News Roundup: April 4 – 10

By on April 10, 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.

  • “Troxler Traveling to China to Discuss NC Exports,” North Carolina News Network: As China’s economy has grown, so have North Carolina’s exports. Steve Troxler, state agriculture commissioner, is taking his third trip to the country since 2009 to ensure that growth continues. “We’re going to focus on pork, tobacco, soybeans and forestry products,” Troxler says. “These are four of the reasons why China is now the largest buyer of North Carolina ag and forestry exports.” North Carolina is the world’s number one exporter of tobacco and Troxler says much of that is going to China. “I think everybody knows that China’s become an extremely important buyer of North Carolina tobacco,” Troxler says. “This is one area of the world where there’s an opportunity for even more growth so I’m going over to meet these folks and ask the Chinese tobacco people to buy more tobacco out of North Carolina.” Not only is China a large buyer of North Carolina tobacco, pork and soybeans, but Troxler says the state has a strong relationship with China’s largest cities when it comes to selling lumber for manufacturing. “But on this trip, we’re going to be meeting with buyers in some of the smaller cities to expand this lumber market,” he says. “This goes for building, furniture and whatever forestry products are used for. We’ll be trying to send them North Carolina lumber products.” …
  • “Beer renaissance explodes in N.C., around the country,” Wilmington Star-News: Margo Metzger describes it as a movement – a Southern craft beer movement. Bill Manley calls it a Renaissance. “Craft brewing right now all over the country and, to some extent, all over the world, is really going through a renaissance. It’s exploding everywhere,” said Manley, beer ambassador for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., which recently opened a brewing facility – its second – in Mills River, N.C. “You really don’t have to go far to find a really excellent beer anywhere in the country now.” Metzger, executive director of the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild, said North Carolina is at the forefront of the Southern response to a national trend in craft brewing. …
  • “North Carolina cotton leader leaves legacy of learning,” Southeast Farm Press: North Carolina State University seniors Jennifer Evans and Cassandra Ingram never knew Billy Carter, but they have grown to appreciate what he did for agriculture, and what his scholarship has done for them. A North Carolina cotton producer and industry leader, Carter passed away New Year’s Day 2011, but he left behind a legacy that today continues to improve tomorrow’s agricultural leaders through the Billy Carter Cotton Leadership Scholarship Endowment. “I had the chance to meet Billy’s wife Beverly, their daughter, and several other family members at a NCSU scholarship recognition event, and after my conversations with them, it was clear how much impact Mr. Carter had on agriculture not only domestically, but internationally as well,” explains, High Point, North Carolina’s Cassandra Ingram. Ingram, an Ag Business major, wants to return to her family’s farm where they grow strawberries, vegetables and raise goats. “…
  • “NCDOT Announces Annual Wildflower Award Winners,” Stanly News & Press:  The gorgeous scenic wildflower beds lining North Carolina’s highways took center stage yesterday at the Wildflower Awards Banquet ceremony in Raleigh as NCDOT celebrated 30 years of beautifying North Carolina’s roadsides. The annual awards, sponsored by The Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc., recognize the efforts of NCDOT staff who carry out North Carolina’s wildflower program and enhance the overall appearance and environmental quality of the state’s highways. Awards are given to the best-looking flower beds in each region of the state, as well as the best overall highway division wildflower program. State Roadside Environmental Unit Engineer, Don G. Lee recognized The Garden Club of North Carolina for their many years of support. The Garden Club President, Roadside Development Committee Chair and award judges were in attendance. Transportation Secretary Tata gave remarks thanking staff and emphasizing the importance of the Wildflower Program. He also announced the launch of the NCDOT Roadside Environmental Unit’s initiative to create pollinator habitats in conjunction with the Wildflower Program. N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler also gave remarks emphasizing the importance of the work that NCDOT staff is doing to help pollinators and assist in preserving the agricultural industry in North Carolina. …
  • “Bayer pledges $100,000 to NCDOT for roadside pollinator plantings,” Southeast Farm Press: Bayer CropScience has pledged $100,000 to the North Carolina Department of Transportation to be used for the development of roadside pollinator plantings this spring. The project will provide approximately 46 new acres of bee-attractant vegetation alongside North Carolina’s roads and highways, such as wildflower beds that promote honey bee population development and support crop pollination. “This investment is a down payment on the sustainable health of pollinators in North Carolina and a model for how public-private partnerships, like that between Bayer and NCDOT, can benefit the environment and state,” said Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience. “Bayer is dedicated to the establishment of new habitat for honey bees that will allow them to flourish, as they continue to play a critical role in creating sustainable agriculture.” …
  • “Ag Day in North Carolina considered a success,” Southern Farm Network: We’ve had a few weeks to digest the tremendous Ag Day that North Carolina Farm Bureau and Department of Agriculture and others put on in downtown Raleigh at the General Assembly. President of the North Carolina Farm Bureau looks back at March 18th as a success: “It was a big day and not just the NC Farm Burearu, it was led by the Commissioner of Ag. It was something to do to show the importance of ag to the General Assembly. With many representatives only being there 1-2 terms there is a lot of education that needs to be done about the importance and the size of our industry. All of the commodity groups and organizations came together to organize this. There was a lot of good will that was generated. The Governor and the Speaker of the House came to speak to the gathered people. We got back a lot of reports about how receptive and nice and good the ag folks who attended were.” …
  • “Low funding hinders law for ensuring food safety,” The News & Observer: After thousands of people were sickened by tainted eggs, peanut butter and spinach, Congress passed a sweeping food safety law in 2010 that gave the Food and Drug Administration new powers to prevent additional outbreaks. But lawmakers have not provided enough money for the mission. The Congressional Budget Office said the FDA would need a total of $580 million from 2011 to 2015 to carry out the changes required by the Food Safety Modernization Act. So far, Congress has appropriated less than half of that amount, even as the agency is moving to issue crucial rules under the law this year. “I don’t think it’s too much to say that the success” of the overhaul “is on the line,” Michael R. Taylor, the deputy FDA commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said in an interview. “We have good plans for moving forward. The problem is we don’t have the money.” An estimated 48 million Americans have food-borne illnesses each year, and agency officials say the funding shortfall could undermine Congress’ intent to make the most significant improvements to the food safety system in more than 70 years. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who helped write the law, said the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services, the parent agency of the FDA, shared some of the blame for the shortfall because they had tried to impose user fees on the food industry to help fund the law. …
  • “Mobile farmers market to increase access to food,” Greensboro News & Record: The Mobile Oasis Farmers Market will expand its footprint after receiving a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “We proposed to go from two sites a week to at least six,” said Mark Smith, an epidemiologist with the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services. “That would be over the course of the season, from May to November, and would likely take place over three days,” Smith said. …
  • “Column: My week exploring the food gap in Asheville,” Asheville Citizen-Times: I just experienced a most interesting week in Asheville. It was all about food, not eating it or cooking it. Rather, my week was a real life exploration of the growing food “gap” in Asheville. “Nutritional disparities between America’s rich and poor are growing, despite efforts to provide higher-quality food to people who most need it,” a recent Harvard study concluded. “Diet quality has improved among people of high socioeconomic status but deteriorated among those at the other end. … In fact, nationwide, the gap between the two groups doubled between 2000 and 2010.” (Atlantic, 2014) My week began at the community meeting about the planned expansion of the French Broad Food Co-op. More than 100 people participated. Many co-op members and shoppers are actively engaged in healthy eating, but also dynamically engaged around issues of social justice and poverty. They were keenly aware of the opportunity the expansion brings to address some of the root causes of the “food gap.” The buzz was around creating expanded space for food education, including, possibly, a community kitchen. Other concerns were maintaining affordable prices for high quality food. Groups brainstormed ways to increase food access (e.g., home delivery using volunteers) and discussed creating ways for co-op members to help other members, especially those struggling with Asheville’s high rents and prices. Participants wanted to make the co-op a resource about the more equitable co-op business model that provides higher wages and better working conditions for lower wage jobs. …
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