News Roundup

News Roundup: Oct. 31-Nov. 6

By on November 6, 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.

  • “ENC Farmers Cope With Significant Crop Loss,” Public Radio East: (Audio) Agriculture is the number one industry in North Carolina, contributing $78 billion dollars to the State’s economy. Much of the food produced in our state comes from our region, which was recently pounded with heavy rainfall, accumulating to more than 20 inches in some areas. It’s an agricultural crisis here… Director of the State Farm Service Agency Bob Etheridge estimates millions of dollars worth of damages in eastern North Carolina. “Every county east of I-95 but one sent in indication of damage with this storm. So that tells you what the impact is going to be in terms of loss once we get the numbers in. And it ranged anywhere from 10 to 50 percent in some counties depending on the commodity, whether it was cotton or peanuts or soybeans, etc.” October is when most farmers harvest their crops. But the soggy fields have made it difficult for farmers like Kenneth Fann. “Potatoes I guess particularly were the hardest hit. We had 12 days of rain which gave us at least two weeks that we practically couldn’t do anything in the fields as far as harvest goes.” …
  • “Henderson County serves as host to sod companies,” Greensboro News & Record:  It’s virtually everywhere. In front of homes, businesses, parks and on ballfields. It’s an important agricultural commodity in Henderson County, though it mostly flies under the radar, with just two growers calling the county home. But those two producers grow more than 1,200 acres of sod annually in the county, producing tens of millions of square feet of grass that will be planted along streets and driveways, in subdivisions and on golf courses across the Southeast. Super Sod, a division of Patten Seed Company, operates in North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina. In Henderson County, Super Sod produces hundreds of acres of sod. Together with Hendersonville-based Turf Mountain, nearly 1,000 acres of sod is being cut per year in the county. …
  • “Dining ready for Thanksgiving turkey shortage,” NCSU Technician: Thanksgiving is approaching and Executive Catering Chef at NC State Mack Bell expressed some concerns about an eventual shortage in turkeys because of avian flu breakout in the Midwest. However, the dining halls secured their birds early and should have no problem providing turkey dishes at the annual Thanksgiving Dinner Nov. 12. University Dining has anticipated a possible unavailability of products through management of its supply chain. “We are in anticipation in case of potential shortages,” said Randy Lait, senior director of Hospitality Services. In order to have Thanksgiving turkeys, University Dining has been working closely with its distributors. “We have been working with our food distributor and our group purchasing organization to minimize the impact to our campus through supply chain management agreements and stockpiling certain products when supplies were more plentiful,” Lait said. NC State University deals with a local distributor, US Foodservice, which buys its turkeys fresh from Butterball, the largest vertically integrated American turkey producers based in Mount Olive, North Carolina. …
  • “County receives state agriculture grant,” Burlington Times-News: Alamance County and the Association for the Preservation of the Eno River in Orange County are among 18 recipients of grants from the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. Another grant will facilitate an economic impact study for the development of value-added soybeans in Alamance County. The fund recently awarded more than $1.7 million to help communities across the state protect farmland and promote agricultural enterprises, state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said. “The trust fund was able to fund 18 projects this year,” Troxler said. “The conservation easements, agricultural projects and plans will help to solidify agriculture and agribusiness as North Carolina’s top industry.” …
  • “Online game develops ag literacy,” Agriview.com: National Geographic and Bayer CropScience recently released “Top Crop: Farming for the Future,” an interactive online game that aims to increase national agricultural literacy through educating students on the basics of what it takes to produce crops. Through a series of virtual growing seasons, game players will experience various in-season challenges farmers face, such as pests, disease and weather. They will also learn about multiple modern technologies available to farmers to help them overcome those challenges. “At National Geographic, we’re committed to educating tomorrow’s explorers, scientists, engineers and farmers about the world and how it works, and this ‘Top Crop’ game is a great example of how we can teach kids about the challenges and solutions farmers face in the real world through a fun and interactive game,” National Geographic Chief Education Officer Melina Bellows said. …
  • “Sunburst offshoot brings aquaponics to West Asheville,” Asheville Citizen-Times: A 13,800-square-foot greenhouse in a neighborhood off Leicester Highway seems an unlikely place to find a school of tilapia. But the fish will soon serve as a living linchpin of commercial revitalization at Smith Mill Works, a 27-acre West Asheville property in a process of financial and environmental recovery since its original industry, farming, faded 15 years ago. Sunburst Chef and Farmer, the aquaponics offshoot project by Sally Eason of Canton’s Sunburst Trout Farms, chef Charles Hudson and others, has leased a greenhouse on the property with plans to build an aquaponics farm there. Aquaponics, a symbiotic system of raising fish and plants, can produce a city’s worth of food in a surprisingly tiny space with just a fraction of the water of conventional farming. Most plants will grow on floating islands set in basins of triple-filtered fish-waste water, also known as brown water. Local restaurants should benefit from a bounty of microgreens and vegetables include lacinato kale, romaine lettuce and tomatoes. Eventually, Sunburst Chef and Farmer should have tilapia and possibly striped bass for sale as well. But for now, the first microgreens should be ready for sale in a matter of days. The tiny sprouts are a harbinger of big things to come. …
  • “In face of embargo, NC working for more Cuba trade,” WRAL: (Video) A month after a North Carolina trade delegation visited Cuba, members of the group are working to find ways to move forward in rebuilding the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba. Agricultural officials and members of the North Carolina Farm Bureau toured farms and markets to get a better idea of the crops Cuban farmers produce and the challenges they face. North Carolina already exports poultry and apples to Cuba, but as the U.S. and Cuba continue restoring diplomatic relations, farmers want to see more trade between the countries. “Trade goes two ways,” said Peter Daniel, assistant to the president of the N.C. Farm Bureau. “We think about selling stuff to Cuba, but Cuba is going to be trying and wanting to sell things and export things to the United States.” …
  • “Disease Spreads Among Bees As Green Space Becomes Scarce,” WUNC: N.C. State University researchers have found that bees are more susceptible to diseases in areas where there’s more pavement and less green space. Entomologist Dave Tarpy co-authored a report in the journal PLOS ONE. It compared the levels of pathogens in both wild bees and those tended to by bee keepers. “In both the feral and the managed bee colonies, there tended to be higher levels of diseases with increased urbanization. So they both had higher levels of disease in the inner cities.” Tarpy says bees are important pollinators for food, so it’s important to understand what’s threatening them. But there are interventions that can be taken. …
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