News Roundup: June 13-19

By on June 19, 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.

  • “N.C. Wine Summit held in Greensboro,” Greensboro News & Record: On Tuesday, nearly 60 grape growers, winemakers, and industry leaders convened in Greensboro for the day-long 2015 N.C. Wine Summit. The annual event, hosted by the N.C. Wine and Grape Council and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, provides a forum for members to network, share ideas, and discuss the trends and challenges facing one of N.C.’s top tourism industries – wine. …
  • “Turkey producer up and running in former House of Raeford facility,” Fayetteville Observer:  The new Butterball processing plant, located at the former site of a House of Raeford turkey cook plant, has begun production in Hoke County. The company started processing turkeys April 27 with an initial workforce of more than 100 people in the 200,000-square-foot Raeford facility, said Donald Porter, executive director of the Raeford-Hoke Economic Development Commission. …
  • “Poultry virus is a showstopper,” NCSU Technician: All public shows and poultry sales, including those at the State Fair, will be suspended starting in August in an attempt to prevent the spread of Avian flu, state officials announced last week. The ban will run from August 15 to Jan. 15, 2016. The suspension of poultry shows and sales will be a disappointment to many of those who auction their poultry or bring birds to the State fair for competitions. More than 300 people entered birds in contests at the State fair last year, according to the News & Observer. In addition, children who raise chicken or turkeys in conjunction with participating in 4-H programs will not have the opportunity to display any of their birds. State Veterinarian Doug Meckes made the decision to suspend the shows.  …
  • “Blackberries are hit or miss at area farms this season,” Hendersonville Times News: As blackberries start to ripen this summer, people hoping to pick fruit in Henderson County should check the supply at their favorite farms. Low temperatures last winter caused major losses for some blackberry growers, while others are recording a plentiful crop. Temperatures dropped below zero last winter and damaged bushes that grow in low-lying areas, nearly wiping out some growers’ crops completely. Craig Mauney, extension agent at the Henderson County office of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, said the damage could mean $500,000 to $1 million in lost revenues for county blackberry growers, who cultivate about 100 acres of blackberries. …
  • “The slaughterhouse debate: Will WNC farmers get a local meat processing plant?” Mountain Xpress: Western North Carolina farmers have repeatedly called for a new slaughterhouse and red meat processing plant that meets current needs. But the high cost of such facilities and uncertainty concerning its economic feasibility have hindered efforts to establish one here. Some businesses’ and residents’ resistance to having a slaughterhouse for a neighbor further complicates the picture. “The demand for local meats, local food in general, has really increased over the past 10 years,” says Sarah Blacklin, director of NC Choices, an initiative that coordinates with various stakeholders to promote small-scale meat production. “We have a lot of farmers and processors that are trying to meet that demand.” …
  • “Machinery, Workers and Even Wind Spread Bird Flu: Report,” NBC News: The H5N2 bird flu that’s killed or forced the slaughter of 49 million birds and driven up the price of eggs is being spread by poor hygiene practices and might even be spread in windstorms, U.S. agriculture officials said Monday. The new U.S. Department of Agriculture report doesn’t pinpoint the precise sources of spread, but says there’s enough evidence to show many different sources. Can You Catch Bird Flu? 0:42 Scientists from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) believe wild birds were responsible for introducing the flu to commercial poultry, but now think the virus is spreading “in other ways as well,” according to the report.  …
  • “Blueberry crop peaking for festival,” Wilmington Star News: Blueberry season is at its peak, and Southeastern North Carolina is the heart of the state’s multimillion-dollar industry. This year’s crops are doing well, farmers and industry experts report, and next weekend blueberry lovers will have the chance to celebrate the profitable crop at this year’s N.C. Blueberry Festival in Burgaw. Cal Lewis, owner of Lewis Nursery and Farms in Rocky Point, where his family grows 350 acres of blueberries, as well as a retail “pick-your-own” location on Gordon Road in Wilmington, says this year has been successful, comparable to last year – except for the abundance of rain. “It’s been more challenging due to the rain,” Lewis said. “We could do with a little less.” …
  • “Opinion: Feeding hope for rural jobs in North Carolina,” News & Observer: Throughout today’s economy, job creation is largely an urban phenomenon. It is true in North Carolina, too, as employment figures released last week attest: Orange County’s 3.9 percent jobless rate stands in stark contrast to Graham County’s 12.8 percent. But recent experiences in southeastern North Carolina offer evidence that a sound strategy for rural economies may be no farther away than the nearest dinner table. While the consumer food and beverage industry may not have the edgy appeal of smartphone apps or “the Internet of Things,” it’s making a powerful economic impact. Acme Smoked Fish Corporation’s new facility in Pender County has begun producing cold-smoked salmon to fill booming demand for proteins rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Butterball is now investing $67 million at a production facility in Hoke County. Sanderson Farms, the nation’s third-largest poultry producer, is building a 1,100-worker plant in Robeson County, not far from where Trinity Frozen Foods is producing sweet potato French fries, a popular side-item on restaurant menus. …
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