News Roundup

News Roundup: March 26 – April 1

By on April 1, 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.

  • “Agribusiness still No. 1 in Robeson County,” Fayetteville Observer: A drive down the back roads of Robeson County reveals farmers who seem always to be working the fields to provide crops for the community. Agribusiness includes crops, livestock production and forestry, said Mac Malloy, an agricultural agent for Robeson County specializing in corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton and peanuts for the N.C. Cooperative Extension. “It’s the No. 1 industry in the state and No. 1 in Robeson County,” Malloy said. “There are probably about $420 million in gross cash receipts coming into the county each year.”
    Despite the large volume of money involved, there probably is less than 2 percent of the population engaged in farming, Malloy said. …
  • “ASAP announces June dates for Farm Tour,” Asheville Citizen-Times: The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project has announced dates for its popular annual Farm Tour. This year’s event, a self-guided open-barn tour of area farms, dairies and other places where local food is produced, will take place June 25-26. During the event, more than two dozen Western North Carolina farms will be open to the public with tours, tastings and demonstrations. ASAP canceled last year’s Farm Tour, which was to take place Sept.19-20, in the wake of concerns over Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, a virus that infects wild birds and domestic poultry. The threat of spreading flu also caused the state to ban live poultry shows, including those at the N.C. State Fair and Mountain State Fair poultry shows. The ban has since been lifted. That’s good news for ASAP, whose cancelling of the Farm Tour last year was a voluntary measure to protect local farmers. …
  • “Sampson County couple are top small farmers in North Carolina,” Sampson Independent: Sampson County growers Donnie and Alease Williams were named the 2016 North Carolina Small Farmers of the Year by The Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University during ceremonies last week on the campus. The couple and their D&A Farm were lauded for more than 50 years of farm production, including pastured hogs. The Williamses attributed part of their success to guidance from Sampson County Cooperative Extension, whose staff nominated D&A for the farming award, and to Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T, which produces the award and hosts the annual Small Farms Week ceremonies. Located in Autryville, the Williams have about 150 pigs that are bred in a natural free-range operation and are fed without growth hormones or chemicals.  …
  • “From Cow to Cone: The story behind Maple View Farm,” WRAL: The story of Maple View Farm begins in Maine, and it begins in winter. Bob Nutter, now 87, grew up on his family’s dairy farm there, and unlike his bookish sisters, Bob had a knack for farm work and “liked everything about it.” But in 1962, when he was 33, it snowed 42 inches between Christmas and New Year’s. “And the wind blew every day,” he remembers. That spring, Bob loaded three bull calves into a truck and delivered them one at a time to farms in New Jersey, North Carolina and Georgia. “I got back home in April, and I told my father there was a better place to be in the dairy business,” Bob recalls. “And he said, ‘If you want to move, go on ahead,’ so we called the auctioneer Monday morning and we scheduled a sale and sold our milking cows. And then we came down here – me, my wife and five kids – and bought this farm.” …
  • “GRO to nurture farmers, local food movement,” Hendersonville Times-News: In a culmination of work done over the years at Mill Spring Agricultural Center, a new nonprofit arm is looking to take the mission of the center to new heights by promoting farming and local food in Polk County. A launch event on April 9 will celebrate the inception of GRO (Growing Rural Opportunities) to advance economic drivers as well as strengthen communities across Polk County and in Landrum, S.C. “It really boils down to supporting our local farmers and promoting local food,” said GRO Executive Director Patrick Mclendon of the organization, which officially got off the ground this January after receiving its nonprofit designation…
  • “Bloomberg: Harvesting sunshine more lucrative than crops at some U.S. farms,” Farm Futures: For more than a century, Dawson Singletary’s family has grown tobacco, peanuts and cotton on a 530-acre farm amid the coastal flatlands of North Carolina. Now he’s making money from a different crop: solar panels. Singletary has leased 34 acres of his Bladen County farm to Strata Solar LLC for a 7-megawatt array, part of a growing wave of solar deals that are transforming U.S. farmland and boosting income for farmers. Farmland has become fertile territory for clean energy, as solar and wind developers in North America, Europe and Asia seek more flat, treeless expanses to build. That’s also been a boon for struggling U.S. family farms that must contend with floundering commodity prices. …
  • “Day Trips: A cool event for ewe at Historic Brattonsville,” Charlotte Observer: Feeling a little warm out in the spring sunshine? You can always change into shorts. Sheep, however, don’t have that option. Even though winter is over, their wool will continue to grow. In an 2013 interview in Modern Farmer magazine, Dave Thomas, head of sheep studies at the University of Wisconsin, explained why wool will just keep growing if humans don’t cut it off: It’s evolution triggered by selective breeding. “Primitive sheep like bighorns in the West still shed most of their wool every year. And domestic sheep, the ones raised primarily for their meat, will do some shedding,” Thomas said. “But for the majority of sheep, there is continual, year-round wool growth.” He noted that there’s a down side to this: “Full fleece can be bad in very hot weather, sometimes leading to heat stress.” …
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