News Roundup: July 7 – 13

by | Jul 13, 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 Soybean Surge Makes Trump’s Trade War Look Deceptively Good,” WRAL: President Donald Trump’s trade war is expected to temporarily bolster U.S. economic growth, in part because Beijing tried to beat the clock on Trump’s tariffs by stocking up on American soybeans, crude oil and other exports. Economists are predicting that the gross domestic product for the second quarter could reach 5 percent when the preliminary numbers are released on July 27. The U.S. trade gap with China has narrowed, as more American products were shipped to Beijing before the tariffs, which went into effect July 6. But both effects are expected to be fleeting, and the short-term economic improvement could turn into a long-term loss if both countries follow through with their threats to continue escalating tariffs against each other. “They will dance, they will sing, they will say, look at the plunge in the trade deficit in the second quarter,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics. “That is of course complete drivel.” …
  • “Precision Agriculture Takes Flight at North Carolina State,” Precision Ag: Take a walk into the Suggs Laboratory for Precision Agriculture and Machine Systems and it’s hard not to be impressed, writes Rebecca Nagy on North Carolina State University’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) website. Named after Charlie Suggs for his contributions to BAE, NC State, and the field as a whole, the lab embodies his work ethic and dedication to furthering knowledge.
    The brightly lit space houses a sleek drone fitted with crop sensors in one corner and a tractor with a field computer and automatic steering being installed in another. Both will be used in various research, extension and academic projects, all with the aim of improving and increasing efficiency in agriculture. A newly mounted whiteboard takes up most of another wall. Current projects, collaborators and bullet points are scrawled across the board, spanning research areas from cotton, to Christmas trees, to corn and pigs. “I tried to take a photo to show my parents, but couldn’t fit it all in just one photo,” comments Kyle Townsend, an undergraduate researcher in the lab.
    One such project underway involves placing sensors over corn crops to assess weather damage. “Hurricane season is the same time as harvest season,” Jason Ward explains. “We wondered, could we assess how much of the field area is damaged and how badly its damaged.” …
  • “Groundbreaking at N.C. A&T’s Farm,” Greensboro News & Record: Alumni celebrate as dignitaries take part in a groundbreaking ceremony for a $12.3 million expansion project at the university’s farm on McConnell Road.
  • “‘Traffic jam’ at Duplin County hog farm as rally pushes back on neighbors’ lawsuits,” News & Observer: Hundreds of farmers and other local residents gathered at the Carter hog farm Tuesday to respond to lawsuits they said are threatening the pork industry and other farmers. As a result, traffic was bumper to bumper in this community near Beulaville in Duplin County, one of the top hog-producing counties in the country. “This is a historic event,” Rep. Jimmy Dixon said. “The first traffic jam in the history of Hallsville, North Carolina.” Dixon, a Warsaw Republican, was addressing a sea of jeans, plaid and colorful signs that read, “No Farms No Food.”
  • “Trade Politics Comes to the County Fair,” New York Times: Few things in life are more reliable than the county fair. Evoking decades past, they appear every year — hot and sticky, an emporium of pop-up rides in cartoon colors, fried foods on sticks and contests that bring blue ribbons. Long ripe for political debates, fairs are also places to contemplate the variables of farm and ranch life. Beyond rain, drought and finicky machinery, this year offers a new subject: a global face-off over tariffs. To get a glimpse at a summer of uncertainly, we visited three weekend fairs: one near Indianapolis, another in an Ohio county of about 65,000 people, and still another southeast of San Francisco.
  • “Ideas Ripe For The Picking: Savvy Produce Marketers Are Looking At Pinterest,” Southeast Produce Weekly: With trips falling, engagement beyond the store is crucial. Pinterest is an ever-growing platform for food research and ideas, particularly among key grocery shopper demographics. A few weeks ago, I attended the Sweets & Snacks Expo and sat in on a great presentation covering the rapidly growing engagement, and subsequent action, driven by social media. Pinterest shared some of their demographics and usage statistics, which make an incredibly powerful case for all players in the food retailing industry to up their efforts on Pinterest and other social media platforms. …
  • “Business Buzz: Excellent outlook on sweet corn, tomatoes,” Fayetteville Observer: News is positive for those who anxiously look forward to July in North Carolina and the fresh arrivals from the farms. Among the favorites — just to name a few — coming into season are butterbeans, cantaloupes, honeydew melons, sprite melons, okra, sweet corn, tomatoes and zucchini. Kevin Hardison, a marketing specialist for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, works alongside the N.C. Vegetable Growers Association. “In talking with the growers,” of those fruits and vegetables, he says, “the wet spring slightly delayed the initial harvest compared to previous years. However, the local vegetables are looking great in the field as of now. With the approaching extreme heat, stress will become a factor on quality. “However, anyone looking for excellent produce in North Carolina should plan on visiting their local farmers market soon as both quantity and quality outlook are excellent.” The Agriculture Department offers a handy chart as a resource, suitable for any refrigerator door. Download it from …
  • “North Carolina: Potato Capital of America! (…for 6 weeks a year),” Southern Farm Network: (Audio) Potatoes come from Idaho, right? Everyone knows that. But not in the summertime. That’s when North Carolina steps for the fore and claims the mantle of Potato Capital of America.
  • “10 things that drive an Extension weed specialist crazy,” Southeast Farm Press: (Slideshow) Unfortunately, after 30 years of spraying and praying, it’s my experience that most weed-science-related issues that occur on the farm are self-inflicted. As I penned this article June 28, I was sitting in my kitchen watching yet another rain event on my small hobby farm. Over 2.5 inches fell in the past few days.  When it is not raining in south Georgia, it’s hotter than Hades, and the gnats are relentless but this is the life I chose and love. I could never imagine myself stuck in an office or factory. There is nothing more rewarding than when a county agent or a grower thanks me when I have helped them out in some small way. As an Extension specialist, I do not often get to see all the good things happening down on the farm. In most cases, I am trying to solve a problem, talk someone down off a rooftop, put out a fire, or advert a potential disaster.  Unfortunately, after 30 years of spraying and praying, it’s my experience that most weed-science-related issues that occur on the farm are self-inflicted.  Of course, Mother Nature causes her fair share of problems but those are beyond anybody’s control. With that in mind, I have come up with a Top 10 List of things that drive me crazy as an Extension weed specialist. As I heard it once in a popular country song, “the devil dreams on an idle horse.” I probably can come up with a few more to add to this list, but my editor is a Word Nazi. …
  • “How could the latest Chinese tariffs impact NC agriculture?” CBS17: The first strike in the intensifying trade war came just after the clock struck midnight.
    The United States is slapping levies on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods and China responded quickly with billions more in tariffs on U.S. products with its commerce ministry saying “necessary counterattacks” are now in place. So, what’s going to happen now? Most folks want to know what is the impact of a trade war between the world’s two largest economies? To start with, a tariff explanation is necessary. Quite simply it’s a tax imposed by one country on the imports or exports of goods from another country.