News Roundup: Aug. 8-14

By on August 14, 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.

  • “N.C. Farm School: Seven-month program helping to produce a new generation of farmers,” Salisbury Post: Rolling pastures, grazing cattle, tobacco curing, homegrown tomatoes and fresh cut hay take us back to a time that seems almost forgotten. The key phrase here is “almost forgotten.” North Carolina has a rich history of agriculture, and it remains the No. 1 industry in the state, even today. But it faces many challenges. There are a few agriculture agents from the N.C. Cooperative Extension who believe they have a plan to make farming a common vocation again — and a successful one at that. Some N.C., farms that have been operating for more than a century, and they are facing a new dilemma — no one to take over. People with no farming backgrounds are inheriting land, and with a future of 9.2 billion people in the world and not enough farms to supply the demand for food, it makes it pretty scary to think about. So what are we to do? This is where an agency that has over 100 years of experience comes in to develop and create the new farming generation. To address this dire situation, the N.C .Farm School was born. It is a seven-month program teaching new and transitioning farmers about business practices, along with modern and traditional farming aspects. Its aim: establishing farmers who can grow and produce for another century. …
  • “N.C. wine industry has $1.71 billion impact on economy,” Triangle Business Journal: If you are a fan of wine, you might want to toast a new report that shows the Tar Heel State’s wine and grape industry contributed $1.71 billion to the economy. That’s a 33.6 percent increase from 2009 to 2013. “It is encouraging to see continued growth in the wine and grape industry, not only for our wineries, but also for our grape growers,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “More than 77 percent of all wine produced in North Carolina comes from North Carolina grapes.” The report was commissioned by the N.C. Wine and Grape Council, and was conducted by Frank, Rimerman + Co., using data from 2013. Tourism in North Carolina between 2009 and 2013 increased by 65 percent to $257 million, and the number of tourists visiting North Carolina wineries increased by nearly 500,000 people during that time. …
  • “NC craft beer industry now tops in the South,” News & Observer: Want to make people in North Carolina’s craft-beer world laugh? Tell them this: In 2005, when the North Carolina legislature was considering a bill that would raise the limit on alcohol in beer, one of the sponsors said a microbrewing industry could potentially create 300 jobs. That was off by 2,700 jobs. And that’s just the number working in North Carolina’s 132 craft breweries. If you add related jobs, including servers, delivery truck drivers, beer shop cashiers and hop and barley growers, Erik Lars Myers, president of the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild, says the number is closer to 10,000. Two years ago, Mecklenburg County was grabbing attention with seven independently owned breweries. Today, there are 18. With estimates that at least 15 more are in the works, Fortune.com recently declared that Charlotte now contends with Asheville as the hub of craft brewing in North Carolina. …
  • “Developing peanut varieties an ongoing challenge,” Southeast Farm Press: Developing peanut varieties is a challenge because plant breeders have to meet the needs of growers, shellers and processors which is hard to do, says North Carolina State University Peanut Breeder Tom Isleib. “The growers want good yield and good grade because that makes them money. They’d like to have disease resistance so they don’t have to spend so much controlling diseases. The shellers are more interested in pod characteristics and the size and shape and brightness of the hulls. The processors are the ones who tend to be the most concerned about composition and flavor,” Isleib said in a paper presented July 15 at the annual meeting of the American Peanut Research and Education Society in Charleston, S.C. Through it all, N.C. State is now committed to releasing only high oleic cultivars, Isleib said. …
  • “NC Commissioner’s 11th Annual Food Safety Forum to Focus on AI,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) The 11th Annual Food Safety Forum is coming up next week. It’s a different theme this year than previous years. North Carolina Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler. “It will take place on August 18th from 9-12:30 in the Expo Center at the State Fairgrounds and is sponsored by Harris Teeter. We will focus on the Avian Influenza and the impact that it will have on the world’s food supply and how serious it is. How it will not just affect one bird, but the entire flock.” …
  • “Drought In Charlotte And Mecklenburg County,” WFAE: (Audio) Despite a wet spring, Charlotte, and much of North Carolina, is in drought – in fact – the worst drought since 2011. The effect of this extends beyond your brown, crisp lawn. The region’s crops are stressed, livestock is being affected and lake levels are low and declining. We’re being asked to voluntarily conserve water, as well. We examine the impact of this hot, dry summer and look ahead to what happens if this drought persists. …
  • “This year’s apple crop ‘a mixed bag’ due to weather,” Hendersonville Times-News: Henderson County’s apple crop is lighter this year, county Cooperative Extension Director Marvin Owings said, thanks to cold temperatures this spring and poor pollination. “It’s a mixed bag this year because of the frost and freeze we got those first two weekends in April,” he said. Also, a week of rain hampered pollination during a full bloom. That means growers may have to spot-pick three times, raising labor costs. “It’s a little lighter than a normal crop,” Owings said, adding that it will be September before it’s known exactly how the fruit is going to pick. …
  • “1st restocked Iowa turkey farmer talks lessons from bird flu,” WRAL: Thousands of small young turkeys ran around the barns on the Moline family farm Monday near Manson, the first Iowa farm to restock birds after a bird flu outbreak decimated flocks in the Midwest. Owner Brad Moline, who farms with his father and brother, said it’s a sign the industry is turning the page on an outbreak in which about 48 million birds died from the virus or where euthanized to prevent its spread.The virus spread to the Midwest in the spring, affect 15 states, with Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska losing the most birds. …
  • “Local u-pick orchards embrace growing pains,” Hendersonville Times-News: The McDowells make a yearly trip to Western North Carolina from their home in Davie, Fla., just outside Miami, but Monday was Finn’s first time picking apples atop Pinnacle Mountain at Sky Top Orchard. They hadn’t yet made it to the playground and bamboo forest, but Cameron McDowell said Finn and his younger brother, 10-month-old Rhett, loved it so far. The McDowells are one of the hundreds of families that will make the visit to Sky Top Orchard and others around the county this year, part of the growth in agritourism that has prompted u-pick apple orchards to expand rapidly in the county in the past few years, adding extras like playgrounds, corn mazes and food sales. …
  • “Blackland Farm Managers Tour focuses on high yields,” Southeast Farm Press: The 45th Blackland Farm Managers Tour drew a big crowd of 450 people to Circle Grove Seeds and Haslin Farms in Belhaven, N.C. Aug. 5. The Blackland tour is considered the preeminent field day in North Carolina and this year the focus was primarily on achieving top yields. In the morning session, North Carolina State University scientists discussed the importance of fertility, drainage and weed, disease and insect management to achieve top yields. The need for soil sampling was emphasized while concern about stink bugs transferring from wheat to corn was addressed. In addition, ongoing concerns about palmer Amaranth and limited control options were discussed. …
  • “Preparations for Avian Influenza Continue,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Recently a conference was held in Des Moines, Iowa regarding highly pathogenic avian influenza, primarily to benefit states that were spared the last round in late winter and early spring. Dr. Doug Meckes, State Veterinarian for the State of North Carolina and members of his team attended the conference: “The first thing we learned is that we are very well equipped to depopulate birds. We have used our foaming machines to train and depopulate birds during some recent events. The key to stopping the spread of this disease is rapid depopulation and rapid disposal of carcasses.” Meckes found that North Carolina was unique in another way as well: “We have our emergency program division that has first responders and veterinarians who have responded in emergencies across the state. And we have environmental experts who will help us to be mindful of disposal of carcasses and poultry so that its done in an environmentally friendly way should the virus come into our state.” …
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