News Roundup: Sept. 19-25

By on September 25, 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.

  • “Southern fairs won’t press broiler industry’s bird flu luck,Minnesota Public Radio News: The South is the heart of U.S. broiler chicken production and escaped the deadly bird flu virus that devastated flocks in the Midwest this spring. Autumn, however, brings the possibility that migrating wild birds will carry the virus to the lower half of the U.S. To try to keep bird flu at arm’s length, a number of states are barring or limiting poultry shows and public sales, including those at state fairs in September and October — something their northern neighbors did this summer. That’s forcing kids who’ve worked for months to raise and qualify poultry at fairs to get creative with their exhibits. “We want to be cautious because our industry is so huge,” Mississippi State University Extension Service poultry science instructor Jessica Wells said of the state, which is the No. 5 broiler producer in the U.S. …
  • “Bee supporters press to curb use of pesticides,” News & Observer: If companies won’t stop making a certain group of pesticides that can kill honeybees and other pollinators, and if growers won’t stop applying the chemicals to seeds and fields, consumers will have to force change by refusing to buy the foods produced from the yields, environmentalists said Saturday. “Be an activist with every bite,” Tony Cleese, a longtime advocate for organic agriculture in North Carolina, told about three dozen people gathered for a rally on the Capitol grounds Saturday morning. The event was organized by Toxic Free NC, Friends of the Earth, SumOfUs.org and other groups that say the overuse of pesticides is killing bees and may threaten humans.  …
  • “Local hard cider scene is red hot,” Asheville Citizen-Times: Asheville beer is famous around the country, but local craft cider is exploding in popularity and sales. Western North Carolina is home to six of the state’s 17 craft cider makers. A seventh cidery, Virginia’s Bold Rock, soon will open its expansion operation in Mills River and will become the region’s largest producer with dozens of jobs and more to come. And with a new location and taproom in Asheville, Noble Cider is looking to substantially increase production and market share. An Asheville cider festival in November will celebrate the industry. Many of the hard cider makers are fairly small operations with a handful of employees and sell their product just on draft, but some have plans to add packages for sale in stores. …
  • “NC Investigators Narrow Contaminated Blister Beetle Hay to 500 Bales,” Rate my Horse Pro: After six horses died from eating alfalfa contaminated with blister beetles, North Carolina officials say they have determined a single load of 500 bales from Kansas was the source of the problem. The hay was delivered the Murphy Hay and Feed in Louisburg on August 11th.
    The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services confirms the bales from the tainted load were bound with a reddish-orange twine. Murphy Farm Hay and Feed sold much of the hay at retail. The alfalfa was also distributed to Jones Farm Hay and Feed in Middlesex. No other North Carolina locations received hay from this Kansas farm. …
  • “NC Farm Offering Customers Opportunity to Pick Their Own Muscadine Grapes,” TWC News: (Video) This fall, one North Carolina farm is doing something new and different to attract visitors. Casie Ingram’s family has been farming in High Point for more than a century. “The farm’s been in our family since the 1800s,” she said. “It’s been passed down. I am the fourth generation that’s farmed here. I love it, I wouldn’t do anything different.” With the demise of tobacco several years ago, the family needed a Plan B to save their farm. “They transitioned into strawberries,” Ingram said. John Ivey with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, said that a lot of the tobacco farmers who got out during the buyout are looking for the most economical way to keep their farm in production. “We’re seeing a shift to vegetable and fruit production,” said Ivey. The Ingrams are now offering “pick your own” muscadine and scuppernong grapes. …
  • Cover crops, no-till shine in drought year,” Southeast Farm Press: Ever since he started farming in 2012, Russell Hedrick of Hickory, N.C. has used a combination of no-till and multi-species cover crops to build soil health and increase yields. The system has worked well for him for the past three years but is really proving its merit this year when heat and drought has devastated crops in North Carolina’s Piedmont. “We’ve only had four inches of rain. We’re really dry,” Hedrick said on Aug. 21, as his corn was nearing the dent stage. “We’re hoping to average 110 bushels per acre this year. The insurance company insured my neighbor out at nine bushels per acre. Cover crops really saved us this year.” This has been the hottest and driest year the 30-year old farmer has faced in his four years of full-time farming. …
  • “Small Flock Owners Receptive to NCDA Meetings,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Earlier this month there was series of meetings across the state for backyard and small flock owners to talk about bird flu. Dr. Sarah Mason, director of poultry animal health programs with NCDA says the turnout was good: “We had a very good attendance and a lot of questions. The bird owners were curious about the disease and the risks. They wanted to know ways they could protect their birds.” Earlier in the summer, NCDA asked that all flock owners, small and large, register their flocks with the department strictly as an avenue to disseminate information. Mason says most people that attended the meetings were receptive to that concept. …
  • “Goat Lady Dairy celebrates 20 years,” Winston-Salem Journal: When Ginnie Tate started raising and milking goats in the Piedmont in the late 1980s, some folks thought it a little peculiar.
    They called her the Goat Lady. But her brother Steve Tate didn’t think raising goats odd. He moved to North Carolina with his wife, Lee, to help his sister start a goat dairy. They purchased an old farm between Climax and Liberty and in 1995, Goat Lady Dairy opened and became one of only a handful of licensed goat dairies in the state. …
  • Biogas A Possible Victim Of Renewable Rollbacks,”  WUNC: (Audio) To a visitor, the hog houses down a dusty dirt road outside Magnolia, North Carolina look like any other hog houses. Here in Duplin County, there are low-slung buildings like this one around every bend, filled with hundreds of thousands of hogs. But this facility is different—just how different can be found down the hill behind the building. Manure, flowing from the hog house, falls out of a pipe and into an open-air cement tank. From here, it goes to a much larger, circular, blue tank called a digestor. “It’s basically an indoor lagoon, is what it is,” says Wiley Williams, the operations manager for Revolution Energy Solutions. On a typical farm, hog manure goes into a lagoon, separates, and then gets sprayed out onto fields. Here, Revolution Energy Solutions takes the manure from ten hog houses and sends it to two digestors. The methane is then separated, captured and pumped through underground pipes a few hundred yards away to a circular, inflatable storage facility. There, it goes into a generator, where it is burned to make enough electricity for about 800 homes. …
  • “Veteran farmers thrive with USDA, DoD partnership,” Fayetteville Observer: As Ed Spence was growing up in Harnett County, he dreamed of nothing more than escaping his family’s farm. It was hard work and he’d had enough. So at 18, he joined the Marine Corps. He left the farm to fight in Vietnam and Desert Storm. After 24 years, he retired as a master gunnery sergeant. Spence’s life came full circle in 2010 when he decided to start his own farm to establish a sustainable career. “I didn’t know about soil or crop insurance,” said Spence, who is 61. “I’m a small farmer. I knew nothing.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which seeks veterans to start their own farms and ranches, provided Spence with the resources and classes he needed to launch his own farm in Spring Lake. A partnership between the USDA and the Department of Defense has expanded to ensure service members know there are loans, grants, training and technical assistance for careers in agriculture. …
  • “Counting down the days to The North Carolina Seafood Festival,” WCTI: The North Carolina Seafood Festival is a week away and local fishermen are already catching fresh fish for the big weekend. The festival, presented by the NC Department of Agriculture, is celebrating its 29th year. This year it’s expected that over 200,000 people will addend the Morehead City festival from October 2nd – 4th. The festival is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help strengthen the local economy, community, and fishing industry by supporting local seafood. A mission Morehead City local Mindy Fitzpatrick is passionate about. Fitzpatrick has worked with the festival for the past four years but this year she’s the festival chair. She said this year the Chef’s tent will be opening a day early….
  • “Cuba could be new outlet for North Carolina agriculture business,” WTVD: On Sunday, a delegation of North Carolina farmers, agribusiness executives, state agriculture officials and NC State University officials is headed to Cuba. They are hoping it is the first step in trying to sell the country agricultural products. Analysts believe Cuba could become a $2 billion a year market for American farm products. ABC11 traveled to a farm outside Havana to examine what kind of reception the group from North Carolina can expect and what kinds of opportunities they may find to boost the North Carolina economy. …
  • “Devastating avian flu threatens state,” Asheville Citizen-Times: North Carolina has stepped up measures to protect the state’s poultry industry from an avian flu that devastated farms in the West and Midwest over the summer and caused egg prices to as much as double in one week in some parts of the country. A similar outbreak in sprawling chicken farms in the eastern part of the state and in smaller Western North Carolina operations could also affect Thanksgiving and Christmas tables — and even have worldwide implications on the food supply. The disease is not transferrable to people and does not contaminate meat or meat products, but has proved to be a swift-moving bird killer. “It’s the largest single disease outbreak that’s come to the United States,” said N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services State Veterinarian Dr. R. Douglas Meckes. …
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