Eight N.C. specialty food companies compete in national contest

We all know that when you want the best that’s Grown, Raised, Caught or Madeit’s Got To Be NC! Now let’s let the rest of the nation know. Eight North Carolina food companies are competing in the national Specialty Food Association’s second annual My Story My Ad contest. And they need our help to win. Each contestant has shared their story and why they should win. The top 10 entries will be selected by the number of votes received on the contest’s website, and then a panel of judges will narrow down a winner, based on originality, creativity and relevance to brand. A People’s Choice winner will also be selected from the top 10 entries based on votes through contest’s website.

The grand prize winner will receive an advertising campaign valued at $15,000. Campaign will include concept, design, copywriting, professional photo shoot, artwork production and placement in all Specialty Food Media products. The people’s choice winner will receive an iPad (valued at $500).

Your vote helps support local businesses, and shows our pride in the products that are Made in North Carolina. So take a look at the entries below and pick a favorite. You can vote once a day through midnight on July 20. Click on photos below to read their stories and be sure to vote!

Big Boss Baking

Big Boss Baking, High Point

Good Rub

Good Rub Seasoning, Morrisville

Millchap Sweet Potato Company

Millchap Sweet Potato Company, Charlotte

Miss Jenny's Pickles

Miss Jenny’s Pickles, Kernersville

Nello's Tomato Sauce

Nello’s Tomato Sauce, Raleigh

Owem G. Willikers' Chocolaty Chile Elixirs

Owem G. Willikers’ Chocolaty Chile Elixirs


Slawsa, Cramerton


Bumbalooza, Cornelius



Raised in NC: Harris-Robinette Beef

gtbGRCM12 5x16metalsignIn celebration of Got to Be N.C. month we are featuring local farms and businesses and their products that are Grown. Raised. Caught. Made. here. This week we focus on Raised and highlight Harris-Robinette Beef in Edgecombe County.

Raised represents our state’s thriving livestock industry. Livestock, dairy and poultry represented almost 63 percent of the $11.7 billion in farm cash receipts in 2012.

There are about 750 farmers registered as meat and poultry handlers in North Carolina. These farmers sell their products at farmers markets, restaurants and direct to consumers. All meat and poultry handlers must be registered and inspected by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Meat and Poultry Inspection Division. This segment of the industry has seen explosive growth over the last few years, with an additional two or three farmers seeking registration weekly.

Many of these meat handlers are smaller operations, selling to a few neighbors or at a local farmers market. Some, like Harris-Robinette Beef in Pinetops, have a broader consumer base and have been around a little longer. Owner Patrick Robinette raises Senepol Cross cows and has been selling since 2000. “Our main market is restaurants,” he said. “We had a chef ask us if we would sell directly to his restaurant, then a friend of his who owned another restaurant was interested, too, and sales just snowballed from there. We are in about 31 restaurants on a steady basis, and an additional 16 regularly.” A little more than a year ago he also obtained a slaughter facility, Micro Summit Processors, which allows him to control all aspects of production and provide services for other meat handlers. Robinette remodeled the facility for beef, lamb and goat slaughter.

Patrick Robinette and his family (Larry Harris, Dianne Harris, Amy Robinette, Caden Robinette, McKayla Robinette, Patrick Robinette)

Patrick Robinette (left) and family

Robinette sees market access becoming easier as consumer attitudes toward buying local become more mainstream. “Millennials are controlling the food purchasing and they want to know the story,” Robinette said. “They are looking for a food experience and want their plate to be a work of art.” For a limited time, Robinette offered his beef at the Carlie C’s IGA in Raleigh, and sees that as the likely next step. “Local grocery stores like Lowes Food are probably the next step for offering locally grown meat products,” he said. “It’s not quite widespread there yet, but it is coming.”

“My advice for farmers just starting out in selling their own products would be to know your product, know your production and tell your story,” Robinette said. “Customers want to know the story.”

Robinette has also benefited from his relationship with staff in the NCDA&CS Marketing Division. “The marketing specialists have connections and have been helpful in getting into several restaurants,” he said. In 2012, the department began the Savor NC on the Menu program as part of the Got to Be NC marketing initiative. This program recognizes restaurants, along with chefs and distribution partners, that support sourcing, purchasing, preparing and promoting N.C. products and ingredients. Department staff help farmers such as Robinette get his products into restaurants and helps promote restaurants that support local farmers. “They are awesome in connecting and networking,” Robinette said. “The staff is forward thinking and that’s a real benefit.”

Today is the kick-off of the Savor NC “Dig into Local” Restaurant Week. Diners in eight Piedmont counties can enjoy special, locally sourced menu items at 42 participating restaurants through July 23.

For more information about Savor NC and a list of participating restaurants, visit www.gottobenc.com. Information about Harris-Robinette Beef can be found online at www.harrisrobinette.com.

Next week: Made in North Carolina, featuring a Chatham County specialty foods producer.





News Roundup: July 4-11

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.

  • “Hurricane Arthur Damaged Hyde County Corn Crops,” WUNC: The path that Hurricane Arthur took last week hit an area of the state where a lot of corn is grown. And several farmers will be affected. Leoneda Inge reports on corn damage in Hyde County caused by Hurricane Arthur. State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and staff traveled by Forest Service plane to see the crop damage first hand. …
  • “Pig virus devastates production,” Fayetteville Observer: The way Amanda Hatcher sees it, the deadly porcine epidemic diarrhea virus “is still a work in progress.” Hatcher is a livestock agent from Duplin County, which along with Sampson County, rank first and second in hog production in North Carolina. “This is not just an economic impact. It’s something terrible. Something difficult,” Hatcher said. “It’s like a problem, and you have to find a solution.” The virus has killed an estimated 8 million pigs nationwide, mostly pre-weaned piglets, over the past 14 months, according to the National Pork Producers Council. …
  • “Many questions surround stevia production in North Carolina,” Southeast Farm Press: Stevia is so new to North Carolina that researchers and farmers say there are far more questions than answers on producing the crop, but because of an established market and growing demand, they are committed to expanding acreage in the Tar Heel State. Stevia uses similar production practices as tobacco, which makes it as a good joint crop with tobacco in North Carolina. However, David Shew, professor of plant pathology at North Carolina State University, said farmers must do their homework. …
  • “Keeping gas stations compliant,” WNCT: It’s a routine we’re all too familiar with, filling up at the pump and we all want to make sure we’re getting what we pay for. John Gurkin is an area supervisor for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Standards Division. He and his team of inspectors make sure you’re not getting cheated. …
  • “NC funds 6 cellulosic biofuel, bioenergy research projects,” Ethanol Producer: North Carolina recently awarded six projects a total of $500,000 through the state’s Bioenergy Research Initiative, which is a program of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Special consideration is given to projects that focus on field and forest crop production for cellulosic ethanol feedstocks. “We are excited to have the opportunity to explore bioenergy potential through these grants for North Carolina’s agricultural and forestry industries,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, in a press release. …
  • “N.C. beekeepers meet here: Importance of sharing information emphasized,” Wilkes Journal-Patriot: Illustrating that there is no “perfect way” to raise honeybees, Dr. David Tarpy, state apiculturist, quipped in an interview Tuesday that asking five beekeepers the same question can result in 10 different answers. Amid challenging times and new questions for people with honeybees, said Tarpy, North Carolina still leads the nation in beekeepers per capita partly because of the willingness of the state’s beekeepers to work together and share what they know. He said this strength of the community of beekeepers and growth of apiculture in the state is reflected in the N.C. State Beekeepers Association (NCSBA), which has grown from a membership of about 1,200 when Tarpy started teaching at North Carolina State University 11 years ago to over 4,000 now. …
  • “US (SC): Using science to grow better strawberries,” Fresh Plaza: “North Carolina is able to grow strawberries because of all the science and technology that is devoted to the crop,” said Debby Wechsler, executive secretary of the North Carolina Strawberry Association. “It’s really what is known as intense management. It takes a lot of care. It’s not like you just throw them out and let them grow.” A good example of that intense management can be seen on the Waller Family Farm in Durham, NC. Mark Waller farms 40 acres of strawberries on what used to be a tobacco farm. Customers can pick their own strawberries or visit the market he runs during the strawberry season, which lasts anywhere from April through June. …
  • “Dollar General in Eden fined for price-scanning errors,” Greensboro News & Record: A Dollar General store in Eden has been fined for a high rate of price-scanning errors, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The store, located at 519 Morgan Road, paid $600 in civil penalties. An initial inspection found an error rate of 6 percent, according to the department’s Standards Division. A second inspection in April revealed an error rate of 2.67 percent. …
  • “Taxes on e-cigarettes benefit Big Tobacco, Big Government,” Charlotte Observer: From Stewart Dompe, an adjunct professor of economics at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, and Adam C. Smith, an assistant professor of economics and director of the Center for Free Market Studies at Johnson & Wales University: North Carolina recently levied a five-cent tax on each milliliter of nicotine liquid used by electronic cigarettes. E-cigarettes are a new technology that allow smokers to inhale their fix via a cloud of water vapor, flavor and nicotine, and are widely viewed as an aid for nicotine addicts to kick the habit. …
  • “Business, ag groups call for immigration reform,” Asheville Citizen-Times News: A group of business, manufacturing and agriculture leaders, including a nursery owner from Western North Carolina, is pushing for Congress to take up immigration reform this year. “The issue of immigration reform cannot wait any longer,” said Burt Lemkes, a co-owner at Van Wingerden International, a large greenhouse operation in Mills River. “Our businesses are hurting, and our employees and employers are scared.” Lemkes spoke during a conference call hosted Wednesday by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a coalition of more than 500 Republican, Democratic and independent mayors, as well as business leaders who support immigration reform as a way of creating jobs for Americans today. …
  • “Fantastic Peanut Season Underway,” Southern Farm Network: It’s hard to remember a better year for growing peanuts than this one says Bob Sutter, CEO of the North Carolina Peanut Growers Association: “Its been good this year. Most everyone has plenty of water and for the most part the entire crop looks good.” As to USDA’s planted acres report last month, Sutter says the report showed more peanut acres in the Tar Heel State: “We went up to about 90,000; a 10,000 acre increase.” …

Got to Be NC Competition Dining: Chef Dean Thompson

G2BNC Competition DiningOnce a month we highlight a chef and a recipe from the Got to Be N.C. Competition Dining series. This month, we are featuring Chef Dean Thompson of Flights in Raleigh.  Thompson was the 2013 Fire in the Triangle Champion.

The Got to Be N.C. Competition Dining Series faces off two local chefs in a single-elimination, blind-dinner format. The chef’s menu is created around a North Carolina ingredient that is revealed at noon on the day of the competition. This secret ingredient must be used in each of three courses, appetizer, entree and dessert. The competition is held in Asheville, Blowing Rock, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Wilmington.
Thompson went up against Chef Joseph Yarnell of Cantina 18 in the opening battle of Fire in the Triangle on June 23. The secret ingredients were sourdough and whole wheat breads and white chocolate baguettes from La Farm Bakery in Cary and Kolsch-style beer from White Street Brewing in Wake Forest. Thompson will compete in the sold out July 14 battle against Chef John Childers of Herons at the Umstead in Cary. Tickets are still available for a few remaining Fire in the Triangle events in Raleigh. Tickets for Fire in the City in Charlotte are also available.

Following is Thompson’s recipe for Kolsh Hollandaise, which was part of the highest scoring dish of the battle – White Street Kolsh-Marinated Venison, Kolsh-Braised Mushrooms, Savory Lobster Bread Pudding and Kolsh Hollandaise.

Kolsch Hollandaise

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 cups clarified butter
  • A dash of truffle oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire
  • A dash of Texas Pete
  • 1 cup White Street Brewery Kolsch

1. Whisk eggs in a figure-eight-style movement, over double boiler. Make sure the water isn’t touching the bottom of the bowl. The figure-eight technique will help keep the hollandaise fluffy. You will need to occasionally scrape the sides of the bowl to prevent the egg from scrambling. You are looking for the egg to lighten in color to a pale yellow. If overcooked you will see little pieces of scrambled yolk, start over. Once you achieve the proper color remove from the heat and place on a wet towel or a pot with a wet towel to hold the bowl in place.
2. Now take clarified butter that is about 140 degrees, it needs to be hot. You are going to slowly ladle the butter into the egg while figure eight-ing your whisk at a fairly rapid pace. When the mixture starts to get thick like mayonnaise add a teaspoon of the beer. Continue to add all of the butter with occasional beer in between to keep the consistency the preferred fluffy and pourable, but not runny. Remember you can always add more liquid but you can’t take it out. You may or may not use all of the beer. The trick is to get a consistency that is a little thicker than desired finish product.
3. When the hollandaise is just a little thicker than you want, start to add truffle oil, salt, lemon juice, Worcestershire and Texas Pete, one ingredient at a time, while still whisking at a somewhat rapid pace. This should finish it off, and it will be ready to serve immediately. Hollandaise is a weak emulsion and cannot be held hot or even all that warm. Try and make it as close to service as possible to eliminate the possibility for a broken sauce.



Got to Be NC is taking to the airwaves

A new commercial will start airing across the state today featuring North Carolina agricultural products. The commercial was produced by the NCDA&CS Marketing Division and timed to air during Got to Be NC Month. The commercial features the division’s newest marketing slogan, Grown. Raised. Caught. Made.

The commercial narrative goes like this:

In North Carolina, we get up before the sun rises and stay up into the wee hours of the night.

We believe in working hard. And playing harder.

Behind every meal, there is a farmer.

And behind every farmer, there’s Got to Be NC, the official state identity program for North Carolina agricultural products.

Look for the Got to Be NC logo wherever you shop or eat and you’ll know you’re getting a quality product grown, raised, caught or made in North Carolina.

 Watch the commercial and let us know what you think. And don’t forget to support your local farmers by purchasing products that are grown, raised, caught or made right here. Because if you want the best, it’s Got to Be NC!


Take a trip to a farmers market for Got to Be NC Agriculture Month

July has been declared Got to Be NC Agriculture Month in North Carolina. To celebrate, why not take a trip to one of the four state-operated farmers markets in Asheville, Charlotte, Colfax or Raleigh? There is plenty of fresh produce available, as well as meats and cheeses, wines and specialty products made in North Carolina. In addition, the farmers markets are hosting these special events this month:

Celebrate Watermelon Day at all four of the state-operated farmers markets this July.

Celebrate Watermelon Day at all four of the state-operated farmers markets this July.

Peach Day, State Farmers Market, Raleigh
Free peach ice cream and a peach dessert contest are part of the lineup of activities at the State Farmers Market for Peach Day July 10, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Blackberry and Blueberry Day, Robert G. Shaw Piedmont Triad Farmers Market, Colfax
This event has become very popular in the Triad with free samples of N.C. berries and plenty available for purchase. Stop by from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on July 11 to for a “berry” special event.

Watermelon Day, Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, Charlotte
The N.C. Watermelon Queen will be on hand July 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. passing out free slices of fresh, juicy N.C. watermelon.

Watermelon Day, Western NC Farmers Market, Asheville
If you missed the event in Charlotte, take a trip to Asheville July 18 for another day of watermelon fun with free watermelon slices, a visit from the N.C. Watermelon Queen, and a watermelon-eating contest for the kids from 11 a.m.  to 1 p.m.

Peach Day, Robert G. Shaw Piedmont Triad Farmers Market, Colfax
Also on July 18, the Triad farmers market will host a Peach Day celebration with a peach recipe contest and free peach samples from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Watermelon Day, Robert G. Shaw Triad Farmers Market, Colfax
The following week on July 25, the market will be passing out free slices of fresh, juicy N.C. Watermelon to shoppers from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visit the market and have your photo taken with the N.C. Watermelon Queen.

Watermelon Day, State Farmers Market, Raleigh
The State Farmers Market will host its Watermelon Day on July 31 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Stop by for free watermelon slices and meet the N.C. Watermelon Queen.

If you can’t make these special events, look for other opportunities to support local agriculture in the month of July. Visit a pick-your-own farm or brewery or winery, eat at a restaurant that supports local food during the inaugural Dig into Local Restaurant Week, or simply try a new North Carolina specialty product you’ve never tried before.

However you choose to celebrate, be on the lookout for the Got to Be NC logo wherever you shop. That way you’ll know you’re getting a quality product grown, raised, caught or made in North Carolina. And while you’re celebrating, share with your friends through social media using the hashtag #GottobeNC. Find out other ways to get involved in the Got to Be NC celebration at www.gottobenc.com.




Today’s Topic: June report shows increases in soybean acreage

Southern Farm Network logoAgriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

The June crop acreage forecast from USDA has been released, and it shows significant gains in soybean acres in North Carolina. The state is forecast to see a 16 percent increase in soybean acreage this year, with growers expected to plant 1.7 million acres.

The forecast in North Carolina reflects the interest in soybeans across the country. U.S. farmers are forecast to plant about 85 million acres of soybeans this year, which is a record. There are a couple of reasons for that. There is tremendous international demand for U.S. soybeans, particularly from China. And soybean prices have been strong for quite a while.

With all the interest in soybeans, corn acres in the U.S. and North Carolina are expected to decrease this year. The corn forecast for North Carolina is 860,000 acres, which is 8 percent less than a year ago.

The state also saw a drop in wheat acreage this year. The total was 830,000, compared with a record 990,000 acres last year.

Overall, though, the state is expecting increases. Other crops with acreage gains include sweet potatoes, which are forecast to be up 22 percent, and peanuts, which are expected to rise by 10 percent.

After two straight years of declines, the cotton crop is forecast to increase by 5,000 acres this year, to a total of 470,000.

And the tobacco crop is expected to be 182,800 acres, slightly above last year’s total of 181,900.

Planted acreage is only part of the story. Ultimately, it comes down to how many acres you are able to harvest, and how much you yield from those acres.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss the latest acreage forecast.

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Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.


Grown in NC: Garner Farms

gtbGRCM12 5x16metalsign

Got to Be NC has a new marketing slogan – Grown. Raised. Caught. Made.

In celebration of Got to Be N.C. month we are featuring local farms and businesses and their products that are Grown. Raised. Caught. Made. here. To kick things off, we focus on Grown and highlight peanut farmer Ray Garner of Garner Farms in Halifax County.

North Carolina has about 5,000 peanut farms that produce 292 million pounds of peanuts each year, which ranks the state fifth in the nation in peanut production.

Ray Garner grows about 230 acres of peanuts on his farm in Halifax County. His family has been farming in North Carolina and Virginia for more than 300 years. The current farm, run by Garner, his dad and uncle, produces peanuts, wheat, soybeans and more than 1,700 acres of cotton. “The land we farm now has been in the family since my great-granddaddy bought it in 1900,” Garner said. If his children decide to follow him into the family business, they would be fifth-generation farmers. “If they would like to farm, I hope they really try and make a go of it,” he said. “I would help them be successful.”

“Getting started in farming is hard,” Garner said. “You almost have to have relatives in the business to be successful. Farming is expensive, it takes a phenomenal amount of capital to farm and it is hard to find land. A tractor can cost about $200,000 and a peanut combine is around $140,000.” Garner said for those who want to go into farming, coming from a farm family is an advantage, but he has seen others break into the business by choosing a mentor that farms and working with him. “Sometimes a farmer’s children will decide not to go into the business, in cases like this a farmer might look to train someone outside the family to take over the operation. I’ve seen this happen.”

Garner attended N.C. State University and earned his degree in agronomy, but he believes farming also takes experience that you only gain on the farm. “The only thing that helps you be ready to run your own farm is experience and common sense; you can’t farm by the book.” During growing season, Garner works six days, spending 60-plus hours a week in the field and even more doing paperwork once he’s finished in the fields. “Some of the challenges we face every year include having enough land to farm and the weather. My wife jokes about how much I watch The Weather Channel,” he said.

Farmer Ray Garner in one of his Halifax County peanut fields

Farmer Ray Garner in one of his peanut fields

For peanuts, the soil is prepped in early spring and peanuts are planted the first of May. Garner plants about 130 pounds of peanuts per acre. Summer is spent managing the crop and protecting it from insects and diseases. In late September, the peanuts, which grow underground, are turned up and left to dry in the field for about five days. After drying, the crop is harvested and delivered to a nearby buying point where they are graded by N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services inspectors.

Most of Garner’s peanuts are purchased by Golden Peanut Company, which has a regional office in Ahoskie. Golden Peanut Company prepares the peanuts by cleaning, shelling (if needed) and storing the peanuts before they are sold to end users. The peanuts are shelled at the company’s shelling facility in Aulander. Most North Carolina peanut farmers grow the Virginia-type peanut that is often sold as cocktail peanuts or the in-shell peanuts that are popular at ballgames. Virginia-type peanuts have a large oval shape, reddish brown skin, and are among the largest peanuts grown. The Virginia Carolina Peanut association says the average person eats about 12 pounds of peanuts annually.

Some of Garner’s peanuts are sold overseas as well. Demand for North Carolina products is increasing in the global marketplace. “It is truly a world marketplace for agriculture,” Garner said. “But that also means prices on the global market affect prices for our commodities in North Carolina.” In 2012, total agricultural exports were $3.7 billion, a 189 percent increase from 2005. Earlier this month Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and staff from the department’s international marketing section visited Germany, Switzerland and England to promote N.C. agricultural products. “Demand for food worldwide is expected to increase by 60 percent by 2050,”  Troxler said. “Through inbound trade missions, overseas trips and our NCDA&CS office in Shanghai we want Got to Be N.C. to be known internationally as a symbol of quality.”

Agriculture may not be the same as it was when Garner’s great-great grandfather started farming; he probably couldn’t imagine $200,000 tractors and sales to China. Times have changed and farming has changed but agriculture remains our state’s number one industry and it’s growing, in part due to the hard work of farmers across our diverse state who deliver quality whether it’s Grown. Raised. Caught. or Made.


Next week: Raised in North Carolina. We will feature an Edgecombe County beef cattle farm.


News Roundup: June 28 – July 3

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.

  • “Bladenboro farmer producing electricity from hog waste,” Fayetteville Observer: From inside a red metal building on a hog farm, a roaring engine is generating enough electricity to supply about 300 homes. The fuel for the generator comes from the gassy byproduct of decomposing pig manure – waste that until now had been stored in six open-air lagoons spread over 21 acres just outside this Bladen County town of 1,750 residents. …
  • “High Point company sets sights on exporting,” High Point Enterprise: Since starting their granola business a few years ago, Rodney and Lavinia Hensley have found that tapping into new markets has been a key to the growth of Big Boss Baking Co. Retail chains like The Fresh Market and Whole Foods carry their homemade products — flavors such as Honey Vanilla, Apple Cinnamon, Honey Almond and Cranberry and Blueberry Walnut are especially popular — on the shelves of their stores all over the country. The High Point husband and wife have now found what they hope will be a vast new frontier of consumers. The Hensleys recently exported their first shipment of granola to China. The purchase came as a result of an inbound trade mission that was held in Concord in March that was organized by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. …
  • “For N.C. farmer, growing peaches is a labor of love,” Virginian Pilot: … Peach season is here, and North Carolina experts predict the harvest will be a good one. Growers in the state produce between 10 million and 11 million pounds a year, ranking 13th in the country, according to the National Peach Council. …
  • “Minnesota now the No. 2 U.S. hog state,” St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press: Minnesota has just surpassed North Carolina to become the nation’s No. 2 hog-and-pig state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday. According to the Hog and Pig Inventory taken June 1, Iowa still easily claims the No. 1 spot, with 19.2 million hogs and pigs. But Minnesota has inched past North Carolina, with 7.75 million hogs and pigs. “This marks the first time Minnesota has had the second largest inventory in the U.S. since records began,” USDA’s Minnesota office reported. The new ranking was due more to North Carolina’s losses rather than Minnesota’s gains. North Carolina has 13 percent fewer hogs and pigs than it did a year ago, in part due to outbreaks of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, which kills young pigs.  …
  • “John Vollmer was among first in NC to adopt sustainability, move from tobacco,” News & Observer: John Vollmer’s decision in the 1990s to transform Vollmer Farm, which had been in his family for generations, came after a number of omens that seemed worth noting. Vollmer had made his living not only in farming, but also in supplying local farmers with agricultural chemicals. His soil wasn’t rebounding, crop after crop as it once had. New federal regulations were going to make his small-scale tobacco farm far less profitable. …
  • “Piedmont blueberry crops ‘incredible’ this summer,” WGHP: If you are going to have crop damage, this is the kind of damage Rick Langhorne wants to see. “The fruit load is incredible,” Langhorne said. “The branches are about ready to snap off. In fact one did snap off at the base.” At Langhorne’s Blueberry Thrill Farm in Gibsonville, his blueberry bushes are loaded with large berries that are easy to pick. On the other side of Guilford County, Bruce Henry’s Blueberry Hill in Colfax also has buckets of blueberries. “We had a cold winter and a late spring. It got the bushes ready for a lot of berries,” Henry said. The North Carolina Blueberry Council is expecting five percent more blueberries this year. …
  • “Local restaurant is part of unique ‘week’,” Burlington Times-News: The Eddy Pub is one of 42 restaurants participating in the “Dig Into Local” restaurant week July 14-23. “Dig Into Local” is a program of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Participating restaurants will feature menus showcasing at least four North Carolina-inspired items and one North Carolina wine. The Eddy Pub is at 1715 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Road. …
  •  “Impact of PEDv Analyzed,” Southern Farm Network: After the latest USDA Hogs and Pigs Report – analysts have questioned what impact will be seen in future hog numbers with the availability of a new PEDv vaccine. Dr. Patrick Webb – Pork Checkoff director of swine health programs – says it will take time to understand that impact. “There is conditional licensing for a product developed. The conditional licensing will make it easier to obtain the product for those producers and vets who want to incorporate it into their health program. It’s one of the factors that is playing into the hog numbers. Over time we will see what effect it has. We don’t have a lot of data yet and we will see the effects in the future.” …
  • “Research station to open for Field Day July 10,” Hendersonville Times: When it was first established in 1908, the Mountain Research Station was located in Swannanoa. But as a result of the need for a hospital, the U.S. Army selected the Swannanoa site for its facility in 1944, leading to the relocation of the Mountain Research Station to its current 400-acre site in Waynesville. The station is one of 18 sites located across the state with the mission of providing research to make farming more efficient, productive and profitable. Each research station was strategically placed so that scientists can conduct research in the climate and soil type that are representative of the area. Research conducted at the Mountain Research Station reflects the diverse needs of farmers not only in Western North Carolina but also across the state. Research program areas include livestock, field and forage crops, Christmas trees, burley tobacco and horticultural crops. …
  • “July designated Got To Be NC Agriculture Month,” Greensboro News & Record: Farmers across North Carolina are taking their fruits and vegetables to market, and Gov. Pat McCrory has proclaimed July as the month to salute their work. In recognition of agriculture’s importance as the state’s top industry, McCrory has proclaimed July 2014 as Got to Be NC Agriculture Month. …



Pets and fireworks don’t mix

Don’t let those puppy dog eyes fool you. Your dog will be much happier at home than at the fireworks show! More dogs and cats run away on July 4th than any other day of the year.

You think fireworks are great on the Fourth of July…well, chances are your dog or cat disagrees. More pets are lost on the 4th of July than any other day of the year. According to PetAmberAlert, animal control officers across the country report a 30 percent increase in lost pets July 4-6, with July 5 being the busiest day of the year.

Our Animal Welfare Section has some tips to keep your furbabies safe and secure this Independence Day:

-DO NOT take pets to fireworks displays; pets and pyrotechnics do not mix. Even animals that are trained to handle loud noises, such as hunting dogs, do not necessarily take to fireworks. Animals are much more sensitive to sound and pressure than humans. If it is loud to you, it is exponentially louder to your pet.

-DO leave pets at home and properly secured inside, away from windows and doors (crated if necessary), in a quiet, comfortable place. Turn on the radio or TV to help drown out the sound of fireworks or noisemakers from outside. Make sure all windows and doors are closed to block out as much sound as possible. Also, keep in mind that even though a larger fireworks display may not take place near your home or until later in the evening, you never know when your neighbors may set off devices of their own.

-DO NOT leave pets unattended outside, even if the yard is fenced in or a dog is tethered. Animals that would ordinarily never leave the yard may do so when frightened. A scared animal can escape even the most well-built fence, or accidentally strangle itself on a tether.

-DO speak to your veterinarian about options for alleviating your pet’s anxiety if your pet is prone to strong reactions to loud noises. There are medical and non-medical solutions available; your vet can help you choose what is best for your pet.

-DO identify your pet with a collar tag and microchip. Make sure the collar tag has at least your name and cell phone number. If the collar comes off, you have the microchip as backup, which cannot be removed. All public animal shelters in North Carolina have universal scanners. Helpful tip: the tags that rivet onto the collar are more secure than a hanging tag and less likely to get pulled off in brush or debris should your pet get lost.

-DO NOT forget to keep your contact information current in the microchip database.

You were prepared, and somehow your pet was still lost. Now what?

-DO visit, not just call, surrounding shelters. Remember this is a volume time for shelters, and visiting the shelter yourself will increase your chances of finding your pet. Check around at multiple shelters; a frightened animal can cover a long distance.

-DO take vaccination records and proof of ownership with you to the shelter when you go look for your pet. Take a picture of your pet with you, and even a picture with you and your pet, to assist the shelter in confirming the pet is yours. Shelters want to reunite the right pet with the right owner, and pictures make this an easier task. Take your microchip number if your animal is microchipped. This is the easiest way to confirm an animal is yours.

-DO make fliers with a picture of your lost pet and post them in conspicuous, heavily traveled areas that will be seen by as many people as possible: gas stations, grocery stores, pet supply stores, veterinary clinics, restaurants, dog parks, parks, walking trails, etc (be sure to ask property owners for permission before posting fliers). Start close to home and spread out further as time goes on.

-DO utilize social media.

-DO contact your microchip company to initiate a lost pet report. Many companies have a system that sends out notices when a pet microchipped through their company goes missing.

-DO NOT give up hope.