News Roundup: Aug. 25 – 29

By on September 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.

  • “A Week of Big Announcements in Washington,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) The U.S. and Mexico have reached a partial NAFTA deal, and USDA announced details of a tariff rescue package for U.S. producers. Mike Davis reports.Find details of the USDA rescue plan here.
  • “Farmers seek governor’s support for industry,” Greenville Daily Reflector: When Gov. Roy Cooper made a recent stop in Snow Hill, he was met by Greene County farmers seeking reassurance of his support for agriculture in the state. Cooper stopped in Snow Hill on Aug. 14 to visit several downtown businesses while on a tour of eastern North Carolina. Before reaching town, county government and business leaders awaiting his arrival at Hardy’s Appliance and Furniture, Cooper was greeted in the parking lot by several Greene County hog, poultry and crop farming families holding signs that read “Every Family Needs a Farmer — support NC Farmers.” The farmers’ presence stemmed from Cooper’s veto of a bill to limit lawsuits against farming operations. Several suits have been filed against hog operations in the state due to their use of lagoons, where hog waste is stored behind livestock pens, then liquefied and sprayed onto nearby fields. In June, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 711, which mandates a nuisance lawsuit can’t be filed against an agriculture or forestry operation unless done so within a year of its establishment or fundamental change, which does not include changes in ownership, technology, product or the operation’s size. …
  • “Strawberries, tobacco, grain — somebody raises it locally,” Greensboro News & Record: Weeks of heavy and incessant rain in late July saved corn, beans and other produce throughout Guilford County. It also stunted the growth of strawberry crops. “You’re just dealing with the unpredictable,” said Don York, a fourth-generation farmer who earlier this year lost rows of corn to drought. Farming is a billion-dollar industry in Guilford County, bolstered in recent years by a movement toward eating fresh and unprocessed food. There are over 900 farms totaling about 90,750 acres. The average farm is 94 acres. The average farmer is 60 years old. Soybeans are a staple. So is inconsistent weather. Some years, farmers get a trace of precipitation. In other  years, they wish they could turn off the faucet. Conditions can differ from farm to farm within the same county. The southeast corner of Guilford, for example, is prone to drought and the northeast consistently gets more moisture. In Julian, where one of the tiniest of York’s grandchildren helps to herd cattle grown for beef, he was praying that rot and disease didn’t set in on the soybeans. That’s because it’s been wet. It’s been dry. And it’s been wet again. …
  • “Apple picking season has begun. For some in North Carolina, 2018 is bringing bumper crops,” Greenville News: It’s a pilgrimage of sorts for tens of thousands in the Upstate, beginning this time each year in the summer heat and continuing into October when the air is as crisp as the prize that’s sought. The season for picking your own apples has begun — and growers and market observers say this season is poised to be one of the best in years in North Carolina, where just a short drive away is one of nation’s largest centers for apple growing. The reason? It depends on the weather — or more specifically, how the weather affected differently orchards just miles apart. “The weather is everything. This year has been nearly perfect,” said Chris Justus, a meteorologist for the WYFF News 4 newscast whose family owns Justus Orchard in Hendersonville. The orchard has a vast majority of its visitors come from South Carolina — and some days as many as 10,000 amateur apple pickers. …
  • “USDA unveils plans to assist farmers impacted by retaliatory tariffs,” Southeast Farm Press: USDA authorized spending up to $12 billion to aid farmers. Signup begins Sept. 4, 2018. Some farmers could see checks in their mailboxes as early as mid-September as a result of USDA’s package of assistance to aid farmers adversely impacted by retaliatory tariffs. As announced last month, USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in programs to aid impacted producers. The programs are consistent with U.S. World Trade Organization obligations, according to USDA. “After careful analysis by our team at USDA, we have formulated our strategy to mitigate the trade damages sustained by our farmers,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, during a conference call to announce the plans. “Our farmers work hard, and are the most productive in the world, and we aim to protect them.” …
  • “Sweet potato volume expected to drop again,” The Packer:  Southern sweet potato acreage is expected to drop again this year, leaving grower-shippers hopeful that fewer acres will result in lower volume and an uptick in prices. U.S. sweet potato acreage in 2017 was down 2.45% compared to 2016, said Kay Rentzel, executive director of the U.S. Sweet Potato Council, Dillsburg, Pa. But yield per acre was up 16%. “Thus the actual supply was greater than the previous year,” she said. No official estimate has been made for acreage or volume for 2018, but growers expect acreage and volume to drop.
  • “Entomologists warn livestock producers, pet owners to be on the lookout for Longhorned tick.” Southeast Farm Press: There’s a new tick in town, or at least on your doorstep, if you live in Oklahoma, Louisiana or Texas, and entomologists are warning livestock producers and pet owners to be on the lookout for what may pose a serious health threat to humans and their animals. Numerous types of ectoparasites, more commonly known as ticks who feed on mammals, birds and sometimes reptiles, have long posed a problem, especially to their human and animal hosts. In all, there are over 800 known species of ticks worldwide, about 90 of those can be found in North America, the most common being dog ticks, wood ticks and blacklegged, or deer ticks, the later of which are known to spread Lyme disease. …
  • “Red Delicious has been dethroned as America’s most popular apple,” WRAL: There’s a new top apple in town. After spending more 50 years as America’s most-grown apple, the Red Delicious has been dethroned. How do you like them apples? The gala apple is now America’s most-grown apple, according to the US Apple Association, which announced the landmark finding at the 2018 Annual Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference on Monday. The Gala will see a jump of 49.5 million units, which measure 42 pounds each, to 52.4 million in 2018. Red Delicious will see its production drop from 57.9 million last year to 51.7 million this year. …
  • “Hog farmers have optimism for appeals process,” Bladen Journal: Three defeats in the federal courtroom of Judge Earl Britt haven’t diminished the resolve of the hog farming industry. “We don’t know which three judges we’ll draw, but we feel confident that whichever ones are there that this will get overturned,” said David Mixon, operations manager for Elizabethtown-based HD3 Farms of the Carolinas. Greenwood Livestock LLC, a division of HD3 Farms, is owner of the Greenwood 1 and 2 farms that were in the most recent lawsuit. A jury ruled in favor of plaintiffs, awarding $473.5 million in damages against defendant Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods that contracts with Greenwood and HD3 Farms. State law on punitive damages caps the award at $94 million. …
  • “Troxler Hopeful for Smithfield Mediation, Appeals,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Smithfield Foods and its hog farm neighbors have asked to push back the proceedings in upcoming lawsuits while the first three cases go to appeal and both sides sit down in mediation. North Carolina Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler tells Mike Davis this is a major breakthrough in the ongoing litigations.
  • “Chatham Park, Mountaire Farms growing jobs in Chatham County,” Charlotte Observer: Job growth in Chatham County is on a pace that’s not been seen in a quarter century. That’s the assessment of N.C. State University economist Michael Walden, who moderated a “Chatham Development Briefing” on Wednesday. The pace of job growth here is the fastest in 25 years if it stays on this pace the rest of the year,” Walden said. “A lot of good things happen when the economy is growing.” Alyssa Byrd, the interim president of the Chatham County Economic Development Corp., said some local businesses are already seeing the impact. Workers are filling local restaurants like Johnson’s Drive-In at lunchtime. Johnson’s is just down the way from the poultry processing plant being revamped by Mountaire Farms and set to open next year. …

 

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