News Roundup

News Roundup: June 18-24

By on June 24, 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.

  • “Troxler: DuPont fees will be instituted if needed,” Hendersonville Times-News: Funding for DuPont State Recreational Forest is at stake as the state legislature crafts the final budget plan, and the fate of those millions could decide whether or not visitors will have to pay a fee. Included in the House budget plan, but not the Senate’s, is $3 million to go toward improvements at DuPont State Recreational Forest, including bathroom and drinking water facilities and nine new staff positions. During a visit to DuPont Wednesday, North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said the forest is too valuable an asset to North Carolina not to be funded, and that while he’s optimistic for appropriations, he still has the authority to impose fees, which he will do to make sure the forest is properly funded. …
  • “Farm tour will help consumers connect with producers,” Winston-Salem Journal: Many area residents have probably visited an area farmers market. Fresh, local products are abundant, and a visit to any market vibrantly illustrates this fact. Baked goods, tea, coffee, homemade soap, salves, berries, tomatoes and freshly picked produce are all tangible results of area craftsmen and farmers. Why not get a firsthand glimpse into some of these local products that you’ve encountered at the market? The Northern Triad Farm Tour is happening Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. You can visit seven diverse, working farms that are helping to put food on the table and connecting us with the natural world. …
  • “Map project shows expansion of NC livestock operations,” WRAL: Environmental groups this week released a series of interactive maps displaying the locations and waste output of thousands of hog, poultry and cattle operations across the state. The project’s creators, the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Environmental Working Group, say the maps extensively document for the first time the high concentrations of confined animal feeding operations in certain parts of the state, which can contribute to nutrient pollution in sensitive waterways. But agriculture lobbyists say the project reveals nothing new about livestock farmers, who environmental officials say must follow strict guidelines in one of the most heavily regulated industries in the state. …
  • “Severe drought declared for parts of WNC,” WLOS: Four Western North Carolina counties are facing a severe drought due to lack of rainfall. According to the North Carolina Dept. of Environmental Quality, portions of Macon, Transylvania, Jackson and Haywood counties were upgraded from moderate drought to severe drought due to lack of adequate rainfall. Severe drought is the second highest of the four drought categories. Extension Climatologist with the State Climate Office of North Carolina Rebecca Ward said the counties in this category have experienced less than average rainfall. “The counties in the southwestern mountain area of the state have been experiencing dry conditions for several months due to lower than normal precipitation, which impacts soil moisture levels, stream flows and ground water levels,” Ward said. “If these dry conditions continue, this area may see additional impacts that could affect agriculture.”
  • “Scaling Up: A produce producer’s passion for feeding N.C. schools,” Triangle Business Journal:  Tim Williams, project manager at Warren County-based Working Landscapes, says food – like people – has a story. “I am inspired that we are producing food with a positive story,” he said. “Sharing that with young people encourages them to think about their food, where it comes from, how its grown, and hopefully – one day – will create a food system that is equitable, sustainable, and just for all.” Williams is a recent recipient of University of California’s Global Food Initiative 30 Under 30 Awards. He was the only North Carolina resident to receive the honor. His passion for the food industry sprouted in Wilmington, where he worked at FoodCorp for a year. “It was really instrumental in my food career, I worked with elementary students with nutrition, gardening and getting more local foods to schools,” he says. While working there, a colleague from Warren County introduced him to Working Landscapes, a rural economic development nonprofit based in Warrenton. …
  • “ASAP’s Farm Tour showcases local agriculture,” Asheville Citizen-Times: Working to strengthen the relationship between farmers and consumers, the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project is finalizing preparations for a two-day farm tour that will offer a glimpse into how food is grown and harvested in the region. In its ninth year, the tour is expected to draw a large turnout this weekend, covering nearly two dozen farms throughout the area. The idea is to help people better “understand the scale of agriculture” in a part of the state where sustainable living is a major focal point and where the local food system has flourished, said David Smiley, a program assistant for ASAP. Scheduled for June 25 and 26, the self-guided tour includes 20 family-owned farms grouped together in six areas, from Black Mountain to Leicester to Madison County. Several are new to the tour this year. …
  • “Two Local Farms Receive Agritourism Grants,”  The Pilot: A new marketing initiative sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will benefit two local farms.
    Looking to attract new customers through better signage and branding opportunities, C.V. Pilson Farm and Flint Rock Farm each received a $2,500 grant award. In its first year, the Agritourism Marketing Cost Share program selected 29 projects for awards. The two farms — both located in Cameron — were the only grant recipients from Moore County. “I’m pleased that we were able to award a total of $50,000 in cost-share funding to agritourism farms across the state,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said. “For many agritourism operations, this funding can provide the help they need to boost their marketing efforts and increase the number of visitors to their farms.” …
  • “Blueberry picking season marks start of summer,” News & Observer: Just in time for the first official day of summer, blueberry picking season kicked off this weekend at Creekside Farm in Johnston County. Dozens of families headed to the farm, about 10 miles east of Clayton, to get the year’s first taste of blueberries fresh off the bush. Kids ran through the rows of bushes, sampling a berry or two and getting juice on their hands before filling up plastic buckets. “Look for the biggest, juiciest, plumpest berry, and that’s going to be the sweetest berry,” farm owner Rich Bennek instructs first-time pickers. This year’s crop faced challenges from a warm winter followed by several frosty nights in April. Creekside lost several rows of bushes to the late frost, but the farm fared better than some of its peers in the Triangle. In Orange County, Whitted Bowers Farm won’t be able to offer blueberry picking at all this year. “We lost almost 90 percent of the berries,” the farm posted on its Facebook page. Several other farms nearby lost a large percentage of their crops and are planning a later-than-usual opening. …
  • “Uncle Sam wants you — to become a farmer,” MilitaryTimes.com: Fewer young Americans are pursuing careers in agriculture, a growing concern among the nation’s farmers whose average age now approaches 60, and the federal government is hopeful that military veterans will help reverse the trend. But while more vets are expressing interest in farming, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, American labor statistics show no real upsurge in them taking jobs down on the farm. They comprise about 2 percent of the country’s entire agricultural workforce, a figure that has remained flat since at least 2007. The USDA tracks veterans’ interest in farming through loan applications for land purchases. Since 2009, the agency has granted $466 million to about 4,000 vets, says Lanon Beccam, a former Army officer who now works as the USDA’s veterans liaison. But overall, of the 4 million veterans living in the nation’s rural areas, around 6 percent — some 240,000 — work in agriculture. …
  • “Hickory Nut Gap Farm’s John Ager to speak at Raleigh pollinator rally, June 20,” Mountain Xpress: With over an average of 40 percent of U.S. honeybee hives dying and costing over $2 billion each year, farmers, food advocates, beekeepers and environmental groups across the nation are taking to the road to raise awareness on the massive decline. The Keep the Hives Alive Tour will stop in cities in California, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina during National Pollinator Week, June 13-23. At the end of the tour, beekeepers, farmers, farmworkers, scientists and advocates will bring a truck load of 2.64 million dead bees to Washington, D.C. to urge the EPA, the USDA and Congress to take action on toxic pesticides and support sustainable agriculture. “I’m part of the next generation of beekeepers who wants to make a living keeping bees — and to do that, we have to help solve this problem,” said James Cook, who owns The Bird and the Bees LLC and is driving a bee truck cross-country for the tour. “In the five years since I started keeping bees, I’ve seen many hives killed by pesticides. If some fundamental things don’t change, it’s going to be really hard for beekeepers to adapt to the environment around us.” …
  • “N.C. producer heads National Pork Board,” AgriNews: Jan Archer, a pork producer from Goldsboro, N.C., was elected as president of the National Pork Board at the organization’s June board meeting in Des Moines. The board is comprised of 15 farmer-directors representing America’s pig farmers. “I want to thank my fellow board members for the confidence they are placing in me, and I see much opportunity for our industry in the year ahead,” Archer said. “I have been involved in pork production for more than 40 years, and I have never seen a greater level of consumer interest in pig farming. I am proud of the work we do every day on our farms and look forward to sharing our stories of responsible animal production with packers, retail and foodservice customers and consumers.”  …

 

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