News Roundup: Feb. 20-26

By on February 26, 2016

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.

  • “N.C. Distillers Association Blazes a Trail of Its Own,” The Huffington Post: Scot Sanborn stood behind the bar and concentrated on a drinking glass. He wiped it clean and carefully laid the glass on the bar, alongside another just like it. He pointed at each glass and counted in silence, save for the soft jazz that came from a speaker set high in the corner of the candle-lit room. He glanced toward Moose — a 6-year-old Goldendoodle incessantly searching for attention — took a deep breath and smiled. “It’s a dream come true,” says Sanborn, owner of Sutler’s Spirit Co., which is tucked inside a building that’s part of the once-gritty-now-trendy West End Mill Works district in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It was Saturday evening, and Sanborn was preparing to host a tour — fully booked. Sutler’s — named for the purveyors of alcohol and other goods who traveled with soldiers — makes small-batch gin, which for now is available only in North Carolina, and rum, which ages in charred white oak Bourbon barrels — new and used — stacked along a wall near the distillery bar. Made with sugar cane syrup and molasses in a copper still crafted in Portugal, the rum will hit market when it’s ready — when Sanborn is ready; probably in six to eight months, he says. The Winston-Salem distillery is a member of the N.C. Distillers Association and just one of about 30 stops on the state’s Craft Distillers Trail, a partnership with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. …
  • “National Weather Service Confirms EF2 Tornado in Granville County with 125 MPH Winds,” WTVD: (Video) The National Weather Service says it has confirmed an EF-2 tornado touched down in the Oxford area of Granville County Wednesday with winds reaching 125mph. It happened in the Huntsboro community near the Henderson-Oxford airport. At least a dozen homes were damaged – some completely destroyed. Amazingly, nobody was hurt. Crews are working to board up houses, and there has been a constant flow of neighbors stopping by to help with the cleanup. They’ve been rummaging through the piles of debris, looking for anything they can salvage. “It looks like a war zone or something. It’s just one of the things I’ve never seen before,” resident Wayne Overton said. Down the road from the damaged homes is the Sears Dairy farm. Two silos were destroyed, and roofs and a tractor damaged. Mary Genia Day was emotional seeing her father’s farm for the first time since the powerful storm Thursday. The farm has been in her family since 1943. …
  • “Farmer’s Market Connects People to Food and Growers in Burlington,” Time Warner Cable News: (Video) The area outside of Burlington’s North Park,like other neighborhoods around the city limits, has a shortage of grocery options. “We recognize the way our city is situated that we have food deserts that form the perimeter of the city,” said Ann Meletzke, executive director of Healthy Alamance. The farmer’s market planned for this space is part of the solution to help connect people living within a food desert to the source of fresh, homegrown produce. “That gives us the ability to sell to folks that have SNAP benefits or sometimes wouldn’t be able to purchase some of our produce,” said Matt Ballard, manager of Benevolence Farm. Impact Alamance chipped in providing a $40,000 grant to build a shelter for the market. Organizers expect the investment to pay off benefiting shoppers, farmers, and the neighborhood as a whole. “We definitely see it as a public health initiative to be able to provide access to local produce within a food desert. We also see it as an opportunity to do neighborhood revitalization,” said Meletzke. …
  • “Another Kind of Hog Farm,” North Carolina Health News: The squealing and grunting grew louder. The pigs stomped the ground with their hooves and, as dust rose through the air, banged their snouts against a metal grating. As the rattling and shrieks grew more insistent, Mildred Betancourth stepped aside. “I need to feed them,” she said. Moments later, a yellowish meal came streaming to the ground from a series of Y-shaped pipes hanging from above. “They’re always hungry.” The pigs grew quiet. With their faces dipped toward the cold floor, they began to munch, content for now. The tour continued. Betancourth was leading the way through a series of large hoop houses, each filled with pigs being raised for pork. The pigs varied in age, color, size and spotting patterns, and by all outward appearances they acted conventionally, with their squeals and snout-driven foraging. Yet their living conditions were anything but conventional. The five hoop houses are part-research facility, part-demonstration for the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, a research center run by three partners: N.C. State University, N.C. Agricultural & Technical State University and the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The goal of the 142-animal operation is to show how hogs can be raised without antibiotics in a way that grants them enough space to roam – and that keeps their waste out of open-air lagoons. …
  • “Now is the time to start thinking about CSAs,” Winston-Salem Journal: Q: What is a CSA? I hear people using these initials when talking about fresh-produce boxes. Answer: It stands for community supported agriculture. It is a mechanism for people to purchase locally grown products and to support small farmers. It is a practice that started because small farmers need to raise capital before the growing season and the desire of families to eat locally grown produce, meat, eggs, and jam. …
  • “Fresh off the farm mattresses, made in Mebane,” Greensboro News & Record: The soft, white wad Kevin Damewood of Kingsdown mattress company held in his hand looked like cotton. But looks can be deceiving. “The mattress industry does, in typical places, use words like ‘cotton,’” said Damewood, executive vice president for sales and marketing at Kingsdown, a 112-year-old employee-owned mattress company based in Mebane. “But in that term is a lot of other stuff.” That “stuff” — chemicals, glue, polyester and other synthetic materials commonly used in mattress making — is what Kingsdown is avoiding in one line it recently debuted, Diamond Royale. …
  • “Officials detail ag initiatives, opportunities,” Hendersonville Times-News: Big opportunities are in the works for agriculture, which could lead to a shot in the arm for North Carolina’s economy, ag officials told a crowd Monday at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center. Area farmers, Cooperative Extension agents and others packed the center to hear from the new Extension director and the dean of North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture about the future, and to discuss their concerns. The Connect NC Bond could bring $179 million in investment in agriculture, including a new state-of-the-art Plant Sciences Center at the NCSU campus and a food manufacturing and processing initiative, according to NCSU staff who presented information on the initiatives. Richard Linton, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, told the crowd in Mills River Monday that the bond could mean big things for the university, the Extension and the state. …
  • “Rainy weather has farmers worried about getting ready for a new season,” WNCT: A wet winter means a lot of muddy fields across eastern North Carolina. And all of the mud is really slowing down farmers from getting their fields ready for the new growing season. Andy McLawhorn, farmer and owner of Renston Farm Market, weighs in: “Time is critical. It’s one of the most important factors in having a good crop, and now’s the time to get your land ready.” And time is not on McLawhorn’s side. Even after a few dry days, some of his fields are still too wet to till. “You should not work the soil when it’s wet because the clods get hard, the dirt,” says McLawhorn. “You disturb the texture of the soil and it stays bad all season.” …
  • “Bold prophecy: North Carolina corn to see record-breaking year in 2016,” Southeast Farm Press: Ron Heiniger has proclaimed 2016 as “the year of the corn” because he believes this is the year North Carolina farmers will make a statewide record yield of 150 bushels per acre. “I’m saying right here today we are going to have a statewide record corn yield of 150 bushel to the acre. That means we have to have good corn not just in one part of the state, but every place in the state. Furthermore, I’m going to say that somebody in this state, probably sitting in this room quite frankly, is going to make 400 bushels per acre corn and record it in a yield contest,” said Heiniger, the North Carolina State University Extension corn specialist at an Extension Road Show production meeting at the Vernon James Research and Extension Center in Plymouth January 28. At the meeting, Heiniger laid out his evidence for why he believes 2016 will be a record year for corn farmers in North Carolina. The main driving factor, Heiniger stressed, is the El Nino weather pattern which should make for ideal corn growing conditions in the state. “The weather forecast is money in the bank right now. This is an El Nino season,” Heiniger said. El Nino means warm temperatures in the central Pacific and it impacts the weather globally. For North Carolina, it makes for a wet, cool fall and winter extreme, an extreme warm and dry spring and an extreme dry late summer. For corn, this is a good thing, Heiniger said. …
  • “Agriculture commissioner visits with students,” Yadkin Ripple: Yadkin County fourth-graders gathered at Yadkinville Elementary school on Friday to hear from North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. Troxler also spoke later in the day with county middle and high school students. Troxler spoke to the students about the NC Farm to School program which provides locally-grown fruits and vegetables for school lunches. Last year, 80 school systems across the state participated in the nationally-recognized program, purchasing $1.4 million worth of North Carolina grown produce. Cindy Marion, director of child nutrition for Yadkin County Schools, said it is a tremendous program for the school system and she was pleased the students also got the chance to meet the NC commissioner of agriculture. …
  • “Time to Fish or Cut Bait on Winter Wheat,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) The time has come when farmers with winter wheat need to make the decision to fish or cut bait…manage the crop for grain harvest, or call it a cover crop and move on. Regional Agronomist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Don Nicholson: “We’ve had so much rain in the late fall, early winter, for those that got the crop in are at wits end right now, some of them are trying to get some nitrogen to the crop to get it to tiller out, and have enough tillers out there to expect a profitable yield.” But, says Nicholson, some producers have managed to get some nitrogen on wheat, and it shows: “The crop is responding to it. when they started you could see plenty of soil down through the rows in the wheat that had been drilled, and the ones that had some nitrogen on it, back in January or early February. the crop has responded to it, and we’ve had a few sunny days, and not necessarily warm sunny days, but we’ve had some sunny days and the crop has responded to it, the folks that have it, they’ve got to get something out there. We’ve had so much rain, what little bit of residual nitrogen has probably leached out, the residual sulfur that was there, is probably…if it hasn’t leached completely, its moved lower in the soil profile where this shallow-rooted wheat can’t get to it. So it’s just getting to be, like you said earlier, a fish or cut bait time, something’s got to happen if they’re going to try to make a crop out of it.” …
  • “New Crop Insurance Could Impact Organic Crop Production,” Time Warner Cable News: (Video) Chris Hoffner’s family has been farming for more than 50 years in Rowan County. “It was not that hard for us to transition over, we had to transition over 600 acres and 300 of it was already certifiable,” said Hoffner. They switched to organic production with their milk cows and small grains about 10 years ago, when Organic Valley approached them. Hoffner said part of the learning curve was going back to the ways his family used to farm; no chemicals and conventional tillage. “For us farmers we all think it’s a terrible thing because it’s something different and you have to look at it as it’s not different, it’s just the way we used to do it in the old days,” said Hoffner. The move toward organic has become popular, but it can be pricey. The USDA is hoping that as farmers transition, they have more padding with new crop insurance. That insurance would treat transitioning crops like they’re organic. The new form of insurance could make it a little easier for farmers to transition. …
  • “Craft Breweries Want More Freedom To Distribute,” Carolina Journal: Some North Carolina craft breweries plan to ask the General Assembly next year to change a state law they say is stunting their growth, but there’s little indication the association representing large beer wholesalers will cede any of their control over the state’s beer distribution. The law places a limit of 25,000 barrels any brewery can produce and sell in a year without having to contract with a wholesale distributor. If a brewery exceeds the limit, it must use a distributor for all of its beer, not just the amount over 25,000 barrels. (One barrel equals 31 gallons.) “We want that option for ourselves,” said Todd Ford, who with his wife co-owns NoDa Brewery in Charlotte. “I don’t see us distributing 70,000 or 80,000. But I’d like that option.” At least three North Carolina craft breweries say they’re approaching that ceiling and soon may have to make decisions regarding their growth if the law isn’t changed. One, Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte, brewed about 19,000 barrels of beer last year and because it’s continuing to grow, the brewery no longer distributes beer in the Greensboro-Winston-Salem market. “As a precautionary move, we pulled out of the Triad Jan. 1,” said John Marrino, owner of Olde Meck. “Because of the uncertainty, we said, ‘Let’s stop growing elsewhere and focus on Charlotte,’” Marrino said. “The last thing I want to be doing is cutting off Charlotte and driving beer up to the Triad.” …
Print Friendly, PDF & Email