News Roundup

News Roundup: Jan. 23-29

By on January 29, 2016

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.

  • “Johnston Co. May Have Competition On Proposed CSX Project,” Time Warner Cable News: “At the end of the day it’s a great project,” said Johnston County Director of Economic Development, Chris Johnson. Johnson says his region has been hit tremendously over the past 25 years with the loss of manufacturing, textile and tobacco jobs. “We’ve never really recovered along the I-95 corridor and east after that. So this is just a tremendous, tremendous shot in the arm for a county that really needs it,” said Johnson. During last Wednesday’s meeting, Johnston County commissioners and many residents say they don’t support eminent domain, leaving officials at CSX without a piece of land for their new cargo hub — and now neighboring Wayne County wants in on the conversation. “We know there can be up to 300 temporary construction employees as well as 300 permanent employees and that’s very attractive to Wayne County,” said Wayne County Development Alliance Director Crystal Gettys. …
  • “When A Chicken Farm Moves Next Door, Odor May Not Be The Only Problem,” NPR: (Audio) North Carolina is one of the country’s largest poultry producers — and getting bigger. Large-scale chicken farms are spreading across the state. Government regulations have allowed these farms to get much closer to where people live. That’s not just a nuisance. Neighbors say it’s also a potential health hazard. Craig Watts is an industrial chicken farmer in Fairmont, N.C. He contracts with Perdue and has raised birds for more than 20 years. Still, he says sometimes it’s a struggle to meet the demands of the industry. “They don’t have to spend 24/7 with that chicken and have to deal with its waste. I deal with it and that kind of stuff. It’s a good situation for them,” Watts says. His birds produce 700 tons of poultry waste each year, and he’s responsible for it. It’s spread in nearby fields and sold to farmers for fertilizer. Watts’ operation is one of thousands of confined animal feeding operations in the state. These large-scale chicken farms are popping up near residential areas in western North Carolina, especially in Surry County. That worries residents Terry and Mary Marshall. “Your throat starts to hurt — you know you are in it,” Terry says. “It smells like a lot of ammonia, and sometimes, just dead rotting meat.” …
  • “Saving North Carolina’s wild ginseng from poachers,” Charlotte Observer: The clamor for wild ginseng can make people do wild and crazy things. The History Channel’s “Appalachian Outlaws” has chronicled daring, illegal ginseng poaching schemes on public and private land – to the dismay of many conservationists. Officials at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of North Carolina say that rangers at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park seize between 500 and 1,000 illegally poached ginseng roots each year. State researchers recently got new energy in their ultimate quest to reduce over-harvesting and poaching, thanks to a $98,872 grant UNC Asheville received from the N.C. Biotechnology Center. …
  • “NC hog farms counter environmentalists with TV advertising,” The News & Observer: North Carolina’s hog farmers are pushing back against a billboard campaign by environmentalists last year by launching a six-figure ad drive across the state. N.C. Farm Families, an organization that formed last fall with funding from the N.C. Pork Council and others, is buying time for a pair of ads that have begun on TV, radio, newspapers and social media. The message defends the farmers’ environmental record and emphasizes their importance to the state’s economy. Federal Communications Commission records show the group contracted with WRAL for $95,000 and WRAZ for $5,000. Ed Emory, chairman of Farm Families, said Monday the total ad buy would be somewhere close to that amount. A request to buy additional time on WTVD has also been filed, without a specific dollar amount. …
  • “Tobacco Goes Co-Op: Our Q&A with the U.S. Tobacco Cooperative,” CSPnet.com: Local, farm-to-table and co-op have been big buzzwords for consumers in recent years, from the success of Whole Foods to the rise in Community Supported Agriculture programs (commonly known as CSAs). Shoppers are increasingly interested in knowing where their products come from and are willing to pay a premium for it. But can this trend really make its way into the tobacco fields? The U.S. Tobacco Cooperative (USTC) thinks so. Established in 1946, the Raleigh, N.C.-based company is fully owned by 850 tobacco growers. Though USTC was around long before the popularity of the local movement, it only recently went from just growing tobacco to also manufacturing tobacco products with the 2007 launch of USTC’s 1839 cigarette line. It followed that move up with more house brands and the acquisition of Premier Manufacturing Inc., Chesterfield, Mo. To better understand the potential retail benefit of the tobacco co-op model, Tobacco E-News sat down for a Q&A session with USTC’s chief executive officer Stuart Thompson. …
  • “Up and Down Temperatures Taking a Toll on Farmers,”  Time Warner Cable News: (Video) Sporadic temperatures are making it difficult for farmers across the state. After farming for more than four decades, Rhonda Ingram has learned one thing. “You just have to be ready to take whatever Mother Nature throws at you, and deal with it, because it’s going to be ever constantly changing,” she said. This winter has been no exception. “Remember for 2016 with strawberries, we actually planted them in October,” Ingram said. “Does anyone remember October? Wet, wet, with a little more wet, and then some more wet, so we’ve done battle from the beginning.” With unseasonably warm temperatures, then our recent round of cold weather, and now back to mild conditions, it’s a wait and see approach. “I’m hoping that with our warm ups, sudden changes, the plants aren’t going to fully awaken,” Ingram said. “A lot of it will have to do with your nighttime temperatures. The ground is cool, so hopefully it will keep things nice and quiet.” …
  • “NC State’s CALS Continues to Move Forward,”  Southern Farm Network: (Audio) It’s been about four years since the NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences split into two separate colleges, with the new one named the College of Science, focusing on pure science disciplines. Dean of NC State CALS, Dr. Richard Linton says the restructuring is complete, and both entities are moving forward: “When I first arrived on campus, in fact six months before I came, there was the formation of a new college on the NC State campus called the College of Sciences. And when that happened there were four departments that were dissolved in my college, that was Toxicology, Biology, Microbiology and Genetics. And what happened there, there were 44 faculty members that left our college and went across the street to form a new college, and we kept 19 of those faculty across those four departments. We then strategized about what the new college would look like, we strategized about how to move those 19 faculty members into existing departments and the creation of a new department, but we also starting formulating ‘what’s our future going to be’? And we focus right now on three big initiatives, the most important and biggest one is the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative. We also have an initiative for food manufacturing and food processing, and then another for food animal products, which is our number one industry that we support.” …
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