News Roundup: Sept. 8 – 14

By on September 14, 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.
  • “Moving chickens, harvesting tobacco, managing hog manure: N.C. farmers prepare for Florence,” Washington Post: Thick clouds and heavy humidity hinted at the storm crawling its way toward Carolina Mushroom Farm. But it was a crisp 38 degrees inside one of the farm’s concrete and metal coolers that store harvested and packaged mushrooms. For Shahane Taylor and Steve Carroll, the farm’s co-owners, the electricity that keeps their mushroom sheds at just the right temperatures, humidity levels and lighting is essential to running the largest mushroom producer between Pennsylvania and Florida. The sheds are bolted into a concrete floor and, Taylor and Carroll say, have withstood every major hurricane and storm since the early 1980s. But Hurricane Florence is forecast to be a storm of enormous ferocity, posing an even greater threat to their grey oysters, lion’s manes and shiitakes. The mushrooms are well protected, said Carroll, adding that”if this floods, half the state is going to be underwater.” …
  • “Florence a threat to tobacco crops,” Winston-Salem Journal: Tobacco crops in North Carolina, the top U.S. producer, are right in the projected path for Hurricane Florence, which threatens to cause plants to rot, whether they’re still in the fields or have already been harvested. Florence’s Category 4 winds are approaching the state at 130 miles per hour, strong enough for farmers to grow concerned that leaves will blow away and stunt the region’s harvest, Matthew Vann, a tobacco extension specialist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, said in an interview. Flooding is another potential risk, as a deluge could leave plants sitting soaked in fields. Crop losses could reach as high as $300 million, “assuming a 100 percent loss of what’s still in the field,” Vann said. “That would be a very sizable blow to the tobacco-grower base as a whole.” …
  • “NORTH CAROLINA FARMERS BRACING FOR FLORENCE,” Southern Farm Network: This map from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality shows the concentration of livestock facilities in the projected path of Hurricane Florence. It’s a horse race for North Carolina farmers trying to complete as much harvest as possible before hurricane Florence hits that state’s shoreline, with projected 140+ mph winds and rainfall accumulations of up to 30+ inches in some areas. Justin Edwards, a North Carolina row-crop and hog farmer, located in Duplin County, approximately 50 miles inland of the North Carolina coastline where hurricane Florence is predicted to make landfall, was 90 to 100 acres from being done with corn harvest. …
  • “NC ‘State of Emergency’ ahead of Florence helps farmers during harvest,” CBS17: The State of Emergency declared Friday by Governor Roy Cooper directly benefits hundreds of North Carolina farmers as they hurry to harvest crops before Tropical Storm Florence makes landfall. Johnston County farmer John Landon said he appreciates the action which lifts some transportation restrictions involving the moving of agricultural items.”Agriculture’s our leading economic engine, and it’s nice to know our governor recognizes that and gives us that opportunity to get our crops out and be able to capture the value in those,” Langdon said. …
  • “Farmers from county inducted into Livestock Hall of Fame,” Hendersonville Lightning: Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler inducted three farmers from Henderson County into the N.C. Mountain State Fair Livestock Hall of Fame during the fair’s opening weekend. Troxler recognized Joyce and Gerald Coggins of Zirconia and Jimmy Cowan of Mills River for their longtime support to the fair, youth livestock shows and the livestock industry in western North Carolina. …“Farmers could get relief from tariff losses,” Wilson Times: Wilson County commodity growers could be eligible to receive payments to offset price disruptions resulting from foreign countries’ retaliatory tariffs. Payments to producers of corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean and wheat in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Facilitation Program started last Tuesday, according to a news release from the USDA Farm Service Agency, which will administer the program.U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the plan is “in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation by foreign nations.”…
  • “Tobacco Farmers Hit Hard by Trade Dispute with China” Southern Farm Network: The U.S. trade war with China is hitting agriculture right in the bottom line. The negative effect on corn soybeans, livestock, and many other commodities has been well-documented. However, tobacco farmers in the southeast U.S. are being hit exceptionally hard by the trade war and have no safety net to fall back on. Mike Davis has more with J. Thomas Bunn of the United Tobacco Cooperative in Raleigh, N.C.
  • “Corn maze and apples: Get in the fall spirit with these autumnal events in Asheville,” Asheville Citizen Times: It’s not likely to feel consistently fall-like for a little while. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go apple picking, corn maze wandering and cider sipping in the meantime. Here are some food- and ag-focused festivities to celebrate the harvest season as early as this weekend (weather permitting). This weekend marks the start of the 10th year of Eliada’s Corn Maze, which sprawls across a field on the picturesque property of the longtime Western North Carolina children’s agency. This year’s theme is “10 Years of Family Fun,” with the maze design a family of three. Proceeds from the 6-week event benefit Eliada’s care for children and youth, from newborn to 22 years old. Fall events at Eliada include a tractor ride circling the corn maze, plus a jumping pillow, corn kernel sand box, the ever-popular tube slides and corn cannons. …
  • “On-Farm Readiness Reviews Support Farmers as They Safeguard Produce,” FDA Blog: We know how important it is to get produce safety right. Taking steps to prevent contamination of produce is the primary purpose of the Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule. The FDA is committed to making sure that the standards designed to minimize the risk of contamination are workable, and that farmers have the information and tools needed to effectively implement them. One of the resources now available to farmers is the On-Farm Readiness Review (OFRR) program. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) created this program in collaboration with the FDA. On-Farm Readiness Reviews provide farmers real-time feedback on their current operations and facilities. These reviews can help farmers address any areas in need of improvement before a regulatory inspection takes place in the future. Working together, the aim is to improve the safety of the food supply while still maintaining a vibrant agriculture sector. …
  • “Major air carriers plan to use more biofuels,” Southeast FarmPress: As of June, more than 130,000 commercial flights have been powered by biofuel. For years, airlines have experimented with biofuels, aiming to reduce both carbon emissions and their reliance on fossil fuels. It’s been a turbulent journey buffeted by inconsistent investment and the periodic lure of cheap oil. But several major carriers are planning larger-scale usage of biofuel in 2019 and 2020, including JetBlue Airways Corp. and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. United Continental Holdings Inc. said Thursday that it would cut its carbon emissions by half over 2005 levels, by 2050, matching an industry target set by the International Air Transport Association…
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