News Roundup: May 28 – June 1

By on June 1, 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.

  • “Flooded Asheville-area farmers: “A lot of money just flushed away,”Asheville Citizen-Times: Randy Edmundson of Edmundson Produce Farm figures he’s only seen Shaws Creek jump its banks 10 times in close to three decades. This year, it flooded three times in a month, the wettest May on record. With his wife, Carolyn Edmundson, he farms 110 acres of leased land, the majority on the French Broad River, the rest on the swollen Shaws. On Wednesday morning, he estimated he had up to 70 acres underwater, drowning crops and critically delaying successive plantings. Western North Carolina represents a small part of the produce grown nationally. But when it’s too hot in other Southeastern farming regions for some produce, WNC fills that niche. “We have buyers we deal with looking to fill that midseason gap, and if we start getting too late in planting, we’re back on someone else’s time,” Edmundson said.  At 53, with 30 years of farming under his belt, Edmundson has endured bad weather. “If you’re going to be in this business, you gotta cope, or it’ll wear you out.” But this season is particularly rough: Not only did his fields flood, his produce stand flooded, too. Up to 45 acres of sweet corn will be lost this year. Two acres of strawberries, his squash beds and half of his crookneck and zucchini squash were destroyed by flash floods. Young cucumbers and tomato plants are gone.  …
  • “Gypsy Moth Infestation to Be Treated Across NC,” WFMY News: The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will soon start treating for gypsy moth infestations in several areas across North Carolina. The areas in the Triad to be treated include: A large area in Surry, Stokes and Rockingham counties, including Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain, Danbury, Walnut Cove, Madison, Mayodan, and Eden. Other areas around the state: Buxton, on Hatteras Island in Dare County. Stovall, in northern Granville and Vance counties. North of Roxboro in Person County. Baldwin Gap, along the line between Watauga and Ashe counties, northwest of Boone. Chis Elder, the state’s Gypsy Moth program manager said the treatment will start June 2 in Hatteras and spread across to June 18 in Watauga. Elder said they’re adding a couple of days to cover possible delays. Prior to normal gypsy moth mating periods, low-altitude fixed-wing aircraft will disperse SPLAT Gypsy Moth-Organic infused with the naturally occurring gypsy moth pheromone. …
  • “US allies threaten tobacco and pork products – a blow to NC farmers,” The News & Observer: North Carolina pork producers and tobacco farmers could feel a big hit from the back-and-forth trade threats being issued by the United States and trading partners across the globe, including Mexico, Canada, China and the European Union. The Trump administration announced this week that it would implement tariffs on aluminum and steel products from Mexico, Canada and the EU on Friday. Also this week, Trump renewe d his threat to place tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese products. Those nations announced retaliatory measures Thursday, including threats to levy tariffs on tobacco and pork products. …
  • “Local Food Network to host farm tour,” Lexington Dispatch: With the help of a $4,000 micro grant and local sponsors, the Davidson County Local Food Network will host its first Davidson County Farm Tour, according to a news release. The Local Food Network received the grant from Community Food Strategies in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Other sponsors include Davidson County Cooperative Extension, Davidson County Magazine, Davidson County Community College’s Small Business Center, Thomasville Chamber of Commerce and Farm Bureau of North Carolina. …
  • “Get involved in 4-H this summer,” Salisbury Post: Even though school will soon be out for the summer, it’s important that children continue to learn and grow during their time away from school.  This summer, Rowan County 4-H has planned 17 activities for our Summer Fun youth program. Any youth ages 5-19 (children must have completed kindergarten) are invited to participate. Many of these hands-on learning opportunities for youth focus on agriculture, while others focus on robotics, art, science and service. Eight of the Summer Fun activities are already sold out and many are filling up quickly. Here are a few agriculture and food related activities that are still open: Farm to Fork: June 20, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., ages 12-19, cost $5: Start the day at the Rowan County Cooperative Extension office and then travel to a local produce and beef farm for a tour. …
  • “HUNGRY PEOPLE ARE MEAN PEOPLE!” Southern Farm Network: Last week the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services hosted a seminar for export-curious producers from across the Carolinas. NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler is fond of saying, “Hungry people are mean people,” and he says the job of keeping the world fed and happy is a growing challenge, but one that can be met with increasing exports. Here’s some highlights from his remarks in Greensboro. (This is the second in a series of stories about NC ag exports.)
  • “What’s a Watusi? 10 things to learn, see and do on ASAP’s Farm Tour,” Asheville Citizen-Times: What’s a Watusi? That’s one of the many questions The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s Farm Tour can address when it returns for its 10th year, June 23-24. During the self-guided tour, see firsthand how food is produced in the Western North Carolina mountains, taste farm-fresh products, visit with animals and meet the region’s local food and fiber producers. In celebration of the Farm Tour’s first decade, here are 10 things to see, do or learn on this tour of more than 20 of Western North Carolina’s most interesting farms.  1. Learn about the Watusi: Every year, ASAP adds new and fascinating farms to its lineup. Take, for example, Dr. King’s Farm and Carolina Bison, home to bison, Watusi cattle, camels and elk. Dr. Frank King, the fourth-generation farmer who owns the 500-acre Leicester farm, believes connecting to the diet of ancient man is an important key to health.
  • “Wet fields put farmers behind,” Wilson Times: At Tim Davis Farm in Rock Ridge, Spencer Davis, Russell Davis and Michael Bailey teamed up to plumb, rewire and lubricate a self-propelled sprayer Wednesday. It wasn’t what they wanted to be doing. Around them in the muddy yard were a dozen or more tractors and farm implements that sat idle as they were repaired or maintained.  “We need to be plowing tobacco, spraying and planting beans and putting out fertilizer,” Spencer Davis said. “I’d say we are at least a couple of weeks behind. It’s put a hold on things.” “In this rainy weather, you just try to find something to tinker on,” Davis said. “You try to get everything ready so that when the weather clears you can go back at it.” Russell Davis, Spencer’s brother, said he works for other farmers too and has seen that everybody else is in the same boat. “It’s not just this area,” Davis said. “It’s the whole area.” “There’s just a lot of things that the grower needs to be doing instead of working on his equipment right now, which is what all of them are doing,” said Norman Harrell, director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension office in Wilson County. “It always needs to be done to fix things, but we’re behind is the main thing.” Farmers just can’t get into the field because the tractors would get stuck or they would make a mess in the fields, Harrell said.
  • “Despite reputation, farmers consider bamboo as cash crop,” Triad City Beat: Bamboo has a reputation: an ever-metastasizing nuisance; a third-world weed; “the poor man’s timber.” But it wasn’t always like this. River cane — one of three bamboo varieties native to the American southeast — once flourished along Carolina riverbeds and across vast, dense acreages known as canebrakes. “As a part of the colonization of America, European settlers fed their cattle on the giant timber bamboo because it was the most nutritious thing, outcompeting and driving the buffalo away, which was itself part of the effort to eradicate native people, the Cherokee in this region in particular,” farmer Everest Holmes says. Currently a mushroom farmer outside Asheville, he finds himself among a younger generation of farmers seeking to rethink the hows and whys of small-scale agriculture. “To me, [bamboo] is the epitome of regenerative farming because it lives for so long and is good for the environment, producing three times more oxygen than any other plant,” Holmes says. “You’re getting a timber product, a food source and a potential agro-tourist attraction.” …
  • “Agritourism becomes growing trend,” Spectrum News: Families looking for a place to relax and have a little fun this summer may want to check out what’s going on at a local farm.
    Agritourism practiced as additional revenue venture. About 1,000 farms in NC a part of the trend. 89 percent increase in last decade. The State Department of Agriculture says more farmers are practicing agritourism as an additional revenue venture. Gross Farms in Lee County added attractions like pick-your-own strawberries and a corn maze for visitors 18 years ago. “Tobacco is still our main crop, but diversification helps,” said John Gross. Along with his wife Tina, he’s co-owner of Gross Farms. “It keeps employees busy and it takes it all to make a living on a farm,” she said. …
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