News Roundup: Sept. 3 – 9

By on September 9, 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.

  • “Damage From Tropical Storm Hermine Localized,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Tropical Storm Hermine made landfall in North Carolina over the holiday weekend, with effects largely east of I-95. Beaufort County Extension Director, Rod Gurganus says corn harvest was well underway, therefore it could have been a lot worse: “This thing came right over us here, in our area. And I’d says that the winds in the Beaufort County area were, I’d say 30-50 miles per hour, you could certainly feel them. But, I think it was worse the further east you went. Down in Hyde County, I’ve not talked to many folks down there yet, but I do know over in Washington County, north of us, and east of us over in Tyrell County, they got a lot more wind and rain, too.” Since the rains left Saturday, Gurganus says combines are back in the fields focusing on corn that did fall over. And while corn ready to harvest was in immediate peril, the cotton crop was vulnerable as well…
  • “County agriculture: Farmers turn over new leaves,” Hendersonville Times-News: Today, Henderson County agriculture is nearly synonymous with one crop: apples. While 70th annual North Carolina Apple Festival is wrapping up in downtown Hendersonville today, tree fruits are just part of the farming landscape. The county’s agricultural past and present are much more diverse. “Agriculture in Henderson County has pretty much run the full gamut in terms of production as well as markets,” said Mark Williams, executive director of Agribusiness Henderson County. That’s partly thanks to a climate that can grow just about everything except tropical plants and citrus fruits. Prior to the 1950s, the county produced a lot of grains, Williams said. That was followed by flowers and bulbs, and dairies abounded. At the peak, he said, there were more than 200 dairies in the county. The area has also historically been a major producer of vegetable crops. …
  •  “CED Tech Venture profile: FoodLogiQ, improving food safety,” WRAL: More and more people want transparency about the food they are eating – and Durham startup FoodLogiQ is helping clients meet that hunger with its food traceability software. FoodLogiQ has a growing list of big-name clients, too. Dean Wiltse”We have an established customer base that includes industry leaders like Whole Foods and Chipotle,” says CEO Dean Wiltse. “Clients we’ve added in the last 12 months include Subway, Tropical Smoothie Café, Dave and Busters, Raising Cane’s, Smashburger, Robinson Fresh and Produce Alliance.” FoodLogiQ will make its case to potential investors at the CED Tech Conference next week. This profile is the latest in a series of Tech Venture presenting companies as part of a partnership between WRAL TechWire and the CED. …
  • “Muscadine grapes have uses far beyond wine,” Wilmington Star-News: In all likelihood, 2016 will go down as the hottest year since record-keeping began, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But ironically it was a cold spell back in April that took a bite out of this year’s crop of muscadine grapes destined for wine production. Even so, table grape growers like Whit Jones, who manages muscadine production at Cottle Farms in Faison, has no complaints about this year’s harvest. “Some folks were hurt with two nights of freezing weather that killed some of the primary shoots and caused some irregular maturity,” Jones said. “They might be a little short on wine grapes, but the heat is not a problem for us. It’s a good crop this year.” Wine isn’t the only way to preserve the fresh fruit of Vitis rotundifolia, and with the sweltering summer pushing well into September, there’s no better excuse to dust off that ice cream maker hidden in the back corner of the kitchen. …
  • “Bayer’s crop science division plans to spend $2.8 billion on infrastructure,” News & Observer: Life sciences giant Bayer is planning to invest 2.5 billion euros, or $2.8 billion in U.S. dollars, on capital expenditures for its crop science division over the next four years. Liam Condon, head of the division that employs about 1,000 workers in Research Triangle Park, unveiled the spending plan for 2017 to 2020 at a company event in Germany Wednesday. The infrastructure investment, which is in addition to planned research-and-development spending for the crop science division of more than 1 billion euros annually, “will help ensure a continuous innovative product pipeline that can meet the challenging needs of growers around the world,” Condon said in the Germany-based company’s announcement. Condon also affirmed the division’s earlier guidance. “In light of the continuing weak market environment, we expect crop science to continue to outperform the market with sales to remain on the prior-year level” after adjusting for currency fluctuations and for the sale of the Bayer Advanced and Bayer Garden consumer products businesses announced in May, he said. That would put the division’s revenue at about 10 billion euros, or $11.18 billion. …
  • “Abattoir blues: Demand is growing for a local slaughterhouse,” Mountain Xpress: You can hear them before you see them, four large hogs flopped out on the wet earth, snoozing and snorting in the sunlight. Unlike the majority of hogs raised for meat in America, these fat and happy animals will spend their entire lives in the pastures of Hickory Nut Gap Farm until they are ready to become bacon, pork chops or barbecue. Hickory Nut Gap in Fairview currently has 100 hogs and 90 cattle grazing in its own pastures and the fields of other farms their meet its standards for cultivating pasture-raised, free-range livestock. All of these animals will be entirely raised by the farm, whereas livestock on the majority of smaller local farmsteads are eventually sold to larger operations, provided grain feed, then led to a slaughter factory built to process upward of 30,000 head a day. By contrast, the Hickory Nut Gap animals will be brought to small, family-owned processing facilities like Mays Meats in Taylorsville, a plant that adopted fully certified-organic standards in 2011. These USDA-approved sites also provide farmers with butchering and packaging services. Every week, Hickory Nut Gap workers load up hogs to carry to slaughter.  …
  • “Australia, could we pour you a little N.C. moonshine?” Charlotte Observer: Australia is a hot and sometimes dry place. That might make it a thirsty market for one of North Carolina’s fastest-growing products – craft spirits. That’s why six distilleries, including Charlotte’s Doc Porter’s and two Wilkes County moonshine makers, are headed for Australia next week on a trade mission to introduce the Land Down Under to a growing product here in North Carolina. “The N.C. distillers, they’re a fledgling industry,” says Peter Thornton, the assistant director of international marketing for the N.C. Department of Agriculture, which helped arrange the trade mission. “They’re going to need to find as many markets as possible. I think we will be one of the first states to attempt to set up exports there.” …
  • “Richlands celebrates 50 years of Farmer’s Day,” Jacksonville Daily News: What began as a way to celebrate local farmers and a community tradition of tobacco farming has transitioned to a modern celebration of heritage in Richlands. Established in 1966, the original Farmer’s Day was “scheduled to take place at the end of harvest, primarily tobacco,” Lisa Whitman-Grice from the Onslow County Museum, said. “At the time, it was probably the one money crop. There’s a lot of tradition that surrounds tobacco farming.” The close-knit, farming community has celebrated the day every year since. “In the old days, there might be a greased pole contest,” Whitman-Grice said. She remembered attending the event as a child, when there was a greased pig chasing contest for kids. …
  • “Questions Raised as Farmers Turn to Megawatts,” Coastal Review Online: Solar power and agriculture may not seem related, but in coastal North Carolina, the two are becoming intertwined as an increasing number of farmers lease their land to solar developers. This trend, which provides economic benefits for the farmers, has communities and some state officials worried about the potential environmental and agricultural effects. The issue came to a head last week in a courtroom in Trenton in Jones County. About 25 residents gathered for a hearing organized by the North Carolina Utilities Commission for a proposed five-megawatt solar installment between Mallard Cove Landing Road and Trent Farm Road. Most who spoke during the hearing were opposed. “People do not want to live next to something that looks like a prison,” said Andy Gower, who lives near the proposed site. …
  • “Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund awards more than $3.8 million for projects,” Caldwell Journal: The N.C. Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund recently awarded more than $3.87 million to help communities across the state protect farmland and promote agricultural enterprises. More than $2 million went towards obtaining conservation easements on lands that border military bases in Hyde and Bertie counties. This money was set aside by the General Assembly to maintain working lands as buffer zones around military bases. “I am excited that we have been able to assist with the funding of easements on more than 2,500 acres of farmland across our state,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “These easements take the development pressure off of these families and help maintain their status as working lands for generations to come.” …
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