News Roundup: Dec. 17-22

By on December 23, 2016

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

Holiday note: State government offices are closed Dec. 23-27 for the Christmas holiday. We will be closed again on Jan. 2 for New Year’s observances. We wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season!

  • Avery Christmas tree graces state capitol buildingAvery Journal: N.C. Governor Pat McCrory applauded North Carolina’s Christmas tree industry earlier this month as he received the official trees and wreaths for the State Capitol during a ceremony. “North Carolina’s Christmas tree industry is a major part of our state’s diverse agriculture industry and overall economy,” Governor McCrory said. “I am proud these trees will be displayed in our State Capitol as a reminder of North Carolina’s leading role in producing Christmas trees, as well as the importance of continuing to support firefighters battling wildfires in the western region of our state.” The governor was joined by members of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association as he welcomed this year’s winners of the association’s contests for the State Capitol trees and wreaths. This year, the trees are provided by Lynn Smith from Merlyn Farms in Banner Elk. …
  • Research focuses on keeping needles on Christmas trees, Asheville Citizen Times: When Lilian Matallana checks for the freshness of a Fraser fir, she rubs the branches just like any conscientious Christmas tree buyer would. The difference is that Matallana has hundreds of branches in her aromatic lab at North Carolina State University, where she’s part of a team researching ways to help Christmas trees keep their needles longer in hopes of making them more attractive to buyers. “People just don’t like the messy stuff,” she said, explaining what causes many buyers to favor artificial Christmas trees over real ones. “They buy a tree and then a couple of weeks after, you have a lot of needles in your carpet. And people don’t really like that kind of thing.”  …
  • After A Long Fight, New Rules Defend Small Farmers. For NowKQED: This week, just days before he says goodbye to his job, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack landed one last punch in a brawl that’s gone on at his department since he got there eight long years ago. He announced new regulations that are intended to protect small farmers from mistreatment at the hands of meat packers, swine dealers, and poultry companies. Advocates for small farmers, including the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, praised it as an important step toward ending abuses of power by the handful of companies that dominate the meat industry. The National Pork Producers Council, on the other hand, was furious, calling Vilsack’s move “an apparent attack on rural America for its role in helping elect Donald Trump as president.” …
  • $100M biogas facility breaks ground in NC in DecemberWRAL: The largest utility-scale biogas facility in the U.S., capable of transforming animal and food waste into enough clean energy to power 32,000 homes annually, will break ground on Dec. 15 near Warsaw,, NC.
    The $100-million facility, located on 82 acres in southeastern North Carolina, is the first in a pipeline of large-scale anaerobic digestion and biogas treatment facilities planned by Boulder, Colorado-based Carbon Cycle Energy (C2e),a renewable energy development company. Upon completion in late 2017, the biogas facility, known as C2e Renewables NC, will process in excess of 750,000 tons of organic waste per year. …
  • Southerners enjoy the fruits of local grapesWilmington Star News: While California and European grapes seem to get all the hype, there are plenty who think the South’s muscadine wine is just fine. Southeastern North Carolina is home to the Duplin Winery, the world’s largest muscadine winery and the largest winery in the South. Located in Rose Hill just off exit 380 on I-40 about 50 miles north of Wilmington with a second location in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., Duplin Winery has fans of all ages and backgrounds. …
  • Vodka distillery to open in Kinston, NCNews & Observer: Kinston, a former textile and tobacco town located 90 miles east of Raleigh, will add another gastronomic attraction to its growing roster of eateries with the establishment of a craft distillery by Social Beverage Co. The N.C. Department of Commerce said Friday that Social Beverage will create 34 jobs and invest $5.8 million in the project. If the Raleigh-based company meets its hiring and investment targets, it will qualify to receive a $68,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund and matching local grants. The company plans to revitalize a historic property in Kinston and produce a “farm-to-flask” liquor called Social House Vodka. …
  • Stubborn drought to stick around for monthsAsheville Citizen Times: Despite recent showers and storms during much of December, Western North Carolina and much of the South’s severe drought still lingers and meteorologists say there won’t be any relief soon. A large portion of the state remains in some category of drought with most western counties considered to be in a severe or extreme drought, according to the N.C. Drought Monitor. The center’s weekly monitor, released Thursday, describes some improvement due to recent rains, but its map shows the central and western part of the state stubbornly covered in oranges, reds and browns, which is bad news for the region. Recent rainfall – nearly 2 inches for the first three weeks of December and 1.54 inches at the end of November – has certainly helped with the severity of drought conditions, but “it’s taken months to get to where we are now, and unfortunately, it’s going to take more than a couple of precipitation events to get us out of this drought,” said Rebecca Ward, a state climatologist. …
  • Company donates ‘doughnut hole’ inside DuPont State Forest, Charlotte Observer: DuPont has completed its donation of a 476-acre “doughnut hole” inside popular DuPont State Recreational Forest in western North Carolina, state officials say. The property was the site of a DuPont plant that was demolished in 2006. DuPont will remain responsible for ongoing cleanups of soil and groundwater contamination left by decades of making silicon and X-ray films. State agriculture commissioner Steve Troxler called it the “final piece” for the forest, which the state acquired in phases between 1995 and 2008. It now totals nearly 11,000 acres. …
  • Corner store funding available through Dec. 31Sampson Independent: Corner stores have until Dec. 31 to apply for funding that is meant to provide healthier food options for people living in food deserts in eastern North Carolina. The Healthy Food Small Retailer Program, which is administered by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, was established in the 2016 state budget bill. The pilot program will reimburse participating stores for refrigeration, freezers and stocking equipment needed for healthier items. “There are 349 food deserts across our state, affecting about 1.5 million North Carolinians,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Corner stores and convenience stores are integral parts of their communities, and can play an important role in bring healthy local foods to the neighborhoods they serve.” ….
  • NC grants $8.7M to more than 2 dozen projects from distilleries to poultry processors, News & Observer: Kinston, a former textile and tobacco town 90 miles east of Raleigh, will add another attraction to its growing roster of eateries with the establishment of a craft distillery by Social Beverage Co. The Raleigh-based company plans to create 34 jobs and invest $5.8 million in the project. If it meets its hiring and investment targets, it will qualify to receive a $68,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund and matching local grants. The company plans to revitalize a historic property in Kinston and produce a “farm-to-flask” liquor called Social House Vodka.  …
  • Agriculture conference open to allIndependent Tribune: The inaugural N.C. Agritunity Conference and Tradeshow will be held on Saturday, March 4, at the Iredell County Agricultural Center, 444 Bristol Drive in Statesville. N.C. Agritunity is a one-day educational conference for farmers of all types, featuring a tradeshow and a keynote speaker. Large commodity producers, livestock producers, small farm managers, beginning farmers and anyone just interested in agriculture are welcome to attend. Participants will choose from presentations in three educational tracks: livestock, field crop production and small farm management.  …
  • N.C. court OKs big fight: 800K tobacco growers, $340M, 1 caseGreensboro News & Record: North Carolina’s Supreme Court is setting up a whopper of a lawsuit to settle claims by 800,000 past and present tobacco farmers in five Southeastern states for a piece of $340 million. The state Supreme Court said Wednesday it was impractical for courts to handle hundreds of thousands of individual lawsuits in the fight over the reserve funds held by a North Carolina-based tobacco marketing cooperative. The decade-long lawsuit involves money collected by the Flue-Cured Tobacco Cooperative Stabilization Corp. Tobacco growers across North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Virginia paid into the cooperative over six decades dating back to the mid-1940s.  …

 

 

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