News Roundup: Feb. 14-20

By on February 20, 2015

News Roundup - this week's top news stories about NC agriculture

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.

  • “North Carolina must develop ports to expand ag trade,” Southeast Farm Press: North Carolina currently ranks No. 11 of the 50 states in terms of ag exports, but it could move near the top of the ranking if the Port of Wilmington were expanded and a new port were built in Morehead City. North Carolina is well situated to take advantage of growing trade in agriculture, said Nick Piggott, an economist with North Carolina State University Extension, speaking at the annual meeting of the Blackland Farm Managers Association Jan. 29 at the Vernon James Research and Extension Center in Plymouth. …
  • “For Ben Knox, state post a natural outgrowth of farming roots,” Salisbury Post: The history residing on Knox Road will soon make its way to the state level. As rich as the soil beneath its farm near Cleveland, the Knox family’s green thumb dates back nearly three centuries, making it decades older than most towns in Rowan County. Last week, Ben Knox, who grew up on the west Rowan farm, was appointed to the N.C. Soil and Water Commission. Knox currently serves as chairman of the Rowan Soil and Water Commission and has taken on similar roles on a regional level. Knox said he’s excited and proud to be on the state commission. It’s was the first time he ran for the position. The governor’s confirmation, announced Friday, was needed to make the role official. “It’s going to be eye opening,” Knox said. “I guess I’d say that because we’re overseeing a program that includes the whole state and it affects so many people in the state.” …
  • “Business of Farming Conference emphasizes local food production,” Mountain Express: Over 200 farmers and future farmers converged at UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center for Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s Business of Farming Conference on Saturday, Feb. 14. The conference, now in its twelfth year, is an opportunity for farmers to discuss the business side of farming and make connections that help them market their crops more effectively. This year marked a major move for the conference as it left its former home on the campus of Warren Wilson College. ASAP executive director Charlie Jackson said in his welcoming remarks that the conference had outgrown its old space. The new venue made room for more attendees and additional exhibitors, he noted. Jackson offered attendees a glimpse into the importance of local agriculture in Western North Carolina. He pointed out that WNC contains 1/5 of the state’s farms but houses only 1/10 of the total population. He also referenced the 2012 Census of Agriculture, which showed that WNC had actually gained farmland in recent years. Jackson said that local foods sales are doing well in WNC as demand continues to rise. …
  • Cumberland County votes 4-3 to offer Sanderson Farms incentives; Robeson County, perhaps competing, approves similar package,” Fayetteville Observer: Cumberland County commissioners voted 4-3 tonight to offer incentives to Sanderson Farms, a poultry processing giant that once considered Fayetteville for a $95 million plant. Glenn Adams, a newly elected commissioner, cast the deciding vote. But the company might be considering a location a few miles to the south. The Robeson County Board of Commissioners voted tonight to approve an incentives package for an unidentified company that could be the Mississippi-based poultry processor. Leaders in St. Pauls, where the project would be built, also voted 5-1 for incentives for “Project Apple,” with the sole opponent being board member Gerald Weindel. …
  • “Charlotte’s markets provide year-round inspiration for local restaurateurs,” Creative Loafing Charlotte: “I’ll take all of it.” Ruddy-faced and sleepy-eyed, chef Luca Annunziata gestures toward the chalk-white turnips piled on A Way of Life Farm’s tabletop display inside the cavernous shed at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market. After receiving a nod of agreement, he walks behind the table, grabs the entire pile and lowers it into a black plastic crate. It’s 8:30 on a Saturday morning, and the hunt for local ingredients is on. Any normal person working a physically grueling job until midnight on Friday would welcome a Saturday morning lie-in. Not Luca. He’s up by 6 a.m., heading to three different farmers markets in his white Toyota pickup every week, regardless of season or weather. “Even if I don’t buy anything,” he says, “I have to see my people.” In a four-hour blitzkrieg, he’ll talk with more than a dozen farmers, filling the bed of his truck before heading back to Passion8 to unload, rotate his stock and finalize the day’s menu. …
  • “The general public “don’t know much about science book,” Southeast Farm Press: Back when rhythm and blues great Sam Cooke sang the smash hit, “It’s a Wonderful World,” with the catchy line “Don’t know much about science book,” he was singing about yearning for love, and wondering if a mediocre student such as himself could be worthy of the affections of the girl he desired most. These days, however, “Don’t know much about science book” seems to be a loud and proud declaration from the general public in America, and there’s nothing whimsical or romantic about it. More specifically, it could be a major detriment to our ability to feed a growing world. According to a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center – a highly respected, nonpartisan think tank – a majority of the general public (57 percent) says that genetically modified (GM) foods are generally unsafe to eat, while only 37 percent says such foods are safe. By contrast, 88 percent of the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science say GM foods are generally safe. …
  • “Horse Owners Taking Extra Precautions During Sub-Freezing Temperatures,” Time Warner Cable News: Horse owners across the state are taking extra steps to care for the animals during sub-freezing temperatures. The animals can naturally withstand the bitter cold, but they still require additional attention when the weather gets into the teens and single digits. The horses on Rockingham Farm in Reidsville are getting lots of love, and are well taken care of in this winter weather. “We treat them like pets and not animals,” said owner Eric Clamage. “Each horse eats a bale of hay a day, and that’s what keeps them going. That’s their adrenaline, so to speak. Some of our horses also are wearing a heavy jacket, and some have on neck guards, too.” In addition to plenty of hay, what’s just as important to horses is plenty of water. This farm has taken the extra step to heat all of its water buckets so it doesn’t freeze. Dr. Devon Hodge at Carolina Equine Hospital says shelter is also key. …
  • “Butterball To Revive Raeford Plant, Create Jobs,” WUNC: There was a time when Raeford, North Carolina was synonymous with the House of Raeford turkey processing company. Now there’s another big name turkey processor in town. Butterball announced this week it’s buying the turkey “further” processing facility once owned by the House of Raeford. The family-owned House of Raeford got out of the turkey business last year. Kerry Doughty, Butterball president and CEO, said in a statement, the company will immediately begin a $30 million renovation of the 200,000 square foot facility that will be used for packaging raw turkey parts. He said it will “enhance its production capacity to 200 million pounds annually.” The company says it will hire 200 people in the next 10 months and more than 360 workers over the next three years. Butterball already employs 200 people in its hatchery operations in Raeford. …
  • “For farmers markets, not much room to grow,” News & Observer: Have farmers markets become too plentiful for their own good? That’s a question farmers and market managers have been asking for several years. And now there’s evidence that suggests it may be so. A new study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture finds that the rate of growth in the number of farmers markets nationally has slowed dramatically in the last five years. …
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