News Roundup

News Roundup: Feb. 27-March 4

By on March 4, 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.

  • “Mount Airy’s Nester Hosiery finds success with Farm to Feet brand,” Winston-Salem Journal: Officials with Nester Hosiery say the company uses an “All-American recipe” for making its Farm to Feet brand of high-end performance wool socks. All of Farm to Feet’s supply chain is within the United States — materials, manufacturing and workers. Farm to Feet sales were up 85 percent in 2015 compared with 2014. The brand’s sales are projected to rise 52 percent in 2016 over last year. Its products were in 40 stores in 2013, 168 in 2014, 450 in 2015, and are projected to be carried in 550 stores this year. Farm to Feet is in stores in Canada and is distributed in Japan. …
  • “McDonald’s Buys $75M Of Food From NC Farmers,” WFMY: All you have to do is see the golden arches and you know the company. McDonald’s is worldwide. With an estimated 36,000 restaurants in 119 countries, it won’t surprise you to know McDonald’s is the biggest purchaser in the world for items like beef, pork, potatoes, lettuce and tomatoes. But where and how McDonald’s gets those items will probably surprise most North Carolinians. McDonald’s buys local. When you eat at a North Carolina McDonalds, and even around the nation,  there’s a chance you’re eating food grown and raised in the Tarheel state. …
  • “Farmer looks ahead after tornado killed cattle, leveled buildings,” WRAL: Sherby Slaughter has been farming on his piece of land in Granville County for 24 years. On Wednesday, a tornado took everything away in a matter of minutes. The twister, the strongest of six that raked the region, killed four of Slaughter’s 250 cattle, leveled every building on his farm and damaged almost every piece of equipment. “Just the buildings alone, we’re probably looking at a quarter-million dollars (lost),” he said Friday. The National Weather Service in Raleigh confirmed Thursday that an EF-2 tornado with maximum wind speeds of 125 mph touched down at 4:32 p.m. Wednesday and remained on the ground for 5 miles along Huntsboro Road in Granville County. Two other farms – a dairy farm and a tobacco farm – within a couple miles of Slaughter’s spread also were damaged. …
  • “Why the 2015 tobacco crop was a near disaster,” Southeast Farm Press: It’s official: The 2015 tobacco crop experienced a nearly disastrous drop in production compared to the season before. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service confirmed the dismal performance when it issued its Crop Production summary for 2015 last month. Some of the loss in production was due to a decline in plantings last spring. But the main explanation for the dismal performance was very low yields for the two leading types — burley and flue-cured — caused by very unfavorable weather conditions. Nationwide, production of all types came in at 711,236 million pounds, nearly 19 percent less than in 2014. …
  • “Taking a leap into the cow pool,” Business NC: Small farms have been cutting out the middleman for years at farmers markets, selling directly to shoppers who skip the grocery store. But why wait for that pack of grass-fed beef when you can buy the cow instead? In the future, more meat might not come from the market or the store but your neighborhood “cow pool.” Megan Long has shared three cows and a pig with a group of like-minded families in Fayetteville. One woman buys the animals directly from a farmer then splits the meat into smaller shares for as many as 16 people. Long typically signs up for an eighth of a steer, anywhere from 30 to 50 pounds of meat, which fits in the freezer side of her home refrigerator, for about $200 to $300. Beef from a single source, as opposed to, say, a package of grocery store hamburger meat that could come from dozens of cows, is the biggest reason Long joined. “I know the farmer,” she says. “I know the conditions. It’s not shipped from around the world; it’s right here in my area.” The local food movement is growing. Management consulting firm A.T. Kearney estimates consumers spent $12 billion on locally sourced products in 2014 with 9% annual growth expected through 2018. …
  • “Tobacco Farmers Get Ready for Upcoming Season,” Time Warner Cable News: (Video) In Surry County, North Carolina Welsey Johnson is doing what his family has done for generations; farm tobacco. “This specific farm that we are standing on now is my grandpa’s,” said Johnson. “He started it after the war, WWII, and where my brother lives is actually fourth generation.” Back then his grandparents had to seed greenhouses by hand, now they have a machine that does it. So what used to take up to weeks now only takes a couple of days. “Hopefully in seven or eight days you might see a sprout in the greenhouse,” said Johnson. Although the process of planting is more efficient it doesn’t make it more profitable. “It’s not as viable as it used to be,” said Johnson. “We also expanded the farm into grains and cattle. It’s hard to replace the income tobacco brings in on a per acre basis.” …
  • “Environmentalists, hog-farm industry at odds over health of Black River,” The News & Observer: New testing of a North Carolina river disputes a recent TV ad campaign defending the environmental record of hog farms, advocates say. The Black River, with headwaters in Sampson County, was extensively tested and all samples were determined in a state-certified lab to exceed state standards for fecal coliform bacteria, which indicates animal waste. The environmental group Waterkeeper Alliance did the sampling in January and February. Previous tests have shown similar results in the Black River basin, the group says. In January, N.C. Farm Families, a group funded by the state’s hog industry and others, launched a six-figure TV, radio, newspaper and social media ad campaign across the state putting a human face farmers and their concern for the environment. The ad stated the Black River is one of the cleanest in the state. “This statement is simply untrue,” said Christian Breen of Waterkeeper Alliance in a statement. “The test results speak for themselves.” …
  • “Quick Hits: A Local Cheese Guide,” Charlotte Magazine: In its purest form, cheese is made of just three things: milk, cultures that acidify and flavor the cheese, and salt (to preserve it and add flavor). Rennet, an enzyme that causes the milk to solidify, is often involved, but not always. Cheese makers sometimes then elect to add things like fruit, herbs, spices, or salt to impart flavor and texture. No surprises there. What might be, however, is the news that wood pulp—also called cellulose—could be in your cheese as well. If the thought that you might have been eating flavored wood pulp all this time has got you down, may I suggest renewing your faith with a plate of quality cheese. Lucky for us, North Carolina is home to a growing number of cheese makers who are making good, artisanal cheeses. In 2012, a group of artisans even formed the Western North Carolina Cheese Trail in an effort to connect with cheese lovers through tours, education, and combined PR efforts. They also back the Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest—complete with a grilled cheese contest—to be held April 24 this year. Even if you can’t make it to the fest or visit the dairies, many of the members’ cheeses are available for purchase around town, along with ones made right here in the Charlotte area. Here is a quick guide for who’s making good cheese locally and where to find it. …
  • “Delhaize America announces commitment to sell cage-free eggs,” Salisbury Post: As part of the company’s continued commitment to sustainability and animal welfare, Delhaize America announced Wednesday that it will work with suppliers to reach a 100 percent cage-free shell egg assortment by 2025. Delhaize America, and its Food Lion and Hannaford banners, will work toward a 100 percent cage-free shell egg assortment first in its private brand selection, which accounts for the majority of shell egg sales. Delhaize America, along with its Food Lion and Hannaford banners, will then continually increase its overall supply of cage-free eggs to obtain 100 percent cage-free in all shell eggs offerings by 2025 or sooner based on available supply, affordability and customer demand. …
  • “Silent killer,” Business NC: A researcher at the University of California Davis once borrowed the advertising slogan “Diamonds are forever” for his own work. “Nematodes are forever,” he stamped on bumper stickers, and, indeed, generations of farmers have become adept at rotating fields and other tricks to avoid the microscopic roundworms that destroy about 10% of crops worldwide every year. A dent in the destruction may be in sight. Scientists at biotechnology company AgBiome LLC in Durham say they plan to launch a product in the next few years that will eliminate the root-knot nematode before plants even begin to grow using the galaxy of organisms, bacteria and fungi known as the plant microbiome. Steve Koenning has seen swaths of soybeans destroyed and the same cotton field attacked by two different types of nematodes. Out of an estimated 30,000 species, most of which are harmless — beneficial even — about 3,000 attack plants. With help from experts such as Koenning, professor emeritus of plant pathology at N.C. State University, North Carolina farmers have learned to manage the destructive ones. …
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