News Roundup: Jan. 16-22

by | Jan 22, 2016

News Roundup - this week's top news stories about NC agriculture

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.

  • “Avian flu scare over in NC, but vigilance continues,” News & Observer: State officials have ended a ban on public bird shows and sales in North Carolina because they say it’s no longer needed to prevent the spread of a deadly avian flu virus. But state and industry officials also say the threat of a flu outbreak will never go away, meaning some of the measures adopted in recent months to protect the state’s $5 billion poultry-growing industry will become common practice. “Some of the ways we’ve done business in the past can’t be the way we do business going forward,” said State Veterinarian Doug Meckes. “All that guidance, all the caution, has been taken to heart, and I know the poultry industry has changed the way they do business.” Six months ago, an outbreak of bird flu in North Carolina seemed likely. A particularly virulent form of the virus appeared in Iowa and Minnesota last winter, resulting in the deaths of 49 million chickens and turkeys. The price of eggs to retailers more than doubled in a few weeks last spring, and government and poultry industry officials across the country prepared for the outbreak to spread. …
  • “Letter: Pork farmers care about environment,” Fayetteville Observer: A recent editorial (“Water: Farm waste disposal needs 21st century innovations,” Jan. 4) called for new innovations to manage animal waste, but failed to acknowledge the significant investments that have already been made by our state’s pork industry to develop new waste management technologies. Smithfield Foods, for example, has invested $40 million over the past 10 years to research and develop alternatives to lagoons and spray fields. The company is currently working on several waste-to-energy projects in North Carolina. …
  • “Farmers Approaching 2016 With an Abundance of Caution,” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Past president of the Corn Growers Association of North Carolina and Sampson County farmer, Jay Sullivan says that farmers, while looking forward to the 2016 growing season, are approaching with an abundance of caution: “2016, there’s a lot of consternation in our area, people are…we’re concerned about starting the crop up, there’s already been a lot of hiccoughs at the end of 2015 that’s going to affect this. We realize that a lot of the soybean seed production is going to be down, in particular in a lot of the maturity groups that we’re used to planting. Wheat production we think is down anywhere, probably 20% of the crop…maybe 80% of the crop didn’t get planted, so we’re really concerned about that. We’re still waiting to hear about tobacco contracts. So, everybody is really on edge right now.” …
  • “Goat Lady Dairy wins two awards,” Greensboro News & Record: Goat Lady Dairy of took home two awards this week from the 2016 Good Food Awards held in San Francisco. The Randolph County maker of goat and cow milk cheese was honored for its Lindale and Providence cheeses.” It is very meaningful to us that the judges selected our cheese for fine flavor and recognized our farming and production practices as good for the earth and our community,” says Steve Tate, who co-owns Goat Lady Dairy with his wife, Lee. “We have always tried to care for the planet and the people as well as run a good business. Good food should be produced with good, sustainable methods.” Goat Lady Dairy was established 20 years ago and produces cheeses that are sold at area farm markets, some grocer chains and through mail order. …
  • “Nearly 100 new jobs coming to Eastern Carolina over next three years,” WITN: Nearly 100 new jobs are coming to Eastern Carolina. Hillshire Brands Company is launching a $28.4 million expansion of bakery operations. The 98 jobs will come over the next three years as Hillshire upgrades and improves its Tarboro facility in Edgecombe County. The plant produces the company’s Sara Lee line of baked goods. It opened in 2000 and currently has a workforce of 687. It’s expected the expanded workforce will add nearly $3 million to the payroll. Hillshire Brands is a subsidiary of Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest food companies. The company’s other brands include Hillshire Farm, BallPark and Jimmy Dean. “We’re glad to invest in our Tarboro plant, which will mean more jobs for the city,” said Wes Morris, president of prepared foods for Tyson Foods. “The existing infrastructure, location and availability of a qualified workforce make the plant ideal for this expansion project.” According to a news release, the “project was made possible in part by a performance-based grant of up to $300,000 from the One North Carolina Fund, Edgecombe County, and the town of Tarboro. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance, through local governments, to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity and create new jobs in the state. Companies receive no money up front and must meet job creation and investment performance standards to qualify for grant funds. One NC grants also require and are contingent on financial matches from local governments.”
  • “Farmers look to Southern Farm Show to improve profits,” Tryon Daily Bulletin: Farmers looking towards the 2016 growing season are understandably nervous. Since the long run of high commodity prices has ended, many are rethinking their operations, from crop selection to equipment purchases. Some are looking for answers, while others have decided the best road forward for them, and are seeking the right strategy to implement their plan. One thing farmers throughout the Carolinas do know is that the annual Southern Farm Show, Feb. 3-5 at the N.C. State Fairgrounds, is a valuable resource to help make those important decisions. Another certainly is that this year’s show, which continues to grow to accommodate more companies wanting to participate, will indeed be worth the trip to Raleigh. Show Director David Zimmerman confirmed that the 2016 show will be the largest yet, with over 400 manufacturers and service providers represented. A fourth large exhibit tent has been added to the show that already fills the four major exhibit halls and acres of outdoor exhibits at the fairgrounds. The show also utilizes three other fair buildings for meetings, workshops and special events. …
  • “Johnston Co. Commissioners Oppose Planned CSX Project Site,” Time Warner Cable News: (Video) Some residents earned support in their fight to save their properties Wednesday night, after learning a CSX cargo hub project, called the Carolina Connector (CCX), could take over land in Selma and Micro the week before. Johnston Co. Commissioners held a special closed session meeting to discuss the project and then announced their stance on the proposed location. “This board does not support eminent domain and condemnation and private property by CSX,” said chairman Tony Braswell. The meeting came nearly a week after the company announced plans to build a major shipping hub in the county. Some residents say CSX officials knocked on their doors that day, and told them would have to give up their land. “There’s no need or reason to say ‘we’ve got our checkbook, let me buy your land’ because there hasn’t been any rezoning process, there hasn’t been any incentive public hearing process, so why would they buy land and not know they could finally use it? That’s the issue,” said Braswell. …
  • “Forget the weather – what’s the chicken wing outlook?” Charlotte Observer: No one knows yet whether the Panthers will be bound for the Super Bowl (we hope, we hope, we hope). But I can predict one thing: Chicken wing sales will fly through the coop roof between now and Feb. 7. And that means I can bring some early good news: Supplies and prices are both good this year, thanks to the weird way agriculture sometimes works. The N.C. Department of Agriculture had already have been fielding calls from distributors checking on the supply of chicken wings since North Carolina is the fourth biggest state for poultry production (after Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas). That’s understandable: Kim Decker, a marketing specialist with NCDA, acknowledged that chicken wing supplies do tend to get tight in January. After all, chickens only have two wings each (although each wing really has two parts, so I’ll let you wrestle with that math). …
  • “Hoke County ethanol plant ceases operations; about 20 people laid off,” Fayetteville Observer: The troubled ethanol plant in Hoke County, which resumed operations over the summer after sitting dormant for four years, has shut down again. This time, the facility ceased production under the ownership of Tyton NC Biofuels. About 20 employees from the plant’s 46-plus staff have been laid off, according to general manager Rick Brerhm. Production ceased the first week of January. “We’re not operating because of margin,” Brerhm said Thursday. “We are not making ethanol, but we have not closed the plant.” Brerhm cited lower gasoline prices at the pump combined with higher natural gas prices over the winter months. …
  • “Tar Heel Traveler: Cruse Meat Processing near Concord,” WRAL: (VIDEO) The locally owned meat store sells about 20,000 pounds of meat per month. …