News Roundup: April 14-20

By on April 20, 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.

  • “CONAWAY HOPEFUL HOUSE WILL CONSIDER FARM BILL IN MAY,”  Southern Farm Network: House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway is hopeful the U.S. House will consider the 2018 farm bill next month, but told reporters the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act will be taking up time on the floor in coming weeks. The farm bill faces a partisan divide as no Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee voted in favor of the legislation earlier this week. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says the bill does not include enough support for agricultural producers, and that the nutrition title proposals would waste tax payer money and increase hunger and poverty. In the Senate, Ranking Agriculture Committee Democrat Debbie Stabenow said the House version of the bill is “impossible to pass.” She alleges that House Agriculture Committee leadership has “abandoned” the broad, partisan coalition that passed the 2014 Farm Bill. Stabenow added she “remains committed” to working Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts to write a bipartisan bill that focuses on “farmers, families, and rural communities.”
  • “Column: Economic growth through agritourism in Henderson County,” Hendersonville Times-News: There have been many changes in the face of the tourism industry over the years. These changes have not only been seen in Henderson County, but across North Carolina and the nation as a whole. Parents would have never thought of taking their children to a brewery a few years ago, but today they are a family friendly outing. Many visitors are looking for this type of experience, thus the creation of craft breweries, wineries and cideries popping up throughout the county. People are seeking out production tours, tasting rooms and purchasing bottles of their favorite beverage to take home. These businesses are becoming a tourism destination in Henderson County and are having a huge economic impact. …
  • “Junior Livestock Show shows farming as relevant as ever,” The News & Observer: Over seven-decades ago, farmers and agricultural people created an event to promote and offer a glimpse into farm life, by establishing the Central Piedmont Jr. Livestock Show. The show evolved from a downtown Durham parade of animals to an event attended by hundreds of farmers and fans of farming, at the old Durham fairgrounds. Eventually, time and agricultural attrition moved the event to southern Orange County, on Orange Grove Road. In a barn on a hill, families watch children and teens walk pigs or cows into a ring, an opportunity to be assessed and validated. For months, these youth have prepared and practiced and done what takes to persuade a 1,400 pound steer to follow an 80-pound kid into the ring and behave as that child wishes.
    Along the way, from decades ago until this week, those kids will have fed and cleansed and groomed and maintained livestock through the cold of winter, and instead of going to hang with friends, because they recognize the value in agriculture and that someone will have to feed the rest of us, eventually. Raising livestock helps kids learn skills that they will use later in life.
  • “Rowan-Salisbury fourth-graders discover agriculture,” Salisbury Post: For the past two days, nearly 1,600 fourth-grade students traveled to Piedmont Research Station in Mount Ulla to learn about agriculture during Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ first ever Discover Agriculture Day. Every elementary school in the county was represented, and students learned about animal science, plant science, agriculture mechanics and natural resources. Organizers said the day was a major success and plan for it to become an annual program. “We wanted to provide every student the opportunity to learn about agriculture and be immersed in it — even if just for a few hours,” said West Rowan High School FFA adviser Tori Cardea. “It is amazing to watch our high school students be able to teach the younger generations and work with the great staff at the research station to put on such a large event.”Teresa Herman, superintendent of Piedmont Research Station, agreed. “It’s imperative that people know where their food comes from,” she said. “One day we will have to rely on the next generation to feed us, and it’s important that they know how.”
  • “JAPAN-EU TRADE AGREEMENT THREATENS U.S. PORK EXPORTS TO JAPAN,” Southern Farm Network: The Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service says a Japan-EU trade agreement threatens U.S. pork exports to Japan. Japan and the EU announced finalization of negotiations on the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement in December of last year. USDA says the trade agreement between Japan and the EU, similar to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, marks a change in trade with Japan eliminating tariffs on more than 60 percent of its pork and pork product tariff lines within 12 years. Additionally, the agreement has established a volume-based safeguard for EU pork imports that will be phased out over 11 years. USDA says larger exports of European processed pork products can be expected under the agreement, and that agricultural exporters from the United States will face challenges as the EU gains preferential tariffs under the agreement. For 2017, Japan imported $1.68 billion of pork from the U.S. and $1.69 billion from the European Union. Japan ranked as the world’s largest importer of pork and pork products in 2017, growing imports from $4.9 billion in 2016 to $5.2 billion in 2017.
  • “Wrangler Report Touts Value of Soil Conservation Practices,” In the spirit of Earth Day, Wrangler jeans has published a report highlighting significant economic and environmental benefits of certain cotton farming techniques. The report, “Seeding Soil’s Potential,” synthesizes the findings of more than 45 scientific papers and reviews produced by academic, government and industry researchers, leading Wrangler to definitively conclude that conservation tillage, cover crops and crop rotation result in greater crop resiliency and productivity, among a host of other benefits to the grower and the land. Wrangler’s soil health advisors that reviewed and validated the findings include USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), The Nature Conservancy, and the Soil Health Institute. “Wrangler believes that our supply chain does not begin with fabric or cotton. It begins with soil and the land itself,” said Roian Atwood, director of sustainability for Wrangler. “Preserving and enhancing the health of soil is critical and necessary to the preservation of America’s denim heritage and future generations of people who work the land. That’s why we’re committed to doubling our use of sustainably-farmed cotton over the next year.” “I’m grateful Wrangler has taken up this cause, because the potential to transform agricultural lands with soil health practices is tremendous,” said Wayne Honeycutt, president and CEO of the Soil Health Institute. “If farmers adopt these practices globally, we’ll have much greater resiliency in our food and fiber production. We’ll also have cleaner water and air, and we can draw carbon out of the air to regenerate our soils for current and future generations.” …
  • “Perdue: ag not only soldiers in trade battle,” Southeast Farm Press: Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue Tuesday reassured farmers that President Trump will not leave them to take the brunt of any retaliatory tariffs China might impose in response to the administration’s efforts to pressure the Chinese into a fair trade policy. “The president will not let you be the only soldiers in the battle,” Perdue told a standing room crowd at the Tennessee Farmers Cooperative in Knoxville. “Farmers don’t like cheaters and stealers and those who don’t play by the rules,” he added. “The president wants China to play by the rules. I think he has got China’s attention. We want China as a customer; we want fair trading partners across the globe. China has to play fair.” Perdue touched on two Tennessee commodities, milk and tobacco, that are struggling with lost markets. “We have an oversupply of milk and we have to figure that out. We have no magic bullet in Washington,” he said, but added that USDA will work to find markets. Perdue said a push to get 2 percent flavored milk into schools may be one option, and noted that USDA was successful in getting 1 percent flavored milk into schools last year. Perdue said USDA and the administration are “working on solutions” to market issues. “We may not have it done by the end of May.” …
  • “IT’S OFFICIAL: Strawberry season has arrived here in NC,” CBS17: Strawberry season has officially arrived, according to a release from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. According to a press release from the department, growers in Eastern North Carolina have already started harvesting their crops, while growers in the piedmont and the mountains are set to begin in the next few weeks. “Despite unusually cold weather in the first quarter of the year, crop conditions at this point look to be good,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “It may not be a record-breaking year, but there should be plenty of N.C. strawberries for consumers to enjoy.” Our state is the third-largest producer of strawberries in the nation, with about 1,200 acres harvested across the state, according to the department. The peak of the state’s strawberry season is traditionally Mother’s Day weekend, but locally-grown berries should still be available into Memorial Day. …
  • “Recalls of eggs, romaine see sellers eating costs, cooks preparing with caution,” WRAL: On a day when millions of eggs and romaine lettuce nationwide were under scrutiny after reports stomach aches and diarrhea, the manager of a Raleigh salad shop and representatives of the agriculture industry have a shared suggestion: Make sure raw foods are handled, prepared and cooked carefully. Jan Kelly, executive director of the NC Egg Association, said a fully cooked egg is a fully safe egg. “The NC Egg Association and FDA recommend that eggs should be fully cooked until both the yolks and the whites are firm, and consumers should not eat foods that may contain raw or undercooked eggs,” she said. At Happy + Hale in downtown Raleigh, the salad maker had to go without romaine for a day after learning that cases of chopped lettuce delivered from Yuma, Ariz., were included in the recall.
  • “DISASTER PREP ON THE FARM,” Southern Farm Network: Severe storms swept across the Carolinas on Sunday night, downing power lines and flooding roads. At least one tornado was confirmed. So how prepared are you if a disaster strikes on your farm? Micheal Clements has more.
  • “How USDA is changing what we eat,” Southeast Farm Press: Sonic Corp. is mixing chopped mushrooms with ground beef to make cheeseburgers, and the U.S. government is behind it. Sonic Signature Slingers are a calculated effort of the farmer-funded Mushroom Council, one of 22 such rah-rah groups created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to promote commodities such as cotton, mangoes and Christmas trees. Since the 1990s, the money for campaigns like “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner” and “Got Milk?” came from mandatory fees charged to producers to fund the industry organizations. Now the payments are under threat from cattle ranchers and their congressional allies who want to make them optional. They say they’d prefer that advertising not benefit rival beef producers from other countries, who also pay fees, because U.S. beef is best.  In the meantime, mushroom farmers are cashing in. In the year ended Jan. 28, U.S. sales rose 4.9% to $1.24 billion compared with a year earlier, according to the Mushroom Council. Farmer Payback On average, farmers get paid back about $9 for every dollar spent on the marketing, according to a study co-authored by Gary Williams, professor of agricultural economics at Texas A&M University. For example, the United Soybean Board return is $5.20 on average, while egg farmers get back $8.11. “The programs are highly effective,” Williams said. “It’s a very good return per dollar invested.” …


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