News Roundup: Feb. 5-9

by | Feb 9, 2018

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.

  • “National Farmers Union launches Farm Bill campaign,Southeast Farm Press: National Farmers Union and Farmers Union state divisions have developed a digital campaign, complete with a new website, a Farm Bill video, animated short videos, weekly promotions and a petition to share information about the Farm Bill. The family farm organization is calling on Congress to strengthen programs that support family farm agriculture, vibrant rural communities, a clean environment, and hungry Americans. “Family farmers and consumers alike are in urgent need of strong farm and food policies to be passed in the Farm Bill this year,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “As the agriculture committees ready to propose Farm Bill legislation, Farmers Union wants to be sure all members of Congress understand why the Farm Bill is so vital to family farm agriculture, our land, our rural communities, and our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. We’re hopeful this campaign can bridge the support of the entire farm and food community.”…
  • “Fact sheet clarifies new transport regulations’ reach on agriculture industry,” Southern Farm Press: Concern in the agricultural industry about the impact of new regulations regarding electronic logging devices, passed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, has prompted a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist to co-create an outline addressing common concerns.
    Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, AgriLife Extension agricultural law specialist in Amarillo, and Elizabeth Rumley with the National Agricultural Law Center, intend for the outline to help drivers determine whether the new regulations apply to them when driving a pickup hauling a trailer.
    The regulations require certain vehicles hauling property, including livestock and horses, begin utilizing an electronic logging device, or ELD, and comply with certain hours of service limitations, Lashmet said. …
  • “WNC AgOptions announces grants for mountain farm diversification,” Diversifying farmers in western North Carolina are receiving support to offset the risk of expanding and trying new ventures. WNC Agricultural Options awarded 43 farm businesses a total of $229,000 in $3,000, $4000 and $6,000 grants on Thursday at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River. Farm projects include the implementation of a specialty planting device called a “Paper Pot Transplanter,” a Grade A sheep dairy, and an innovative irrigation project.
    Nine of the farm business received $3,000, one received $4,000 and 33 received $6,000. The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission is the exclusive financial supporter of WNC AgOptions, which aims to build sustainable farming communities in the mountain region by providing resources directly to farmers.
    “The WNC AgOptions program has proven success stories,” said Bill Teague, Chairman of the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. “We continue to be amazed at how these producers utilize these funds to ensure their family farms grow and remain profitable.” …
  • “99.5% of samples test below EPA benchmark residue level,” Southeast Farm Press: The 2016 Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary shows more than 99.5% of the samples tested had pesticide residues well below benchmark levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency and 22% had no detectable residue.
    PDP scientists and staff use rigorous sampling and advanced methods to test a wide variety of domestic and imported foods, helping ensure that the U.S. food supply is one of the safest in the world. The 2016 report includes data from over 10,000 samples.
    PDP data is used by EPA to conduct dietary risk assessments and to ensure that any pesticide residues in foods remain at safe levels and adverse health effects are unlikely. The data also provides regulators, farmers, processors, manufacturers, consumers and scientists with insights into the actual levels of pesticide residues found on widely consumed foods.
    The annual pesticide residue results are reported to the Food and Drug Administration and EPA in monthly reports as testing takes place throughout the year. FDA and EPA would be immediately notified if a PDP test discovered residue levels that could pose a public safety risk. …
  • “NC farm owner cited in nearly one-million-gallon hog waste spill,” WWAY: The owner of a Jones County pig farm was fined more than $60,000 after he discharged nearly one million gallons of hog waste into a nearby wooded area, according to the N.C. Department of Environment Quality.
    The DEQ cites Douglas L. Lanier with multiple violations of his farm’s general permit, including a condition not to discharge wastewater from hog waste lagoons into surface water.
    “Our investigation revealed this to be an egregious violation of state laws and we will hold the responsible party accountable,” said Michael Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, in a news release. “It is totally unacceptable and illegal for someone to knowingly discharge contaminated wastewater that threatened our rivers and streams.
    Officials began their investigation August 31 after receiving an anonymous tip.
    They estimated 987,440 gallons of wastewater were illegally discharged from the lagoon at the farm near Comfort. …
  • “Why Food Traceability Matters,” There is a growing movement of consumers demanding information on how their food is produced, including affluent American consumers, millennials, and the European market. I recently returned from a trip to Austria where food traceability was a hot industry topic because many Europeans were passionate about supporting local farmers and wanted labeling identifying which region (and even which farm) produced their food.
    Millennials especially care about where their food comes from. They are more interested in having a relationship with their food – tracing it back through the supply chain to its origins, knowing what processes it went through, and having information necessary to make an informed decision about what they are consuming and which companies they support with their hard-earned dollars.
    A recent study on millennials by the Pew Research Center reports this generation is less trusting than older Americans – with just 19 percent saying that most people can be trusted, compared to 31 percent of Gen Xers and 40 percent of baby boomers. That more cautious attitude can also extend to brands.
    Americans in general have grown uneasy with large systems that they don’t understand. You can see this unease in the increased use of the terms “big government,” “big pharma,” and “big agra.”
    These large systems evolved as populations exploded and technology advanced during the last century. These “big” systems serve larger populations using fewer resources than ever before and are necessary for a modern society.
    However, these systems are so big and so complex that it is impossible for anyone on the outside to fully view and understand how the entire system functions. This lack of understanding leads to mistrust. Mistrust of large systems is part of what is driving the latest push by millennials and affluent consumers for more labels on food from manufacturers. They have higher standards for safety, processing, labeling and the traceability of food than ever before. More millennials are interested in cooking their own meals. They are more apt to visit farmers markets or grow their own herbs and vegetables. …
  • “NC State football fans, State Fair crowds will be able to go under Trinity Road,” News & Observer: Soon, you won’t have to walk across Trinity Road to go between Carter-Finley Stadium and the N.C. State Fairgrounds. You’ll be able to walk under it.
    The state Department of Transportation is building a 25-foot-wide pedestrian tunnel under Trinity, just east of Youth Center Drive. That spot is a popular crossing during the State Fair and on game days for N.C. State football, as well as during concerts and basketball and hockey games at PNC Arena.
    The state awarded a $4.3 million contract to Crowder Construction Company of Charlotte, which can begin work as early as March 1. The contract calls for the tunnel to be open to pedestrians by Sept. 15, 2018, but it also provides financial incentives to Crowder Construction to get it done a month earlier. …
  • “Davis: NC drought area shrinking,” Southeast Farm Network: Climatologist Corey Davis at the North Carolina State Climate Office in Raleigh says the area of drought across the state shrank this past week. He talks about it with SFN’s Mike Davis and provides a forecast for the coming seven-day period. …