News Roundup: May 21-27

by | May 27, 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.

  • “Freeze Damage in Peaches Becoming Evident,”  Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Two late freezes, one in late March, the other in early April damaged the North Carolina peach crop, but it’s taken a while to have a clear picture of the damage says Mike Parker, Tree Fruit Extension Specialist: “We had damage when we looked at the blossoms shortly after the events that we had, we knew there was damage we just did not know the extent of it. At this point and time, we have a pretty good feel for what our crop will be looking like.” Parker says that while freeze damage is significant, it is inconsistent, not only in any given area, but even within an individual orchard: “We have seen a significant reduction in yields across the state, trying to put numbers to it is very difficult, even in an orchard, it’s hard to get an estimate is because some trees will have fruit, others won’t. The problem with the freezes is that it was the perfect storm, if you will, it hit the peaches when our crop was at its most vulnerable. Where we get temperatures at 30-31 degrees will cause significant damage, and that’s what we’re looking at.” …
  • “Apex farmer finds happiness in a strawberry patch,” News & Observer: Every Memorial Day weekend of Karma Lee’s childhood involved a family trip to a pick-your-own strawberry patch. Lee and her family would pick so many berries that the quarts would fill two levels inside the trunk of their Chevrolet. When they got home, her mother would freeze many of them. Lee would fill a wagon with quarts of strawberries and sell them for 25 cents each to the neighbors. “I always loved strawberry picking,” Lee recalled. Those childhood memories certainly left an impression. Nineteen years ago, when she and her husband bought about 35 acres in Apex, she says he turned to her and said: “You are going to have to do something to pay for all this.” Her husband, Jim, 57, was a nurse anesthetist, and Karma, 57, also a trained nurse, had been raising their three daughters. She looked at an open field where tobacco and then soybeans once grew and thought it would make a good place for a strawberry patch. …
  • “EPA’s new stance on pesticide regulations costs farmers, worries others,” Southeast Farm Press: Environmental Protection Agency, acting outside of FIFRA, has had an adversarial relationship with crop protection chemical manufacturers and other groups since it was created during the Nixon administration in 1972. Some industry and related organization observers say their dealings have become much more strained and antagonistic in recent months. The National Cotton Council is one of those saying it sees disturbing trends in the way the agency regulates pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act — or doesn’t. The NCC’s American Cotton Producers segment devoted nearly 90 minutes to discussion of current regulatory issues at its spring meeting in Birmingham, Ala.” …
  • “Emerald Ash Borer And Other Invasives Hit NC Hard,” WUNC: North Carolina is one of the states hardest hit by invasive forest pests, according to a report from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Part of the problem is global trade is bringing new insects and diseases that are devastating native trees, said Gary Lovett, the study’s lead author. “The more goods that we bring in, the more pests we’re going bring with them,” Lovett said. “This problem is going to get worse and worse, unless we focus on prevention, which is stopping the pests from getting into the country in the first place, rather than trying to deal with them once they’re here.” State agriculture officials first detected the Emerald Ash Borer in North Carolina in 2013. And last September, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services issued a statewide EAB quarantine, meaning that any part of an ash tree, including firewood, cannot be moved from a quarantine area into an area outside the quarantine. …
  • “How would Bayer-Monsanto affect workers, farmers, investors?” Charlotte Observer: Bayer wants to buy Monsanto for $62 billion, hooking up the German chemical and drug company with the St. Louis-based producer of seeds and weed-killers. The deal would create a global giant in agriculture technology touching much of global food production through the development of seeds and pesticides. Here’s a look at the deal and what it would mean for farmers, workers, consumers and investors. …
  • “NC falls behind – again – on poultry power goals,” News & Observer: North Carolina, an agricultural powerhouse, will fall short – again – on meeting state goals for converting animal waste to electricity. Extracting energy from barnyard droppings has proven an elusive goal here ever since the state legislature enacted the requirement in 2007 as part of the renewable energy portfolio standard. Duke Energy notified state regulators last week that it will not meet the requirement for poultry waste this year, a shortfall that will likely require the state’s utility companies to seek a third annual postponement. “It’s been a long damn time to get developers to come in and buy the litter from the farmers and burn it,” said Robert Ford, executive director of the N.C. Poultry Federation. On the swine waste side, utilities have never yet met the requirement for turning hog sludge into an energy fuel. For years legislators and farmers had hoped setting energy conversion targets in the 2007 law would provide a healthy alternative to letting hog effluent steep in lagoons. …
  • “Duke Energy Announces Second Swine Waste-To-Energy Project in North Carolina,” WHQR: (Audio) To fuel North Carolina’s pork industry, the state is host to more than 9 million pigs. Turns out, that hog waste is a fuel of its own, and it’s becoming a bigger part of North Carolina’s energy portfolio. Duke Energy announced its second swine waste-to-power project in North Carolina earlier today. Back in March, Duke Energy partnered with Carbon Cycle Energy to use captured methane gas from hog waste to generate renewable electricity. Just two months later, Duke Energy has announced its second swine waste-to-energy project. Optima KV is set to build digesters at farms in Duplin County, the heart of Smithfield Foods’ pork operations. …
  • “Time to pop the cap on N.C. craft liquor distillery sales,” Charlotte Observer: Just over 100 years ago North Carolina led our nation’s liquor industry with 540 distilleries before Prohibition shut them down. Now, that same promising market is reemerging, but the Tar Heel State has a long way to go to reclaim its former dominance. We can start by uncapping some vintage Prohibition-era regulations. …
  • “Mountain Causes: Veterans Healing Farm,” Asheville Citizen Times: I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Memorial Day than by paying tribute to our veterans. Apparently, neither can John Mahshie. Mahshie has created a farm for veterans in Western North Carolina and soon anyone flying above his family’s plot of land will know about it. As the sun poured down one Saturday earlier this month, I watched as Mahshie and other volunteers planted rows of red, white and blue at the Veterans Healing Farm in Hendersonville. The nonprofit allows veterans a community to be with their peers and the opportunity to grow food and improve their nutrition as they heal. Using plastic sheeting for the color, the 380-foot American flag garden will be one of the largest of its kind, Mahshie said, while wiping sweat from his brow. …
  • “Field trips to working farms excite students,” Salisbury Post: Students who participated in the North Carolina Farm School got to see first-hand on May 18 what it takes to be a successful beef cattle and produce farmer in Rowan County. Participants started the day off by traveling to Correll Farms in Cleveland. Correll Farms/Red Barn Market is primarily a produce farm but has other farming avenues, as well. This family-owned operation grows a vast variety of products, ranging from asparagus to peaches. Participants were also able to learn what products sell best in our Rowan County markets and some of the marketing strategies that will be beneficial for them if they decide to start their own produce endeavor. …