News Roundup: Dec. 23 – 29

by | Dec 29, 2017

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.

  • “Industry set to make more meat, more money in 2018,” Meatingplace: The U.S. meat industry is expected to produce 6 percent more pork, 6 percent more beef and 2 percent more poultry in the coming year, predicts Sterling Marketing principal John Nalivka. During a webinar presented by the North American Meat Institute, sponsored by Marel and hosted by Meatingplace, Nalivka also predicted positive packer margins and continued low feed prices for livestock producers. The two wild cards will be export demand and labor, as the future of various trade agreements with major markets like Mexico, Canada and Japan are uncertain and a strong economy could continue to increase competition for potential meat plant workers. Nalivka expects the U.S. cattle herd to be up 3 percent going into the New Year, with cattle inventories tapering off some by 2019. During 2018, he expects beef slaughter capacity to run at about 91 percent. For hog inventories, he predicted another 3 percent increase as hog producers fill the demands of new slaughter plants. Overall, he sees hog slaughter running at about 92 percent of capacity next year. He expects pork exports to close 2017 up 7 percent and predicts another 6 percent increase in exports next year. “Expect good margins for both pork and beef into 2018,” said Nalivka, adding, “The whole issue will be on the demand side.”
  • “Bringing agriculture to the classroom,” Mt. Airy News: Kathy Brintle has brought agriculture to the classroom at Gentry Middle School. In her Career Explorations class, students have grown, nurtured and harvested food since the beginning of school in August. She strives to raise awareness in her students of agricultural careers and teaches them the connection between themselves – the consumer, and the source of their food, shelter, and clothing. Brintle is a Kenan Fellow, a member of a leadership program for teachers in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Kenan fellows are led to develop strong communication and advocacy skills. They are given opportunities to engage with other educators, community leaders, and policymakers to promote high-quality instruction in our schools. Today there are nearly 400 Kenan Fellows across North Carolina. …
  • “Resurrecting the truffle: Researchers look to learn about cultivation potential in N.C.,” Smoky Mountain News: An Old World delicacy tied to myths of the supernatural, the truffle is often construed as a rare exotic, likely to grace only the most expensive of culinary creations. But truffle cultivation is seeing a surge in North Carolina, with more than 200 truffle growers popping up across the state since word began spreading in the 1990s.
    One of those truffle farms is located right in the heart of Waynesville, a research project at the N.C. Cooperative Extension Mountain Research Station aiming to dispel myths and build a structure of facts around the growing of truffles in this part of the world. “Our research was borne out of the fact that people were just kind of going for it, and all of the resources were coming from Europe and all of the research was coming out of Europe, which is obviously different from here,” said Leonora Stephanile, a horticultural research assistant on the project. …
  • “Taking a closer look at food labels,” Southeast Farm Press: What’s in a label? Good question as USDA’s Economic Research Service found out when it undertook a review of food labeling and the impact of Federal organic and nutrition labels. The final report is called Beyond Nutrition and Organic Labels – 30 Years of Experience with Intervening in Food Labels. Food labeling is a challenging issue. Consumers tend to trust those labels approved by the government because they come with a specific set of standards. For example, the Certified Organic label from USDA did provide consistency in labeling. Yet ERS found consumers couldn’t always see the difference between Certified Organic and “natural” or some other near-organic claim.
  • “Appalachian Farm School returns,” Smoky Mountain News: An eight-week training course for anyone interested in operating an agriculture-based business will kick off Tuesday, Jan. 9, at Southwestern Community College in Sylva. About to enter its fourth year, the Appalachian Farm School is a pioneering program aiming to teach participants the business aspects of farming so they can be successful doing what they love. Topics include: business planning, farm evaluation, goal setting, marketing, pricing, understanding the numbers and more. In addition to learning about business, participants will also have the chance to learn about resources available to them within the region and to talk to subject-matter experts who can provide the tools and confidence needed to be successful. Sessions will be offered 6-9 p.m. each Tuesday from Jan. 9 to Feb. 27, in SCC’s Burrell Building. Free. Through a partnership of the SCC Small Business College, N.C. Cooperative Extension and the N.C. Department of Agriculture. …
  • “Butterball launches $20 million expansion in N.C.” Meatingplace: Butterball LLC is expanding its Raeford, N.C., operations to include a new production line for turkey bacon products, according to an announcement from the regional economic development organization. The group, called North Carolina’s Southeast, said Butterball will invest nearly $20 million in the project and add 50 jobs to its Hoke County workforce, which currently totals more than 100. Butterball arrived in Hoke County in February 2015, assuming part of the operations formerly held by House of Raeford, another large food manufacturer with operations in southeastern North Carolina. “When Butterball opened the Raeford plant in 2015, we knew we had a great workforce and a state of the art facility, but the overall operation has exceeded our expectations,” Barry Gum, Butterball chief financial officer, said in the statement. Based in Garner, N.C., Butterball produces more than a billion pounds of consumer turkey products annually. Butterball retail and foodservice products are distributed throughout the United States and in more than 45 countries. The company operates processing plants in North Carolina, Arkansas and Missouri. In October, the North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) approved $390,750 in Community Development Block Grant funding to assist in the installation of 4,900 linear-feet of 12” water main in support of Butterball’s new operations. Earlier in December, RIA authorized a $500,000 Building Reuse Grant to help with the renovation of the company’s 244,950-square-foot building, which was constructed in 1995.