News Roundup: July 25-31

By on July 31, 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.

  • State is preparing for possible avian influenza outbreak, Tryon Daily Bulletin: State Veterinarian Doug Meckes announced additional precautions that are being put in place to help North Carolina prepare for a possible introduction of highly pathogenic avian influenza. The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is requiring all poultry owners, regardless of the number of birds, to register for an NCFarmIDnumber, Meckes said. This will facilitate the department in alerting poultry owners about an outbreak, especially owners in close proximity to a positive farm. Poultry owners can also sign up for a national premises ID number, but it is not required. Anyone already part of the National Poultry Improvement Plan is exempt from this requirement. An online sign-up form will be available after Aug. 1.  …
  • Egg shortage driving up prices in N.C., Wilmington StarNews: If a chicken is too sick to flap its wings in Iowa, egg buyers feel it in North Carolina. An avian influenza outbreak in the Midwest has been forcing farmers to kill their flocks, causing an egg shortage that has pushed prices up across the nation. From May to June, the national price of chicken eggs jumped 84 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At Empire Deli & Bagel in Ogden, that increase pushed owner Steve Burey to temporarily charge peckish customers an extra 25 cents per egg. “The egg prices are through the roof,” Burey said. “You’re talking about a case of eggs that two months ago was $30, is $90 now.” …
  • County works on plan to support economic viability of farming, Shelby Star: Cleveland County farmers contribute more than $94 million to the county’s economy. Smithson Mills, an economic development consultant who focuses on agriculture, said that amount is significantly higher than other Western North Carolina counties. The county has contracted with Mills to help develop a Farmland Preservation Plan. Not only will the plan protect farmland for future use, it will also recommend programs and strategies to support the economic viability of farming. “I’m really impressed with the fact that so many farmers (in Cleveland County) are making a living from agricultural production,” said Mills. “Cleveland County has been far more successful in keeping agriculture as a strong part of the overall economy.” The Farmland Preservation Plan will provide support for the agricultural community and help cultivate the next generation of farmers, said Greg Traywick, Cleveland County Cooperative Extension Director. …
  •  Hops harvest grows in NC as breweries boom, WRAL: This week marks the grand opening of another local Triangle brewery – BlackJack Brewing in Raleigh. The secret to brewing a good beer is knowing what you’re doing and having quality ingredients, according to Brooks Hamaker of BlackJack Brewing. “Hops are very, very important, and depending on the kind of beer you’re making, they can be more important,” Hamaker said. “Hops are one of the major ingredients for beers; they’re part of bittering the beer.” Dan Gridley of Farm Boy Farms is now in his sixth year growing hops. “We can’t grow enough,” Gridley said. “No one can grow enough.” Gridley said much of the growing process is still experimental. North Carolina hop growers are still working to figure out what grows well in the area. …
  • The next big thing for beer could be bugs, NC State scientists say, News & Observer: Bugs and beer: most of us probably don’t see a connection beyond shooing flies away from our pint glasses. But for a group of N.C. State University scientists, bugs may hold the secret to making new, surprising and delicious beers. That’s because yeasts – the single-celled fungi responsible for converting sugar to alcohol in fermented foods like beer and wine – are likely to be found on arthropods like bees, wasps, hornets and beetles, said Anne Madden, a part-time post-doctoral researcher at N.C. State. If these yeasts could be isolated from bugs and successfully cultivated in the lab, she and NCSU professors Rob Dunn and John Sheppard mused, maybe they could be used to brew new kinds of beer. Most commercial beer, including craft brews, is made using different strains of two species of yeast, Madden said. Because yeast can contribute significantly to the flavor of beer – as much as 50 percent by some estimates – a new species could mean new flavors for the increasingly crowded beer marketplace. …
  • North Carolinians’ views split on requirement to register chickens to combat bird flu, Jones + Blount: A decision by the N.C. Agriculture Department to require registration of all North Carolinians who keep chickens, regardless of flock size, is intended to prepare the state to combat avian influenza but is ruffling feathers in some parts of the backyard chicken community. Agricultural officials, who announced the decision July 22, admit that there is a “delicate balance” between unwanted government intrusion and preparation for bird flu, which is not present in North Carolina yet. The department says avian flu has affected 21 states, led to the loss of almost 50 million birds, and cost U.S. taxpayers half a billion dollars so far. “It’s worth noting that the information collected will be used only for animal health purposes and is confidential by law,” department spokesman Brian Long wrote in an email. Backyard chicken enthusiasts, known in some areas as the “urban chicken” movement, are split on the decision.  …
  • Scientists Turning Tide In Battle Against Invasive Hemlock Pest, WUNC: The hunt for the hemlock woolly adelgid begins in an unexpected place, tucked between a golf-course community and the Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary: Hardly the setting for a tree and a pest that prefers cool mountain air. But the trees are here, clinging to a small cup-shaped notch in a north-facing cliff in the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve. “So this is one of those little pockets like this, right in here,” Mark Johns, the Preserve’s operations supervisor, explains, standing on a wooden deck attached to the bluff. “You go over to west overlook, which we could almost throw a rock to, you just can’t see it through all the trees, same thing. Pocket. And there’s a bunch of them there and a bunch of them here and not much in between.” About five years ago, the woolly adelgid showed up on one of these hemlocks.  …
  • Local Campus Farms Help Feed Students, Community, Greensboro News & Record: After a day in the fields, students at the Guilford College Farm are covered in grime, their clothes sweat-soaked. But the fruits of their labor are beautiful. Tomatoes the size of softballs. Carrots with yellow and purple marbling. And crates of psychedelically colored leaves. “Rainbow chard,” David Petree exclaims, peeking into a crate. “That’s a favorite for a lot of grocery stores, because it’s so pretty on the shelf.” Petree is director of Environmental Sustainability at Guilford College, one of several local schools literally nurturing their students and the community through campus farms and gardens. Elsewhere in Greensboro, N.C. A&T has an extensive community agriculture program. Produce from the GTCC garden is donated to the school’s food pantry and set out in the cafeteria. The culinary arts program there also has an herb garden and is experimenting with microgreens. And UNC-Greensboro has a garden with plots used by students, faculty and clubs. …
  • Bill prohibiting local livestock rules sent to McCrory, Asheville Citizen-Times: The House gave final approval Thursday to a bill preventing local governments from regulating the care of farm animals, leaving Gov. Pat McCrory’s signature the last step needed for the bill to become law. The bill sponsored by Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, is a response to rules on the treatment of animals that the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners adopted in January. Commissioners made the rules less restrictive in March after horse owners and others argued that language in the original Buncombe ordinance requiring a three-sided shelter and socialization for horses was unnecessary. …
  • Watermelon contest planting seeds for N.C. farmers, Jones + Blount: On Thursday morning at the North Carolina State Farmers Market, eight of the best farmers in the state came together to find out who had the largest watermelon. Four experienced growers took home the top prizes, but growers of all ages made the contest great. Kenneth A. Davis of Forsyth County had the heaviest melon at 180 pounds. After coming in second in the contest last year, Davis planted seeds from last year’s 187.5-pound mammoth to bring another impressive melon. While this year’s crop was smaller, so was the rest of the competition’s. “I guess we got a little bit luckier this year,” Davis said with a laugh. “This was an impressive crop again, so I’m just happy we were able to come away the winner.” …

 

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