News Roundup: March 14-20

By on March 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 in need of new generation of farmers,” WTVD: Farmers and agriculture workers from around the state took part in a rally at the state capitol in Raleigh Wednesday in an effort to raise lawmaker’s awareness of North Carolina’s agriculture industry. (Video) …

“McCrory Promotes Agriculture in Speech,” North Carolina News Network: Agriculture continues to be North Carolina’s largest industry and it’s continued to grow, even during the recession. Gov. Pat McCrory took time Wednesday to recognize people in that field as part of the state’s Agricultural Awareness Day. “We have the people right here in this audience that are bringing North Carolina out of this recession,” McCrory says. “The agriculture community is leading the Carolina Comeback.” McCrory, speaking alongside Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and Senate leader Phil Berger, brought up the legislation the General Assembly has put out that he says is pro-farmer. …

“Sanderson called a ‘game-changer’,” Lumberton Robesonian: As poultry giant Sanderson Farms gets its chicken-processing plant up and running at its new home in the St. Pauls Industrial Park, there will be a noticeable upswing in the economy of St. Pauls and surrounding communities, an N.C. State University economist said Friday. “Spending is usually the trend when there is a new payroll in the area,” said Michael Walden, a North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the Raleigh university. “The general rule of thumb is that the economy is impacted twice the amount of the company’s payroll.” In the case of Sanderson Farms, that amounts to twice its total payroll of $28 million, or $56 million, a year. …

“Green Fields Initiative seeks to preserve farmland, increase small farmers’ profits,” Fayetteville Observer: When Matthew Parker’s great-grandfather started farming in 1926, agriculture was an overwhelming way of life in North Carolina. Nearly 90 years later, the 18-year-old follows his footsteps but goes against the grain. Farming, textiles and furniture-making have yielded to engineering, energy, biotechnology and finance as leaders in the state’s economic engine. …

“New Industry Spurred from Breweries Opening in NC,” Time Warner Cable News: Growing hops is a budding industry in North Carolina as more breweries continue to open. To better understand brewers needs and hop growers challenges, the first ever North Carolina / Virginia Hops Conference was over the weekend in Winston-Salem. The event allowed people in both industries to network and discuss how to make the industry stronger since it’s fairly new. …

“Niche meat market explodes to supply farm-to-table movement,” News & Observer: As Ryan Butler drove a red tractor up a pasture on a hill early Friday morning, two cuddled-up piles of about 70 pigs started to lumber toward the feed he was delivering. “It’s a mess,” Butler said as he looked around. The snow and ice left a muddy wake and put Green Button Farm behind in planting. So as the green of spring starts to color in the muddy pastures, Butler knows his life is about to be very busy. “This is the time of year where I stop sleeping,” said Butler, 37, a full-time financial adviser who owns Green Button Farm with his wife, Alicia, 36, an art teacher at Club Boulevard Elementary in Durham. The Butlers, who have three children ages 7 to 9, are among a rapidly increasing group of farmers across the state raising proteins and carving out a niche meat market production line that feeds the farm-to-table movement. …

“Southeast consortium building livestock feed grain system,” WRAL TechWire: Livestock producers in North Carolina and other mid-Atlantic states are sharing some high-tech tools to fix a big, expensive food disparity. The problem is quickly evident in North Carolina. Farmers statewide produce about 100 million bushels of corn and other animal feed ever year. But North Carolina’s pork and poultry producers feed at least three times that amount. And it’s a problem throughout the mid-Atlantic region, where producers have for years been bridging the feed gap by transporting grain from the Midwest — and sometimes from as far away as Brazil. …

“Agriculture commissioner speaks at chamber breakfast,” Salisbury Post: North Carolina’s agriculture commissioner Steve Troxler has a $100 billion goal, and he’s only got five years to do it. In a speech to the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce at its Power in Partnership Breakfast, Troxler said his goal is to boost the state’s agriculture industry to $100 billion in revenue by the year 2020. Troxler said he’s been questioned previously about the short time period to accomplish his goal, as North Carolina’s agriculture industry current sits at a valuation of $78 billion. His response is that picking an ambitious goal is a motivating factor. “The growth of agribusiness absolutely can meet that goal,” he said. “We will never get there if we don’t start today.” …

“Lawmakers Propose Fresh Food Oases For North Carolina Food Deserts,” WUNC: A bipartisan group of North Carolina lawmakers is proposing a measure to get more fruits and vegetables to urban and rural areas devoid of grocery stores or healthful food options. The plan, filed in separate bills in the House and Senate on Tuesday, would set aside $1 million for produce refrigerators and training for store owners in areas known as food deserts. There are more than 340 food deserts across 80 counties in the state, advocacy groups say. Two lead sponsors—Rep. Yvonne Holly (D-Wake) and Sen. Don Davis (D-Pitt)—said their concern grew after grocery stores in their districts closed in recent years. …

“NC State conducting UAV research in Plymouth,” Southeast Farm Press: The Federal Aviation Administration gave North Carolina State University the green light in September to conduct research on using unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, in agriculture. The studies are now underway at the Vernon G. James Research and Extension Center in Plymouth. The research, funded through the Golden Leaf Foundation, is being managed by N.C. State’s NextGen Air Transportation Center on the Centennial Campus in Raleigh. The vehicle currently being used in the research is a FourthWing Vireo, which is a fixed-wing system barely larger than a football. …

“Actual PEDV losses lower than expected; pork prices decline,” Prairie Farmer: Pork prices are forecast to be down 23 cents per pound this year as PEDV losses were lower than expected, according to Purdue University economist Chris Hurt. Hurt noted that hog prices last year reached record highs, with the national live prices reaching $100 per live hundredweight – $4.22 per pound – because consumers feared that great shortages would result from PEDV. The actual drop in production was only 2%. “The market adage ‘buy the rumor and sell the fact’ has played out once again,” Hurt said. “The inability to refute the rumors of massive death losses a year ago contributed to prices overshooting to the upside.” The amount of pork produced in February was expected to be up by 3%, but ended up at 7%. Hurt said USDA’s inventory count in its December hogs and pigs estimate appears to have undercounted young pig numbers. As of January, pork was at $3.99 per pound. By the end of this year, it is estimated that pork supplies will be up an average of 6% to 7%. …

“NC Legislature Considers Beekeeping Bill,” Time Warner Cable News: A new bill introduced into the North Carolina legislature would keep cities and local governments from stopping people from owning five or fewer bee hives. Sponsors of the bill say it’s a step in the right direction and a way to support agriculture. Despite the rain and Thursday’s temperatures, Randy Cox, president of the Rowan County Beekeepers Association, loaded his smoker to demonstrate how he calms the bees in his backyard. He lifted the lid of his hive to show a quick glimpse of the bees. Bees that have a huge impact on his garden and the surrounding ecosystem. “People still need food and pollination is important to the crops and everything that we survive with,” said Cox. A hobby and business for many that lawmakers behind the so-called “Birds and Bees Act” hope to advance. …

 

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