News Roundup: Oct. 8-14

By on October 14, 2016

News Roundup - this week's top news stories about NC agricultureEach week 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.

  • “North Carolina farms engulfed by Matthew’s wake,” Politico: Conflicting reports emerged Wednesday of hog lagoons in hurricane-ravaged North Carolina leaking toxic manure into floodwaters, with environmentalists saying they’ve identified five sites that were either breached or overflowing. “There are horrific problems, and I use that term very carefully,” Rick Dove, a senior adviser for the Waterkeeper Alliance, told MA in a phone interview shortly after an observation flight. But neither the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services nor the Department of Environmental Quality could confirm the existence of breaches, which reportedly occurred east of I-95, close to the coast. DEQ Secretary Donald van der Vaart, in a phone interview, said he’s received reports that some lagoons are inundated, but none of a full-on breach — the worst possible scenario — but added that it’s something he’s “monitoring very closely.” No breaches were reported by the state agriculture department, and the North Carolina Pork Council said in a statement that the “loss of animal life has been limited.” …
  • “North Carolina farmers face huge losses in wake of Hurricane Matthew,” Successful Farming: Hurricane Matthew swept by North Carolina on October 9, causing “impacts to agriculture that will be here for a while,” said North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services public affairs director Brian Long. It is too early to assess the total damage, but farmers across the state are hurting. When Hurricane Matthew hit, it dumped more rain than expected west of the forecast, drenching already saturated soils. Heavy rains in late September prevented farmers from harvesting crops before Matthew arrived. “Crops that were left in the ground during the storm, such as cotton, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and peanuts are in trouble,” said Long. “Typically, these crops are harvested right now, however most are still submerged, and farmers can’t harvest them quickly.” Farmers hope to salvage some crops left in the ground, but waters have been slow to recede, affecting crop quality. …
  • “Agriculture/Consumer Services responding to disaster,” Bladen Journal: The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is ready to dispatch inspectors and field forces to assess damage to the state’s agriculture industry and to ensure food is safe for consumers. Inspectors are waiting for flood waters to recede to safe levels before making site visits. In the meantime, they are contacting firms to determine which areas will be prioritized. “It’s important to get out into the field as soon as possible,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, who has done aerial surveys of the damage. “We want to help our farmers recover as quickly as possible and assist agribusinesses to resume normal operations as soon as feasible.” Here are some of the ways that NCDA&CS divisions are responding: …
  • “Flooded North Carolina farms are likely littered with drowned livestock,” The Washington Post: At least tens of thousands of chickens, hogs and other livestock are feared dead in floodwaters that washed over factory farms and towns in eastern North Carolina following Hurricane Matthew. Conservationist organizations and government agencies that dispatched surveillance helicopters over Cumberland and Robeson counties on Tuesday reported that waters from swollen rivers and creeks had reached at least a half-dozen poultry houses and possibly some hog houses at animal feed operations. Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said officials would work to quickly dispose of decaying animal carcasses that could contaminate waters and pose a potential public health threat. The state wants to avoid a repeat of the problems that followed Hurricane Floyd in 1999, when hundreds of bloated hog and chicken carcasses floated for days in floodwaters. …
  • “Farmers face extensive crop damage from hurricane, floods,” WBTV: North Carolina officials are worried that Hurricane Matthew and the subsequent floods have jeopardized crops in the state. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that peanuts, soybeans, and cotton are close to harvest, but are threatened by flooded farmland in eastern counties. Most tobacco was harvested before the hurricane hit, but some of the product is in danger of rotting in barns because power outages have caused disruptions to the curing process. State Department of Agriculture spokesman Brian Long says it is too early to determine how large any losses will be. He said yields were looking favorable this year before the hurricane hit. N.C. Peanut Growers Association CEO Bob Sutter says last year was a down year for peanut farmers and another bad season could be “devastating.”
  • “Farmers face extensive crop damage from hurricane and floods,” The News & Observer: Hurricane Matthew and floods that have come after are jeopardizing crops, pitting farmers against rising water to claim commodities worth millions.  Peanuts, soybeans, and cotton, still in the fields and close to harvest, are threatened by flooded farmland in eastern counties. Most tobacco was harvested before the hurricane hit, but some of the product is in danger of rotting in barns where curing has been disrupted by power outages.  It’s too early to know the extent of the losses, and the impacts are specific to crops and locations. In some areas, the rain and flooding compounded problems of soils already saturated in earlier storms.
  • “N.C. Department of Agriculture offers information hotline for farmers affected by Hurricane Matthew,” National Hog Farmer: The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has activated its toll-free hotline to help farmers affected by Hurricane Matthew connect with resources that can assist with recovery. Farmers who have an agricultural emergency can call 866-645-9403. “Hurricane Matthew has brought record-breaking floods and strong winds to a large part of North Carolina,” says Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We expect impacts to farms to include power outages, damage to crops and agricultural buildings and animal health emergencies. We are prepared to work with our state and local partners to help our agricultural community in the storm’s aftermath.” …
  • “NC State Fair, opening Thursday, offers respite for storm-weary state,” The News & Observer: The N.C. State Fair, North Carolina’s annual celebration of agriculture, opens Thursday as a pleasant diversion for a state that could use one. The ongoing flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew will be felt at the 11-day fair. People who might have entered a contest, exhibited a prized hog or simply brought their family to Raleigh for a day at the fair won’t be there because they’ve got more pressing problems. But for many, the games, rides and other attractions – both familiar and new – will help them forget their cares for a while. Here’s what you can expect: …
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