News Roundup: Nov. 18-22

By on November 24, 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.

  • “There’s a good chance your Thanksgiving turkey was raised on a North Carolina farm,” The News & Observer: North Carolina is a top producer of the most popular Thanksgiving protein. The Tar Heel state was ranked No. 2 in the country for turkey production in 2016, according to U.S. census data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The only state that produced more turkeys than North Carolina last year was Minnesota, with 44.5 million. North Carolina produced 33.5 million, Arkansas 26 million, Indiana 19.5 million, Missouri 19.2 million and Virginia 17.2 million. The United States also imports live turkeys – 25.8 million last year. In 2016, 99.9 percent of U.S. imported turkeys came from Canada, and the remaining came from France.
    Chicken and turkey are on track to overtake pork as the world’s most consumed meat by 2020, and in the U.S., chicken consumption per capita has increased every year since the 1960s.
    The National Chicken Council estimated that in 2017, Americans would consume more than 100 pounds of chicken and turkey per person, surpassing red meat. And North Carolina’s top agricultural industry is poultry – generating more than $34.4 billion for the state’s economy and employing more than 100,000 people in 2016.
  • “SWEET POTATO NOT JUST FOR THANKSGIVING ANYMORE,” Southern Farm Network: Sweet potatoes are not just Thanksgiving meal fare any more, finding their way in a variety of year-round products. Rod Bain has more: One of the more popular side dishes of the thanksgiving dinner is the sweet potato. But, in recent years, that vegetable has become more than a Thanksgiving time dish. “I’m not sure why it’s taken so long for the sweet potato to become so popular.” Jennifer Fishburn of University of Illinois Extension. She’s a fan of the nutritional content of sweet potatoes: “Sweet potatoes have not fat, they’re low in sodium, they’re high in fiber, they’re cholesterol free, they contain lots of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene…” She says both a recent expansion in marketing efforts, and in products has grown the interest in sweet potatoes among consumers… “The sweet potato fries, we see those at a lot of state fairs, that really opens the eye for folks to realize that the sweet potato is used in other ways than just at Thanksgiving dinner with a little brown sugar, marshmallows and butter sprinkled on top, that it can be used in many other ways, from casseroles to baked to soups, and chili, there’s even sweet potato ice cream, pancakes, pudding. And you’re starting to see the pancakes on the menus of restaurants.” …
  • “North Carolina Lawmakers Rush Pasture-Raised Turkeys to Thanksgiving Tables,” Civil Eats: What happens when the only turkey processor in town shuts down a month before Thanksgiving? Farmer Duane Smith of Riverbend Heritage Farm in Stanley, North Carolina, had planned to have his pasture-raised turkeys processed on the Monday before Thanksgiving. Although he had booked the appointment at Cool Hand Meats six months in advance, he discovered in October that the plant had suddenly closed. Smith had just a few weeks to find a place to process 100 turkeys, 30 geese reserved for Christmas dinners, and 200 broiler chickens. “My customers had paid a $25 deposit and I had nowhere to take them,” recalls Smith. Otherwise, he says, “I would have to wait until the beginning of next year. But the market for turkeys goes down a lot after Thanksgiving.” …
  • “The rest of you Americans can give thanks to NC for this Thanksgiving staple,”The News & Observer: North Carolina grows more sweet potatoes than the rest of the United States combined. In 2016, North Carolina produced 1.7 billion pounds of sweet potatoes, nearly three times as many as California – the second highest producing state. California produced 629 million pounds, Mississippi 493 million, Louisiana 152 million and every other state put together produced 180 million pounds. North Carolina has been the leader in sweet potato production since 1971, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics collected by the Carolina Population Center at UNC, Carolina Demography. The 1.7 billion pounds of the Thanksgiving staple in 2016 amount to about 5.3 pounds of sweet potatoes for every American. Production of sweet potatoes in North Carolina has climbed 144 percent from 2006, according to USDA statistics. North Carolina produced less than 4 million pounds of sweet potatoes in 2000.
  • “If you want a real tree this Christmas, get it early. Here’s why they may not last.” Charlotte Observer: For Kimberly Hodges Schoch, there’s no time on her family’s northeast Charlotte farm that’s quite like Christmas. After Thanksgiving, families roam the Hodges Family Farm looking for the perfect Fraser fir, North Carolina’s official state Christmas tree.
    This year, a Christmas tree shortage might keep some families from having that experience.
    It’s a result of the recession that began nearly a decade ago, and it’s affecting tree farms nationwide. When the economy folded in 2008, demand for real Christmas trees was low, so farmers didn’t plant as many. Now those trees are fully grown, but there are fewer of them to go around, and there are more people looking to buy real trees. The Hodges Family Farm is only receiving half the trees they sold last Christmas, and Schoch fears the farm might run out before December. “I don’t want to send anyone home empty-handed,” she said. North Carolina is a major grower and exporter of Christmas trees, with the state Christmas Tree Association reporting about 1,300 growers in the state. Only Oregon exports more trees each year, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. Tree prices are expected to increase because of the shortage, a cost that had already been trending up in recent years, said Doug Hundley, seasonal spokesperson for the association. …
  • “In Castle Hayne, A Better Business Crop,” Wilmington Business Journal: North Carolina farmers are getting the latest in tricks of the trade and technological advances through research being conducted at horticulture sites statewide, including a more than 100-acre combined research station in Castle Hayne. The Horticulture Crops Research Station, established in Castle Hayne in 1947, got its roots from the bulb-growing business, according to John Garner, research operations manager for the Horticulture Crops Research Station in Castle Hayne. “Castle Hayne was a large bulb-growing, flower-producing area, and this research station was started to help support that industry,” Garner said. The site in Castle Hayne includes a 60-acre tract with several small facilities off Castle Hayne Road and an additional 50-acre site off Holly Shelter Road. The Holly Shelter Road acreage is solely used for blueberry farming, Garner said. …
  • “Generation Z expresses different attitudes toward ag, farm succession,” Southeast Farm Press: A study shows Gen Zs ,18 to 22 years of age, with farm backgrounds, have different attitudes on ag topics. Members of Generation Z (young men and women aged 18 to 22) with strong ties to agriculture exhibit significantly different attitudes toward government involvement in agriculture, farm succession, ag technology, and brand loyalty than do previous generations, including Baby Boomers and Generations X and Y (representing an age range of 28 to 74). Generation Z members, for instance, have a more positive attitude toward government involvement, less brand loyalty, and more interest in technology, but are much less likely to choose farming as an occupation. …
  • “Test now to avoid peak-season fee,” Sampson Independent: In today’s economy, consumers are always looking for ways to save money. One of the most practical ways to save money is to have your soil tested. Soil testing is a service provided by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at their Agronomic Division in Raleigh. For the fifth consecutive year, a $4 fee will be charged for all soil samples processed by the NCDA&CS Agronomic Division during its busiest season: Dec. through March. There will still be no fee from April through Nov. …
  • “Tarheel Traveler video on Farrell Farms pecans.” WRAL:Farrell Farms pecans are sold in stores and online and all sales help fund an orphanage in Bolivia.
  • “State of Startups: NC Research Campus ‘coming of age’ WRAL Tech Wire: When dignitaries visit the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, north of Charlotte, they are given commemorative red bricks inscribed with the phrase, “Honoring the past, building a better future.” The bricks were salvaged from a massive, 6-million-square-foot Cannon Mills textile plant that closed in 2003 after its last owner, Pillowtex, went bankrupt, displacing more than 4,000 workers, the largest permanent layoffs in the state’s history. The words on the bricks were spoken by David H. Murdock at a ceremony in 2005 when the billionaire chairman of Dole Foods announced an ambitious plan for the site, which he had bought at auction the previous year. He envisioned a state-of-the-art science and technology campus that would promote better health through research in nutrition, agriculture and exercise while also revitalizing the city’s economy. Today, a decade after the textile mill was demolished, Murdock’s phoenix has risen from the rubble. …
  • “Honoring a county tradition,” Richmond County Daily Journal: City slickers and rural folk alike have found something to savor during Farm-City Week, held each year in Richmond County to celebrate food and the people who grow it. For townies — especially kids — it was the candy thrown from floats in the annual parade Saturday in Ellerbe, featuring tractors, fire engines and people dressed as spotted cows. After the parade, there were turkey legs, collard sandwiches and holiday spice cake for sale behind Town Hall. For farmers, it was barbecued goat at the Farm-City Week luncheon Monday — although, truth be told, the barbecued pork and grilled chicken were far more popular. (But people complain if goat’s not on the menu, said Susan Kelly of Richmond County Extension, an event co-sponsor.) “Want some goat?” grill master Earl Graves of the N.C. Forest Service asked repeatedly Monday, a hopeful look on his face. He had prepared the goat himself, starting at 11 p.m. Sunday, and kept it warm and juicy in an old Army thermal container. …
  • “Wake County wants to make it easier to grow (and eat) local food,” News & Observer: Wake County is known for its technology companies and urbanizing communities, but elected leaders want to boost a lower-profile economic driver: farming. Using language familiar to the Triangle’s start-up culture – words like “incubation” and “entrepreneurship” – Wake commissioners want to provide opportunities for the next generation of farmers as land continues to become more scarce. One idea is for farmers to lease county-owned farmland to grow fruits and vegetables that could end up in school lunches or at local farmers markets. Officials are in talks with the nonprofit Triangle Land Conservancy about using a portion of the 405-acre Walnut Hill property south of Knightdale for county-backed agricultural uses. Wake paid $1.6 million to help the Conservancy acquire and preserve the land in 2013.Sig Hutchinson, chairman of the commissioners, said he envisioned the county leasing 4- to 10-acre plots to “agri-entrepreneurs.” “The real prohibitive piece of getting started in farming is the cost of the land,” he said. “So if you can provide this land at no or low cost, it gives the farmer a real leg up in terms of a business model.” Farming used to play a bigger role in the Triangle, but a five-county region that includes Wake has lost about 15 percent of its farmland since 1997. About one-fourth of the Triangle is now made up of agricultural land.  …
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