News Roundup

News Roundup: Sept. 16-22

By on September 22, 2017

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.

  • “Group dedicated to making stevia a viable Southeast cash crop,” Southeast Farm Press: As it stands now, there are still many questions on producing stevia in the Southeast with less than 300 acres currently planted to the crop in North Carolina. But there is a commitment and a definite interest in making stevia a viable cash crop across the Southeast. North Carolina State University is firmly dedicated to expanding stevia production with a team of researchers working on the economics of growing stevia to varietal development to weed and disease control and more. A multi-state collaborative research and extension effort has been established to do work in stevia with funding coming from a recently announced specialty crop research initiative from USDA. The four-year collaborative program includes N.C. State, Michigan State University, University of South Alabama and Fort Valley State University in Georgia. Moreover, the Golden Leaf Fund, Tobacco Trust Fund and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center have all committed support to expanding stevia acreage in North Carolina. David Shew, a professor of plant pathology at N.C. State who is instrumental in the efforts to expand stevia production across the Southeast, says this support and the collaborative four-year study are vital for developing best management practices for producing stevia and providing the answers growers need. “We began our research work in 2011 with the goal of exposing growers to stevia as a possible alternative crop, particularly in eastern North Carolina,” Shew explains. “As we began the research we had far more questions than answers. Seven years later, there are still a lot of questions but we now have many answers in terms of weed and disease control, varietal development and other agronomic practices.” Currently there are no extraction and drying facilities for stevia in the Southeast, but a company called US Stevia has been established in Laurinburg, N.C. and is working on building an extraction plant there. US Stevia is also seeking to contract with growers who are interested in producing stevia. …
  • “Edgecombe County deputies monitoring hemp fields amid arrests,” WTVD: (Video) The Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office has a message for would-be hemp thieves: it won’t get you high! “I would never in a million years think I’d be talking about this,” said Sheriff Cleveland Atkinson. That’s after deputies have charged multiple people with stealing – or attempting to steal – hemp from a field. Industrial Hemp is not marijuana. It contains less than 1 percent THC, meaning that it will not get you high like marijuana will. The variety of hemp growing in a Rocky mount field is not for medicinal or recreational use, but industrial. “It’s used for clothing products, textile products, installation, and paper products, ” explained Atkinson. But authorities say nonetheless folks have been coming by and ripping plants out of the ground. Monday, deputies arrested 28-year-old William Cooper, 21-year-old Malik Hudson, and 25-year-old Jacquel Baker-Johnson for allegedly trying to steal hemp plants. …
  • “Monsanto’s weed killer, dicamba, divides farmers,” The News & Observer: Steve Smith, the head of agriculture at Red Gold, a tomato processor, in Orestes, Ind., on Sept. 13. Smith was a member of an advisory panel to Monsanto, but after speaking out against the weed killer dicamba, the company removed him from the panel. Farmers planted a new kind of seed on 25 million acres of soybean and cotton fields this year. Developed by Monsanto, the seeds, genetically modified to be resistant to a weed killer called dicamba, are one of the biggest product releases in the company’s history. But the seeds and the weed killer have turned some farmers – often customers of Monsanto, which sells both – against the company and alarmed regulators. Farmers who have not bought the expensive new seeds, which started to appear last year, are joining lawsuits, claiming that their crops have been damaged by dicamba that drifted onto their farms. Arkansas announced a 120-day ban of the weed killer this summer, and it is considering barring its use next year after mid-April. Missouri briefly barred its sale in July. And the Environmental Protection Agency, not known for its aggressiveness under President Donald Trump, is weighing its own action. …
  • “USDA: Organic sales up 23% in 2016,” Southeast Farm Press: U.S. farms produced and sold $7.6 billion in certified organic commodities in 2016, according to data released Sept. 20, 2017, by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Results of the 2016 Certified Organic Survey show that 2016 sales were up 23% from $6.2 billion in 2015. During the same year, the number of certified organic farms in the country increased 11% to 14,217, and the number of certified acres increased 15% to 5.0 million. California, with $2.9 billion in certified organic sales, continued to lead the nation in certified sales, accounting for 38% of the U.S. total. It also had the largest share of certified organic acres and farms. …
  • “State veterinarian warns farms owners of rabies risk to N.C. livestock,” WNCT: (Video) The state veterinarian of North Carolina is warning farm owners to vaccinate against the disease. Doug Meckes, state veterinarian of North Carolina, said the number of rabies cases particularly in horses has been higher than average this year. Five rabies cases in farm animals have surfaced this year in our state. Last year, there were a total of four. Local large animal veterinarians say although it hasn’t hit our area yet, horse owners should be taking precautionary steps to prevent rabies. This is especially important because rabies can be easily contracted by humans. “Rabies is a health hazard for you not just your horse,” said Linda Balot, Greenville Mobile Equine Service veterinarian. “And to pay for it, it’s one of our cheapest vaccines. It’s $20. So to do that once a year, that’s cheap insurance for you, as well as your animal.” …
  • “When You See Farm Equipment in the Road, Do You Know What to Do?” North Carolina Health News: As the air turns crisp, the leaves change. Pumpkin spice baked goods fill the shelves. Kids go back to school. And farmers take to the fields to harvest. There are about 2 million people nationwide working in the agricultural industry full-time, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. In 2015, there were 401 farm work-related deaths. Every day around 100 agricultural workers experience a “lost-work-time injury,” according to NIOSH. North Carolina has a large agricultural community of about 48,000 farm operations There have been at least six agricultural fatalities this year so far in the state, according to reports collected by the NC Agromedicine Institute at East Carolina University. For example, in June a 61-year-old farmer from Liberty died after an SUV rear-ended his tractor. He was thrown onto the shoulder of U.S. 421 and the vehicle ended up on top of him, according to a report by The Courier-Tribune in Asheboro. Just a few days later, a tractor and a semi-truck collided on U.S. 70 near New Bern. Fortunately, in this case, the truck driver walked away and the farmer was treated at the hospital for minor injuries, according to a report by The Sun Journal. …
  • “NC Farm Act expands what qualifies as farming activity,” Tryon Daily Bulletin: More Polk County farms may be able to qualify to enter the present use value program for tax relief thanks to a new North Carolina Farm Act that was approved by the state over the summer. The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Sept. 5 and heard a presentation from county attorney Jana Berg about what the new law means. Berg said on July 12, N.C. Governor Roy Cooper signed into law the NC Farm Act, effective immediately, that changed some laws in respect to farms and provided some tax relief. The law increases property that is eligible for present use value by including within the required $1,000 worth of gross annual income from farming activities, fees generated from renting pastureland. The new law also now includes the sale of bees or products derived from beehives, other than honey. Honey production already qualifies for the present use program. Berg said in other words, if you didn’t previously qualify, yet you rented your pastureland for horses or livestock to graze on your property and you generate at least $1,000 per year in income, you could now qualify. The present use value program still requires there be at least 10 acres and the farming activity that generates income has to have been done for at least three years in order to qualify. …
  • “University of Mount Olive hosts agricultural festival,” WNCT: (Video) Farming is the backbone of Eastern North Carolina. It’s been that way for generations. The University of Mount Olive in Wayne County, is one of the few universities in our state focusing heavily on agriculture. It’s also one of only a few universities offering majors in the field. Thursday afternoon, hundreds of high school kids from all over the state will take part in an event aiming to inspire their generation to pursue careers in the agricultural industry. The event is called, “AG-Fest”. Over the past few years major changes have occurred in the agricultural industry, from new technology to different fields of study. Professors at UMO say their school is a leader in recognizing these trends. They want to stress there is more to agriculture than farming production. “It just lets people know that we’re here it supports the agriculture industry that is so important in this part of the state we’re right in the heart of agriculture,” said Sandy Maddox, Director of the Agriculture Business Center at UMO. “We like to don what we can to support the industry.” …

Recipe: Celebrating chicken

By on September 21, 2017

September is National Chicken Month. North Carolina ranks 3rd nationally in broilers, contributing nearly $3.5 billion of total farming cash receipts. According to the N.C. Poultry Federation, the poultry industry’s economic impact for NC is $36.6 billion.  More than 5,700

Farm safety is a 52-week responsibility

By on September 20, 2017

For 74 years, the third week of September has been recognized as National Farm Safety and Health Week. But farm safety is a year-round responsibility. Agriculture provides food, fiber and fuel for millions of people across the United States. But

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic: Corn yield could tie state record

By on September 19, 2017

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” The latest USDA crop production report for North Carolina is still showing very good news about the state’s corn and cotton crops.

News Roundup

News Roundup: Sept. 9-15

By on September 15, 2017

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. “Irma Could Devastate Expected Record Peanut Crop,” Southeast Farm Press: At this year’s field day

Recipe: PB&J Pretzel Bars

By on September 14, 2017

This is the time of year that cooks and bakers get to show off. It is fair season in North Carolina and blue ribbons are up for grabs. The N.C. State Fair hosts 12 days of special cooking contests during

Fall webworm makes big webs, causes little worry

By on September 13, 2017

With scarf and pumpkin spice latte season right around the corner, enjoying the outdoors in the cooling weather is becoming more pleasant.  It’s also a more pleasant season for the fall webworm, who’s growing appetite is becoming more apparent. Called

Today's Topic

Today’s Topic: Bioenergy grants available

By on September 12, 2017

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.” The N.C. Bioenergy Research Initiative is accepting grant proposals focused on research and development of agricultural and forestry-based feedstocks for bioenergy production.

News Roundup

News Roundup: Sept. 2 – 8

By on September 8, 2017

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. “WORST FEARS COMING OUR WAY — IRMA,” Southern Farm Network: The Carolinas have grown one

Recipe: Muscadine Grape & Gingersnap Crisp

By on September 7, 2017

September is wine and grape month and, in North Carolina, that means there’s a lot to celebrate. With a $1.7 billion economic impact, 525 grape growers and more than 180 wineries, North Carolina has a strong reputation as a wine