back and trade with them tomorrow if it would be legal.” Henderson hasn’t been to Havana to visit Fidel and Raul Castro since 2006, when the State Department canceled his export license. Other North Carolinians who have traveled to the communist island nation this year share his belief that the restoration of diplomatic relations with the United States, announced Wednesday, will bring welcome economic and cultural opportunities for both nations. “Cuba is a hungry marketplace, in the best sense of the word,” said Brad Wilson, CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina, who traveled to Cuba in January and November. “The Cuban people have an appetite for moving forward. They understand that includes a more active capitalistic and democratic society.” …
  • “Most N.C. shelters no longer using gas on animals,” Greensboro News & Record: North Carolina’s ban on the use of gas to euthanize animals becomes official early next year, although it appears most shelters have given up the practice, officials say. Patricia Norris, the director of animal welfare for the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, sent a memo in early December advising shelters that they must stop using gas chambers for euthanasia as of Feb. 15, 2015. Most, if not all, shelters have moved entirely to lethal injection, Norris said. …
  • “Tree farms serve as laboratories to assess climate change,” Winston-Salem Journal: Thad Taylor has spent about a quarter of a century planting and harvesting Fraser firs on 28 acres of rolling hills in Banner Elk. What started out as a hobby has become Big Ridge Tree Farm, where about 60,000 trees are grown at an elevation of 3,600 feet. Typically, the trees are sold annually to customers throughout the Southeast who prefer the “choose-and-cut” option for 5- to 12-footers that decorate their main or seasonal homes for the holidays. …
  • “NC hog farm neighbors seek court help to stop the stink,” Charlotte Observer: Two dozen lawsuits now before a federal court challenge the personal cost of North Carolina’s $2.5 billion hog industry: living with its stink. More than 500 plaintiffs from hog country, centered southeast of Raleigh, say the sickening stench regularly forces them indoors. Mists of wastewater sprayed on nearby fields drift across property lines, they say. Flies swarm. Roadside “dead boxes” bulge with expired swine. Those are problems that state legislation and a landmark settlement with the industry were supposed to have solved nearly 20 years ago, when industrial hog farms had spread across Eastern North Carolina. Instead, the state reached a plateau that’s endured since 1997. Legislators passed tough standards, including odor controls, that stopped new farms from being built. But existing ones, which each may hold thousands of animals, continue to operate. About 2,100 farms produce 10 million hogs a year, matching North Carolina’s human population and making it the second-biggest hog state after Iowa. …
  • “WNC combats decline of native ginseng,” Asheville Citizen-Times: Mark Norwood plans to keep planting ginseng, even if people keep stealing the plants. The grounds supervisor at Mars Hill University has tried to incorporate native plants on the Madison County campus, but with ginseng highly valued, those plants tend to disappear. “It’s not a problem only at Mars Hill,” Norwood said. “It’s a problem in anybody’s yard that can be accessed. I’ve had friends who had their ginseng stolen from behind their house.” To combat the problem, Norwood is trying something different. He is planting ginseng roots that have been treated with a dye that will make them easy to identify if stolen from the Mars Hill campus. Wild ginseng root was going for as much as $1,200 per dried pound last year, with much of the demand driven by Chinese and Korean markets, where ginseng has been valued for centuries for its medicinal properties. …
  • “10 Things to Watch in 2015,” AgWeb: 2014 was certainly an interesting year to be involved in agriculture. We got to see supply and demand in full effect. Good weather sent grain prices tumbling while continuing tight supplies have kept cattle prices soaring. The Republicans made strong gains and will enter 2015 with control of both the House and Senate. In popular culture, Kanye West finally made an honest woman out of Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift swore off country music, and Serial has left us pondering the nature of truth. While I have not spent the $27.68 necessary to acquire a crystal ball on Amazon, I do feel the need to join the crowded field of writers, bloggers and seers that are making predictions for the upcoming year. Accordingly, I have compiled a list of the 10 legal and policy issues that I see facing agriculture in 2015. …
Print Friendly, PDF & Email