News Roundup: July 11-17

By on July 17, 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. Farm Families: Stand up and speak out,” Jones and Blount: There are few delicacies quite as tasty and revered in eastern North Carolina as a warm pork tenderloin sandwiched between two slices of buttered bread. Whether you glaze it in a honey BBQ sauce or smother it with yellow mustard, that savory treat is always a favorite. On Wednesday evening, N.C. Farm Families Rallied ‘Round the Farm in support of North Carolina’s leading industry. The $78 billion dollar contributor to our state’s economy has recently been attacked by special interest groups aiming to stifle the industry one farm at a time. Commissioner Steve Troxler reminded the group of over three thousand, “It is beyond common sense for anyone who depends upon food to attack the producer. Those attackers mistakenly believe access to food is a right, instead of understanding it’s this nation’s greatest blessing. The sole reason this nation has remained free is the ability to produce its own food and feed its own people.” …
  • “Farmers market offering special for SNAP recipients,” Hendersonville Times-News: An oasis of fresh, healthy food has opened up for local families on SNAP, who can get a great deal on locally-grown produce to stretch budgets. The Mills River Farmers Market hopes to bring in more SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients using EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards with a two-for-one offer this season. “We’re firm believers in people having access to healthy food,” said Joe Brittain, executive director of the market’s board of directors. …
  • “Coggins Farm: Land loved, land lost, and land developed,” Asheville Citizen-Times: Less than an hour after Coggins Farm changed hands, the machines arrived. They clamored up its rolling meadows following a well-worn dirt path, first the mowers, then the bulldozers and, lastly, the track-hoes. It took developer David Case four years to get to this moment on June 22 — the day his company closed on the Buncombe County property. With that $4.1 million purchase, the 169 acres known as Coggins Farm ceased to exist. For the property — and for the conflict over its future — a new chapter began. For the broader issue of preserving open space and farmland, it was a familiar story that still offers lessons for the future. …
  • “Hot sauce headquarters moving to downtown Winston-Salem,” Winston-Salem Journal:  TW Garner Food Co. is returning to downtown Winston-Salem after about seven decades, hoping to strike a balance between staying true to its private corporate roots while staking out a bolder community presence. The company, a corporate mainstay for 86 years, has signed a 12-year lease with Nash Building LLC for the 14,500-square-foot second floor of the Nash-Bolich building off Fourth Street. It expects to shift headquarters operations and 26 employees to the site in early 2016. The company will keep production at its 4045 Indiana Ave. facility, where it has 65 employees. …
  • “Food Waste Reduction in the Field,” Southern Farm Network: Ham Produce Company is generally considered in North Carolina agriculture circles to be an innovator in waste reduction, Stacy Ham Thomas, VP of Ham Produce gives a brief history of the operation: “Ham Farms is a grower-packer-shipper, and we are a feed producer also. We start our process in the green house with plants we purchase from NC State. We started packing sweet potatoes in 1992 and learned quickly there is a lot of waste in that process.” Thomas explains what prompted Ham Produce to look for innovative ways in waste management and elimination: “If you look at your food costs in the grocery store, things are selling for about the same price as they did ten years ago. But obviously the cost of growing is going up every year. So we were looking for ways stabilize our market and diversify and have a sustainable business model.” …
  • “N.C. State researchers look at mechanical blueberry harvester,” Southeast Farm Press: It’s late in the growing season at the North Carolina State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Castle Hayne Research Station as blueberry breeder Maggie Schaber walks the rows, plucking the occasional berry and popping it into her mouth. ‘Hot’ doesn’t begin to describe this sweltering June morning. But the berries don’t seem to mind. Indeed, they’re plump and warm and delicious, delivering a little bit of the sun with each bite. Parked at the end of one plot is a large mechanical harvester, and in the distance perches a new pack shed (painted N.C. State red and white, of course). …
  • “Hmong farming program seeks to introduce Asian crops to farmers markets,” Hickory Daily Record: Last Tuesday, with early morning sun already blazing hot, Zha Xue Yang and his wife moved around their plot, tending to their green onions, winter melons, ginger and rice. “Before they met me, they only did just rice,” Der Xiong said, who works at Catawba County’s Cooperative Extension Center and operates the three-acre site where the Yangs farm. “Now they do mixed vegetables.” As the immigrant agriculture coordinator at the Center, Xiong’s job is to work with local Hmong farmers to help them farm more sustainably and profitably. …
  • “Expected NC Drone Boom Presents Economic Opportunities, Regulatory Challenges,” WUNC: The state that boasts of being “First in Flight” is preparing for another major aviation development – an expected surge in unmanned flight. The North Carolina Department of Transportation has hired its first official to oversee the regulation of drones. The department also is developing a test that by the end of the year will be mandatory for people who want to operate commercial and government drones. Meanwhile, a center based at North Carolina State University is working with researchers, government agencies, and private companies that want to use drones in their work. …
  • “Agriculture: Big News from Cary’s Upchurch Farm,” Cary News:  To me, it’s the middle of summer, but fall is already here for my friends at the Upchurch Farm. As of last week, they started preparing their Cary fields to harvest pumpkins for Halloween, and I paid them a visit to find out what’s in store for later this year. Perhaps you recognize the name “Upchurch.” I’ve gotten to know this wonderful family, who have been in Cary’s farming community for years now, through the neat articles I’ve written about them. They’re my go-to source for Cary’s history, farming, antiques and more. Last week, William Upchurch invited me to his Cary farm so that I could learn about their plans for the year. I knew that William would show me something interesting, but I never imagined that his news would be this big. Big and orange, that is. This year, the Upchurch Farm has formed a new partnership with their friend Dr. Milton Ganyard. Dr. Ganyard is an entomologist, or a scientist who studies insects. Years ago, he retired from his job in environmental research to pursue a career in farming with a focus in agritourism. …
  • “NC legislature celebrates Watermelon Day with seed-spitting contest,” The News & Observer: Wednesday was Watermelon Day at the N.C. General Assembly, and while no politicians were willing to join a seed-spitting contest, plenty stopped by to sample the fruit. Among the dignitaries grabbing a slice: Gov. Pat McCrory and House Speaker Tim Moore. McCrory polished off his slice quickly, leaving no specks of pink on the rind. “Holy smokes, you killed that thing,” Moore told the governor, joking that “all we do at the Legislative Building is stand around and eat watermelons.” McCrory added: “That’s why we wear ties.” …
  • “Fighting for agriculture education,” Greenville Daily Reflector: Benjie Forrest dedicated nearly 40 years preparing workers for the state’s No. 1 industry. While he recently retired from that career, his work is hardly done. Forrest spent Wednesday afternoon in Raleigh lobbying the co-chairman of the Senate appropriations committee to discuss educational issues. Today, he will step into his role as a Pitt County school board member to discuss issues with a group of parents. Forrest, 59, retired from his position as eastern regional coordinator of agricultural education and FFA for North Carolina State University in June. On Saturday, agricultural teachers, FFA alumni and friends will gather in Mount Olive for a celebration commemorating Forrest’s contributions to agricultural education in the state. “He’s tireless in wanting to improve education for young people,” said Lewis Forrest, president of the Pitt County FFA Alumni Association and one of the event’s organizers. He is no relation to Benjie Forrest. “He fights the good fight in keeping agriculture education going in our county, on the school board,” Forrest said. …
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