News Roundup

News Roundup: July 13-20

By on July 20, 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.

  • “Western Wake Farmers Market is Home at Last,” Cary Magazine: The Western Wake Farmers Market is open Saturdays on Town Hall Drive in Morrisville. Eight years after its founding, the Western Wake Farmers Market is now in its permanent home. On July 7, vendors moved into the space at the Town of Morrisville’s new Healthy Food Hub at 260 Town Hall Drive. At 9 a.m. Saturday, July 21, the public is invited to a Grand Opening Celebration, complete with ribbon-cutting ceremony and free tote bags. Attendees can go on a guided tour of the Historic Walking Trail after the event. And everyone is encouraged to pick up some fresh produce while they are at the market. “The dream is finally reality! This has been an effort that took eight years, five of them working with the Town of Morrisville, countless hours, the hard work of dozens (if not 100 or more) of people, and importantly, COMMUNITY SUPPORT,” read a June 29 post on the market’s Facebook page. …
  • “National Association of Egg Farmers lends support to King legislation,” Southeast Farm Press: King’s Protect Interstate Commerce Act is included in farm bill. The National Association of Egg Farmers are supporting Rep. Steve King’s “Protect Interstate Commerce Act,” which is included in the House Farm Bill. The legislation is designed to end efforts by some states to regulate the means of production of agricultural goods in other states. The state of California is attempting to prevent the sale of eggs that are raised in any state which does not adhere to California’s regulations governing cage sizes. Such restrictions are an unconstitutional infringement on Congress’s constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce, King asserts. “States do not have the Constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce; the United States Congress does,” he said. “If California, or any other state, wants to regulate how products are made within their borders, they can do so. But Iowa’s producers should not be held hostage to the demands of California’s vegan lobby and California’s regulatory agencies.”
  • “SPW On RFD: Sweet Potatoes Have Become A Sweet Deal For North Carolina,” (video) Southeast Produce Weekly: When demand for tobacco began to decline two decades ago, North Carolina farmers started looking for a new a cash leader. Now the state is far and away the nation’s leading sweet potato producer, growing more than half the U.S. crop. There are more than 400 sweet potato growers in North Carolina harvesting almost 100,000 acres annually. We recently visited several North Carolina growers, as well as the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission and NC Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler, for an up-close look at the sweet potato deal that first appeared on the RFD-TV Network.
  • “Farmers: Crops desperate for rain,” Wilson Times: Scattered storms today could help Wilson growers. It has been so hot and dry that most of the white corn on the Davis Farm didn’t pollinate. “The corn is probably suffering the worst of all the crops,” said Spencer Davis. Davis and his brother Russell pumped a small water basin down until it was just about gone. The farmers had fed the water into a drip tape to nourish the crop’s roots. “We really pumped that pond down,” said Spencer Davis. “It takes a lot of water. We stopped irrigating when we realized it wouldn’t sell.” The heat killed the pollen. “We watered it and watered it and watered it,’ said Spencer’s brother, Russell Davis, of the Rock Ridge community. On Monday, Spencer Davis walked into the 1-acre cornfield and pulled off an ear that was only partially developed. “It’s hard to market a half an ear of corn,” Russell Davis said. The farm wasn’t able to sell any sweet corn at all. “Corn has been greatly affected by the hot, dry weather,” said Norman Harrell, director of the Wilson County Cooperative Extension office in Wilson County. “A lot of corn was pollinating during this period and yields will be significantly affected.” Harrell said all of Wilson County’s field crops are suffering from the lack of rain. …
  • “SNAP Expected to be Harder to Use at Some Farmers Markets,” North Carolina Health News: Years of effort to get fresh fruits and veggies to low-income families may be lost as the company processing SNAP payments at markets folds. At farmers markets around North Carolina, the tables are piled high with tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, peaches and more. But even as the growing season is peaking, some folks who might want to buy will have a harder time bringing those fresh fruits and vegetables home. That’s because the technology company that currently processes Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) benefits at 40 percent of the country’s farmers markets will stop doing so at the end of July. Left in the lurch in North Carolina are 45 farmers markets, farm stands and mobile markets and the low-income customers that use their SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer cards to buy that produce through a purchasing program that runs off of Apple iPads and iPhones, according to Lisa Misch, a program coordinator who works on food access issues for the Pittsboro-based Rural Advancement Foundation International. …
  • “Timely rain a boost to struggling corn crop,” WRAL: Raleigh, N.C. — Farmers across central North Carolina looked to the sky with joy Tuesday night. The downpours that left some without power and spurred flash floods are welcome in the fields, where the corn crop has been taking a hit from heat and dry conditions. Lisa Penny of Penny’s Produce in Johnston County says the evidence of the recent lack of rain is clear. The outside of the ears of corn are not as green, and the fringe on top is dark brown. Penny said her farm delivers about 2,500 ears per day to the State Farmer’s Market for sale to the public during this peak season. …
  • “Trade war leaves U.S. with mountain of cheap pork,” Southeast Farm Press: U.S. production poised to reach all-time high while tariffs threaten to curb export demand. Donald Trump’s trade wars are making pork a bargain. American production is poised to reach an all-time high this year, and output is forecast to surge again in 2019. The supply boom comes as tariffs from China and Mexico threaten to curb export demand, leaving Americans with a mountain of cheap meat. On Saturday in Dallas, as many as 30 people on a local bacon-focused food tour were set to traverse the city chomping down on bacon donuts, bacon brown sugar ice cream, bacon jam and candied bacon. While retail bacon prices are down in the past 12 months, they’re still up from six years ago, so any relief from higher costs will be welcome news to the pork enthusiasts. “It’s almost like a bonding experience,” said Jeanine Stevens, the owner of Dallas Bites! Tours, which takes participants to little known restaurants and other eateries. “Bacon is a kind of food that people just feel a little bit lighthearted about. It’s a fun food.”Other Americans might agree. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting overall pork consumption next year will climb to 53.3 pounds a person. That’s the highest since the early 1980s.
  • “Is the “organic” seal worth it, given disputes on standards?” Greenville Daily Reflector: NEW YORK — Is paying more for organic milk, meat or a can of beans worth it? The “USDA Organic” label generally signifies a product is made with relatively minimal synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, and that animals are raised according to certain guidelines. But disputes over the rules, and questions about adherence, may raise doubts about whether the price is justified. A federal audit in September found the U.S. Department of Agriculture was “unable to provide reasonable assurance” that required documents for imported organic grains were reviewed at domestic ports of entry, among other weaknesses. The Washington Post last year had reported that massive shipments of the imported grains intended mostly for animal feed were wrongly labeled as organic, and also questioned practices by major organic dairy and egg producers. …
  • “Tech on Tap Conversations: Bee Downtown CEO Leigh Kathryn Bonner,” WRAL: Laura Worthington, Tech on Tap co-host and marketing director of, sits down with the CEO and founder of Bee Downtown, Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, who was recently named one of the most inspiring young entrepreneurs by INC. Bonner takes us through her startup origin story and how her passion project as an intern at American Underground became her career. Even with the layered and nuanced problem of honey bee decline, Bee Downtown is doing their part to educate the public and care for a fragile resource. Using bio-mimicry as a template, Bee Downtown has leveraged the lifecycle of bees and the hive to build better companies, employees and leaders. Leigh-Kathryn talks to us about how she made the jump into starting Bee Downtown, the hurdles she didn’t expect, and the triumphs along the way. Bonner ends with talking about how being in Durham has helped their success both in NC and as they expand to Atlanta.
  • “Residents file petition in support of farming neighbors,” North State Journal: Duplin County — A rally in Duplin County brought out more than 1,000 supporters of the state’s farming industry, calling recent nuisance lawsuits an attack on their industry. The rally came as a group of residents in Duplin County launched an effort to push back against the lawsuits that may put their farming neighbors out of business. Fifteen residents filed a petition in June with the Duplin County manager in support of the local hog farms that are facing fallout from recent nuisance lawsuits. The N.C. farms provide meat to Smithfield Foods, the defendant in the suits and the largest pork producer in the world. The residents decided to file the new petition after they found out that a 1991 petition they signed was successfully used against the farms in recent litigation. “I was notified after the fact that they used our 25-year-old signatures in court; I just wanted to do the right thing and correct the record,” said Duplin County resident Doug Pierson. “We’ve been there for years and not had a complaint about the farm.” …
  • “The best coconut rum – and 5 more things you should know about N.C.-distilled spirits,” News & Observer: Yes, it was a dream assignment. To write “Distilling the South: A Guide to Southern Craft Liquors and the People Who Make Them,” (UNC Press, 2018), I hit the road in 2016 to spend 14 months visiting more than 50 distilleries across 11 Southern states. A big chunk of my research took me all over North Carolina, from Asheville to Kinston and from Mount Airy to Charlotte, visiting small, start-up distilleries. Here are 6 of the coolest things I learned: 1. The best ride at a distillery: At Broadslab Distilling in Benson, about 30 miles south of Raleigh, owner Jeremy Norris hitches a wagon to a tractor and tows you through the fields of corn he uses to make his whiskey. …
  • “From breweries to the farm, Trump tariff war produces winners and losers in Charlotte,” Charlotte Observer: Drew Medlin sees the impact of the trade war in the falling prices for his Union County soybeans. Glenn Sherrill sees it in the skyrocketing prices for the steel that’s building Charlotte’s skyline. And Todd Ford sees it in the rising cost of aluminum cans at his Charlotte brewery. They are part of the collateral damage already being felt around the Charlotte region from President Donald Trump’s burgeoning trade war. That fight escalated this month with tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese-made goods while China enacted tariffs of its own. Earlier, Canada and the European Union retaliated against Trump’s tariffs on steel, aluminum, motor vehicles and hundreds of other items. More tariffs are in the pipeline. …
  • “Invasive tick species found in Polk County; farmers work to protect livestock,” WLOS: An invasive, non-native tick species has turned up in the mountains, and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture is urging livestock producers and residents to be on the lookout. State agriculture officials say multiple longhorned ticks were discovered on a possum at the Tryon International Equestrian Center. The state veterinarian for North Carolina, Dr. Doug Meckes, says the discovery was made when officials “had an opportunity to revisit some tick samples that were taken last spring at the site of the World Equestrian Games in Tryon. What they found was “a single opossum that had seven ticks.” …
  • “Don’t touch that plant! Giant hogweed can cause burns, blindness,” Winston-Salem Journal: An eastern European plant that can cause third-degree burns or even blindness was found growing in Watauga County recently, but officials say that so far there’s no evidence the plant is poised to stage a widespread invasion. Weed specialist Bridget Lassiter said her phone has nonetheless been ringing more than usual since a Virginia teen suffered second- and third-degree burns after handling a giant hogweed plant on his summer landscaping job near Fredericksburg, Va. “The bottom line is that yes, it is a plant that you don’t want to mess with,” Lassiter said. “But in North Carolina, we don’t have it growing everywhere.” Lassiter works for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in the Plant Protection Section. Since 2010, state officials have dealt with giant hogweed plants that have so far not escaped from a 10-mile radius around Blowing Rock, Lassiter said. “None of them have been allowed to go to seed,” Lassiter said. The plant came to Watauga when someone obtained seeds and planted them hoping to use them for soil stabilization. Officials believe the plants they’ve discovered in Watauga since then are likely descendants of those original plants. …

Recipe: Southern Smoke BBQ’s Mexican street corn (elotas)

By on July 19, 2018

This spring Southern Smoke BBQ  held one of it’s popular South Supper Series at it’s location in Garland. This event celebrates farm-to-table in a community atmosphere centered around a culinary theme. It’s a big event for the one-caution-light town and draws

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic for Broadcast on July 17: A new species of tick has been found in North Carolina that poses a threat to humans and livestock.

By on July 17, 2018

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Mike Davis to discuss “Today’s Topic.” A new species of tick has been found in North Carolina, raising the need for greater awareness of its presence and tick

National Ice Cream Month: Farm-to-Table Becomes Cow-to-Cone at Maple View

By on July 16, 2018

Maple View Ice Cream takes pride in what employees call the “cow-to-cone” experience – enjoying your favorite frozen treat in a rocking chair while overlooking a field filled with cows the milk came from. It doesn’t get much more local

News Roundup

News Roundup: July 7 – 13

By on July 13, 2018

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 Soybean Surge Makes Trump’s Trade War Look Deceptively Good,” WRAL: President Donald Trump’s trade

Recipe: Perfect Potato Salad

By on July 12, 2018

For six weeks a year, North Carolina could lay claim to being the potato capital of America. About 16,000 acres of potatoes are grown in Northeastern N.C. annually, producing about 3 million pounds of potatoes. These fresh, white table potatoes

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic: Update on the Timber Restoration Fund efforts to help woodland owners recover from the impacts of Hurricane Matthew and the wildfires in Western N.C.

By on July 10, 2018

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Mike Davis to discuss “Today’s Topic.” The N.C. Forest Service has worked with woodland owners on 361 timber restoration projects statewide involving 16,378 acres. Commissioner Troxler is happy

News Roundup

News Roundup: June 30 – July 6

By on July 6, 2018

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 Jewish Dietician Walks onto a Pig Farm…”  Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Leia Flure is a

Incredibles-inspired egg recipes

By on July 5, 2018

    How do you like your eggs? If you’re Jack Jack from The Incredibles – deviled is a good fit. The American Egg Board recently partnered with Disney Pixar to promote recipes tying the “Incredible Edible Egg” to the

Today’s Topic: The N.C. Forest Service’s 2018 seedling sales are under way.

By on July 3, 2018

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Mike Davis to discuss “Today’s Topic.” The N.C. Forest Service has begun its annual seedling sales, offering nearly 50 species of conifers and hardwoods to landowners. These seedlings