News Roundup: March 30 – April 6

By on April 6, 2018

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.

  • “Potential tobacco tariffs terrify NC farmers,” CBS17: Talk of tobacco tariffs are terrifying to farmers, especially exporters from North Carolina. John Weaver said 70 percent of the tobacco he grows in Johnston County gets exported out of the country. He also grows soybeans and corn, but tobacco is his key cash crop and has 70 percent of his investment. “It would devastate us,” Weaver said of looming Chinese tariffs. “That could wreak havoc on us.” North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said China is the state’s top trading partner. Agricultural exports to China total $598 million. The number one crop is tobacco with the most recent recorded annual amount reaching $156.3 million. “We worked very very hard to get China tobacco to come to North Carolina and they have become our number one export destination. Quite frankly, that hard work paid off in stabilizing the market,” Troxler said. …
  • “Chinese tariffs could affect North Carolina tobacco and pork producers,” WTVD: Following President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States will place tariffs on certain Chinese imports, China announced this week that dozens of U.S. imports will face 25 percent tariffs. Two of the most affected markets in North Carolina are tobacco and pork. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said that the state exported more than $156 million worth of tobacco and more than $55 million worth of pork to China last year. …
  • “Local farmers worried about soybean tariffs,” WITN: China is proposing more potential tariffs on U.S. goods, including soybeans and tobacco, which could greatly impact eastern Carolina farmers. Onslow County soybean farmer Andy Weston is concerned, saying, “It affects your bottom line right to start with. You’ve got an input cost you don’t have much control over and now it’s kind of a set price, and any time you go below that price you’re in the red.” And that concern is not only from those in the field, but also from those up in Raleigh. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler says, “Our number one trading partner in ag in North Carolina is China. This amounts to about $598 million. That’s 20% of the ag exports we do in North Carolina. The market has already impacted Weston’s crop. He says a 40 cent market drop makes the soybean market value drop to right at $9.00 a bushel. According to the USDA, North Carolina ranks only 15th in the country for soybean production. Still, the concern is mounting for farmers because other areas where we are industry leaders, such as the swine industry — China has said they plan to add tariffs as well. …
  • “Got beer? Gov. Roy Cooper proclaims April as NC Beer Month,” The News & Observer: A vibrant brewery scene in the Tar Heel state brought Gov. Roy Cooper to Durham on Thursday to proclaim April “N.C. Beer Month.” Ponysaurus, one of more than a handful of independent breweries in the Bull City, hosted Cooper. There are 258 craft breweries in North Carolina, a number that has quadrupled since 2010. The North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild has celebrated N.C. Beer Month for the past six years. Cooper touted the economic impact breweries have had on the state — more than $2 billion annually, according to the Brewers Association. More than 10,000 jobs can be linked to craft breweries here, Cooper said. “North Carolina’s growing craft beer industry is a growing economic engine for our state,” Cooper said. “Breweries help cities big and small by creating jobs and bringing visitors and locals together.” …
  • “Hemp in Haywood,” The Mountaineer: GoodyAcre Farm hasn’t been around long, but it’s already going where no one else in Haywood County has gone before. On the picturesque farm, nestled in Stamey Cove and owned by Joe and Nicole Yerry, things have been picking up. Along with the recent birth of an alpaca and a goat and all that comes along with that, the couple has gained approval from the state to grow industrial hemp. “In the midst of this, we were bottle feeding a baby goat and a baby alpaca,” Nicole said.
  • “N.C. sweetener company plans farm, processing facility in Charlotte region,” Charlotte Business Journal: US-Stevia plans a $21 million farm and processing operation for the no-calorie sweetener in Chesterfield County that’s expected to create 50 jobs. Based in Laurinburg, the company expects to quickly go into production in Cheraw, S.C., starting operations by the end of the year. Hiring begins in the third quarter. Interested applicants should contact careers@us-stevia.com. Hal Teegarden, president of US-Stevia, says the climate and the site are well suited for growing the plant, which is native to Paraguay. “The location itself aligns perfectly with our crop and product expansion plans for the coming years,” he says, “and we are quite excited to find ourselves in a place where we can both tap into a wealth of agribusiness resources.” At the site, US-Stevia will grow the plant, extract the sweetener and purify it, say S.C. economic development officials. South Carolina is sweetening the deal with a $100,000 Rural Infrastructure Grant to Chesterfield County to pay for making improvements to the US-Stevia building. The project also qualifies for job-development tax credits offered by the state. The value of those credits wasn’t immediately disclosed. …
  • “Cold snaps don’t worry Henderson County farmers,” Hendersonville Times-News, Spring may have sprung in Henderson County, but winter is still slow to release its grip. Forecasts for this week call for temperatures near freezing after climbing into the mid-70s Tuesday. The National Weather Service says temperatures this week will drop to the low 30s tonight thanks to a cold front moving through, and down to the mid-30s over the weekend as a low-pressure system moves in. But those temperatures aren’t quite cold enough to worry local farmers, says Henderson County Extension Director Terry Kelley. The critical temperature that apple and other crop growers keep an eye out for is 28 degrees. …
  • “N.C. agriculture’s past, present and future,” North State Journal: The legacy of an early agricultural leader is sparking a new conversation about farming and food through a foundation in his name. The Polk House Foundation, named for leader, editor, and first N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Leonidas L. Polk, is partnering with N.C. celebrity chef Vivian Howard and Central Carolina Community College in Sanford to highlight the farm-to-table culinary arts program at the community college and engage N.C. people on topics related to agriculture and food supply. The Polk House Foundation is continuing the crusade of Polk to build awareness for the agriculture industry and the plight of farmers with a celebratory event on April 19 at the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh. The event, which will be held at the art museum, will offer an educational experience for culinary students from CCCC and a broad, palate-pleasing taste of N.C. for guests, including Howard. Each food station hosted by the culinary students will include North Carolina sourced agricultural products. …
  • “Swine fuel helps power homes,” Kinston Free Press: Many homes in Eastern North Carolina may now be powered by an alternative source of energy that uses a mixture of natural gas and swine-derived biogas. A switch thrown last week by Duke Energy infused methane captured from Duplin County hog lagoons into a natural gas pipeline. Optima KV is the project developer and has partnered with Duke Energy to supply the energy and Smithfield Foods to donate the land for a facility to collect the hog methane. Once collected, the gas is cleaned and injected into the natural gas pipeline to serve two Duke Energy plants in Eastern North Carolina. The project is expected to generate about 11,000 megawatts-hours of renewable energy annually, enough to power about 880 homes for a year, according to the N.C. Pork Council. The Optima KV project pipes methane gas from five local farms in Duplin County to a central refinery where it is cleaned and injected into the pipeline. Optima KV is a collaboration between local farmers, Smithfield Foods, investors and Cavanaugh Associates LLC. The project, which has been ready since December, was connected to the pipeline by Duke Energy last week. Andy Curliss, CEO of the N.C. Pork Council, said the use of swine operations to help produce energy on a larger scale than has been used in the past was a significant development. “There’s been all this talk and debate and focus on fracking (hydraulic fracturing), both in state and with the pipeline coming down, and a lot of talk about how we can produce an alternative source of energy,” Curliss said. “And now this is the first time we’ve put an alternative source in a pipeline. It’s really a positive development.” …
  • “Thank your agronomist during Agronomy Week,” Southeast Farm Press: Farmers can show their appreciation for their agronomic support teams during Agronomy Week, April 2-6.
    Launched last year by the DEKALB, Asgrow and Deltapine brands, the annual event takes place the first week of April to help farmers recognize the contributions of their agronomists, seed dealers and crop consultants who help them get the most out of every acre. Pete Uitenbroek, DEKALB, Asgrow and Deltapine brand lead, notes that Agronomy Week was created as an industry-wide celebration. …
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