News Roundup: Sept. 30-Oct. 6

By on October 6, 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.

  • “Ag Secretary Perdue Says Communication With the Non-Farming Public Up to Farmers,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) On Thursday, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue hosted a roundtable discussion around biotechnology at NC State University in Raleigh. While biotech was the topic on the agenda, the discussion quickly evolved into communicating farming and biotech practices to the non-farming public. Ag Secretary Perdue was asked what USDA’s involvement in that should be: “I think, again, we need to get your constituency, farmers communicating with the public. You know, historically, farmers just want to produce, sit behind their fences and do what they do best, and that’s produce safe, nutritious food for America. But, we’ve got to be able to communicate that, we’re no longer assumed to be the trusted industry that we once were, and people don’t take that for granted. There are many people out there in the internet environment that want to disparage what’s happening on American farms. People want to know where their food came from, and we need to communicate the methods we use to produce that food. We wouldn’t produce food that’s unsafe for our families, we’re eating that same food. USDA wants to work with our producers across the country with universities like NC State to communicate the message of a safe, healthy food supply.” …
  • “Efforts to preserve farmland in the Piedmont,” WGHP Fox 8: (Video) For a lot of us, north High Point is known for busy streets and new neighborhoods that seem to pop up overnight. But Harriet Mattes remembers when life was a lot slower. “We were in the county, we were way out in the country,” Mattes said. Instead of new homes and traffic, you were more likely to see a cow. “We had as many as 300 at time,” Mattes said. “But we were not milking that many.” Lindale Dairy Farm was well known in High Point. The cows are now gone. But Mattes is following her mother’s wishes by keeping this corner of High Point rural. “Her expression was not, ‘I am responsible for the property,’ but, ‘I am responsible to the property.'” Mattes said. That’s why Mattes refuses to give in to developers. Even though the farm is now surrounded by the conveniences of Interstate 74 and Deep River Road. “A lot of people have wanted to either build a place for themselves or wanted to develop the property,” Mattes said. There’s also another reason why the over 100-acre plot will not be developed. A conservation easement placed on the property by the Piedmont Land Conservancy. “We got to have an abundance of land. The Piedmont is growing so fast,” Piedmont Land Conservancy Executive Director Kevin Redding said. “Got to keep agriculture for wildlife, clean water, clean air, we need these farms.” The state agrees. The Piedmont Land Conservancy will use about $400,000 from the North Carolina Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund to place a conservation easement on 200 acres of land in Randolph County. …
  • “Bumper Peanut Harvest Underway,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Like many other crops in the southeast, peanut growers are harvesting a bumper crop. Bob Sutter, Executive Director of NC Peanut Growers: “Keep in mind, when they’re talking about a 6,000 pound yield, in most cases it’s not the whole farm, just a particular field. But, when you look at the whole crop, we’ve had excellent weather, we’ve had excellent harvest weather, thus far, doesn’t seem to be anything on the horizion, but we are expecting some rain towards the end of the week, so, it’s looking like a bumper crop year.” You mentioned 6,000 pounds, of course, a lot of these acres were contracted back in the spring, what is going to happen when these producers have peanuts that are over their contract? “The peanuts that are over the contracted poundage can be purchased, at any price, contract price or something less, depending on what the sheller wants, if they’re not purchased they’ll probably go under USDA/FSA loan and can be purchased at a later date.” What kind of overages do you think we could be looking at this year? “Possibly as much as 20-25% will be un-contracted.” …
  • “CSA keeps farm, and farmer, heartstrong,” Asheboro Courier-Tribune: Beets, pumpkins, eggplant, okra, tomatoes, lima beans, popcorn, seasonal herbs and flowers … the list goes on. Heartstrong Farm in Staley has it all and then some, thanks to a strong one woman growing machine by the name of Eva Moss. Moss, 25, leases 16 acres of the historic Marley homestead in Staley, near the Randolph-Chatham County line. Her mission? To grow wholesome produce, beautiful flowers and healing herbs for her community through ecological means promoting biodiversity, soil health, local economy and strong hearts. And she means it with all of her heart. Heartstrong Farm came about after years of journeying, interning and going to school to make sure she was doing everything exactly right. “I went to school in Tennessee and interned on farms during the summers,” Moss, who was born in New Zealand, said. “Then I realized that I was becoming more interested in the culture of farming.” …
  • “New push to replace broken H-2A farm labor program,” Farm Futures: Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Oct. 2 submitted a bill to create a new agricultural guestworker program. The Agricultural Guestworker Act, or the AG Act, replaces the H-2A guestworker program, which has been criticized for more than two decades as a burdensome, expensive and unworkable program, and the farmers and ranchers who use the program have argued that by doing so they are often put at a competitive disadvantage compared to those who do not use the program. The AG Act replaces the H-2A program with what will be called H-2C, which will be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “an agency that clearly understands the unique needs of America’s farm and ranch operations and the importance of getting perishable agricultural commodities to market in an efficient manner,” Goodlatte said in a statement. …
  • “Thanks, Tourists! NC Wine Is Now A $2B Industry,” WUNC: North Carolina viticulture has blossomed into a $2 billion industry. It’s got tourism to thank for the growth. Whit Winslow of the North Carolina Wine and Grape Growers Council said wineries in the state draw about 2 million visitors per year. “The popularity of North Carolina wineries has grown and the quality has grown, and folks are really seeing that,” Winslow said. “The demand has gone up, and so we’ve had a lot of new wineries popping up and a lot of existing wineries expanding their production.” There are now nearly 200 wineries in North Carolina. Winslow said that’s almost double the number in 2012. “If they go to a wine shop, they may get a bottle of wine or two, but very often when they visit a winery, they come out with half a case, a case, or even more than that,” Winslow said. They really take advantage of the experience they had while they’re there and bring it home with them.” A new Wine Quality Alliance program at Appalachian State University is beginning to distinguish high quality wines from around the state, according to Winslow. He hopes that will boost retail sales of local wines. …
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