News Roundup: Nov. 19-25

By on November 25, 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.

  • “Christmas tree harvest not affected by drought, experts say,” Watauga Democrat: In the coming days and weeks, the familiar site of Christmas trees strapped to car roofs and lying in the beds of trucks will return to the High Country. However, with an abnormally dry season causing severe drought in the region, there have been concerns over this year’s harvest. According to Jennifer Green, executive director of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association, those fears are not only unfounded, but the dry weather has had the reverse effect that droughts normally have on farms. “A lot of farmers we are in contact with have said this is one of the easiest harvests on record,” said Green. “Rain, mud and cold can actually make the harvest harder.” ….
  • “Cost of Thanksgiving dinner takes a surprising turn,” Asheville Citizen Times: American families can afford bigger helping of Thanksgiving dinner this year. A classic Thanksgiving dinner will cost $49.87 for a gathering of 10, just under $5 per person, according to figures out this week from the American Farm Bureau Federation. The total is a step back from 2015’s all-time high of $50.11. “If you adjust for inflation, the price is lower this year than when we first started tracking the cost 31 years ago,” said Dr. John Newton, AFBF’s director of marketing intelligence. “The dollar goes a long way.” The Farm Bureau tracks the price of 16 Thanksgiving staples, including turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, vegetables, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk. …
  • “State Inspectors Check Net Weight of Turkeys in Stores,” TWC News: (Video) With Thanksgiving just days away, stores are filled with shoppers purchasing the ingredients they need for a feast with family and friends. Meanwhile, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is working to ensure consumers are paying for the amount of food that is listed on a package.
    Standards Division Director Stephen Benjamin says inspectors have found problems in the past with some pre-packaged items. “There have been years where we’ve found some problems, even up to a half a pound short on a turkey,” Benjamin says. “Turns out it’s a problem at the plant where it was weighed and labeled there.” …
  • “Food safety campaign launches for Thanksgiving,” Asheville Citizen-Times: This holiday season millions of Americans will be cooking – or eating – a special holiday feast with family and friends. To support these home cooks in getting a safe and healthy meal on the table, the Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE) offers “The Story of Your Dinner” consumer education campaign. “With so many home cooks planning to prepare large meals over the holidays, coupled with the fact that one in six people become sick from a foodborne illness each year, this is the best time for reminders about the importance of safe food handling for good health,” said Shelley Feist, PFSE executive director. “We’re excited to tell ‘The Story of Your Dinner’ and to showcase the many food safety steps taken – from farm and processing to retail and, finally, in the home kitchen – to safely prepare food for our loved ones.” …
  • “It’s Choose and Cut Season in the High Country,” Watauga Democrat: For a few weeks each year, bundles of fresh Fraser firs temporarily surpass the profusion of kayaks, bike racks and cargo boxes atop vehicles on the Boone area highways. It must be Choose and Cut season. The Christmas tree industry has a strong presence in the High Country, including Watauga, Ashe and Avery counties. Ashe County is actually the nation’s leading producer of Christmas trees and greenery, with more than $85 million in sales every year. Choose and Cut allows families to tour local farms and pick their favorite tree to take home. Watauga County, which Cooperative Extension Director Jim Hamilton calls “The Choose and Cut Capital,” will have 18 Choose and Cut farms for 2016. Avery County, known as “The Fraser Fir Capital of the World,” includes more than 50 farms, with a number of them offering Choose and Cut. …
  • “WNC wildfire season unprecedented, no end in sight,” Asheville Citizen-Times: As any camper knows, it takes tinder, kindling and firewood to get a good fire going. In the case of wildfires torching thousands of acres of forest across the Southeast, it’s been simpler – drought, drought and drought. Western North Carolina is enduring its fifth-driest fall in 104 years and the worst since a much shorter lived drought in the spring of 1985, according to state records. The region has gone up to 80 days without significant rainfall, which is any amount greater than a quarter of an inch. For firefighters, that has meant more – and drier – fuel on forest floors. And dry conditions have kept leaves on trees longer, giving fires longer life and flames more reason to reach higher. “I’ve never seen a fire season like this before,” said CW Smith, who has served in the U.S. Service Forest since 1969. “We normally expect some fires during fall, hunting season and people coming to see the leaves but nothing close to this. This is unheard of and unseen in this part of the country.” …
  • “Oyster festival to support shellfish association,” Carolina Coast Online: Those who have a fondness for oysters will be able to attend a new event dedicated to the shellfish. From 1-8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, at Big Rock Landing, the streets along the waterfront will be filled with live music, vendors, beer and wine sales, and fresh local North Carolina oysters during the inaugural Crystal Coast Oyster Fest. The festival is hosted by the nonprofit organization Pints for Purpose, and funds raised will benefit the N.C. Shellfish Growers Association, something that event organizer Russell Lewis is passionate about. …
  • Five things to know about Farmin’ on Front” Wilmington Star News: Wilmington residents gussied up in their finest city clothes Wednesday night to attend a preview party at Farmin’ on Front at 143 N. Front St. With exposed rafters and brick surrounding marble counters, lighting fixtures fashioned from steel pots and heavy foot traffic streaming by, the store proved a quick hit with attendees. “You would expect to see something like this in a nice corner of Paris or London,” said Pierre Penegre, owner of Wilmington restaurant Le Catalan. “The attention to detail, this is exactly what downtown needs.” At 6,000 square-feet, the new store is a little hard to classify. It’s too small to call a supermarket, and too refined to simply label a grocery store. Owners Wayne and Ben Long, the father-and-son team behind a family of businesses under the Farmin’ Brand marque, refer to it as an urban food market. Whatever you call it, Farmin’ on Front is unlike anything else downtown, and here are a few reasons why. …
  • “For the love of goats, visitors flock to Prodigal Farm,” News & Observer: There were brown goats, black goats and spotted goats. They had names like Kit, Kodak and Kafka. They nibbled on your ankle, your hair or a piece of your shirt. They ate hay, climbed in and out of an old school bus, and wandered in the woods. Children of all ages followed them, fed them and hugged them. Essentially, the goats, which were born in spring, were the rock stars of the Prodigal Farm open farm day. “I think it’s awesome,” said Ellie Daniska, 8, of Raleigh, surrounded by nudging kids. “You just get to come and pet goats and hang out with them.” …
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