News Roundup: June 18-July 1

By on July 1, 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.

  • “Subscription gift-box company in Madison highlights North Carolina goods,” Winston-Salem Journal: “Made in North Carolina” is a phrase that’s been catching on in local supermarkets for years, and now a subscription gift-box company based in Madison is shipping boxes of goods exclusively made in North Carolina to its subscribers throughout the country. Carolina Monthly is owned by Brock Swinson of Winston-Salem, and Joseph Knight and Will Southard of Madison. The men, who have other full-time jobs, operate their subscription gift-box company part time. …
  • “Goat industry becoming more popular in Johnston County,” Wilmington Star News: Steve Nordan has been raising Boer goats in Johnston County for better than a decade. His children showed the animals in 4-H competitions, and now his six grandchildren will continue the tradition. For the Nordans, of Camp Branch Farms near McGee’s Crossroads, raising goats is a family affair, though not necessarily a family business…
  • “For NC seafood festivals, there’s a small catch,” The News & Observer: Dewey Hemilright has spent more than half his life in North Carolina’s commercial fishing industry, but he says he has never heard a bigger fish story than the claim by the Outer Banks Seafood Festival that it promotes the harvest he and his colleagues work so hard to haul in. “It’s a deception,” he said, after first using a colorful phrase that rolls more easily off the tongue of a career waterman. “They’re telling people – or at least implying to people – who come down here that they’re going to get local North Carolina seafood. They’re not. What they’re getting is imported. But put that on your sign and see how many people show up. It’s not right. You shouldn’t have to read the fine print.” A handful of small events along the coast each year feature the blue crabs, brown shrimp, yellowfin tuna and some of the dozens of other shellfish and finfish species that fishermen wrestle from the state’s oceans and sounds. But two of the most heavily promoted festivals – the Outer Banks Seafood Festival in Nags Head and the North Carolina Seafood Festival in Morehead City – predominantly offer the same foreign imports that American consumers typically buy in grocery stores and eat at restaurants. …
  • “Brevard becomes first WNC college to offer ag education,” Hendersonville Times-News: Brevard College will soon become the first college in Western North Carolina to offer an agriculture education program, and current and new students are already showing substantial interest. The college will add teacher licensure in agricultural education to its existing environmental studies major, and will develop a minor in sustainable agriculture. A $75,000 grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation will allow the college to hire a new professor without affecting next year’s operational budget, the college announced in a release. Those funds will also be used to purchase a greenhouse. The program will be a great fit for Brevard College and the small-scale, niche agriculture of Western North Carolina, which already puts a spotlight on sustainability and farm-to-fork, said Jennifer Frick-Ruppert, biology and environmental science professor, chair of the science and mathematics division and one of the Golden LEAF grant collaborators. …
  • “Tobacco stocks become safe havens in post-Brexit markets,” Winston-Salem Journal: Reynolds American Inc.’s lack of international exposure, particularly in Europe, has turned the company’s stock into a safe harbor for dividend-seeking investors in the post-Brexit vote marketplace. While most of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, particularly banks, took another share-price hit Monday in the fallout from the U.K. vote to leave the European Union, Reynolds and rival Altria Group Inc. finished up for the second consecutive trading day. “With a history of low volatility, a reliable customer base and solid dividend income, the two tobacco companies are as close to Brexit-proof as you’re likely to find in today’s stock market,” said Dan Caplinger, an analyst with The Motley Fool. …
  • “Rain, rain come this way,” The Mountaineer: From Haywood County’s $24 million a year agricultural production, to golf courses, gardens and yards, the drought condition in Haywood County has many praying for heavy rain. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor website, there are five drought classifications, D0, abnormally dry, D1, moderate drought, D2, severe drought, D3, extreme drought and D4, exceptional drought. The N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council website shows Haywood County as being a D2 county, or, “severe” drought, which means crop or pasture losses are likely, water shortages are common and water restrictions are imposed. “Without rain, we’re in trouble,” said Leslie Smathers, director of the Soil and Water Conservation District in Haywood County. “This isn’t normal. We usually get dry in August, but not now. And we had some carry-over dry from February and March.” Smathers explained Monday the current drought is “getting bad,” as he showed the millet crop in a nearby field that had been reseeded and hasn’t come up due to the lack of rain. …
  • “Flash-freezing seals in goodness of NC produce,” The News & Observer: (Video) Seal the Seasons CEO and co-founder Patrick Mateer will reap the rewards of hard work this summer when the company starts shipping pounds of flash-frozen North Carolina produce to three national grocery chains. …
  • “Pig manure paves road to sustainable asphalt,” National Science Foundation: A new replacement for petroleum is coming from an unlikely source — pig manure! It turns out that pig waste is particularly rich in oils that are very similar to petroleum. And while these oils are too low grade to produce gasoline, they may still work where the rubber meets the road. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), civil engineer Ellie Fini and a team at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University have designed a sticky binder made from pig manure that can be used to make asphalt. At a cost of 56 cents per gallon to process, this new bioadhesive is a much less expensive binder than petroleum, and, so far, it’s been standing up to rigorous testing. In fact, Fini and her partners have filed patents on the technology and set up a company called Bio-Adhesive Alliance, with the vision of providing a win-win solution for farmers and the construction industry. Anything in the manure that stinks is filtered out during the processing, and the farmers can use the leftovers for fertilizer. So, nothing about the idea stinks! …
  • “Farmers discuss challenges with slow-growing cotton,” WCTI: (Video) As you drive down the rural highways of Eastern North Carolina, you are likely to spot a cotton field. But the plants in the ground are looking a little different than in years past. “It just didn’t grow off as fast, it’s shorter and it’s going to take a while to grow out of that stress that occurred early on,” said Guy Collins, N.C. State Cotton Associate Professor. And that stress involves the weather. “We have had excessive rainfall in Beaufort County. For example, yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, 2.5 inches fell right on my spot in Beaufort County and we didn’t need a drop,” Farmer Milton Prince said. Prince has been farming cotton since 1991. This year he planted 2,000 acres of cotton with some acres in Hyde County and some in Beaufort. He says the rain has hit all the plants, but it’s the worse to the south. Right now his cotton plants in Hyde stand 24 to 26 inches tall whereas the ones in Beaufort are anywhere from 2-16 inches. These impacts might economically hit a lot of farmers in Eastern North Carolina. “I would like to say we break even but that’s questionable at this point,” Prince said. …
  • “Hooked on ‘ponics: Club exhibits alternative farming,” NCSU Technician: The Recirculating Farms Club is showcasing the future of farming in Talley Student Union with an intricate aquaponic system of pipes, tanks, bacteria, fish and spring mix lettuce. The core mission of the project is to educate the public on the benefits of aquaponics and recirculating farms with an interactive experience, according to Maddie Ciszewski, a junior studying agricultural science and president of the RFC. Aquaponic technology offers an alternative to traditional farming by combining aquaculture, farming aquatic animals, and hydroponics, growing plants in nutrient-rich water rather than soil. “I definitely think that getting more people on board with sustainable agriculture starts at a younger age, whether it’s middle school or college,” Ciszewski said. “But these are the people who are supposed to go out and change the world. Hopefully getting kids to actually see this and not just hear about it through the grapevine; they’ll get excited to do something similar.” NC State Dining, the Brickyard Farmer’s Market and some local food banks will make use of the food grown by the RFC’s system. The current batch is destined for salads at 1887 Bistro, while future batches will also include herbs. …
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