News Roundup

News Roundup: July 21 – 27

By on July 27, 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.

  • “Less than a Week Left to Complete Census of Agriculture,” Southern Farm Network: The National Ag Statistics Service is ending all of its data collection for the 2017 Census of Agriculture on July 31. Anyone who received the Census questionnaire is required by law to respond by that date. They can also fill out the census online at AgCensus.USDA.gov. NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer says the Census of Agriculture provides the only source of comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation. “Your information helps ensure that future decisions about U.S. agriculture represent you, your industry, and your community,” says Hamer. “Every response matters, even the ones that tell us you’re not, or are no longer a farm.” He points out that the same law that requires farmers to respond also requires the federal government to keep all of the information confidential. It’s used only for statistical purposes. Data is only published in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation.
  • “Rain, tariffs creating dismal outlook for some Pamlico County farmers,” WITN: The Trump Administration announced Tuesday twelve billion dollars in aid for farmers impacted by retaliatory tariffs. Local farmers in Easter North Carolina say that will only put a Band-Aid on the problem. American crops like cotton, dairy,pork, corn and soybeans are being targeted in retaliation against U.S. tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum and products from the European Union, Mexico and Canada. Farmers say tariffs and extremely wet and flooding weather conditions are creating a dismal outlook for their crops. The soybean crops in Pamlico County fields are short and soggy. Rainfall pushed planting further back than usual and could affect yield. Soybean farmer Derek Potter says the tariffs could create a double whammy on top of that. But right now it’s a waiting game to see what things will be like at harvest time.
  • “LandTrust gets $135,000 grant to preserve Randolph County farm,” Salisbury Post: LandTrust for Central North Carolina has been awarded $135,425 from the North Carolina Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund to aid in the purchase of an easement on a 135-acre farm in Randolph County. This will be the second property the landowner has placed under easement.  Located off High Pine Church Road, the farm is less than 3 miles from Burkhead wilderness area, which is a part of Uwharrie National Forest. …
  • “Field Day draws a crowd,” The Mountaineer: More than 100 area farmers and farm suppliers attended this year’s Field Day at the Mountain Research Station, one of more than a dozen test farms operated by the N.C. Department of Agriculture. This year’s education tracks included beef/forage production or crop production. Nearly 20 vendors were on had to explain the latest services and products on the market. Former station superintendent Kaleb Rathbone, who still lives in Haywood but was promoted to a new position overseeing all research stations in the state, was on hand in an official capacity to greet old friends. …
  • “Tobacco tour rolls into town,” Wilson Times: Vick Family Farms hosted the kickoff of the 2018 North Carolina State University Tobacco Tour on Monday. More than 100 area farmers, researchers and agribusiness people looked at new technologies that could be implemented in the production process during the annual event held by N.C. State and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. “It is important to have this research and the science and technology on the farm so that we can improve our efficiency and increase our profit margin at the end of the day,” said Linwood Vick, general farm manager at Vick Family Farms. “We have been working with the university for a long time and we give up a little bit of our time and some of our assets to work with the college and we feel like it’s worthwhile.” Under a large shelter lined with tobacco curing barns, attendees heard about ways to make the curing process more efficient. “We have a heat recovery unit that exchanges the hot air entrance in the back of the barn. It’s to reduce our energy consumption and our energy costs with the heat reduction. We have a turning vane in one barn that helps move air to the front of the barn faster and reduces our electricity costs,” Vick said. “We are seeing some differences. Once we gather all of the data, we will know the cost-effectiveness of all the differences.” Grant Ellington, N.C. Cooperative Extension specialist in biological and agricultural engineering, said the heat recovery system has been tested at Vick Family Farms and other state farms since 2014. …
  • “Too much, too little: Local farmers struggle with ‘wacky’ weather,” WRAL:  We’ve seen some long stretches of heat this summer and, recently, some rainy days. This weather has local farmers keeping a close eye on seasonal crops, because growers in Willow Springs say neither extreme helps. This is what the saying “be careful what you wish for” means. Last week, a farmer told WRAL that the farm was hoping for rain. This week, at Porter Farms in Willow Springs, too much rain could cause farmers to start over with some planting. …
  • “We stand with our farmers,” Sampson Independent: The faces of our farm families can be seen across Sampson and Duplin counties, just like these youngsters, Aubrey Herring, age 10, and sister Ansley, age 5, who, along with their family are among thousands whose livelihood is under seige. As our state’s farmers have come under attack, the call to Stand With Our Farm Families has grown louder. Today’s B section pages are The Sampson Independent’s way of letting our communities and our state know we stand with our farm families and understand how vital they are, and what they do is, to our county, state and nation. …
  • “Tariff trade battle harvesting angst among NC farmers,” WTVD: The North Carolina Farm Bureau said this has not been a good year for farmers. Weather and prices have been issues, and angst is only intensifying because of a tariff trade war. “Why should agriculture have to bear the brunt of all the retaliation from our trading partners?” said North Carolina Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten. North Carolina ranks high in agricultural sectors that could be affected by the tariff battle. The Farm Bureau said the state produces 50 percent of the nation’s tobacco and 75 percent of tobacco exported. North Carolina also ranks No. 1 in poultry and No. 2 in pork production.
  • “Is hemp the future of NC agriculture?” WRAL: If someone were to wander across Al Averitt’s farm, past a corn field on the left and rows of red-flowered crape myrtles on the right, that person might be tempted to call 911. Or he might be tempted to steal. In tidy rows across 3 acres in northern Robeson County, Averitt has hundreds of cannabis plants. One every six feet. The plants are growing through sheets of white plastic that keeps down weeds, and their roots receive precise amounts of water and fertilizer from an underground irrigation system. The plants look just like marijuana, with long, narrow leaves that have serrated edges. Sure to catch the eye of a law enforcement officer or someone looking to get high. But Averitt’s plants are legal — he has a license to prove it, should the sheriff pay him a visit — and they can’t get you high. Averitt is one of more than 300 North Carolina farmers experimentally growing industrial hemp. Hemp farming is otherwise illegal under state and federal law, because the industrial hemp plant is the same species as the marijuana plant. According to Averitt and other growers, industrial hemp could be the next frontier of North Carolina agriculture — a boost to the rural economy of a state where the countryside has languished while the cities have boomed. The key difference between hemp and marijuana: Industrial hemp plants have little THC, the chemical that makes people high when they consume marijuana. …
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