News Roundup: April 11-17

By on April 17, 2015

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

  • Crop will be later than normal,” Carteret County News-Times: Strawberry farmers in the county say they expect a good crop this year, and that fresh strawberries will be available at produce stands within the next two weeks. Those who want to pick their own, however, will have to wait until the end of this month, according to Alan Willis with Willis Farms. “The berries look good and we’ll probably be able to have some for sale at the stand between April 15-20. But it will be about a week or so after that before we’ll open the field for picking,” he said Tuesday. The strawberry harvest in North Carolina generally begins in mid-to-late April or early May. However, crop experts say this year’s crop will be later than normal. …
  • “Bayer launches ‘Feed a Bee’ campaign,” Southeast Farm Press: Bayer CropScience has launched a major new initiative to increase forage for honey bees and other pollinators. The campaign is called “Feed a Bee” and includes a consumer campaign to plant 50 million wildflowers this year. Production agriculture will play a major role in the effort and farmers are encouraged to get involved by including forage habitats in their operations, according to Becky Langer, Bayer CropScience bee health project manager. Through Feed a Bee, Bayer will distribute at least 280,000 free wildflower seed packets to anyone who wants to plant them. “People can join this initiative by visiting www.FeedABee.com and requesting a free packet of wildflower seeds to plant on their own or by asking the Feed a Bee initiative to plant on their behalf,” Langer said. …
  • “Labs keep food safe and honest,” The News & Oberver: Mansour Samadpour makes his way through the supermarket like a detective working a crime scene, slow, watchful, up one aisle and down the next. A clerk mistakenly assumes that he needs help, but Samadpour brushes him off. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He buys organic raspberries that might test positive for pesticides and a fillet of wild-caught fish that might be neither wild nor the species listed on the label. He buys beef and pork ground fresh at the market. He is disappointed that there is no caviar, which might turn out to be something cheaper than sturgeon roe. That’s an easy case to crack. Civilian shoppers see food when they go to the market. Samadpour, the chief executive of IEH Laboratories (short for Institute for Environmental Health), sees mystery, if not downright fraud. On this visit, he is shopping for goods he can test at his labs to demonstrate to a reporter that what you see on market shelves may not be what you get. …
  • “Our View: Farmers market movement finally takes off,” Fayetteville Observer: It wasn’t long ago that farmers markets struggled in Fayetteville. There was one downtown, at locations that frequently changed and kept would-be customers from finding it – when there were enough vendors there to make it worth finding. But that has changed in the past two or three years. The downtown market is thriving, with many good vendors and plenty of good meats and veggies, along with jams, preserves and a side of arts and crafts. Last year, the Fayetteville Farmers Market Association expanded, adding pop-up markets on Fort Bragg and Ramsey Street. Another market took up a successful residence at Bronco Square, across from Fayetteville State University. …
  • “Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest highlights local industry,” Asheville Citizen-Times: The tradition of cheese-making reaches back thousands of years, though its appeal has obviously not diminished through the ages — especially not in Western North Carolina, which boasts an abundance of cheese makers. In modern times, good cheese is often found on a fancy board with a glass of wine. But cheese far predates its foodie reputation. With no known date of origin, cheese-making is thought to have grown with the rise of animal agriculture, likely having began as a way to preserve milk, and as well as a way to make it more digestible for a largely lactose-intolerant society. …
  • “Farming poses dangers on roadways, in fields,” WNCT: Although farming is important in the East, it also can present dangers for everyone, particularly on the roadways. In 2014, 146 accidents involving farm equipment on roadways occurred in the state, leading to one death and 31 injuries. With the peak growing season fast approaching, more and more farm equipment will be seen on area roadways. In most cases, the larger tractors can only reach speeds of 20 miles per hour. “We all share the four lanes too, and those highways can be 60 or 65 miles per hour,” said Andrew Arnold, a third generation farmer in Beaufort County. But it’s not just dangers on the roadways farmers face on a daily basis. Since 2005, an average of 12 people have died each year in the state due to farming, fishing and forestry accidents. …
  • “Whole Foods shows customers what its salad bar looks like without pollinators,” The Produce News: Pollinators play a vital role in producing one-third of the world’s food crops, but they are disappearing at alarming rates. Whole Foods Market and The Xerces Society are joining forces to “share the buzz” about the plight of pollinators and empower shoppers to “bee” part of the solution. To kick off the two-week campaign, Whole Foods Market’s Gilman store in Berkeley, CA, demonstrated what shoppers’ salad bar choices would look like if pollinators vanished. The before-and-after photos are startling — as are the findings: Avocados, tomatoes and berries are just a few of the favorite offerings that would become scarce or disappear from the salad bar without the help of pollinators, which play an integral role in more than 100 types of crops in the United States. Only about 40 percent (26 of 63) of the store’s original salad bar offerings remained. …
  • “How a Team of Engineers Is Trying to Save Dairy Farmers Time (and Money),” NC State News: Tucked away in the corner of a laboratory in Raleigh, five electrical engineers are engaged in an unlikely pursuit – finding a way to make the U.S. dairy industry more profitable. The team is poised to launch a proof-of-concept project that, they hope, will demonstrate how a wireless tracking system can improve the health and productivity of dairy cows. “Our goal is to help farmers survive and ensure their operations are economically viable,” says Anthony Laws, an undergraduate at NC State who signed on to the project as part of his senior design class in electrical and computer engineering. At the heart of the project are radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, which can be equipped with sensors that allow them to transmit information back to a reader. …
  • “Making Every Bite Count – Higher education supports agrobiodiversity,” Newswise.com: Wake Forest University recently launched the Make Every Bite Count campaign that calls on colleges and universities to make a commitment to preserving and celebrating agricultural biodiversity in their own regions. On Wake Forest’s own campus, the landscaping team selected pawpaw and persimmon trees to plant as part of a cultural heritage edible landscaping pilot. The trees are well suited to the campus landscape, decreasing maintenance needs and increasing resilience. To celebrate the plantings, campus dining services featured traditional pawpaw and persimmon desserts at the fall campus heritage dinner. …
  • “Repreve Renewables Seeks More Farmers to Grow Giant Grass,” Time Warner Cable News: A drop planter crawled along farm land, row by row, sowing a crop of giant Miscanthus grass. Stancill Farms in Pitt County is one of a stable of farmers contracted by Greensboro-based Repreve Renewables to grow the eco-friendly crop, which has found a use in the poultry industry. The company is working to expand the number. Repreve Renewables says the indigenous Asian species is non-invasive and has multiple uses. …
  • “NC Catch and Local Catch Groups Continue to Grow Business for Local Seafood, NC Catch: The Fourth Annual Local Catch Summit drew more than 70 commercial fishermen, seafood retailers and wholesalers, local food advocates, and seafood consumers to the Ocracoke Community Center on March 23, 2015 to strengthen partnerships that support and promote NC seafood. The Summit took place in the location where Outer Banks Catch, Ocracoke Fresh, Carteret Catch, and Brunswick Catch leaders in 2011 first explored the idea of partnering under the NC Catch banner to heighten seafood consumer education and awareness. …
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