News Roundup

News Roundup: Nov. 28-Dec. 4

By on December 4, 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.

  • “Eyes on the future: Saving WNC’s farms,” Mountain Xpress: Robin Reeves is the sixth generation to grow up on her family’s Madison County farm — a lineage that dates back to before the Civil War. Reeves spent much of her youth helping her parents raise cattle, burley tobacco and tomatoes as well as her extended family in Sandy Mush. As an adolescent, she sold produce to Ingles to earn spending money. “We worked together, we played together. You can’t trade those memories for anything,” remembers Reeves. And after her father, Burder Reeves, passed away in 2009, Robin and her son moved back to the farm from Swannanoa to help her mother keep the family homestead going. But times were tough, and the farm suffered for it. “Financially it was hard, because the tobacco buyout happened, and we weren’t getting that income anymore,” she explains. “It was basically me trying to run the farm alone.” Reeves’ story is a familiar one in North Carolina, a state long defined by its robust agricultural output. According to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the state’s $78 billion agricultural industry employs 16 percent of the workforce. North Carolina leads the nation in tobacco and sweet potato production and ranks second in poultry, Christmas trees, hogs and trout. But encroaching development, the rising cost of land and an aging farming population have put a strain on agricultural pursuits across N.C. And in the mountains, where topography and poor soil conditions already limit the amount of arable land, the loss of farmland is felt even more acutely, says William Hamilton, farmland program director for the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. …
  • “NC scientists savor sweet potatoes,” Charlotte Observer: At Thanksgiving and Christmas meals around the country, millions will say, “Pass the sweet potatoes.” But after the holidays, many people walking through their grocery store’s vegetable section instead will pass by them. “In many parts of the world – South America, Oceania and more – sweet potatoes are well recognized as health-protective, nutritious foods,” Lila said. “But in the USA, so many people miss this benefit because they only think of sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving and Christmas, served up with maple syrup and marshmallows. “The truth is that sweet potatoes are so tremendously versatile and full of health-protective phytoactive compounds that are not appreciated by the general public.” …
  • “Poinsettia and Wine tour a taste of agritourism,” Salisbury Post: On Nov. 17, the Rowan Chamber of Commerce sponsored a Poinsettia and Wine Tour. Our first stop was Rockwell Farms, a greenhouse operation that produces bedding plants, hanging baskets and other flowers for the spring, mums and poinsettias in the fall. This time of year is the slow time for this 23-acre operation. The poinsettia crop only takes up about one-third to one-half of the total greenhouse space. Director of Growing Operations Mima Stoeva took the group on a tour explaining the mechanization of the greenhouses. The heat at Rockwell is in the floor so all of the plants are on the poured concrete floors. The watering system is automated and programmed to water the plants and give them fertilizer at regular intervals. As the poinsettia plants grow, they need more space. …
  • “Local farming families depend on Christmas trees to get through winter,” WGHP: The smell evokes memories from years, decades, even centuries past — the piney ambiance resonating throughout your home. It only comes from one source: Christmas trees. It’s a tell-tale sign that “the most wonderful time of the year” is here, and for tree farmers, that couldn’t hold truer. “Some [people] kind of come in, they know exactly what they’re after,” said Travis Vogt, of C&T Trees in Kernersville. “Some will come over and they’ll look over the whole farm here, the whole field, and go back to the very first one.” C&T Trees is a family operation. They spend the year selling pumpkins, mums and produce from their stand at the corner of Kernersville and Linville Roads. However, as big businesses depend on Black Friday to get in the black, this family depends on the sales of their final crop of the year to do the same. “Yeah, this is a big part of our income for the year,” Vogt said. …
  •  “As China rises, North Carolina, Charlotte leaders look to the east,” Charlotte Observer: That struck them most was the number of cranes: North Carolina leaders who returned two weeks ago from a trade mission to China sounded in awe as they described construction crews raising whole cities from scratch across the vast country. Even though China’s economy isn’t growing as fast as a few years ago, its annual growth rate is still about triple that of the United States. Seeking a safe place to invest, more Chinese businesspeople and firms have started looking to the U.S. – and local leaders say they don’t want to be left out.  …
  • “Bond Package on March Ballot Will Have Direct Benefits to Ag,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) The political season is already on a roll, and in March there will be a bond issue on the primary ballot in North Carolina. Larry Wooten, President and CEO of the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation explains who the beneficiaries would be if the bond issue were to pass: “Fund a wide variety of areas, from the National Guard to the state parks to the State Zoo, to utilities, water and sewer projects across the state. Certainly the Universities and Community Colleges will be beneficiaries of this bond issue. And agriculture, about $179 million in bonds will benefit the Plant Sciences Initiative at North Carolina State, as well as new laboratories and updates to laboratories at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.” …
  • “Novozymes blasts EPA-Obama biofuels decision: They didn’t go all-in,” WRAL: As President Obama huddles with other world leaders to discuss climate change in Paris, his own administration issued new guidelines for ethanol and bioufel production in the U.S. that left at least one major firm with big North Carolina connections fuming. Novozymes, which has a huge operation in Franklinton and is the world’s largest provider of enzymes and other technologies to create biofuels, reacted angrily to new EPA guidelines for biofuel and ethanol production issued Monday. The company wanted the government to require more biofuels but it says the President and the EPA “didn’t go all-in.” Biofuels is a fledgling industry in North Carolina with several companies beyond Novozymes actively involved. For example, RTI International is using a $3 million federal grant for biofuels research; startup Maverick Syngas has developed patented biofuel technology; and a $200 million biofuel plant has been announced for Sampson County. However, in 2013 the North Carolina General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory cut funding for the N.C. Biofuels Center. …
  • “Bayer Encourages Next Generation of Farmers to Apply for Young Farmer Sustainability Award,” PR Newswire: Bayer CropScience is seeking young agricultural producers that demonstrate leadership and excellence in the areas of business and environmental sustainability through the 2016 Young Farmer Sustainability Award. Any farmer or rancher age 40 and under who receives at least half of his or her income from farming and farm-related ventures is eligible to apply. Applications may be accessed and completed online at http://bayercropscience.us/YFSA2016. All applications must be received by January 15, 2016. Award applicants will be judged by a panel of industry experts on the following criteria: their entrepreneurial initiative and adoption of new approaches to farming (50%), their environmental and other on-farm sustainability efforts (30%), and their economic stability and sustainability (20%). The winning entrant will receive a 360 SOILSCAN™ portable soil testing system, an all-expense paid trip to the 2016 Ag Issues Forum and Commodity Classic in New Orleans, and credit towards a Farm Journal learning event. “The next generation of farmers has a tough task ahead of them. They must meet the challenge of supporting a growing population through technology and innovation, and they must do it in a sustainable manner,” said Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP. …
  • “Campaign Aims to Keep Land for Local Farmers,” TWC News: (Video) Every year, tens of thousands of acres of land in North Carolina are lost to development, according to the Carolina Farm Trust, an organization that works to protect farmland, while creating a sustainable ecosystem. Now they’re relying on the public to help purchase land that will help conserve farmland and increase small business. …

 

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