News Roundup: April 30 – May 6

By on May 6, 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.

  • “Land Trusts: Sustaining the Farms that Feed NC,” Public News Service: Farmers’ markets are in full swing across North Carolina, with tables full of locally-sourced produce, meats and crafts. In addition to water, sunshine and sweat equity to create the bounty of crops, land also is needed to meet the demand. That’s what North Carolina’s land trusts bring to the table. They secure agricultural easements on farmland to protect it from development, explains Sharon Taylor, executive director for the Mainspring Conservation Trust. “What that allows in a lot of cases is for some families to hold on to their property long-term,” says Taylor. “It also allows for it to stay available for agriculture, which is important for the greater public because then, the property is available for growing our food.” Mainspring holds the conservation easement for Ridgefield Farm, home of Brasstown Beef. By definition, an agricultural land easement prevents land from being used or sold for non-agricultural purposes. …
  • “Marijuana’s cousin hemp has renewed prospects, local exhibit shows,” Wilmington StarNews: Justin Hamilton has been creative when it comes to the Wallace farm he purchased more than a decade ago. It’s open for visitors and is home to miniature horses and cattle, ferrets and chickens. He displays urban farm plantings to inspire city dwellers to plant their own vegetables. And Legacy Farms may be busiest during Halloween, with its onsite haunted house and annual spooky corn maze. A newer addition to the farm is the N.C. Hemp Exhibition, which opened April 15 and runs through July 1. The exhibit includes information about the history of hemp in the United States and efforts to begin growing the crop here again. …
  • “Winter Wheat Field Days Well Attended,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Winter wheat has had its challenges in the southeast this year, yet field days have been well attended says Dan Weathington, Executive Director of the NC Small Grain Growers Association of yesterday’s field day in Anson County: “We wound up with about 147 people, my understanding, at the field day. the plot looked really good considering the weather, and all that had gone on here, but the wheat really looked perky after about an inch of rain last night and this morning.” …
  • “Can cotton’s unfortunate policy situation ever be changed?” Southeast Farm Press: Here we are beginning the third year of a farm bill that will end with the 2018 crop year. This means that discussions on changes and what should be in the next farm bill will likely begin as early as next year. I’m quite sure some discussion within industry, commodity groups and with legislators has already begun. The 2014 farm bill, although it is referred to as 2014 legislation, did not actually get put in place on farms until the 2015 crop. Producers and landowners had to make base, yield and program elections in 2015 that were then retroactive to the 2014 crop year. For cotton, this present farm bill has been criticized for essentially providing no “safety net” when compared to the previous 2008 farm bill. This may be an unfortunate but accurate assessment. Reality is the cotton program had to change due to losing the WTO case with Brazil. STAX was considered the best way to provide a safety net and still be WTO compliant. What makes this an even more bitter pill to swallow is that while the DCP program was eliminated for all crops, including cotton, all other crops except cotton (now called Covered Commodities) got the new ARC/PLC program. As it ends up, compared to the 2008 farm bill, the only change in other crops was giving up the Direct Payment. The CCP program was eliminated but replaced with what appears to be a better PLC/ARC program. …
  • “Reynolds, farm workers’ union strive for more progress, common ground,” Winston-Salem Journal: The once antagonistic relationship between Reynolds American Inc. and its most vocal advocacy critic continues to become more civil, but not necessarily any more cooperative. The adversarial nature between Reynolds and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee was in full display again Thursday during the company’s annual shareholder meeting and the union’s ninth annual street protest following the meeting that drew more than 100 participants. The key overarching issue remains FLOC’s request that Reynolds support farm workers’ freedom of association, including recognition of the right to collective bargaining, and prodding tobacco growers to pay a living wage of $15 an hour. …
  • “Third cidery to open as industry grows in Apple Country,” Hendersonville Times-News: Hendersonville, a long-time leader in apple production and home to two cideries, will welcome another this summer. Henderson County native Alan Ward is set to open Appalachian Ridge Artisan Ciders in June. The cidery is located inside a renovated 1940s-era barn. It is across the road from Ward’s Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards, which already produces a line of ciders under the name Wallace. “You can taste cider in a grocery store, but when you taste it here, in the middle of the orchard, it gives you more of an experience,” Ward says. Henderson County is the largest apple-producing county in North Carolina and the seventh-largest in the nation, county tourism officials said in a news release Thursday. Its abundance of orchards makes the area a natural home for the emerging hard cider market. …
  • “Farm on four wheels changing the landscape of urban farming,” WNCN: Farms are usually found on acres of land tucked away in North Carolina’s rural communities. But more urban cities are looking to have their own harvest. The problem – residents can’t typically grow a bed of arugula in between skyscrapers. They can, however, in a shipping container on wheels. Research Triangle Park (RTP) is making a major investment in a new popular twist to the farm to table concept. It’s a new way of urban farming, designed to grow, sell and cook local produce. “These are just traditional hydroponic growing systems that’d you’d find in a greenhouse and we layered it,” explained Ben Greene, CEO and Founder of The Farmery. …
  • “CoastLine: Do Hog CAFOs Impact Water Quality of Nearby Streams & Estuaries?” WHQR: (Audio) The business of pork production in North Carolina employed nearly 13,000 people in 2012. That’s according to a Duke University report. The swine industry is a key component of North Carolina’s economy. But there are claims of negative impacts on the environment – specifically on bodies of waters that are in close proximity to concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs. And there are questions about the industry’s impact on human health. But the business of hog farming has evolved over the last several decades. …
  • “Mountaire Farms to take over Siler City poultry plant,” News & Observer: Mountaire Farms, a privately-owned food processing company based in Delaware, has reached an agreement to acquire the former Townsend poultry processing plant in Siler City. The company plans to renovate and upgrade the plant. The expansion is expected to create more than 500 jobs. The Siler City plant once employed more than a thousand people but has been closed for several years after cycling through a number of owners. In 2014, poultry producer Carolina Premium Foods announced plans to take over the plant and renovate it using a grant from the state’s Rural Infrastructure Authority. But the grant was never authorized and the deal fell apart. …
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