News Roundup: Jan. 6-12

By on January 12, 2018

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.

  • “Former Mebanite envisions community farm,” Burlington Times News: Imagine a sustainable farm that offers programs for veterans, the homeless and felons, classes on agriculture, cheesemaking, canning, animal care, and an overnight farm experience. Allison Barnes has been envisioning this Utopia for the last several years, and has a chance to make it a reality now that Lanigan Farm at 1000 Radnor Farm Road, in her hometown of Mebane, has come up for sale. “It’s just a very natural, peaceful way to exist,” she said. Barnes grew up working on her great-grandparents’ farm in the 1980s. Her passion for sustainable farming was reawakened when she began working on a close friend’s farm in Reidsville about three years ago, and now she’s ready to get out on her own. …
  • “House of tomatoes,” Sampson Independent: A few years ago, large tobacco leaves filled greenhouses at Hobbs Farm. Today, the crop is no longer there. The farm stopped growing the crop because of the challenges with the market. But Kevin Hobbs is not letting the space go to waste. In 2017, he made a decision to start growing something new — tomatoes. “We switched over to greenhouse tomatoes and we’re going to give this a try,” he said during a recent interview. “There’s a challenge in everything you do.” Hobbs Farm is located in Sampson County, close to the Duplin County border on Calvin Hobbs Road. The lifelong farmer began with father, Delmas, many years ago. Before tomatoes, the North Duplin High School graduate learned about farm life by growing corn, wheat, soybeans, squash and zucchini. The farm, with more than 400 acres, also raises hogs organically.
  • “Nice weather? Arctic blast did some farmers a favor,” Southeast Farm Press: The early January weather was a big change from the last two winters. New Year’s Day ushered in a week-long stretch of sub-freezing temperatures to the Southeast and provided something Deep South farmers have not had in two winters: a natural halt to overwintering, crop-crippling pests. Though the freezing weather caused logistical problems for people all along the East Coast and put some at risk, the weather also froze nematodes, killed crop regrowth and weeds in fields slated to be planted to corn, cotton, peanuts or soybeans later this spring. …
  • “Scott to chair state farm committee,” The Wilson Times: Alice Scott, co-owner of Scott Farms in Lucama, has been named chairwoman of the North Carolina Farm Service Agency State Committee. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the appointment Jan. 5. Scott’s one-year term began on New Year’s Day. “I am very excited about it,” Scott said on Wednesday. “It is always an honor for me to do anything to represent the agriculture community in Wilson County or in the state. I am very passionate about agriculture. It’s what we do and it’s what we know. I am very glad to have the opportunity to have a voice.” State FSA committees are an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “The state committees will help to ensure USDA is providing our farmers, ranchers, foresters and agricultural producers with the best customer service,” Perdue said in a prepared statement. “They serve as a liaison between USDA and the producers in each state across the nation by keeping them informed and hearing their appeals and complaints. The committees are made up mostly of active farmers and ranchers, representing their peers and ensuring USDA’s programs are supporting the American harvest.” Committee members are selected by the secretary of agriculture and serve at the secretary’s pleasure. In October, Perdue joined North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler for a tour of sweet potato processing plant at Scott Farms, a sixth-generation family farm. …
  • “Change is afoot in Trump country,” Washington Post: It was a quarter after eight on a steamy August morning when Rachel Grantham rumbled up in a big black pickup truck. The 26-year-old, six-foot-three agronomist sported a pink top, a purple miniskirt, camouflage muck boots and a single blonde braid draped over one shoulder. I hoisted myself into the cab of the truck, and we sped down I-95 through eastern North Carolina’s “Swine Alley” — a land of industrial-scale hog farms, expansive vistas of soybeans and enormous confederate flags — on an unlikely climate crusade. Grantham worked for Smithfield Foods, the largest pork producer in the world. Once a regional meatpacker based in Smithfield, Virginia, the company is now a vertically integrated multinational powerhouse owned by a Chinese conglomerate, with 50,000 employees and $15 billion in annual revenue. Smithfield holds the distinction of being one of the most reviled agribusinesses among environmentalists, perhaps second only to Monsanto.
  • “ASAP announces February Business of Farming Conference,” Mountain Xpress: ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) is kicking off the 2018 farm planning season with their annual Business of Farming Conference, February 24, 8-4 pm at the AB Tech Conference Center in Asheville, NC. The conference focuses on the business side of farming, offering beginning and established farmers financial, legal, business, and marketing tools to improve their farm businesses and make new professional connections. “The Business of Farming Conference offers a way for farmers to inspire one another, learn from one another, gain technical and adaptive skills to implement into their farm businesses, and make connections and collaborations. This ultimately helps farmers to grow their operations and build more sustainable business models,” says, Jodi Rhoden, a Business Coach at Mountain BizWorks. Rhoden will teach at the conference as part of the farm business planning track led by Mountain BizWorks. The conference offers over 15 business, marketing, and management workshops led by innovative farmers and regional professionals. Many workshops will return this year including “Crafting Your Farm Story” and “Improving Sales at Your Farmers Market,” along with several new sessions including “Legal and Insurance Implications of Agritourism,” “Managing Farm Lodging and Rentals,” and “Community Supported Agriculture Options and Opportunities.” The popular Grower-Buyer Meeting also returns with a chance for farmers to meet one-on-one with local buyers from area restaurants, grocers, and distributors. Farmers can also start their conference on Friday with a half-day workshop intensive on “Farm Succession Planning” or “Labor Challenges and Strategies” led by Mountain BizWorks and NC Cooperative Extension. …
  • “Ag center connecting farmers, buyers,” Richmond County Daily Journal: The Sandhills AGInnovation center will hold a “career fair for farmers” Feb. 13, to match growers with companies that might want to buy and sell their produce. The center held a similar farmer-buyer event in Moore County last year — before its actual building was up and its board elected — that attracted 50 farmers, said Susan Kelly of the Richmond County Extension, who first floated the idea of a center to county officials in 2013 and now advises its board. “We had a lot of folks meet up with buyers” in 2017, Kelly said Thursday. So far, eight organizations have made commitments to attend this year’s event. They include Foster-Caviness, which boasts that it is North Carolina’s “leading supplier of wholesale produce, serving Greensboro, Charlotte and Raleigh”; Seal the Seasons of Hillsborough, which works with local farmers to freeze and market their produce; and Ungraded Produce of Durham, which lessens food waste by buying, packaging and selling “ugly” produce. …
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