News Roundup: Aug. 18 – 24

By on August 24, 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.

  • “A new Bayer era: Who farmers call for seed, chemical purchases,” Southeast Farm Press: As farmers start making buying decisions for the 2019 growing season, it will be business as usual for those selecting seed or chemicals from the newly integrated Bayer Crop Science Division. Bayer officials made it clear that farmers will be able to source their favorite brands from the Monsanto-Bayer merger. “In the near term, farmers should expect no change,” said Brett Begemann, chief operating officer at Bayer. Seed and chemical offerings will remain the same, and farmers should contact their local sales representative — whether Monsanto or Bayer — for purchases. …
  • “NC Christmas Tree Association has summer meeting, trade show at MHS,” Mitchell News-Journal: The North Carolina Christmas Tree Association had its annual summer meeting and trade show Friday, Aug. 17, and Saturday, Aug. 18, at Mitchell High School. More than 100 attendees and 21 vendors attended the two-day event, which features Christmas tree growers from the state six largest Frasier fir-producing counties – Mitchell, Avery, Jackson, Watauga, Allegheny and Ashe. The summer meeting rotates among those counties and was last hosted in Mitchell County in 2012. …
  • “Auction a throwback to tobacco’s heyday,” Wilson Times: It sounded like the old days in Wilson on Wednesday. Tobacco buyers called out bids as they walked along bales of tobacco with growers keenly listening to prices at a pair of auctions. The live auction, the primary means of selling tobacco for more than a century, has been a rare format ever since the tobacco buyout in 2004. Today, about 92 percent of tobacco sold in the country is under contract, but the remainder is sold in a nontraditional market, usually in a silent auction format. American Tobacco Exchange Inc. and Horizon Ltd. both held live auctions Wednesday. Tommy Faulkner of American Tobacco Exchange said the sales are held at the request of both growers and buyers wanting a live auction in Wilson. “They seem to like that and the growers seemed to like it better,” Faulkner said. “It was the old original-type thing.” American had more than 400 bales for sale while Horizon sold about 350 bales. “We are just really excited to bring the live auction back to Wilson,” said Rhonda Harrington of Wilson, owner of American Tobacco Exchange Inc. The tobacco market was established in Wilson in 1890 with an auction. …
  • “Feral hogs invaded a NC preserve. These nature lovers started shooting back,” Charlotte Observer: When feral hogs invaded a 1,400-acre tract in southern Davie County, the owners, a Salisbury-based conservation group, came up with what it says is a unique solution: Sign up hunters to settle the score. Three Rivers Land Trust, formerly known as LandTrust for Central North Carolina, has battled hogs since acquiring the farmland between the Yadkin and South Yadkin rivers in 2012. Local people say the hogs were released there illegally a couple of years earlier. These are not barnyard critters you might picture lazing away a hot afternoon in the mud. Non-native feral hogs are tusked, cunning omnivores that bulldoze the ground, destroying vegetation, in their search for food. The Davie County hogs were ravishing local farmers’ corn and soybean crops, said Travis Morehead, the executive direct of Three Rivers.
  • Southeast Produce Weekly
    “SPW On RFD-TV: Close Up On The Carolinas: Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler, Part 1 (Video) and Part 2 (Video)” Southeast Produce Weekly: North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler doesn’t just represent the political side of farming — he’s a farmer himself. We spent a lot of time in the Carolinas this summer, bringing you features from the fields and packinghouses — but also the halls of power. Our Carolinas summer wrapped up with a pair of powerhouse interviews with the agriculture commissioners of South and North Carolina that ran as a four-part series on the RFD-TV Network’s Market Day Report and Rural Evening News.
  • “Cooperative Extension adapts to a less agricultural America,” News & Observer: In its century of existence, the Cooperative Extension System has been a valuable resource distributing university-driven, science-based information — mostly about farming and gardening — to the public. But in today’s less agricultural America, the Extension network is adapting, expanding its rural focus into cities and suburbs too. Urban and suburban communities have their own health needs, says Wiley Thompson, a regional director for Oregon State University Extension. “Some live in ‘food deserts.’ They want to further their education but may not want to move, and many want to intensively garden and manage their compact green spaces,” he says. “I sense the need for Cooperative Extension is stronger than ever,” says Thompson, who previously chaired the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Cooperative Extension, formalized by the federal Smith-Lever Act of 1914, was designed to translate know-how from technical Land Grant campuses into practical knowledge, and share it with local communities. Most of that outreach was about agricultural production and livestock, gardening, food preservation and safety, nutrition, sewing, early childhood development and 4-H Club activities, says Amy Ouellette, associate director of University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.
  • “Beck’s, Stine, Seek Further Dicamba Restrictions,” Southern Farm Network: The two biggest independent seed sellers in the United States are seeking a ban of dicamba beyond pre-plant applications. Beck’s Hybrids and Stine Seed told Reuters most complaints about dicamba drifting would stop if the Environmental Protection Agency restricted its use to killing weeds in fields before crops are planted. Last year, drift issues from dicamba herbicides sprayed on resistant fields damaged an estimated 3.6 million acres, or four percent of all U.S. plantings. Last month, the University of Missouri estimated one million acres had been damaged this year. The move would be a competitive blow to Monsanto, which sells a popular dicamba system for growers. Monsanto counters that complaints have dropped this year and that most damage now stems from improper applications. Registration for dicamba on resistant crops with the Environmental Protection Agency expires this fall and the EPA is expected to issue a decision on renewing the registration within weeks. Monsanto expects the EPA to extend the approval.
  • “Digging In Deep with North Carolina Agriculture,” Duke Today: The group traveled last month from Raleigh to farms in Shannon, Maxton, Rowland, Elizabethtown, Currie, Ivanhoe, Kenansville, Mt. Olive, Clinton, and Princeton. Farmers talked about their challenges, introduced their families, and their shared stories and experiences. In addition to the Wooten and his travel team, Brownell and the WFPC staff met Farm Bureau officers in Lumberton and Kenansville. “To understand food systems, one needs to begin where the food is created. So meeting the farmers and seeing the farms was incredibly instructive. Since I’ve been back, I can’t stop telling people about the experience,” Brownell said. “I have so many vivid recollections: how complex farming is, how talented farmers are, how much risk and uncertainty they face, how hard they work, how deeply embedded the farms are in families, and how nice the people are. It is has been a long time since I learned so much in two days. I could not have hoped for anything more.” …
  • “Davidson County farmers lament tariffs,” Lexington Daily Dispatch: George Smith and his workers milk more than 500 cows at his dairy farm on Linwood-Southmont Road.
    But according to the farmer, the dairy business hasn’t had a good year since 2014, and North Carolina has lost about 15 percent of its dairy herds in the past two or three years. Many small dairies have gone out of business and large dairies have increased in size and are producing more than they can sell. The recent tariff battle between the United States and other countries hasn’t helped, either. “It’s more perception than it is reality right now because tariffs obviously didn’t go into effect until July,” George Smith said. “So perception is that it’s going to have at least a $1 and 60 or 70 cent per hundredweight impact on us from now until the end of the year or when the (problem) is resolved. “We’ll get a little of that back in terms of government assistance, but very little. I think the impact will be in the next two to three months with exports in July, August and September especially.” In early July, Mexico and China placed tariffs on $986 million worth of U.S. dairy exports in response to tariffs on steel and aluminum by the U.S. According to the U.S. Dairy Export Council, Mexico and China were among the top five markets for dairy exports in 2017. Smith exports 20 percent of the goods from his farm. …
  • “Uwharrie Ridge Farms protected in Randolph County,” Asheboro Courier-Tribune: Uwharrie Ridge Farms, a 72-acre farm in Randolph County that breeds Angus and Semi-Angus cattle for breeding stock, is now permanently conserved through a conservation easement with The LandTrust for Central North Carolina. The farm is owned by Mark and Jessica Wilburn who handle all aspects of the operation. Mark artificially inseminates his cows. He works for ABS Global, the world leader in bovine genetics, reproduction services and technologies, and travels across the country helping other farmers successfully breed cattle. As the name Uwharrie Ridge Farms suggests, the property is along a ridgeline that borders 1,380 feet of the Uwharrie River. His cows are fenced out of the river and its tributaries, and there’s a healthy buffer of hardwood trees between his pasture and the Uwharrie. The scenic Uwharrie peak known as Black Mountain can be seen in the distance from his property; 100 percent of this property is classified as prime agricultural and state important soils. …
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