News Roundup: Feb. 21-27

By on February 27, 2015

News Roundup - this week's top news stories about NC agriculture
“Deadline nears for two farm safety-net programs,” Lexington Dispatch: Bob Etheridge, executive director of the North Carolina office of the Farm Service Agency, reminds producers of upcoming important deadlines for the new safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill, known as Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage. The final day to update yield history or reallocate base acres is Feb. 27, and the final day for farm owners and producers to choose coverage is March 31. “For the first time in many years, farmers have the opportunity to update yields or reallocate base, but if no changes are made by Feb. 27, the farm’s current yield and base will be used,” Etheridge said. …

“County growers get grants,” Stokes News: Two Stokes County farmers have been named winners in a grant program aimed at supporting family farms. Cheryl Ferguson of King and Jess Scott Jr. of Danbury were among 20 individual growers earning grants of between $5,000 and $15,000 from NC AgVentures. The competitive grants – administered by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, with funding provided through the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission – are awarded to innovative projects aimed at diversifying, expanding or implementing new entrepreneurial plans for farm operations. Farmers in 10 counties – Martin, Wilson, Pitt, Edgecombe, Nash, Forsyth, Stokes, Surry, Rockingham and Yadkin – were eligible. …

“The Life, Legacy, And Science of “Queen of Agrobacterium” Mary-Dell Chilton,” WUNC: Mary-Dell Chilton is a pioneer in the field of agricultural biotechnology. As a young scientist at Washington University, she led the team of researchers that produced the first genetically-modified plant. Chilton moved to North Carolina in the early 1980s to begin her corporate career and has continued to conduct research that shapes the agricultural production of corn, cotton, and other crops. Chilton has authored more than 100 scientific publications and was awarded the World Food Prize in 2013. She was also recently inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. At the age of 76, she still spends most of her time in the laboratory at Syngenta, where she serves as the principal scientist, but her other passions include John Grisham novels, shopping, and spending time outdoors with her family. Host Frank Stasio talks to Mary-Dell Chilton about her life, legacy and science. …

“Farmers Working to Protect Crops During Extreme Cold,” Time Warner Cable News: Farmers across the state are working extra hours to protect their crops and livestock during the sub-freezing temperatures. Rhonda Ingram and her family have decades of experience farming strawberries and livestock at their farm in High Point, and they know one thing for sure. “We’ve been doing this for over 35 years,” she said. “You can’t trick Mother Nature.” And they’re as frustrated as anyone over the weather. “The things we should be getting done to get ready for the spring season you can’t do because the ground is solid as a rock,” Ingram said. “You can’t start putting some of your earlier crops in because it’s too cold, and you spend a lot of your efforts feeding your animals.” The family is taking a “wait and see” approach to this year’s crop. “Honestly, we’re not going to know until the season gets going, but it’s probably going to be a lot like last year,” Ingram said. “You’re going to see a late start to your season because of this weather. You will probably see a loss in your first blooms.” …

“James West of James West Farm in Kinston,” Daily Tar Heel: Hog farmer James West of James West Farm in Kinston, NC, is featured in a video from the student-run UNC Daily Tar Heel about his partnership with Carolina Dining Services to supply Certified AWA (Animal Welfare Approved) pork for meals to students.

“Students urged to apply for new livestock scholarships,” Rocky Mount Telegram: The N.C. Department of Agriculture and the N.C. State Fair recently announced the creation of the N.C. State Fair Youth Livestock Scholarship Program. The scholarships are designed for high school seniors and students currently enrolled in an institute of higher education who have participated in the junior livestock or market turkey shows at the N.C. State Fair. “Agriculture is North Carolina’s leading industry, but the average age of our farmers is almost 59,” N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said. …

“Anson farmer wins N.C. Pork Council award,” Anson Record: The 2015 awardees honored recently during the North Carolina pork industry’s annual conference include a community-minded producer from Kenansville and an Anson County farmer who has made leadership in the pork industry part of his life’s work. Award recipients in the 59th annual N.C. Pork Conference audience also received a surprise visit from U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, who shared comments about topics including pork exports and the future of immigration reform. Roddy Purser of Anson County was named NCPC’s 2015 North Carolina Pork All-American; Purser is a member of the NCPC Board of Directors and oversees a diversified agricultural portfolio. He owns and operates White Rock Farms, a farrow-to-wean swine operation that includes the care of 6,600 sows under contract with Murphy-Brown LLC. White Rock Farms is also a FARM-certified dairy where he and his wife Allison tend to more than 300 Jersey cows. …

“Ashe County family grows tradition with maple syrup business,” Winston-Salem Journal: Doug Munroe sits in a ladder-back chair in his sugarhouse, stoking a wood-burning stove to maintain even temperature.  Plumes of water vapor waft to the rafters as maple sap flows through the serpentine-patterned walls of the evaporator, changing from clear to light blond to a rich amber as the water content diminishes. Waterfall Farm sits at an elevation of 3,300 feet, halfway between the North Fork New River and Three Top Mountain. It is one of two commercial maple syrup producers in Ashe County and is about as far south as syrup operations go because of climate and geology. …

“Work begins on wood pellet plant in Sampson County,” Fayetteville Observer: When an international energy corporation announced plans to build a pair of wood pellet processing plants in the Cape Fear region last September, state and local officials said they couldn’t wait to get started. This month, finally, they got their wish. Construction began this month on a northeastern Sampson County wood pellet plant. A second plant, in Richmond County near Hamlet, will begin as soon as the Sampson County plant is finished. …

“Troxler announces continued funding for hemlock restoration,” Avery Journal: NC Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler last week announced additional funding for efforts to restore North Carolina’s hemlock trees to long-term health. The NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will use $250,000 from the state’s legal settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority to continue supporting the Hemlock Restoration Initiative, which began last year. Over the next three years, the investment will support direct interventions on state and private lands, coordination of resources and increasing volunteer efforts to save hemlock stands throughout the state. Hemlocks across Western North Carolina are being decimated by the hemlock woolly adelgid, an insect that sucks the sap of young twigs, which leads to tree death. While thousands of trees have already died in the state, an integrated approach to pest management is showing positive results for the long-term survival of Eastern and Carolina hemlocks. …

 

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