News Roundup: June 30 – July 6

by | Jul 6, 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.

  • “A Jewish Dietician Walks onto a Pig Farm…”  Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Leia Flure is a registered dietician and blogger who participated in a recent blogger’s tour to a North Carolina hog farm. She shares some of her eye-opening revelations in the first of a series of stories.
  • “NC farmers caught in crossfire of escalating trade war,” WRAL: In response to tariffs levied on imports by the Trump Administration, Mexico on Thursday doubled its tariff on U.S. pork, and China on Friday is set to implement 25 percent tariffs on pork, soybeans and tobacco from the U.S. The tariffs will make U.S. products more expensive in those countries, encouraging foreign buyers to find cheaper suppliers elsewhere around the world. North Carolina farmers depend on those foreign markets to stay afloat. The state produces the most tobacco in the country and is the second-largest pork producer in the U.S. China and Mexico also are two of the state’s top trading partners for agricultural goods. ….
  • “July 4 cookout a bit more affordable this year,” Meatingplace:  Americans’ favorite foods for the Fourth of July, including hot dogs, cheeseburgers, pork spare ribs, potato salad, baked beans, lemonade and chocolate milk, will cost slightly less this year at less than $6 per person, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
    Competition in the meat case continues to benefit consumers through lower retail prices, making grilling for July 4 even more affordable for consumers this year. The average cost of a summer cookout for 10 people is $55.07, or $5.51 per person, according to the group’s informal survey. The cost for the cookout is down less than 1 percent from last year. “This is a very tough time for farmers and ranchers due to low prices across the board. It is appropriate that this very painful situation hitting farmers be reflected at the retail level as well,” AFBF Director of Market Intelligence John Newton said in a statement. “We are seeing record meat and dairy production in 2018, so that has also influenced retail prices.” …
  • “An “Incredible” Crossover Example of Promotion,” Southern Farm Network: When a commodity organization and a major animation studio share the title of “incredible”, the result is an example of crossover promotions. Rod Bain reports.
  • “Sweet corn in season at produce market,” Wilson Times: When it comes to sweet corn, Collin Blalock admits he might eat more than he sells some days.
    In the tall rows of maturing white corn, Blalock twists off an ear. The Lucama resident shucks it quickly before taking a couple of bites into the juicy kernels.
    “I like eating corn raw,” said Blalock, who is owner of Collin’s Produce near Lucama. “To me it tastes better because I feel like when you cook it, it gets some of the sugars out. If you really want the natural taste of the corn, I always eat it raw.” Blalock grows about an acre and a half of sweet corn including the Silver Queen and Honey Select varieties, plus four more he is experimenting with. “Through the years we have just been trying out different varieties,” Blalock said. “A whole lot of people find they one variety that they love and they stick with it. So I guess just trying to find the variety that we wanted to grow.” Blalock is a senior at North Carolina State University majoring in agriculture science with minors in horticulture science, agriculture business and crop science. …
  • “Take a bite…”Feed the Dialogue NC,” Asheville Citizen-Times: Ingles Markets puts a priority on supporting local farmers and vendors by purchasing produce, grocery and meat items from local and regional growers and producers. Recently I interviewed Marlowe Vaughan, the executive director of Feed the Dialogue NC. This non-profit group seeks to help North Carolina residents understand more about farming and agriculture in the state of North Carolina by interviewing farmers and featuring those videos and stories on their website and blog as well as coordinating tours of farms for food, nutrition and culinary experts and bloggers who can carry that information to their audiences. Check out Feed the Dialogue NC’s website, Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube channel to learn more about agriculture in North Carolina and get your questions answered about hot topics like antibiotics, hormones, genetic engineering, animal welfare and more. …
  • “Pork Giant Loses Essential Legal Battle in Manure Case,” Wall Street Journal: Chinese-owned pork giant Smithfield Foods Inc. lost a pivotal legal battle on Friday, as a federal jury awarded $25 million to a rural couple for the nuisance caused by living near a Smithfield contractor’s hog farm. …
  • “Blackland Farm Managers Tour looks at ‘7 Wonders of Corn Yield World’ Southeast Farm Press:  This year’s Blacklands Farm Managers Tour, set for Wednesday, Aug. 1 at 3 B Farms in Pinetown, N.C. will focus on corn management and corn and soybean fertility. Registration begins at 7 a.m.. and the field day begins at 8 a.m. Field tours are scheduled in the morning and the event concludes with a catered lunch featuring a keynote address by Dr. Fred Below, professor of plant physiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Below will speak on “Seven Wonders of the Corn Yield World.” 3 B Farms is located at 2200 Respess Road, Pinetown, NC 27865 in Beaufort County. Field Day hosts are James Russell Boyd, Doug Boyd and Todd Boyd. The Blacklands Farm Managers Tour is considered the preeminent field day in North Carolina. Speakers include Dr. Carl Crozier and Dr. David Hardy, discussing corn and soybean fertility, focusing on potassium; Dr. Ron Heiniger discussing corn management; Dr. Wes Everman and Dr. Charlie Cahoon, addressing herbicide symptomology; Scott Tilley, discussing corn fungicide placement; and Dr. Rachel Vann, providing a soybean Extension program update.
  • “Soybeans Overtake Corn in USDA Acreage Report,” Southern Farm Network: Soybean planted acreage topped corn for the first time since 1983 as the USDA released its Planted Acreage Report on Friday. Soybean acreage is 89.6 million acres. That’s actually one percent lower than last year as planted acres are either down or unchanged in 14 of the 31 biggest soybean states.
    Corn acres are also down one percent from last year, coming in at 89.1 million acres. Corn acres are down or unchanged in 31 of the 48 states in the USDA survey. All wheat acres are up four percent from last year, coming in at 47.8 million acres. Cotton acres are estimated at 13.5 million, seven percent higher than in 2017.
    USDA also released its Quarterly Grain and Oilseed Stocks Report on Friday. It showed a lot of soybeans in storage, coming in at 1.22 billion bushels, 26 percent higher than last year. On-farm soybean stocks were 13 percent higher than last year, while off-farm stocks were 33 percent higher. Corn stocks were estimated at 5.3 billion bushels, one percent higher than the same time in 2017. More corn has moved off the farm as the current on-farm stocks were three percent lower than last year. Old crop all-wheat stocks came in at 1.1 billion bushels, seven percent lower than in 2017.
  • “North Carolina’s newest cash crop is illegal for most farmers to grow,” News and Observer: North Carolina farmers take chances whenever they try to grow something new, but no crop poses the kind of uncertainties that surround industrial hemp. Hemp is used in thousands of products, from parachutes to energy drinks and a growing number of supplements and remedies containing CBD oil. But the plant is also a cousin of marijuana, which makes almost everything about it harder for growers, from getting loans to buying seed to selling the crop at the end of the season. Among the added worries: The level of the compound that gives you a high when you smoke marijuana, THC, might inch up a fraction of a percent in your hemp plants, making them a drug under federal law no more legal to possess or sell than cocaine or heroin. Despite that risk and others, hundreds of farmers have signed on to a state program that allows them to grow industrial hemp in their fields or in greenhouses and sell it to processors to turn into products. It’s part of a big experiment run by N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University under the guidance of the state Department of Agriculture. In the farm bill of 2014, Congress gave states permission to run test programs for growing and marketing industrial hemp, and since then, North Carolina and 38 other states have approved legislation needed to set one up. …