News Roundup: July 2-8

By on July 8, 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.

  • “Senate backs bill to backs bill to label genetically modified food,” Charlotte Observer: Food packages nationwide would for the first time be required to carry labels listing genetically modified ingredients under legislation the Senate backed Thursday. The vote was 63-30 for the bipartisan measure, which would compel foods that include genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, to carry a text label, a symbol or an electronic code readable by smartphone. Advocates for labeling and the food industry, which has fought mandatory labeling, have wanted to find a national solution to avoid a state-by-state patchwork of laws. The food industry supports the Senate bill, but many labeling proponents do not. Critics say the labels should be easily readable by consumers without smartphones, and have complained that the measure lacks penalties for companies that don’t comply. “It is time for us to provide certainty in the marketplace,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the Agriculture Committee, who brokered the compromise bill with the panel’s top Democrat, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow. …
  • “Central Piedmont Crops Receive Much Needed Rain,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) This summer rain has been hit or miss, and many producers have either too much, or not enough. Don Nicholson NCDA Regional Agronomist in the central Piedmont says many of his producers got a million dollar rain for tobacco last week: “We were extremely dry, the tobacco crop was really struggling, and it hit at a real inopportune time on a lot of it, because it was trying to push the top out, and that’s a really stressful time in a tobacco plant’s life. And on top of that, it’s really hot, dry conditions, and it hurt the crop a bit, a lot of crops that I’ve seen this week after the rains; as little as two inches, up to seven inches in some areas, it looks like a completely different crop than it did a week ago.” …
  • “Cotton’s market decline? Blame yoga pants,” Southeast Farm Press: If you could cite one culprit creating cotton’s current challenges in the apparel market, you could very easily point to the recent fashion trend that favors lightweight yoga pants over denim. “This is a real problem for cotton,” says Berrye Worsham, president and CEO of Cotton Incorporated, the research and promotion group that is funded by U.S. cotton producers and by imports of cotton products to the United States. “Women are now wearing more yoga pants. The problem for cotton is twofold. These yoga pants contain more synthetic fiber than denim and more fiber goes into denim than yoga pants. Even if you had 100 percent cotton yoga pants, we’d rather see the denim market going strong because more weight goes into those products,” Worsham said. Over the past couple years, sales of denim, the biggest user of cotton, have dropped while sales of yoga pants and other active wear have grown. Most active wear is a big user of polyester and other synthetic fibers. …
  • “How a N.C. sauce entrepreneur finally scored space on Lowes shelves,” Triangle Business Journal: Days after announcing he’s spinning out a completely new pasta brand, Raleigh academic-turned-entrepreneur Neal “Nello” McTighe says he’s signed a deal that puts the new jars on shelves at all Lowes Foods locations. The new brand – the American Pasta Sauce Co.– has a different feel entirely from the Nello’s sauce he’s become known for. The taste profile is “more American,” for starters. “It’s bigger on the spices and the garlic and the basil,” he says. “It’s less Italian … Nello’s is more simple and pure, more tomato.” But the new line, which features three flavors (organic marinara, organic tomato and basil and organic roasted garlic), has one thing Nello’s didn’t when McTigue first approached Winston-Salem-based Lowes four years ago: a cheaper price point. While it still tops mainstream brands such as Ragu, it debuts in 24 ounce jars for $5.99 in July – a steal compared to Nello’s, which starts at about $8 price. …
  • “Despite rain, Forsyth County remains abnormally dry,” Winston-Salem Journal: Forsyth County and much of Northwest North Carolina are abnormally dry despite the scattered storms that rolled through Wednesday, according to The U.S. Drought Monitor Map released Thursday. And the conditions are affecting local farmers by causing crops and pastures to grow at a slower rate than normal. Abnormally dry is a classification given to an area with an elevated risk of drought. Twenty-one N.C. counties, mostly in the central and southern parts of the state, are considered abnormally dry. Four mountain counties are in severe drought, while another 10 western N.C. counties are in moderate drought. …
  • “Drone Use in Agriculture One Step Closer,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) The Federal Aviation Administration recently announced its final rules governing commercial drone use across the country. Agriculture is one of the industries eyeing drone use in order to make operations more efficient. Ian Smith is the Business Development and Marketing Manager for DroneDeploy in San Francisco. He said announcing the rules is a big step for the drone industry and potential users of the technology: “Yeah, so these rules have been announced, but they won’t be enacted until late August. It’s really an extraordinary step for the FAA to take, their number one goal, of course, is safety, but the fact that they kind of dragged their feet on this for a long time until it reached critical mass, is a little bit disappointing and a lot of people were justifiably frustrated on this. But, now, with this part one of seven rule kind of superseding the Section 333 exemption process, I think this is just incredible for the industry.” He said the rules will “open the skies for any business in the country,” and operators no longer have to jump through so many hoops to get approval for drone use. There’s no more sending in a package of information for approval and waiting six to eight months for approval. You also don’t have to have a certified pilot on hand to fly the drone. …
  • “Next Generation’: Young couple venture into organic farming,” Hendersonville Times-News: The 2008 financial crisis spawned a general distrust in monetary matters and the once time-honored promise of higher education. Investment nosedived with the Lehman Brothers and most Americans, their fiscal intrepidness lost somewhere in the stock market, became less daring. Fenner and Chrisan Klak, then Mountaineers at Appalachian State, were the exception. As the job market unraveled, they turned to a pipe dream: a risky, 10-acre castle in the air. “We kicked a farm-to-table idea around,” Fenner said. Two years into his biology studies, the Richmond, Va. native began dabbling in sustainable agriculture, even running the university greenhouse. Journalism major Chrisan picked up the hands-on trade along the way, despite her lack of formal training. “Job opportunities didn’t look great at the time. It seemed awesome compared to other prospects,” he continued. …
  • “NCSU study: Harvesting for wood pellets has no impact on woodland life,” News & Observer: Harvesting wood debris from areas that have been clear-cut of timber does not affect the animals that live there, according to a study from researchers at N.C. State University. Chris Moorman, a professor of forestry and environmental resources, and his students spent four years cataloging small animals such as mice, toads, bugs and mourning doves at loblolly pine plantations. They found that the populations in clear-cut sites were unaffected regardless of how much wood debris was removed. This low-value wood, or “biomass,” left over from logging is pulverized to make wood pellets that are used as a carbon-friendly alternative to coal in Europe and in parts of the United States. Wood is classified as a renewable energy source by the European Union, which burns wood pellets from the southeastern U.S. to comply with the Kyoto Protocol to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The biomass left after a forest has been clear-cut supports a host of critters. It is home to bugs at the bottom of the food chain, which are eaten by burrowing shrews and amphibians and small reptiles such as salamanders. Some of the biomass is a fertilizer for smaller vegetation that feeds birds and rodents. The cold-blooded citizens of the sites make their homes in the wet, woody debris left by logging. …
Print Friendly, PDF & Email