News Roundup: Dec. 6-12

By on December 12, 2014

News Roundup logoEach 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.

  • “Kalettes, Broccoflower And Other Eye-Popping Vegetables For 2015,” WFAE: Does a cross between Brussels sprouts and kale sounds like your vegetable dream come true? Maybe so, if you’re someone who’s crazy for cruciferous vegetables and all the fiber and nutrients they pack in. Meet Kalettes, a hybrid of the two that looks like a small head of purple kale. It arrived in U.S. supermarkets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods this fall, and is being marketed as “a fresh fusion of sweet and nutty.” It’s not the only new hybrid vegetable that we may be seeing a lot more of in 2015. Kendall College, a culinary and hospitality school in Chicago, predicts that broccoflower, broccolini and rainbow carrots may also leap from the specialty fringes to the mainstream produce aisle, owing to their terrific flavor and good looks. Why now? People are moving away from the comfort food they fell back on during the recession, says Christopher Koetke, vice president of Kendall’s School of Culinary Arts. “People are starting to say OK, I can be a little more adventuresome.” …
  • “China Becoming Most Important Market for US – Grown Tobacco,” Southern Farm Network: For the first time in many years, NC State Economist Dr. Blake Brown sees optimism for the US tobacco producer. Tobacco use in the US has been on the decline for decades, but the advent of e-cigarettes and the up-and-coming heat-not-burn products has breathed new life into tobacco production. Brown sees one other trend to further lend to the optimism: “The other major trend is one that has been around for a while. It’s the growing demand for premium style tobacco in the Asian market. We are seeing combustible cigarette consumption continue to increase there, possibly up to 17% over the next 5 years. Also we are seeing the consumer in those markets consuming more cigarettes and an increasing demand for a premium cigarette. That translates for more demand for premium US tobacco.” And because other export markets for US flue cured tobacco are in decline, China’s importance continues to grow, he says: “We have seen exports of US flue cured tobacco to China surpass those to the EU.” …
  • “Who will be the next generation of farmers?” Richmond County Daily Journal: The average age of the Richmond County farmer is 58. When people in most professions are thinking about pensions, retirement, babysitting grandchildren and winters in Florida; farmers may not be planning to ever stop farming. Some of the most fortunate farm families have younger generations who also love the lifestyle and independence of farming and will take over the family farm. Farm succession remains a difficult family topic and often there is no one willing to continue the farm. Producing food is an essential job, but not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Today, each farmer produces enough food to feed 155 people, increased from 25 people in 1960. …
  • All in All a 2014 a Good Crop Year,” Southern Farm Network: Don Nicholson, Regional Agronomist with North Carolina Department of Ag, oversees one of the most diverse ag regions in the state. He says this year, overall was a good crop year: “We have had issues again with too much rain in spots in the eastern part of my region. Other places had very timely rain to fill out the crops. We have exceptional cotton and corn yields and a good bean yield over all.” This year’s tobacco crop, says Nicholson was something of a marathon: “Tobacco was better than average over all, even with too much rain in the east. It was a good crop in the field but on the light side when it came to weight.” …
  • “North Carolina To End Use Of Gas Chambers In Animal Shelters,” WUNC: In a letter addressed to euthanasia technicians and registered animal shelters in the state, the N.C. Department of Agriculture says the use of gas chambers for euthanizing cats and dogs is no longer acceptable. The letter comes from Dr. Patricia Norris, the new director of the Animal Welfare Section at the Department. “We’re basically clarifying the policy for everybody,” said Norris. North Carolina’s animal euthanasia policy is meant to follow the guidelines of a few different groups; the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Humane Society of the United States, and the American Humane Association. While two of the groups (HSUS and AHA) had urged for the end of gas chambers for years, AVMA changed it’s guidelines in 2013. “We’re making sure everybody is complying with the new guidelines,” said Norris. …
  • “Congress puts potatoes on menu for low-income moms,” News & Observer: It’s another political victory for the popular potato. For the first time, low-income women would be able to pay for them with government-subsidized vouchers issued by the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. The potato provision is part of a massive spending bill Congress is expected to approve soon. White potatoes have been excluded from WIC since fruits and vegetables were first allowed under the program in 2009. It’s not that white potatoes themselves aren’t nutritious, but they’re often used to make french fries, which are usually fried or baked in unhealthy fats and oils. The Institute of Medicine had recommended that they be excluded, saying WIC recipients already eat enough white potatoes. The potato industry has aggressively lobbied for inclusion in WIC, saying it’s not as much about sales as the perception that potatoes aren’t as nutritious as other vegetables. Lawmakers from roughly 40 potato-growing states have been pushing for several years to include the potato in the program. …
  • “Hit the Cheese Trail,” Greensboro News & Record: Cheese lovers rejoice. Just like wine lovers, you now can travel a statewide trail to sample new and favorite varieties made in North Carolina. There even is a map online to help you chart your course to farms making farmstead and artisan cheeses from cow, goat or sheep’s milk. About 40 small farmers make and sell cheese across the state, including 11 that make up the N.C. Cheese Trail, which formed in April. …
  • “Grandfathering tobacco innovation gets GOP support,” Winston-Salem Journal: The key to the evolution, if not survival, of the U.S. tobacco industry is its ability to innovate with its product mix, whether snus, electronic cigarettes or the next generation of heat-not-burn traditional cigarettes. Perhaps the foremost example is the manufacturing of the Vuse e-cig product by Reynolds American Inc. at its Tobaccoville plant, where 200 jobs are being created to handle production. …
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