News Roundup: March 11-17

By on March 17, 2017

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.

  • “Urbanization, food safety regulations among challenges facing N.C. farming, speaker says,” Salisbury Post: On another subfreezing morning — one posing serious threats to Rowan County’s fruit and wheat crops — farmers. businessmen and local leaders gathered Thursday for breakfast to talk about agriculture’s importance. Rich Bonanno, director of N.C. State Cooperative Extension, told a crowd of more than 250 people at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church that one of the future challenges for N.C. agriculture is increasing urbanization. More people living in urban areas will change the faces of legislators and intensify farmers’ concerns about state funding for agriculture. It will be more important than ever, Bonanno said, “to connect them back to what we do.” The urban legislators of tomorrow will increasingly be asking, “Why should we care?” about agriculture, Bonanno said, and one of the first questions in response should be, “How many people are in your district?” It’s that many people who depend on agriculture, said Bonanno, who also is an associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University. “No matter what anybody is doing, everybody is eating,” he added. “… All agriculture is important; all farmers are important.” Bonanno served as keynote speaker Thursday for the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce’s fourth annual Farmers Appreciation Breakfast. Locally produced foods were prepared by the St. Luke’s Lutheran men’s group. The menu included sausage, livermush, eggs, grits, gravy, fruits, jams, honey, biscuits, bread and grape juice. The local food came from Frank Corriher Sausage, Wild Turkey Farms, Patterson Farm, Cauble Creek Vineyard, Overcash Farms, Moore Farms, Renn Bee Farm and the Piedmont Research Station. …
  • “Randolph delegation attends NC Ag Awareness Day,” Asheboro Courier-Tribune: Randolph County was well-represented Wednesday at the N.C. Ag Awareness Day in Raleigh. A delegation of more than a dozen attended the day-long affair held at the Legislative Building and N.C. Museum of History as well as the offices of Randolph County legislators. The featured event was a rally held in the auditorium of the Museum of History, emceed by Steve Troxler, secretary of agriculture. He talked about the importance of agriculture in the state and introduced speakers that included Gov. Roy Cooper and Phil Berger, president pro tem of the N.C. Senate. Most important for the Randolph County contingent was visiting the legislators and urging them to support agriculture. Richard Whitaker, president of the Randolph County Farm Bureau Board of Directors who sponsored the Raleigh trip, led the group to the offices of the four legislators representing Randolph County. Meeting with Rep. Pat Hurley, he said, “We think you stand where we are. With you and (Rep.) Allen (McNeill), we’re well covered.” Hurley asked that the group “keep me informed” about agricultural issues. “I will stick with you. I appreciate you all. You’ve taught me a lot about agriculture.” …
  • “Peaches suffer from cold snap; apples fare better,” Hendersonville Times-News: Henderson County’s apples appear to have avoided widespread damage from the recent cold snap, but that’s not true for the county’s peaches. Peaches were further along and suffered more damage from temperatures that stayed mostly below freezing for days. “It’s pretty simple on the peaches,” said Kenny Barnwell, who grows 5 acres of peaches alongside 150 acres of apples. “There just aren’t going to be hardly any at all.” Barnwell inspected his peaches Thursday, after two consecutive nights of temperatures reaching down into the teens, and said he couldn’t find many. The trees were basically in full bloom, he said, a period when growers worry about temperatures even at 27 or 28 degrees, and he had 17 and 19 degrees. His peaches were far enough along that he could check the blossoms and tell that they’re dead. Cold snaps around this time aren’t uncommon, he said, but this one was uncommonly cold — the coldest one he can remember. For the last few years, early warm periods have been followed by frosts or cooler weather, he added; this one was a good bit colder. …
  • “Freeze is bad news for North Carolina’s blueberry and peach farms,” Fayetteville Observer: Strawberries may have survived this week’s freezing temperatures, but it’s not looking good for blueberries and peaches. Farmers and agriculture experts are trying to figure out how much damage the cold snap is causing in the Cape Fear region. Taylor Williams, a Cooperative Extension agent in Moore County, said farmers have done what they could to protect their crops. Some efforts have fared better than others, he said. An early stretch of warm weather might have helped strawberries, which were further along than normal in their development. Blueberries, which had just started blooming, were more vulnerable. …
  • “How does an all-local-meat butcher shop sound to you, Davidson?” Charlotte Observer: The meat will all be local and the work will all be hands-on when Lee Menius opens his dream, Carolina Craft Butchery, in The Linden development in Davidson next month. Menius, whose Wild Turkey Farms in China Grove has been a big part of the local food system for years, was up on a ladder in the new walk-in cooler hooking up the refrigeration when I stopped by to take a look Thursday. “So, welcome to Carolina Craft Butchery,” he said when he climbed down. “All 1100 square feet of it.” Retail space around Davidson can be pricey: “Thus, the small footprint.” But Menius was one of the original farmers at the Davidson Farmers Market up the street, so staying close to it makes him happy. He’s been trying to get the shop deal together for five years. “We went everywhere, to Matthews, to SouthPark, to Cornelius.” When a spot came open in The Linden, at 605 Jetton Street (take a right from the second round-about) a block off Griffith Street and less than a mile from the market, he grabbed it. The front room will be retail, with a small freezer and cooler, plus a small area for a little produce and simple cooking supplies like buns for burgers. The meat will all be labeled by the farm, with Menius’ own farm supplying the pork and lamb and several other local farms supplying the chicken and beef. …
  • “Daily Ag Summary: Farmers Scrambling to Save Strawberries,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Strawberry farmers in North and South Carolina are working practically around the clock to make sure this year’s crop isn’t destroyed by the late winter blast of cold air. Don Nicholson, regional agronomist with the NC Department of Agriculture, says the next 24 hours is critical for the crop, and farmers are spraying to protect the early berries, but some risk running out of water. …
  • “What’s being said at mandatory auxin training in North Carolina?” Southeast Farm Press: For most of February and March, Alan York made the rounds across North Carolina delivering training for farmers and others who want to apply the new auxin herbicides on cotton and soybeans. More than 2,600 farmers and other applicators have attended the 27 mandatory training sessions as of early March. “You really draw a big crowd for a meeting when you’re required to attend,” York said at the auxin training session in Clinton. York is a weed specialist and William Neal Reynolds distinguished professor of Crop Science at North Carolina State University. York said a total of 38 training sessions are planned across the state and more than 3,000 people are expected by the time training is completed. Of those who completed the mandatory training, 82 percent have been growers with the remainder including dealers, consultants and applicators. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services required the mandatory training session for applicators as part of a 24(c) special local need label for all products containing 2,4-D or dicamba to be applied on Xtend or Enlist cotton or soybean. York said a key goal of the training is to help avoid the drift issues that occurred across the Mid-South last year and garnered negative national publicity. “EPA made it very clear that they are not going to stand for any more of that,” he said. Registration for the new dicamba products is temporary, for two years. York said EPA can choose not to extend the registrations if there is a great deal of off-target applications of the herbicides. “We need every tool we got. We would like to be able to keep these tools available to us. We have to demonstrate that we can use them responsibly,” York said. …
  • “Ag is No. 1 in the Southeast,” The Packer: Four state agricultural commissioners from southern states emphasized ag’s importance at Southern Exposure 2017. “Ag in Georgia makes life better,” said Gary Black, Georgia’s agriculture commissioner, March 10 at the annual Southeast Produce Council event. “Our biggest challenge is consumer confusion,” Black said. “Urban and suburban (consumers) love farmers but they’re not sure about farming.” States have a challenge in educating consumers that food doesn’t come from the back of their local supermarket, said Sandy Adams, agriculture commissioner for Virginia. “Our future is toward more specialty crops,” Steve Troxler, North Carolina’s ag commissioner, told the produce industry audience. He said as tobacco has lost prominence in the state, its farming has become much more diverse, and that’s great for fruits and vegetables. Hugh Weathers, South Carolina’s agriculture commissioner, said the state is working with younger farmers since the state’s average age of farmers is 59 ½. “Agribusiness is our No.1 industry,” he said. Each state commissioner also agreed labor is a huge problem, because locals are often not skilled or reliable enough to work in their state’s agriculture industries. …
  • “Agriculture an important part of our community,” Washington Daily News: Agriculture has long been an economic staple in Washington and throughout Beaufort County. You may be asking: how is agriculture associated with the Washington Harbor District Alliance? Well, it is a part of our downtown experience on Saturday mornings from April through October. Your WHDA has supported and promoted it for many reasons that will be discussed. Farmers’ markets across America have seen a growth spurt in recent years. The USDA has listed 8,144 markets, of which Washington is listed. Markets have proven to help in the economic and social vitality of our citizenry. At a time when neighbors may not know one another, they can mix and mingle in the fresh air and connect with friends and community, making this one of the biggest assets offered by a market. Rather than being in a large store, a person can shop for goods that are locally grown in the open air. Shopping can then be a pleasure rather than a chore. We at the WHDA have always asked you to shop local. What better way to do so than to shop for produce at the Farmers’ Market? Family farmers need our support, too. …
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