News Roundup: April 13-19

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. Click on the links to go straight to the full story.

  • DuPont to close Hooker Falls for safety upgrades,” Hendersonville Times News: Within the next couple of weeks, DuPont State Recreational Forest will close the heavily-used Hooker Falls Trail and parking lot for up to two months while constructing a new pedestrian bridge and expanding parking, forest officials said at a news conference Tuesday. The $600,000 project will make Hooker Falls inaccessible during May and June, said Bruce MacDonald, DuPont’s assistant forest supervisor. But visitor safety will be improved by doubling parking at Hooker Falls and building a 120-foot-long pedestrian bridge that will provide easier access to Triple Falls. The prefabricated bridge, made of weathered steel with wooden decking, will cross Little River from the Hooker Falls lot to near the Triple Falls trailhead, alleviating the need for thousands of visitors to hop guardrails and cross busy Staton Road each year. …
  • USDA starts new program to track farm animals,” Charlotte Observer: The federal government has launched a new livestock identification program to help agriculture officials to quickly track livestock in cases of disease. It is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s second attempt at implementing such a system, which officials say is critical to maintaining the security of the nation’s food supply. …
  • N.C. agribusiness sprouting higher, study finds,” Triangle Business Journal: Agriculture and agribusiness contributed $77 billion, or 17 percent, to North Carolina’s $440 billion gross domestic product in 2011. That’s according to a new study, which says that output was $5.4 billion more than in 2010. The findings are those of N.C. State University professor Mike Walden, who crunched the numbers for an updated look at the state’s oldest industry.
  • School meals bill would help families, farmers,” Hendersonville Times News: Families who fall within poverty income guidelines could get help paying for school lunches under a bill co-sponsored by state Rep. Chuck McGrady. Introduced in Raleigh Wednesday, the proposed Healthy and High Performance Schools Act establishes a Healthy Schools Fund, in which the state Board of Education would reimburse public schools 10 cents for each breakfast meal served that meets the bill’s nutritional standards.  …
  • Ag tour links farms to food and fiber,” The Weekly Post: During the economic downturn beginning in 2008, many businesses closed their doors, but agriculture at the county, state, and national level has continued to be a leading industry despite the hindrances of a fail- ing economy. This month, elected officials, county boards, and business leaders in Stanly County will get an up-close look at the world of agriculture and how local farms have not only stayed in operation but have continued to be successful, while on the Stanly County Ag Tour.  …
  • Bill in Congress would help grow sustainable, local farms,” Columbus Dispatch: Advocates of sustainable farming and regional food systems are applauding the Local Farm, Food and Jobs Act, a federal bill they say has the potential to expand markets for farmers and get more healthy food in the hands of consumers. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, and Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine, introduced the twin bills in the Senate and House early this week, hoping their provisions will make it into a five-year farm bill later this year.  …
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