News Roundup

News Roundup: May 19 – 25

By on May 25, 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.

“These long horns aren’t longhorns. How an NC farmer is sustaining a rare cattle breed,” The News & Observer: When an 800-pound cow stares you down, you take notice. When she’s a new mother with a pair of two-foot horns pointed in your direction because you’re a bit closer to her calf than she likes, you really take notice. “It’s all right,” Bruce Petesch calmly said to his heifer. “We’re not going to do anything. We just want to see.” The rust-colored calf was nestled in some tall grass away from the herd. It had been born the previous day and was still unsure of its surroundings. It’s a sight Petesch has witnessed seven times already this spring, and one that will happen again when the last of his pregnant cows gives birth in the next week or so. When that calf is born, it will make nine additions to his herd of Pineywoods cattle — which is the total number of animals he started with a decade ago. When Petesch retired from his career as a labor attorney in Raleigh to become a cattle and horse farmer, little did he realize that he would be at the forefront of the movement to save endangered cows. Petesch, his wife Marge, and an orange cat now call rural Chatham County home. Petesch, who sports a craggy, white beard befitting a veteran cowboy, said he often takes time to listen to his cows mooing and the crickets chirping. His small herd of about 50 Pineywoods cattle belong to a breed the Livestock Conservancy considers threatened because there are fewer than 3,000 left. They are scattered among farms in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama. Petesch’s first cattle came from Mississippi, including his bull “Pete.” These cows represent one of numerous breeds of farm animals that largely were ignored when industrial-style production became standard in the early part of the last century. It takes about the same 18-24 months for a Pineywoods to mature, but they don’t grow quite as large as the market-leading Angus. Petesch markets some of his surplus animals as breeding stock to other farmers and others are slaughtered and processed for their meat. But it’s not just cows. Some breeds of pigs, like the Gloucestershire Old Spots, or sheep, like the Leicester Longwool, are threatened, too. Rare breeds of chickens and goats are also monitored. The Livestock Conservancy, which is based in Pittsboro, calls these breeds “Heritage Breeds” because the roots of many date to the original New World explorers and settlers. …

“NC State Celebrates New Museum, Education Center and Creamery,Dairyherd.com:  A new Raleigh, N.C. museum will give visitors the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in a dairy farm and learn about the importance of the dairy industry in North Carolina, the history of Jersey cows and more. After an April 13 dedication ceremony, the Randleigh Dairy Heritage Museum is now open for scheduled tours and soon will have public access times available. The Museum is located on the NC State Dairy Farm, part of the University ’s Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory.
“Today, it’s my honor and privilege to celebrate the latest chapter in this long legacy of advancing culture, education and innovation through the dedication of the Randleigh Dairy Heritage Museum,” said NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson at the event. “It is a beautiful facility, and it will stand as the testimony to the Kenan family legacy by educating children and adults alike about the Randleigh heritage and the dairy industry.” …

“Where to Savor Our Favorites from the Got to Be NC Festival Year-Round,” Indy Week: For one weekend each May, the N.C. State Fairgrounds becomes the happiest place on earth for fans of local food. From May 18-20, the fairgrounds were home to the annual Got to Be NC Festival, which celebrates the agricultural bounty that’s grown, caught, raised, and made in North Carolina and the imaginative, hard-working farmers, artisans, and others who create them.  Ensconced in our sterile, wifi-enabled world, it’s sometimes hard to remember that North Carolina began as and continues to be one of the most agriculturally profitable and diverse states in the nation. According to N.C. State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, North Carolina agriculture and agribusiness bring in seventy-six billion dollars a year and employ almost 650,000 people. But each spring, the Got to Be NC festival serves as a delicious reminder. As far as foodies are concerned, the best of the festival is the Homegrown Marketplace, which is ground zero for more than one hundred food and drink producers to show off and sell their goods. Vendors also offer generous samples of their creations. To do my due diligence, I attended on an empty stomach to spotlight some of our favorites and find out where you can sample them year-round.  …

“40% of bee colonies died unexpectedly in last year, Southeast Farm Press: Beekeepers in the U.S. reported an increase in honeybee deaths over the last year, possibly the result of erratic weather patterns brought on by a changing climate, according to the scientist leading an annual survey on the insects. U.S. beekeepers said 40% of their hives, also called colonies, died unexpectedly during the year that ended March 31, according to a survey released Wednesday by researchers from Auburn University and the University of Maryland. That’s up from 33% a year earlier. Elevated bee-loss rates have been an agricultural concern for the past decade, since a mysterious malady called Colony Collapse Disorder coincided with a doubling of honeybee death rates and spurred greater attention and research on commercial and wild bees. Higher death rates make pollination more expensive for beekeepers and farmers. …

“Rain swamps county farms, acres of row crops lost,” Hendersonville Times-News: Recent heavy rains have flooded fields in Henderson County, leaving farmers to replant dozens of acres. But with more rain in the forecast, the real extent of the damage is yet to be seen. Tomatoes, strawberries and row crops were hit the hardest over the last several days, after nearly a foot of rain fell in some parts of the county. Henderson County Cooperative Extension Director Terry Kelley said the larger impacts are on row crops and vegetables, with the biggest issue now being waterlogged soil in low-lying areas. For tree fruit, he said the main effect would be a disruption of regular spraying schedules due to growers not being able to get into the fields, leading to a higher chance of diseases flaring up. “Roots have to breathe,” he said. When roots can’t get any air, root rot can take hold and the plant can start to shut down and wilt. There will have to be some replanting, Kelley said, but growers may run into problems trying to find plants available for transplanting, as those plants are normally ordered ahead of time on contract. Heightened demand when there are widespread areas affected can lead to even more scarcity. …

“ADMINISTRATION FOCUSING ON GOOD, NOT QUICK, NAFTA 2.0,” Southern Farm Network: The U.S., Canada, and Mexico are all on separate pages when it comes to a new North American Free Trade Agreement. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the administration is more focused on reaching a good deal rather than an immediate one. He added that it doesn’t matter if it’s passed in this session of Congress or the next one. Mnuchin’s comments, reported by Bloomberg, are the latest to suggest that the door may be open to finishing the NAFTA negotiations sometime after the Mexican presidential election on July first. However, he did raise the prospect of the president having multiple options on the table. “I’m not saying he’s willing to let it spill over,” Mnuchin says, “but he has all his alternatives. I’m just saying that, right now, we’re focused on negotiating a good deal and not focused on deadlines.” Mexico’s chief negotiator says the three countries have agreed on nine of about 30 chapters in the agreement. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that there was a good NAFTA deal already on the table. However, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said just hours later that the “governments were nowhere close to a deal.”

“Local remains key for Carolina,” The Packer: Demand for local product continues to serve Carolina grower-shippers well. Matt Solana, vice president of operations and supply chain for Autryville, N.C.-based Jackson Farming Co., said the local deal is very important and that consumers are driving it. “While locally grown means something different to almost anyone you ask, the chains are working to provide their customers with the freshest locally grown produce they can find in season,” Solana said April 27. “In North Carolina that would be July for many of our crops, but most especially watermelons and cantaloupes. July is Watermelon Month in North Carolina. …

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