News Roundup: Jan. 28-Feb. 3

By on February 3, 2017

 

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.

  • “Daily Ag Summary: Carolina Cotton Growers Coop Named Exporter of the Year,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Garner-based Carolina Cotton Growers Cooperative has been named the 2017 N.C. Exporter of the Year by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The award recognizes individuals or companies that have made a positive impact on N.C. agricultural exports. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler presented the award to Michael Quinn, the cooperative’s president and CEO, and Keith Lucas, vice president of marketing, during the Ag Development Forum on Feb. 2 at the State Fairgrounds. Formed in 1922, the cooperative is the second-oldest in the nation and serves cotton growers in North Carolina and surrounding states. It is heavily involved in the international cotton industry. …
  • “Calm down. You’ll still be able to get your bacon,” The News & Observer: The alarming headlines came quickly Wednesday morning: “Now It’s Getting Serious: 2017 Could See a Bacon Shortage.” “Nation’s bacon reserves hit 50-year low as prices rise.” “Everyone Freak Out! America Is Running Low on Bacon.” And panic people did. The source of the anxiety was a recent report from the USDA, boosted by the Ohio Pork Council, which reported that the country’s frozen pork belly inventory was at its lowest point in half a century. Pork belly is the source of the greasy meat slices people love to put on everything. At the end of 2016, the reserves held just 17.8 million pounds, down more than 35 million pounds from the year prior. “Today’s pig farmers are setting historic records by producing more pigs than ever,” Rich Deaton, the president of the council, said in a statement. “Yet our reserves are still depleting.” …
  • “The importance of the tobacco market,” Washington Daily News: Thanks for the many nice compliments about our series on the history of Washington. Reading and now writing has become a hobby, and to study our local history was a pleasure. In this article, let us look at what used to be one of the most important days in our town’s economy: opening day of the tobacco market! We only wish more could have experienced this day because the process of getting tobacco to market was an arduous, laborious and sometimes educational process. Many lessons of life were learned, and it even had its own language. On a hot, sultry day, words like “puttin’ in,” “takin’ out,” “handin’,” “hanging,” “priming,” “tie horse,” “truckin’,” “tier poles,” “lugs,” “poking,” “suckering” and “toppin’” were common words. Even the name tobacco was pronounced “bacca.” In the field or under the shelter, work started early and finished just in time for a bath and supper. This process usually started in June and could run until September in a good year. The work from the field, to the shelter, to the barn, and then the pack house was indeed much more than a chore! And yet, there was still work to be done and fretted over. Tobacco still had to be taken to market. …
  • “Rosemary Pete closes his farm stand,” Charlotte Observer: Pete Vinci, who became a fixture on Charlotte’s local-food scene selling rosemary he clipped from his parents’ yard and went on to sell produce at farmers’ markets and to restaurants, announced Tuesday on Facebook that he will close his stand at the Charlotte Regional Farmers’ Market on Feb. 25. He plans to continue to operate his lemonade stand at the market and may sometimes sell mountain produce there, but Vinci said he’s changing to a business model in which he sells produce only to stores, not to restaurants or consumers.
    “It essentially can run itself,” he told The Observer. “Growing stuff all day and being at the farmers’ market, there’s not much time to do a lot of things.” …
  • “Food processing center plans move forward,” Greenville Daily Reflector: Work to plan for the proposed regional food processing center in Ayden are moving forward with the selection of a contractor to draw up documents needed for the town to apply for grant funding. The Ayden Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Jan. 9 a memorandum of understanding with Origin Farms Consulting of Kansas City, Mo., to create a business concept, feasibility assessment and business plan for the project.
    The total cost for Origin Farms’ work will be $39,000, which will be paid for from a $100,000 allocation given to the town by the N.C. General Assembly to support the project. …
  • “8 North Carolina chocolates to try right now,” Wilmington Star News: From barbecue to beer, North Carolina is known for a lot of fantastic foodstuffs. And thanks to a wave of like-minded entrepreneurs who’ve emerged in the past few years, we can add one more (most welcome) addition to the rapidly growing list: chocolate. The secret is clearly out. Chocolatiers in the Old North State have earned accolades from the Good Food Awards, Martha Stewart American Made Awards and countless other websites specializing in “best of” lists for their efforts, with many of the most highly-regarded offerings now widely distributed from mountain to shore. So whether you’re stocking up for Valentine’s Day, priming your palate for the upcoming Wilmington Wine and Chocolate Festival or just sneaking a quick indulgence between shifts, consider reaching for any of the following the next time your sweet tooth acts up. …
  • “Growing the ‘best damn oyster’: Inside the effort to get local oyster farming up to speed,” Port City Daily: Oyster farming is sustainable, environmentally beneficial and potentially lucrative. So why doesn’t North Carolina have more oyster farms? “There’s no reason not to do this,” said Tim Holbrook, owner of the Masonboro Reserve Oyster Co., “They’re good for the environment, they’re delicious. And it’s not a bad office. “And yet,” he added, “most of the oysters people eat in North Carolina are from somewhere else.” Port City Daily spoke with Holbrook about the state of local oyster farming while traveling to Holbrook’s oyster farm, four acres located in the estuarial waters of the Intracoastal Waterway. Situated between spoil islands and Masonboro Island, the location is ideal, according to Holbrook. “This is the cleanest water in the southeast,” he said. “It might be the most perfect water for oysters in the United States. It was one of the first national estuaries. That was done to recognize how pristine this area is.” Holbrook’s location is good, but not unique. North Carolina has ample aquatic acreage with potential for oyster farming. Despite this, other states are vastly out-producing North Carolina. According to Chuck Weirich, who works on aquaculture research and education for NC Sea Grant, Virginia and North Carolina had the same oyster production in 2005, about $250,000 a year. By 2016, Weirich said Virginia’s state subsidizing and reduced regulations had helped producers bring in $16 million, while North Carolina had barely reached $500,000. Now North Carolina is trying to catch up, and Holbrook is at the cutting edge of research to find out how. …
  • “This organic farmer weathers two historic flooding events on his Sampson County property,” Wilmington Star News: Draining a swamp is easier said than done — a fact Black River Organic Farm owner Stefan Hartmann knows better than most. About four months have passed since his acreage was submerged by the farm’s winding namesake body of water in Sampson County, but evidence of the deluge is still easy to find — most notably in the chest-high line of earthy sediment clinging to the walls of his three plastic-domed greenhouses. The high-water mark brought on by Hurricane Matthew in October eclipsed what Hartmann then thought of as worst-case-scenario flooding from Hurricane Floyd in 1999 by more than two feet in places. “Compared to Floyd, this was a complete loss. Crops, gas tanks in the swamp, heaters, electrical panels — so much can go wrong,” Hartmann said of the devastation that continues to reverberate. “This time it came extremely fast. It rose higher and the water was moving faster. The whole thing was really turbulent. We’re really hoping this was the big one.” The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared Hurricane Matthew a 1-in-1,000 year flooding event. Floyd earned 500-year flood event status from NOAA. The designations are a predictor of probability — a 100-year flood has a 1-percent chance of occurring in any given year; 0.1 percent for a 1,000-year flood — and not a guarantee of dry land for any length of time. And that uncertainty has already forced Hartmann to shift gears. …
  • “Allergy-free peanuts? NC A&T scientists may have cracked the code,” The News & Observer: Creating an allergy-free peanut is deceptively simple: Roast, shell and peel it, then soak it in an enzymatic solution that removes about 98 percent of the allergens within the peanut. But the patented process, developed by researchers at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, could be life-changing for people with peanut allergies, though some scientists and organizations warn that there’s still a long way to go. The key to the peanut-cleansing treatment is alcalase, an enzyme that breaks down proteins in peanuts. Alcalase is used in some laundry detergents to remove protein-based stains like grass and blood, according to the National Centre for Biotechnology Education in the U.K. After the peanuts are roasted, shelled and peeled, they’re soaked in a solution containing alcalase, which reduces two major allergens, Ara h 1 and Ara h 2, in the peanuts. …
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