Today’s Topic: Cost-share assistance available to organic producers

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

The NCDA&CS is offering organic growers the opportunity to apply for partial reimbursement of the cost of becoming certified or recertified. Organic growers who are certified or recertified between Oct. 1, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2014, can apply for assistance through the program. The program will pay 75 percent of the cost of certification, up to a total of $750.

Farms can be reimbursed in four separate categories: crops, livestock, wild crop and handler/processor.

The program is for the 2013-2014 season, and the funding comes from a $212,000 grant from the USDA. Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and applications must be postmarked by Dec. 1.

To apply, growers must provide a completed application along with detailed invoices/statements from the certifying agency listing all National Organic Program certified costs, an IRS W-9 form and a copy of your certificate or letter from your certifier if this is a new certification. All charges must be for USDA organic certification. For more information or to download an application, click here. If you have questions, please contact Heather Barnes in the NCDA&CS Marketing Division at 919-707-3127.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss this cost-share program.

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Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

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News Roundup: Sept. 20-26

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.

  • “Bumper nut crop gathered,” Wilkes Journal-Patriot: Michael Crouse, assistant county ranger with the N.C. Forest Service, is out to give squirrels a run for their money when it comes to gathering acorns and other mast. Crouse said that when he isn’t busy with other responsibilities in the next four to five weeks, he’ll be out collecting wild nuts and seeds in Wilkes County for the state nursery in Goldsboro. It’s an annual chore for forest service personnel statewide, but James West, who heads the state nursery in Goldsboro, said nut and seed inventories are at an all-time low because so few were gathered last year due to adverse weather. “All indications are that many if not all species have adequate seed on the trees for this time of year. Seed production tends to follow cycles like that and this fall looks to be a banner crop,” said West in a recent email to forest service personnel. …
  • “NC Tobacco Trust Fund awards $2.3M to agriculture projects,” The News & Observer: The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund commission has awarded more than $2.3 million in grants to 22 agriculture and economic projects across the state. The grants included projects that boost local farming initiatives and that award scholarships to students in tobacco-dependent communities. The commission prioritized initiatives that target small farmers, as well as innovative and financially stimulating projects. The state General Assembly created the commission in 2000 to support farmers and businesses affected by the decline of the tobacco industry. Funds come from a set appropriation in the legislature’s budget every two years. Outside reviewers, a subcommittee and the NCTTF board work together to finalize grantees. …
  • “Could Sanderson now look south to locate plant?” Robesonian: While Cumberland County officials continue to debate whether they want a Sanderson Farms chicken processing plant in their community, other communities — including Robeson — are showing interest in the proposed $113 million chicken processing plant that could create as many as 1,000 jobs. “Robeson County considers all opportunities for economic development,” Greg Cummings, Robeson County’s economic developer and industrial recruiter, said this morning. “If Sanderson Farms determines that Robeson County can meet their site need and operations criteria, we are open for discussion of the opportunity.” …
  • The sweet potato — a delicious superfood, “ Salisbury Post: The newest crop out there in September is sweet potatoes, a North Carolina favorite. North Carolina is No. 1 in the nation for total acres of sweet potatoes, so it’s no wonder the sweet potato was chosen the official North Carolina vegetable in 1995. Among the many outstanding facts about this superfood is sweet potatoes may have been around since the dinosaurs were here. Can’t you just see T. rex chomping on a few bushels as a side dish with his velociraptor? The North Carolina Department of Agriculture says the Coastal Plains are the hot spot for growing the sweet potato, with Nash County being a top producer. …
  • “Farm tour a reminder of sources of our food,” Asheville Citizen-Times: When Carolyn Bradley asked the middle schoolers she taught for nearly three decades where their milk came from, she often didn’t like the responses. “Mayfield,” some would respond, referring to the dairy products company. Others would simply say, “The supermarket.” One of the reasons Bradley and her husband, Mike, participated in the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s annual farm tour Saturday and Sunday was to improve the odds the next generation of students can provide better answers. Or, as she put it, “so that local people can come and see how their food is grown.” The Bradleys’ farm just north of the Madison-Buncombe County line was one of 37 farms in seven area counties on ASAP’s tour this year. …
  • “Cabarrus meat-processing plant caters to farmers throughout 10-county area,” Charlotte Observer: Max Cruse helped butcher his first cow when he was 12, and he’s been involved in the trade ever since. Cruse is an instrumental figure behind Cabarrus County’s first large-scale, state-regulated meat-processing plant, which dozens of cattlemen across 10 counties use. Now 77, the owner of Cruse Meats mostly just answers the phone and takes orders while his thriving meat plant continues to attract farmers from a large part of the state. Similar operations are 75 or more miles away, in Wilkesboro and Greensboro. Cruse said the project has exceeded his expectations. …
  • “Tobacco buyout comes to end,” Robesonian: The federal tobacco buyout program is coming to an end, pulling millions of dollars from an already fading industry once known as Robeson County’s “cash crop.” According to Giles Floyd, director of the local Farm Service Agency, the Tobacco Transition Payment Program has consistently provided Robeson County tobacco producers with about $18.7 million each year since it was established under the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004. “I’m disappointed it’s ending,” Floyd said, a tobacco farmer himself. “That’s quite a bit money that’s not coming into the county.” With the passing of the Tobacco Reform Act, U.S. tobacco production was deregulated, along with a system that guaranteed minimum prices for tobacco. …
  • “Farmer thinks ingredient in feed sickening, killing cows,” WSOC: Cows that produce milk you could be buying at the grocery store are sick and dying on one North Carolina dairy farm. The farmer thinks it’s because of an ingredient in the cow’s feed and the state is now investigating. In Harmony, North Carolina the sight of dead and dying cows is unsettling for farmer Kenneth Ladd. “This has totally destroyed us out here. Our loss is way into the millions of dollars,” Ladd said. Ladd says four years ago, his cows started dying. He says he should have at least 500 cows but right now he has 175. “It’s not a simple issue, there’s not a silver bullet,” Joe Reardon, the assistant commissioner of consumer protection at the State Department of Agriculture said. Reardon says the state has been searching for a cause for years. In 2012, experts who visited Ladd Dairy saw “cows had neurologic signs,” while others had “severe foot problems” and “bleeding from the nose.” …
  • “Some Tobacco in Trouble,” Southern Farm Network: Wet and cool weather here at the end of the growing season is causing tobacco farmers, sitting on one of the best crops in years, a problem. Don Nicholson, Region 7 Agronomist with North Carolina Department of Agriculture says producers in the central Piedmont are really struggling: “Its gone from a marathon to being a sprint here at the end. Its time to get it in the barn, the tobacco is pushing for it.” And while producers planned their crop to utilize barn space, Nicholson says the weather has caused that plan to go by the wayside: “The rain we’ve had has taken a crop that was already ready to one that is over ripe in places. We have a lot of growers who are over on the barn space. They had planted different varieties to come off at different times but this year with the conditions it hasn’t worked.” And diseases are starting to show up, as well: “A lot of diseases are showing up, brown spot is out. And its deteriorating the leaves. The target spot has been bad in the past but its not a big issue in my region.” …
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Three NC counties eligible for USDA loans because of Tennessee disaster declaration

Farmers and ranchers in Haywood, Madison and Swain counties qualify for federal natural disaster assistance because the counties are contiguous to areas of Tennessee that the USDA has designated as primary natural disaster areas.

The agency issued three separate designations for Tennessee because of losses caused by multiple disasters that occurred this year, the USDA announced.

USDA has designated Cocke, Jefferson and Sevier counties in Tennessee as a primary natural disaster area due to damages and losses caused by the combined effects of frost and drought that occurred from Jan. 1 through Aug. 12.

All qualified farm operators in the designated areas are eligible for low interest emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration (Sept. 24) to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

-Information from USDA

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In the Kitchen with Brian and Lisa: September Recipe Roundup

WRAL reporter Brian Shrader and our own Lisa Prince feature seasonal recipes in their Got to Be Good Cookin’ segment using ingredients grown and available right here in North Carolina. This month they feature a few recipes that use the last of the summer harvest and a peanut butter and jelly muffin recipe that’s perfect for back to school time.

September

This first recipe is for stuffed zucchini, which Lisa says is “simple, easy and not hard at all.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 cup stuffing mix
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

Slice zucchini in half and scoop out the inside. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine the stuffing, melted butter and ½ cup cheese. Fill the zucchini and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Add remaining cheese to the top of the stuffing mix and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

PB and J muffins are made with fresh N.C. eggs and are a great back to school treat.  Lisa suggest “frosting” them with 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter mixed with 1/4 cup  grape jam.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1⁄3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1⁄2 cup grape jam
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar (topping)

Instructions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray muffin pan with non-stick spray. Stir together flour, salt and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add milk, eggs, sugar, peanut butter and oil to the bowl; combine ingredients on the low speed of an electric mixer, just until moistened. Do not over beat.
Fill prepared muffin cups evenly with half the batter. Place 2 level teaspoons of grape jam in the center of each muffin. Evenly divide remaining batter between muffin cups. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven; cool in pan 5 minutes.

Next up is a recipe for zucchini and squash casserole that is a great comfort food for the cooler nights. Lisa notes that it’s “perfect for travel or a large group since it fits in a 9×13 casserole dish.

Ingredients:

  • 2 squash
  • 4 zucchini
  • 1 1⁄2 cups onion, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup margarine (plus 1 ½ tablespoons )
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cups Pepperidge Farm Dressing Mix
  • 4 ounces garden vegetable Philadelphia cream cheese (use the 1/3 less fat)

Instructions:

Boil the squash, zucchini and onion until tender; drain and season with salt and pepper and 1 1/2 tablespoons of margarine. Stir in the soup and cream cheese. In another bowl mix the dressing mix and ½ cup melted margarine. Pour ½ the stuffing mixture into the squash/zucchini mixture and stir. Put in a 2-quart casserole dish or a 9X13-baking dish. Top with remaining stuffing mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Brian and Lisa wrap up the month with a kale and mushroom quiche. Lisa notes that quiche is “great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is a very versatile dish that allows you to combine your favorite fall vegetables to create something that will delight your taste buds.”

Ingredients:

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch kale (stems removed and thinly sliced)
  • 8 ounces mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1⁄4 cup water
  • 2⁄3 cup Gruyere cheese
  • 1 prepared pie crust

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large nonstick pan over medium low heat. Add kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add remaining oil to the pan and increase heat to medium high. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have released their water and begin to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the kale back to the pan, stir in the salt, pepper, mustard and thyme. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, sour cream and water. Sprinkle the cheese into the pie crust. Top with the mushroom-kale mixture and pour the egg mixture on top. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes or until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

 

 

 

 

 

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Dairy producers invited to meeting about federal Margin Protection Program

North Carolina dairy producers are invited to a meeting about the federal Margin Protection Program at 10 a.m. Oct. 1 at the Iredell County Agricultural Resource Center in Statesville. Registration deadline is Sept. 26.

The USDA Farm Service Agency is organizing the meeting, and FSA personnel will explain the mechanics of the program. Dr. Geoff Benson, a retired NCSU extension economist, will discuss how dairy producers should approach decisions about participation and the potential financial benefits. There also will be time for questions and discussion.

People planning to attend are asked to contact the Iredell County FSA office at 704-872-5061, ext. 2. The Iredell County Agricultural Resource Center is located at 444 Bristol Drive, Statesville.

The 2014 farm bill established the Dairy Margin Protection Program as a replacement for the Milk Income Loss Contract Program. The MPP is effective through Dec. 31, 2018. For a $100 administrative fee, dairy producers can have access to no-cost catastrophic coverage. The program also offers various levels of buy-up coverage.

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Emerald ash borer trapping: No new counties detected

An emerald ash borer trap hangs in an ash tree in the Duke Forest.  Image: K. Oten, NCFS.

An emerald ash borer trap hangs in an ash tree in the Duke Forest. Image: K. Oten, NCFS.

As we head into the fall season full of football, autumn colors and Thanksgiving, we already have one thing to be thankful for:  summer trapping for the emerald ash borer did not detect the invasive, tree-killing beetle in any new counties in the state.

But don’t get too excited just yet. Although 2014 trapping did not detect any inter-county movement, the emerald ash borer was found at more sites within already-infested counties. And the beetle will likely continue to spread.

The emerald ash borer is responsible for killing countless ash trees in the United States. Native to Asia, the beetle was first found in the U.S. near Detroit in 2002. Since then, it has spread to 24 states.

In 2013, the emerald ash borer was first found in North Carolina in Granville, Person, Warren and Vance counties. All four of these counties remain under quarantine, meaning ash material and hardwood firewood cannot be transported from a quarantined area to a non-quarantined area (some exceptions are made; for example, wood that has been heat treated or had the bark removed may be moved with a compliance agreement from the Plant Industry Division). While the emerald ash borer can fly from tree to tree over short distances, it can easily spread over long distances through the transportation of infested material (hence the recommendation not to move firewood). The quarantine was established to best protect the remaining ash resources in the state from  long-range, human-facilitated movement.

Looking for the emerald ash borer is a job that never ends. The NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division and the N.C. Forest Service actively conduct visual surveys across the state. In addition, detection may depend on casual observations and the ability of citizens to identify and report an infestation. Survey techniques are continually evolving (such as using decoys to lure in and electrocute the male emerald ash borer!).

To report emerald ash borer in North Carolina, call 1-900-206-9333 or email newpest@ncagr.gov.

An adult emerald ash borer (Granville County). Image: NCFS.

An adult emerald ash borer (Granville County). Image: NCFS.

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Today’s Topic: Sixteen NC counties among top 100 places for farming in US

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

Farm Futures Magazine recently ranked the best places to farm in the nation, and North Carolina had a strong showing with 16 counties among the top 100. Bladen County, ranked 10th, was the highest-ranked North Carolina county.

Farm Futures calculated financial ratios and performance for more than 3,000 counties across the U.S. The magazine analyzed Census of Agriculture data from 2002, 2007 and 2012 to compile its rankings. The magazine’s staff calculated countywide financial performance by looking at many factors, including profit margin, asset turnover and average net farm income.

Editors noted that the 2012 data included information from a time when record high corn and soybean prices and long-term drought were hurting livestock producers across the country. And nursery and greenhouse operations were still hurting from the recession’s effects on the housing industry. Commissioner Troxler says that might explain why Duplin and Sampson counties, which led the survey a few years ago, weren’t ranked as high this time.

In addition to Bladen, other North Carolina counties ranked in the top 100 were Hertford (11), Anson (19), Wayne (24), Pender (25), Montgomery (32), Duplin (37), Sampson (40), Wilkes (46), Greene (51), Edgecombe (53), Union (54), Onslow (57), Richmond (81), Beaufort (82) and Lenoir (97).

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss this survey, what North Carolina’s strong showing says about agriculture in the state, and to find out which U.S. county ranked first.

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Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

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News Roundup: Sept. 13-19

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.

  • “Small farmers, female farmers to benefit from Louisburg event,” The News & Observer: On Sunday night, Franklin County farmer Martha Mobley will gaze out on a meadow across from her family’s home place and, she hopes, see hundreds of people gathered for a feast. For Mobley, this will be more than another farm-to-table event in a community where those happen every other week; it will be the fulfillment of a promise made to her late mother and her late husband.Mobley, 55, works as a livestock extension agent in Franklin County and owns Meadow Lane Farm in Louisburg. She sells grass-fed beef, pork and goat meat as well as organic vegetables at the Durham Farmers’ Market. In 2012, she lost her mother, Marjorie Leonard, who ran the family’s 1,000-acre farm for decades. In August 2013, Mobley lost her husband and fellow farmer, Steve, at the age of 58. After her mother died, Mobley and her husband accepted donations instead of flowers to start a nonprofit to help women in agriculture, a cause dear to her mother. Steve Mobley was actively organizing an event for last fall as a fundraiser to fulfill his mother-in-law’s wishes. …
  • “Public gets behind-scenes look at at Person Co. buffalo farm,” Durham Herald-Sun:  Visitors to 14 Person County farms were treated to a behind the scenes look at what it means to be part of the number one industry in the county. The third annual Person County Farm Tour allowed for a variety of tours to take place across the county. From organic vegetables to a dairy farm, and even a farm where buffalo are raised, there were plenty of options for farm-goers. Guests at the Sunset Ridge Buffalo Farm just outside of Roxboro were able to get a look at a portion of the meat industry that many don’t get to see. …
  • “Hog virus cases dwindle over summer, but threat remains,” WRAL: Summer temperatures in North Carolina have slowed the spread of a virus deadly to young pigs that has decimated swine herds across the country. The highly contagious porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PEDv, has hit hog farms across the country hard since it was first detected in April 2013. Since then, the disease has killed 10 percent of the nation’s hog population by some estimates, primarily in the winter months. But with fall looming, livestock farmers and veterinarians in North Carolina say they hope the measures they’ve put in place to stop the virus will prevent the massive die-offs they saw last winter, which resulted in millions of dollars in losses for the state’s $2 billion industry. “We’re all holding our breath to see what happens,” said Dr. Tom Ray, director of livestock health programs at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “We’ve only had one winter, and that’s been kind of a horrendous winter for us.” PEDv is classified as a coronavirus, which all share a common enemy in heat and humidity. Summer means PEDv can’t spread as regularly, and that’s brought the number of new cases identified nationally down to around 60 per week from a peak of about 350. …
  • “Festival pays homage to the grape,” Wilmington Star News: The billboards along I-40 shout about the hoopla that is the N.C. Muscadine Harvest Festival in Kenansville – 260 wines to tempt you, loads of regional foods and crafts to interest you, and four bands to move you Sept. 26-27. The event originated as a serious business, with a plan put together by Lynn Davis, a Kenansville native with an MBA from East Carolina University, who was working for a Winston-Salem health-supplement company when the festival launched in 2005. “There were three reasons it made sense to do this,” says Davis, now the event’s executive director. The tobacco buyout across the state in 2004 gave farmers a reason to consider alternative crops. “Why not wine,” says Davis. “Especially since our dry sandy soil is conducive to grape growing.” …
  • “Mycotoxins a concern for North Carolina corn farmers,” Southeast Farm Press: The issue of mycotoxins in corn isn’t one of the most pleasant conversational topics for corn farmers, but North Carolina Extension Corn Specialist Ron Heiniger stresses that mycotoxins are a major concern in North Carolina that needs to be addressed. “There are no good mycotoxins. We want it gone, stomped out, eliminated. It’s just like a weed in a field. There is no good weed, and the same is true about mycotoxins,” Heiniger said at a corn aflatoxin control field day held Aug. 14 at the Upper Coastal Plain Research Station’s Fountain Farm in Rocky Mount. A mycotoxin that is of top concern in North Carolina is aflatoxin which is caused by ear rot fungi Aspergillus Flavus, according to Heiniger. Aflatoxin is harmful to livestock and humans, and by law corn with high mycotoxin levels cannot be sold and should not be harvested, Heiniger said. …
  • “Richmond County in top 100 for farming,” Richmond County Daily Journal: Richmond County is one of the United States’ 100 best places to farm, according to a magazine group’s analysis of census data from more than 3,000 U.S. counties. Farm Futures, whose corporate parent FarmProgress publishes 17 agriculture-industry magazines, ranked Richmond County 81st in the nation. Susan Kelly, director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Richmond County extension center, said she wasn’t surprised. “If you’re thinking about starting a farm, Richmond County is the place to be,” Kelly said. “Many counties weren’t even mentioned in the top 3,000. It is very significant.” The Tar Heel State fared well in the Farm Futures survey. …
  • “Hoke County’s 30-year Turkey Festival to get new name,” Fayetteville Observer: Lady Bird has been strutting her stuffing for the past 30years. This week, the well-seasoned mascot of the North Carolina Turkey Festival will waddle off into the sunset. The Turkey Festival, which annually swells the population of Hoke County with a home-grown collection of events and competitions, will close its barnyard door after this Saturday. In its place, community volunteers hope to launch what they’re calling the North Carolina Poultry Festival, with similar activities and wider commercial appeal. …
  • “Sky Top Orchard named one of the best places to go apple-picking,” Hendersonville Times News: Zirconia’s own Sky Top Orchard is tops in the country when it comes to apple-picking, according to recently published article from Bustle, a national online women’s magazine. “We’ve been lucky over the years to have different editors, readers and folks in the media take notice of our uniqueness,” said David Butler, who runs Sky Top Orchard alongside his wife, Lindsey. “We’re thrilled about it. We’re just flattered.” The article published less than a week ago names the 10 best places in the country to go apple-picking. Sky Top was joined by nine other orchards from around the country, including Stribling Orchard in Markham, Va., Brighton Woods Orchard in Burlington, Wis. and Johnson Orchards in Yakima, Wash. …
  • “NC State receives $12.4 million grant from Gates Foundation for sweet potato research,” Southeast Farm Press: North Carolina State University will receive $12.4 million over the next four years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve a crop that is an important food staple in sub-Saharan Africa – the sweet potato. The grant will fund work to develop modern genomic, genetic and bioinformatics tools to improve the crop’s ability to resist diseases and insects and tolerate drought and heat. Sweet potatoes are an important food security and cash crop with potential to alleviate hunger, vitamin A deficiency and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 13.5 million metric tons are produced in sub-Saharan Africa annually; they are predominantly grown in small plot holdings by poor women farmers. …
  • “Forget the Bookmobile—This Town’s Getting a Farmers Market on Wheels,” TakePart.com: Summer interns can do more than fetch coffee and fix the photocopier. In Guilford County, N.C., an intern’s experience with a family-owned food truck is helping bring fresh food to the area’s 24 food deserts. More than 60,000 residents of Guilford County live more than a mile from a supermarket, more than 20 percent live below the poverty line, and many don’t have cars. “We got an idea about two years to do a mobile farmer’ market, and we wrote a grant about a year ago to a local foundation to refurbish a bus,” Janet Mayer, a nutritionist with the Guilford Department of Health and Human Services in Greensboro, the county seat, said in an interview. “When we received the grant and started to lay the groundwork for the bus, we realized there was a lot of money and details we hadn’t counted on.” …
  • Peanuts focus of field day,” Kingstree News: Peanuts are continuing to grow in popularity among farmers. As peanut production increases so does the need for knowledge to produce high quality and high yields. Local farmer Brian McClam hosted a field day event that brought 113 farmers from two states for that purpose. Representatives from Severn Peanut Company, the Department of Agriculture, several chemical companies, and Clemson Extension provided a wealth of information applicable to peanut production. McClam, who farms 418 acres of peanuts, is host to 80 test plats. “Field trails are priceless to farmers being that they allow you to take a look into the future on seed varieties and chemicals without ever having to purchase them,” said McClam. “This allows you to make better management decisions when the time comes.” McClam said Wayne Nixon, agronomist for Severn, oversaw the test project. “He (Nixon) is the star of the show,” said McClam of the former NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Regional Agronomist and respected advisor to farmers. “He’s the one that did it all. He visited these test plats every week.” Nixon and Dr. Jay W. Chapin, professor of entomology discussed the varieties planted on McClam’s test site as well as diseases and timely management. Attendants also enjoyed a demonstration of a Brazilian made rotary-system peanut combine. …
  • “Two new dehydration facilities in North Carolina to open, another possible,” The Produce News: North Carolina is the nation’s leading grower of both sweet potatoes and tobacco, and two or possibly three new facilities opening Sept. 30 and in the second quarter of 2015 will build on both products to create new markets for farmers. The new companies will be located in Farmville and Nashville, and possibly Goldsboro, in eastern North Carolina where about half of U.S. sweet potatoes are grown. The plants will produce dried sweet potatoes — sliced, diced or ground into flour — and juices that will compete in the $60 billion global health and wellness beverage market, the $143 billion U.S. healthy foods market and the global pet food market, expected to reach $74.8 billion by 2017. …
  • “The Label You Should Look for at Your Supermarket,” NationSwell.com: Farming runs in Robert Elliot’s family — but he never expected that he’d make a living off of the land. Instead, he served in the Marines, completing five years of active duty service before returning to the U.S. and taking a job as a contractor for the Marine Corps. In 2011, he was abruptly laid off along with many others due to budget cuts, and he didn’t know what to do. “It was hard to make ends meet so I moved home,” he tells Shumurial Ratliff of WNCN News. Back home in Louisburg, N.C., on the land his family used to farm, Elliot decided to try his hand at the old family profession, establishing Cypress Hall Farms with the help of the nonprofit Farmer Veteran Coalition. The organization supports veterans looking to transition into farming with resource guides, training and funding opportunities. It partners with Homegrown by Heroes to help veteran farmers label their produce with a patriotic-looking sticker that informs consumers know that they’re buying food grown by vets. …

 

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Flavor, NC: Goodnight Brothers County Ham, Boone

Flavor NCTwice a month we feature local restaurants, farms and farmers markets featured on episodes of UNC-TV’s Flavor, NC. This week, we review episode three of the first season in which hostess Lisa Prince highlights Goodnight Brothers County Ham and The Gamekeeper Restaurant in Boone.

“Think country ham only comes on a biscuit?” asks Lisa. “Well get ready to think again if you are talking about all-natural country ham from the heart of the Blue Ridge mountains.”  Ham is the hind leg of a hog and country ham is the salted and seasoned version. Goodnight Brothers County Ham hasn’t significantly altered the way they season their country ham since opening in 1948.  In the video below,  they show it is still all about ingredients, aging and climate.

 

After learning a little about the curing process, Lisa visits with the chef and owner of Gamekeeper Restaurant, Ken Gorden. He provides the recipe below for Seared country-ham-wrapped asparagus.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 6 slices Goodnight Brothers thin-sliced country ham
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly cracked pepper

Preparation:
Trim away the fibrous base of the asparagus then blanch in seasoned boiling water for a couple of minutes until cooked but still crisp. Shock in an ice bath to cool. Wrap asparagus with ham in groups of two to five, depending on size of asparagus. Sear in hot pan or on griddle with a splash of olive oil until ham is lightly bronzed on all sides. Place on serving dish. Serve hot or room temperature with a light drizzle of balsamic reduction, crumbled goat cheese, roasted tomato slices and cracked pepper.

To make balsamic reduction, simply cook ½ cup of balsamic vinegar in a small pan until reduced by at least half. Test by drizzling a few drops of reduction on a room temperature plate, waiting a few seconds for it to cool, then test consistency with your finger.
Watch Flavor, NC on WUNC TV. Season four premiers Thursday, Oct. 2 at 10:30 p.m.

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Today’s Topic: New reports from Market News Service focus on sales of local food

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

The NCDA&CS State and Federal Market News Service is launching a series of new reports focusing on locally produced agricultural products. Reports for the state-operated farmers markets in Raleigh and Asheville, which list current wholesale prices, are now online. Another new report is Farm to School information, which provides total produce sales delivered plus unit prices.

In addition, the Market News Service is developing reports for direct-to-consumer sales, which will capture the prices of commodities that farmers market to consumers. Reports on grass-fed beef are expected to be available this month.

Consumer interest and demand for locally grown foods has grown significantly in the past 10 years. This has been a win-win for farmers and the economy. Consumers are enjoying more foods straight from the farm, which is creating new markets and supporting the local economy.

According to USDA figures, the total value of direct sales from farms to consumers was $31.8 million in 2012.

The new reports will provide users with information that can assist them with making informed business decisions. The information can assist producers with their financial planning, assist insurance companies with settling insurance claims, and benefit other members of the industry. These new reports will be a nice addition to the wide variety of information provided by the Market News Service. Reports include information on prices, volume, quality, condition and other market data on farm products in specific markets and marketing areas.

To view reports, click here .

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss this topic.

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Southern Farm Network is a division of Curtis Media Group.

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