News Roundup: May 9-15

By on May 15, 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

  • “Lett’s Set a Spell: Agriculture applauded in Got to Be NC Festival,” The Sanford Herald: When I attended Broadway School in the late 1960s, all boys were required to take at least one agriculture course, and we girls attended home economics classes. Back then we assumed that most guys would focus on farming and the gals would reign in the kitchen. We took for granted that most of our food would always come from gardens in the backyard. The commitment to agriculture changed when many farms couldn’t provide ample income for families and because of more accessibility to products beyond the farm. Also the passion for living off the land lost its appeal because of the attraction of jobs in the city. The philosophy and practice of farming has changed dramatically through the decades. In recent years, many men and women are combining skills in farming, gardening, cooking, canning and creating unique food products to make a living. All over the United States, there is a growing trend, from creating gardens in boxes on terraces in apartment complexes to producing bounty in the backyards of upscale communities. Today folks can hear chickens cackling and roosters crowing in neighborhoods near big shopping malls. Goats are becoming a favorite commodity in some urban areas, praised for their milk and cheese production. Agriculture will be highlighted this weekend at the eighth annual Got to Be NC Festival with a full lineup of food choices and family activities at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. The festival provides numerous opportunities to learn about cultivating land, growing crops, producing food and raising animals in our state. …
  • “America’s $45 Billion Poultry Industry Has a (Really) Bad Case of Bird Flu,” Fox Business: “Wait, what did you say about bird flu?” Apparently, the 24-hour news cycle doesn’t apply to sick chickens. A highly virulent strain of the avian flu is sweeping across the American Midwest and devastating chicken and turkey farmers, but it hasn’t garnered media coverage proportional to its importance and potential consequences. …
  • “NC Officials Preparing For Avian Bird Flu Outbreak,” WUNC: North Carolina officials are closely monitoring an outbreak of the avian bird flu spreading in the Midwest and Western United States. 30 million birds have either died from the disease, or have been killed as a preventive measure to control the flu from spreading, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The states that have seen the avian bird flu include: Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, California. North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler told state lawmakers Tuesday morning the department is preparing for an outbreak while helping other areas that have been affected. The state sent staff from its veterinary and emergency divisions programs to help Minnesota farms depopulate their infected chickens and plans to send another team to Iowa this week. …
  • “Why would a teenager today look to the ag industry for a future?” Southeast Farm Press: With conviction, the thirteen-year-old boy said he was going to be a plant breeder or an agriculture teacher or do something with plant diseases when he got older – or maybe even do all three. Good choices. He’s got a good future in his future, according to a recent report. The boy, I’m happy to say, is my nephew. He made his statement about his preferred long-term employment not long ago. A report out this month from USDA says the skills and know-how he wants to develop are in big demand – at least over the next five years. The report “Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in Food, Agriculture, Renewable Natural Resources, and the Environment — United States, 2015-2020,” was pulled together by USDA and Purdue University. …
  • “Eastern Corn Crop Looked Good Until Ana Came Along,” Southern Farm Network: It’s no secret that the corn producers in the eastern US have had some difficulties fighting cold and rain just to get the crop planted. NC State Extension corn specialist Dr. Ron Heiniger: “Its been a real struggle. Last week was the busiest week. And then along comes Ana and dumps a bunch of rain in the east, where the west could use some rain.” As we mentioned earlier, planting corn acres this spring has been a lot of stopping and starting depending on the weather, but Heiniger says a solid week of good, dry weather last week made a difference: “I think most producers will finish up the corn this week. Last week we really hit it hard. They know what it means to start early and work late in the day. We went from 45% to 85% in a matter of 6-7 days.” …
  • “After long growth, Triangle farmers markets see numbers flatten,” The News & Observer: A couple of headlines earlier this year grabbed my attention: “Has the Farmers Market Movement Peaked?” ran in the Los Angeles Times, and “Are Farmers Market Sales Peaking?” appeared on NPR’s The Salt blog. The headlines were based on a U.S. Department of Agriculture report from January that showed while more farmers are selling directly to consumers, what consumers are spending has decreased slightly. Here are the details: Between 2007 and 2012, the number of farmers selling directly to consumers increased 5.5 percent, while the value of sales declined by 1 percent. (These sales include transactions at farmers markets, roadside stands, pick-your-own farms and community-supported agriculture subscriptions.) For a little historical context, between 2002 and 2007, the number of farmers selling directly to consumers increased 17 percent and the value of sales increased 32 percent. …
  • “Berry Good: Local strawberries are ripe for recipes,” Winston-Salem Journal: As the co-owner of Plum Granny farm in King, Cheryl Ferguson is mostly likely to eat strawberries whole out of hand. In fact, most of the strawberries she eats probably never make it out of strawberry patch. But when she does make something, she likes to enjoy a salad that’s simple to make but offers a complex combination of ingredients. …
  • “Biltmore Winery, America’s most-visited wine-maker, turns 30,” Asheville Citizen-Times: Long before Asheville was Beer City USA, the Biltmore Winery was turning out reds, whites and sparklers and building a brand that now stretches across 30 states. The winery, which turns 30 this month, is America’s most-visited wine-making operation, pulling 60 percent of the Biltmore’s annual 1.2 million visitors. It’s also North Carolina’s third oldest winery, producing 40 wines sold around the Southeast and throughout the Ohio Valley. The winery produces 150,000 cases a year. The Biltmore estate, including a large garden attraction, was built in 1895 and opened to the public in 1930. It was the largest private residency in the United States. …
  • “Surry County neighbors push for more say-so over chicken farm locations,” Winston-Salem Journal: Thick, sunburned and worn, the hands of Eddie Brown tell his story. He’s a farmer, a Surry County farmer. Tobacco. Soybeans. Strawberries. By his estimation, farming has been in his family for 150 years. Monday night, Brown wasn’t at his farm in the Shoals community. He was at the King library, attending a meeting of about 30 property owners fed up with the stench coming from large-scale chicken farms. …
  • “Trouble with truffles in Stokes County,” WGHP: There is a trifle of trouble with the truffles. Every industry in North Carolina had pioneers that helped it get started. Textiles had the Cone family, wine had the Sheltons and now truffles have a couple of dozen farmers, including Jane Morgan Smith. But truffles are a difficult project — you can work for five or 10 years before the trees fruit. Jane did her work, had some of the most famous people in the kitchen praise her product and that’s when the trouble started. See what, in this edition of the Buckley Report and, more importantly, see why Jane isn’t ready to give up. …
  • “City on board with NC 41 hatchery,” Robesonian: After winning over members of Lumberton’s Planning Board, Sanderson Farms is another step closer to building a chick hatchery on N.C. 41. The City Council, heeding a unanimous recommendation from the Planning Board, voted Monday night to allow rezoning of a 12.88-acre lot near Snake Road to make way for the hatchery. An application to rezone the parcel passed through City Council before it was referred to the Planning Board. There, the matter was tabled in order to allow a Sanderson Farms representative to answer questions form the board and the public. Board members toured the poultry giant’s hatchery in Kinston, and returned in full approval. The hatchery would include 52 hatchers and incubators as well as office space for about 75 employees, including management, accounting, human resources and service technicians. In exchange for property tax incentives approved by the City Council on April 13, the company would invest $17 million in the hatchery. The company is also building a $115 million processing plant near St. Pauls. …
  • “Farmer recovers from crop damage after storm,” WWAY: Tropical Storm Ana’s effects on local produce will be felt long into the summer. Ana brought torrential downpours leaving local farmers in Brunswick County with flood and wind damage to crops and structure. Produce Farmer Keith Ludlum says the storm has set planting his tomato crop two weeks behind schedule. He will have to wait until the fields dry out which means it will take longer for consumers to have their fresh produce. “In 54 years of my family farm, we have never taken out crop insurance,” said Ludlum. “We never asked for no benefits or anything. We just pretty much rely on Blessings and Grace.” Ludlum says to meet the customer demand this summer, he plans to work everyday to make sure the work gets done and the produce is available for visitors to buy when they visit the Holden Beach area. …
  • “Land trusts present awards to conservation leaders,” Hendersonville Times-News:
    North Carolina’s 24 local land trusts bestowed their annual awards on deserving winners during a lunch celebration at the land trusts’ annual meeting at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville. The N.C. Land Trust awards are given annually to businesses, nonprofits, governments and individuals who lead efforts to protect the state’s streams and lakes, forests, farms, parkland and wildlife habitat, thereby protecting clean drinking water and air quality, local food and outdoor recreation. The State Government Conservation Partner of the Year Award went to state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. He was nominated by the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and Conservation Trust for North Carolina for his dedication to the conservation of farms and forest land. Troxler strongly supports farmland preservation and the N.C. Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. During Troxler’s tenure, the ADFPTF protected nearly 10,000 acres and allocated almost $16 million in grant funding for working lands conservation easements and agricultural development projects. …

 

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