News Roundup: July 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.

  • Top bidder pays $5.36 million for NC assets of chicken processor,” The News & Observer: A group led by a California auction company cast the winning bid in a bankruptcy auction for the North Carolina assets of chicken processor Townsend. San Francisco-based Rabin Worldwide led a group that made a high bid of $5.36 million at an auction earlier this week. Rabin expects to close on the property, which includes plants in Pittsboro, Siler City and Mocksville, within the next few weeks. The sale will bring an end to Ukrainian billionaire Oleg Bakhmatyuk’s disastrous attempt to enter the U.S. poultry industry. …
  • Poaching flytraps might become a felony,” Wilmington StarNews: As part of an effort to broaden the protections for Venus’ flytraps, state officials are exploring making flytrap poaching a felony. The idea surfaced this week at a meeting of the state’s Plant Conservation Board, which is charged with maintaining a list of plant species that are endangered, threatened or of special concern. Talk of upping the penalties for stealing flytraps follows a highly publicized May theft of 1,000 flytraps from Wilmington’s Alderman Park. Since the theft, advocates have urged state officials to increase protections for the species, which only grow naturally within 60 to 90 miles of Wilmington. …
  • Groups emphasize saving prime soils,” Asheville Citizen-Times: It took a while for local land trusts to count all the dirt they’ve collected. But the time spent counting was worth the wait. Blue Ridge Forever — a nonprofit coalition of local land trusts — figured that its coalition partners have collectively protected more than 43,500 acres of important soils in Western North Carolina. The exciting part is that more than 4,000 of those acres are designated as prime soils — the most important kind of dirt. “The conservation community recognizes that prime bottom land soils are formed over millions of years and are rare in nature,” said Valerie True, coalition coordinator for Blue Ridge Forever. “In order to eat locally for many years to come, these are the soils we have to preserve.” …
  • All that rain not so bad for blueberry farmers,” Greensboro News & Record: After a strawberry crop hit hard by rain and cool temperatures, you might think our local blueberry crop would be hurt by the wet weather, too. That’s not so, blueberry farmers in Rockingham County say. “Considering all the rain we’ve had, we’ve got a real good crop,” said Caroline Lineberry of D.L. Tuttle’s Berry and Vegetable Farm west of Eden. “We’ve got worlds of blueberries right now.” Tom Johnstone of Honey Sweet Blueberry Farm near Wentworth says this year’s crop is the best in a decade. “They’re meatier and sweeter and the skin is softer,” he said. …
  • Chemtex picks Duplin County firm for ethanol supplies,” Triangle Business Journal: A fuels and chemicals company said it has nailed down a major supplier for its planned $200 million ethanol plant near Clinton. Wilmington-based Chemtex said Murphy Brown LLC, a hog-farming company headquartered in Duplin County, will supply switchgrass, miscanthus, sorghum rye, sugar sorghum and a recently approved crop known as giant cane. Chemtex estimates the crops will come from about 6,000 acres, about nine square miles, roughly one-fifth of what will need to be sourced to keep the 20-million-gallon plant at full capacity through most of the year. …
  • N.C. Forest Service issues wet-weather logging advisory,” Bladen Journal: The recent over-abundance of rainfall in North Carolina has helped to minimize wildfire risks, but it also has made logging much more difficult. The N.C. Forest Service is reminding loggers, timber buyers and forest owners to take extra precautions to prevent sediment or soil from washing into creeks, to prevent excessive rutting or compacting of saturated soil, and to keep ground disturbance to a minimum when logging. …
  • Food packaging company adding 51 jobs in Mooresville,” Charlotte Observer: Pactiv, an Illinois-based food packaging company, is bringing 51 jobs to Mooresville as it expands its North Carolina operations. The expansion is slated to bring 77 jobs across the state as Pactiv invests $9 million into expanding its manufacturing facilities in Mooresville and Kinston, said Governor Pat McCrory and N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker in a Tuesday announcement. …
  • Raleigh food processor will add 505 jobs at Montgomery County plant,” The News & Observer: Raleigh-based Aseptia plans to dramatically expand its food processing and packaging plant in Montgomery County, a move that will generate 505 new jobs in an area of the state that has been plagued by high unemployment. Aseptia, a private company that operates as Wright Foods, uses technology invented by food scientists at N.C. State University to produce packaged foods including fruit sauces, vegetables and beverages. …
  • North Carolina small grain growers to vote on assessment Aug. 7,” Southeast Farm Press: A farmer referendum on whether to continue an assessment on sales of seven types of grain will take place Aug. 7, the N.C. Small Grain Growers Association has announced. The assessment amount would be half of 1 percent on sales of wheat, rye, oats, barley, rapeseed, canola and grain sorghum. …
  • N.C. farmers on guard against new piglet disease,” The News & Observer: A virus deadly to piglets has arrived in North Carolina, and the state’s hog farmers are trying to prevent it from spreading. Young pigs stricken with porcine epidemic diarrhea virus develop dysentery-like symptoms that frequently result in death. There have been just four confirmed cases in the state as of Thursday, but the outbreak “has the potential for being widespread,” said Dr. Tom Ray, director of Livestock Health Programs for North Carolina’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. …
  • Japanese company strikes deal to acquire the majority of Medicago,” Durham Herald-Sun: The Research Triangle Park operations of Canada-based Medicago, a biopharmaceutical company that’s working to develop vaccines produced using tobacco leaves, are not expected to change following the acquisition of the majority of the company’s shares by a Japanese pharmaceutical company. …
A fuels and chemicals company said it has nailed down a major supplier for its planned $200 million ethanol plant near Clinton. Wilmington-based Chemtex said Murphy Brown LLC, a hog-farming company headquartered in Duplin County, will supply switchgrass, miscanthus, sorghum rye, sugar sorghum and a recently approved crop known as giant cane. Chemtex estimates the crops will come from about 6,000 acres, about nine square miles, roughly one-fifth of what will need to be sourced to keep the 20-million-gallon plant at full capacity through most of the year.
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