News Roundup: Oct. 1-7

By on October 7, 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.

  • “Farm leaders rally for eastern North Carolina agriculture,” Sampson Independent: When it comes to agriculture in eastern North Carolina, farmers have a lot to smile about. One of those proud farmers is Sen. Brent Jackson and, while facing a large audience Thursday night, he showed it to people from west of Interstate 95. “For all of those who live west of 95, I want to welcome you to God’s country,” Jackson said while drawing chuckles and applause during the Agriculture Rally at the Duplin County Events Center. The first generation farmer from Sampson County was one of many supporters who addressed the successes and needs for agriculture in the region and throughout North Carolina. While showing support, Jackson continued and spoke about the labor of farmers and making ends meet. “We created the term ‘Get ‘Er Done” before it was ever popular, because you have to make it work,” Jackson said. “That’s what we have done as a legislative team.” Jackson added that agriculture is the lifeblood of the region, state and the United States and encouraged the audience to support lawmakers who support it. Before Jackson took the stage, Ed Emory, chairman of NC Farm Families, talked about the state’s biggest industry, which accounts for one-sixths of the income, $84 billion of the state’s gross product and 700,000 employees who work in food, forestry and fiber industries. He also mentioned that seven of the top 10 producers are in the eastern region, which affects the quality of life. …
  • “Monday Moment: Market has plenty of pumpkins to choose from,” Fayetteville Observer: Campbell Pleasant and her sister Emory browsed through hundreds of pumpkins at Carolina Farmers Market on Saturday afternoon. They couldn’t be too lopsided or small because these girls had big plans for their pumpkins. “We like to pick out round pumpkins cause they’re easier to carve,” said 9-year-old Campbell. “It gives you a lot more space.” The girls plan on enlisting the help of their parents to carve ghosts and skeletons into their jack-o-lanterns this year. The sisters’ mission to find the perfect pumpkins kicked off fall, despite the warm temperatures over the weekend. In fact, dozens of people stopped by the farmers market to select gourds, mums and hay bales. The market was bustling with grandparents and their grandchildren, boyfriends dragged there by Pinterest-inspired girlfriends and a husband who casually paced behind his wife, hands on his hips as she examined dozens of pumpkins. …
  • “At Bryan Series season opener, food writer Michael Pollan talks about farming,” Greensboro News & Record: Best-selling author Michael Pollan visited an actual farm — the one at Guilford College — on Friday afternoon. That evening, he kicked off the 2016-17 season of the Guilford College Bryan Series with a virtual tour of farms he has encountered during a long and successful career of writing about food, agriculture and the intersection of the human and natural worlds. Pollan, who’s also a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, spoke at the Greensboro Coliseum to an audience of close to 3,000 who knew him from “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” and his stories in the New York Times Magazine. The virtual farm tour, he told the audience, was to teach them “the fundamental way we get the calories out of the earth.” At a 35,000-acre potato farm in Idaho, Pollan met a farmer that used a pesticide so toxic that no one can venture into the fields for several days after spraying. The chemical eliminates a cosmetic defect in a certain type of russet potato that produces extra-long French fries. …
  • “State Ag ‘digs’ eatery for serving local products,” Stanly News & Press: Off the Square in Albemarle received state-wide recognition from the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. For its second annual “Dig into Local Best Menu NC” contest, the NCDA&CS chose five restaurants from North Carolina that demonstrated a conscious effort to provide customers with local agriculture products. “This contest is about more than simply identifying a menu item as ‘local,’” N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a press release. “The ‘Dig into Local Best Menu NC’ contest asked chefs to be more specific about where they source ingredients, and expand those options across their menus.” Off the Square, along with two restaurants in Charlotte, one in Raleigh and one in Winston-Salem, was awarded this distinction. “I think for us, it started with entering with the belief that we do live up to the values of what [the contest] was looking for,” said Off the Square owner, Michael Bogdanski. “When we got the announcement, we were so happy to get the award and on top of that, what absolutely floored us was that there were…all these big cities and then Off the Square in Albemarle. We’ve often talked about the restaurant as a big city restaurant in a small town.” …
  • “Women Butchers and Farmers Are Growing in Number, Especially in North Carolina,” Indy Week: A butchery demo by Kari Underly is like an improv comedy sketch. At Cane Creek Farm in Graham on Sunday, she rolls with the shouts and whispers from the crowd while sawing through a whole lamb. Underly, a master butcher from Chicago, is famed for honing her third-generation skills and earning a James Beard Award nomination for her 2012 book, The Art of Beef Cutting. She’s also credited with developing the flatiron steak. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association hired her in 2002 to figure out how to make the most of a cow to boost profits, although the man for whom she consulted tends to take credit for that “discovery.” Slicing out a flatiron cut in less than five seconds, Underly explains how, early in her career, men told her that she worked for them and that her ideas were theirs. She dangles the meat high above her head. “If all he’s got is this little piece of meat, then just take it,” Underly says, her wry smile exploding into a sardonic laugh. The women seated before her in rows of folding chairs—all meat-industry workers—clap and laugh at this all-too-familiar struggle, delighting in a shared jibe at the patriarchy. They’ve come to Orange County from all over the country to attend the third Women Working in the Meat Business Conference, sponsored by NC Choices in Raleigh. WWMB began as a small conference, in 2013, with around thirty attendees. This year’s gathering included seventy registered participants, with at least a dozen more speakers, consultants, and volunteers. It was the first of its kind, says coordinator Sarah Blacklin. It grew out of a women’s session at NC Choices’ annual Carolina Meat Conference. …
  • “Farmers ‘wide open’ getting crops out of fields,” Fayetteville Observer: Late Wednesday afternoon, a couple of mechanical cotton pickers were going at it, the airborne dust and filaments swirling above the machines as they harvested a field of cotton in the Vander community of Cumberland County. The harvesters had just finished a field closer to Cape Fear High School. Hurricane Matthew, and the potential havoc it might bring with strong winds and excessive rainfall, was on the mind of Cumberland County farmer Duane Smith. Smith owns the crop farm outfit, Smith Farms. …
  • “NC Biotech Center lands $1.87M grant for sorghum-biomass fuel study,” WRAL: The North Carolina Biotechnology Center, aided by a $1.87 million federal grant, has embarked on a three-year project to study the production of sorghum as biomass for fuel and high-value chemicals in the Mid-Atlantic region. The project, involving scientists at two land-grant universities and numerous industry partners, is enabled by the grant to NCBiotech’sBiotechnology Crop Commercialization Center (BCCC). The award was the largest of seven announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). It’s also the only award that didn’t go to a university – a testament to the specialized capabilities and personnel at the predominantly state-funded Biotech Center. “This three-year grant funding is a huge boost for advancing our ongoing partnership effort that will help farmers throughout the region add this important cash crop to their rotation plans, creating a ‘growforce’ for the development of a cellulose-to-biochemicals processing facility,” said Paul Ulanch, Ph.D., MBA, executive director of BCCC. …
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