News Roundup: Dec. 3-9

By on December 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.

  • “State laws impede craft beverages,” Carolina Journal: North Carolina’s craft brewers want a fair system. That’s all they want, according their adopted slogan, which is part of a campaign and accompanying website, craftfreedom.org. The primary goal of the campaign — we could reasonably call it a movement — is eliminating a state law requiring brewers to procure a distributor once their beer output reaches 25,000 barrels. “All we want is what’s fair,” the website proclaims. That’s not really all that brewers want, of course, and even the word “all” is relative, meaning different things to different people. But the message to lawmakers is clear, again, from the website: As small brewery owners, all we want is the chance to maintain control over the businesses that we built. Fair enough, so to speak. Ryan Self is director of sales for Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte, a veritable stalwart among North Carolina brewers. The brewery opened in 2009 and now, according to the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild, has some 180 cohorts across the state. As Self points out, that success carries a price. Breweries and wineries in North Carolina must navigate regulatory hazards dating back to Prohibition, which didn’t end in North Carolina until the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control system was established in 1937. That system remains strong today, as North Carolina remains one of 17 control states, meaning the state has control over some if not all of retailing and wholesaling alcoholic beverage sales. …
  • “Duke University Grad Helps Farmers Manage Their Crops from Space,” WRAL: According to a 2005 land-use report, about 40 percent of all land on earth is dedicated to agriculture. The total land used for crop production is about the size of South America. The remaining 8.9 billion acres are used for raising livestock. Organic and sustainable food is a rising trend, as consumers trends move toward more local consumption and generalized interest in how food is sourced deepens. Add to those trends the reality of production and consumption needs. With the world’s population growing, pressure mounts for farmers to create new ways to produce food with lower land consumption. A report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization states that to keep up with the growing population rate, the world will need to produce 70 percent more food in 2050 than it did in 2006 (Business Insider).  The Internet of Things has helped the agriculture industry evolve from the planting, harvesting, and storing technology that has existed for hundreds of years to high tech farming methods that apply sophisticated technology like advanced moisture scanners, aerial imagery, and GPS. With the need to push farming to the next level, a slew of apps, products, and software from ag-tech startups have come to market that offer ways for farmers to easily and quickly assess land and crops, as well as diagnose any threats.
  • “Farmers plant seeds for local growth: Orange County farms’ direct-to-consumer sales are part of a national trend,” The Daily Tar Heel: At Cates Corner Farm, owner Jonathan Ray farms land that has been in his family since the mid-1700s. As one of more than 100 local farmers in the Triangle who sell directly to consumers, he’s also part of a growing trend. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2007’s and 2012 Censuses, the number of Orange County farms that sell straight to consumers has increased by 54 percent since 2007. “The area is constantly growing,” Ray said. “There’s a high demand for sure.” …
  • “Governor Promises Farmers Hurricane Relief,” TWC News: McCrory spoke to several hundred in attendance at the Farm Bureau Convention in Greensboro Monday, promising support during the upcoming special session of the General Assembly to discuss continuing hurricane relief efforts. Cotton, soybeans, peanuts and livestock were impacted by what Gov. Pat McCrory called “the worst natural disaster North Carolina has ever seen.” “In Goldsboro, for example, we had people who were getting in rowboats, taking hay across, because the animals were stranded,” said McCrory. “I’ll probably funnel a lot of (that) money to help the farmers of North Carolina.” Senator Richard Burr (R), North Carolina, also put in an appearance. “I think that the president ran on the platform of change,” said Burr. “There’s every reason to believe that he understands the value of farming to the U.S. economy.” …
  • “Troxler previews request to lawmakers on disaster relief,” The News & Observer: North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler laid the groundwork Thursday for what he’ll ask of lawmakers if they return for a special session later this month to consider Hurricane Matthew relief. Troxler told the Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission he plans to bring a proposal to create an agriculture recovery program — similar to one implemented after Hurricane Floyd in 1999. “We will be huddling up to put together a proposal to bring to them, to try and help get these agricultural people from point A to point B,” said Troxler, a Republican who was elected to a fourth term last month. “And I know as a farmer myself that they have been through two disastrous years in a row.” Troxler told committee members Hurricane Matthew has caused an estimated $150 million worth of uninsured crop losses and that he wants a program to potentially focus on these uninsured losses. …
  • “How have raging wildfires and punishing droughts affected Christmas tree farms?Winston-Salem Journal: Less than 3 miles away, forest fires ravaged the Burnsville area. It seemed inevitable that Effler’s farm, filled with thousands of trees, would become another casualty in the recent tirade of wildfires. “You couldn’t see anything, it was so smoky,” said Effler, owner of Still Fork Nursery. “It was scary; you never know what can happen.” Last week, Gov. Pat McCrory declared 22 counties under a state of emergency, including Alleghany and Ashe counties, two of the state’s largest Christmas tree producers. Ninety-five percent of Christmas trees are grown in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Jackson and Watauga counties, according to data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The smoke won’t affect the trees much, but fire would be devastating, said Effler, whose farm was spared. “Thank the good Lord, they contained the fire,” he said. “The trees are looking good.” Western North Carolina is renowned for its Christmas trees, which normally flourish in the crisp mountain air and fertile soil. …
  • “Growers refocus efforts on immigration reform,” Hendersonville Times-News: Flavor1st Packers and Growers has operations across the Southeast growing corn, tomatoes, peppers and more on hundreds of acres, but this year, the company had to cut back its production. Owner Kirby Johnson said in Henderson County alone, a reduction “to the tune of 100 acres in tomatoes and 155 acres in corn” was needed because “I’m not going to plant it and leave it in the field.” Local growers are feeling the pinch from an ongoing labor shortage, the result of many migrant farm workers deciding not to return to the U.S. because of the difficulty and danger of doing so. Normally, Johnson said he has 15 work trucks operating in the county. This year he had five. He’s down about 100 employees, and that loss trickles down throughout the county. Those workers normally eat at restaurants and shop at local stores. Johnson also cut back on purchases from other businesses, from the crates he uses for tomatoes to fuel, on which he spent $20,000-$25,000 less this year. Johnson has third-generation employees who come to the U.S. to work for him, but increasingly, those employees are leaving and not coming back, including at least six this year. “I had six shake my hand and I know exactly what that means — I won’t see them anymore,” he said. …
Print Friendly, PDF & Email