News Roundup

News Roundup: May 30 – June 5

By on June 5, 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.

  • “London Produce Show Spotlight Series: NC Department Of Agriculture,” Perishable News: As the London Produce Show prepares its second edition June 3-5, 2015, many American organizations are re-evaluating their positions in the European produce market. Some of these organizations have previously shipped to Europe but stopped, while some are already making great inroads and want to accelerate. Many of these American organizations are taking the plunge for the first time. In this series of articles, exclusively on PerishableNews.com, we identify what is leading these companies to look closer at Europe. Representatives from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA) are eager to showcase the quality products the state produces at the London Produce Show and Conference. Nick Augostini and Kelly McIver, the NCDA’s assistant director of marketing and international marketing specialist, respectively, say they look forward to opening new markets for products such as North Carolina-grown sweet potatoes, melons and berries. …
  • “Peanut Crop in the Ground,” Southern Farm Network: With two bumper harvests in a row, it’s been a foregone conclusion that peanut acreage would be down this year in North Carolina, and CEO of the North Carolina Peanut Growers says this year’s acreage has been planted: “They have. They are looking good and they are looking good around the state. Hopefully the rain will move them forward.” With contract prices reduced from years past, Sutter estimates the acreage in the Tar Heel State: “It’s about 95,000. That was the estimate – and the reporting date for FSA is not up until June 15th so we will not know the exact number for a few more weeks.” …
  • “Bt corn losing against corn earworm, Carolinas field study shows,” Southeast Farm Press: A new study from North Carolina State University and Clemson University finds that the toxin in a widely used genetically modified crop is having little impact on corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea) – which is consistent with predictions made 20 years ago. The study may be a signal to pay closer attention to warning signs about the development of resistance in agricultural pests to GM crops. At issue is genetically engineered corn that produces a Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) protein which, in turn produces a toxin called Cry1Ab. This GM corn was originally designed to address a pest called the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) and went on the market in 1996. In the late 1990s, scientists found that Cry1Ab was also fairly affective against H. zea. But the scientists also predicted that enough H. zea were surviving to lead to the species developing resistance to Cry1Ab. That work was done, in part, by Fred Gould, an entomology researcher at NC State. …
  • “Bill Allows Farmers to Burn Plastics, DENR Offers Support,” North Carolina Health News: Since the 1970s, Aubrey Raper and his wife, Linda, have run a farm in the small town of Marshall, in Western North Carolina. The two work a five-acre plot amid their 67-acre mountain property. The Rapers grow organic vegetables. In 1998, to make this kind of farming easier, they began to use agricultural plastics, such as hoop-house plastics and ground covers, which can prevent weeds from growing. Raper reuses his plastics year after year. But that’s not the case for all farmers in North Carolina. Some farmers need to discard their used plastics. Most of the time, this means sending the plastics to a landfill. But if a bill moving through the General Assembly becomes law, farmers will have another option: burning plastics in the open air. A provision included in the Senate’s 2015 farm act, which the full Senate has approved, would allow any farmer to burn polyethylene agricultural plastics. The practice would not require an air pollution permit, and the bill only requires that “the burning is conducted as quickly as possible and in a manner that will minimize total emissions.” Currently, the burning of agricultural plastics is illegal in North Carolina, and has been for decades. …
  • “Governor McCrory Breaks Ground on Port of Wilmington Cold Storage Facility Site,” Jacksonville Daily News: Governor Pat McCrory visited the Port of Wilmington today to break ground on the new Cold Storage Facility. The Port of Wilmington Cold Storage Facility is the first cold storage facility located on a port in the state of North Carolina. Previously, exporters of perishable goods were forced to use other ports that have a cold storage facility onsite. “The brand-new cold storage facility will greatly benefit the economy of the Port of Wilmington and North Carolina,” Governor McCrory said. “The facility will make the port competitive and increase the amount of products it can ship out while also allowing North Carolina companies and farmers to distribute their inventory locally, nationally and globally.” …
  • “Price of eggs reaches record highs; Piedmont restaurants eating the costs,” WGHP Fox 8: The price of eggs reached record highs this week. Wholesale consumer eggs are an average of $2.62 a dozen, an increase of 120%. It’s the result of the bird flu outbreak in the Midwest. Nearly 45 million chickens and turkeys have died. Restaurants in the Piedmont say they’ve definitely noticed the higher at prices. Alex Kulwicki is the General Manager at Carolina’s Diner on Eastchester Drive. “Eggs and chicken are both costing more. You feel the overall effects in your budgeting and your pricing. Whereas [suppliers] can increase their prices for us, we can’t always increase prices for the customers every week.” He said they are mostly eating the cost for now, but hope it doesn’t get any worse.
  • “If rain stops, record crop of blueberries expected,” Fayetteville Observer: Recent rain across the Cape Fear region have slowed harvest of what state officials predict will be a record season for blueberries. But, local farmers say, a couple of dry days will get things back on track. “The past few days have been lost time for us,” said Laura Peterson of James C. Davis Farms in White Lake. “A little rain is good, but we’ve had more than a little lately. The rain has been a boon to gardens and lawns around the region, but Peterson notes that blueberries have a narrow window for harvest. “When you’re talking about fresh blueberries, you want dry weather,” she said. “You can’t hand-pick wet berries. They’ll mold if you pack them. “We’re hoping for more sunshine.” …
  • “NC blueberry crop looks to be record,” Asheville Citizen-Times: The dry-ish spring we’ve been having in North Carolina might not be great for our lawns, but it does seem to be helping the blueberry crop. “Too much rain at harvest can damage blueberries and ruin a crop,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a statement today. “Fortunately, the weather is cooperating and we are seeing some of the highest yields and best-tasting berries we’ve had in years.” Blueberry growers across North Carolina are expecting a record crop as they start harvesting for the season, thanks to recent dry weather. North Carolina is the seventh-largest producer of blueberries in the nation. In 2012, the state grew 41 million pounds of blueberries. About 75 percent of the state’s crop is sold to fresh markets such as grocery stores, farmers markets and roadside stands. Bill Cline, a plant pathologist at the Horticultural Crops Research Station in Castle Hayne, works with blueberry growers throughout the year. He said consumers should have no trouble finding N.C. blueberries during the next few weeks. …
  • “Latest US proposal for ethanol could have political fallout,” WNCT: The Obama administration’s latest plan on ethanol, the corn-based renewable fuel, probably will not have a major effect on pump prices, but could have political reverberations in Iowa and other farm states in the 2016 presidential campaign. Under the proposed rule announced Friday, the amount of ethanol in the gasoline supply would increase in coming years, just not as much as set out under federal law. That approach drew criticism from ethanol and farm groups that have pushed to keep high volumes of ethanol in gasoline. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has called for a robust renewable fuels standard while campaigning in Iowa, host of the leadoff presidential caucuses next year. Iowa produces more ethanol than any other state, and the renewable fuel has long been a powerful economic and political issue. The 2007 renewable fuels law tried to address global warming, reduce dependence on foreign oil and bolster the rural economy by requiring a steady increase in the overall amount of renewable fuels such as ethanol-blended into gasoline over time. …
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