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.
- “Grant to fund bridge replacements,” Rocky Mount Telegram: Eleven bridges in the Twin Counties will be replaced thanks to a $23 million federal transportation grant to fix dozens of bridges in rural communities in 17 of the state’s most economically distressed counties. Three bridges in Nash and eight in Edgecombe will replaced under the U.S. Department of Transportation BUILD grant. The overall cost of the replacements is projected at $119 million, with the State Highway Bridge Fund paying for 58 of the structures and the BUILD grant covering the cost of replacing 19 weight-restricted bridges that could not be replaced using state funds. “These extra funds will allow North Carolina to replace key bridges in rural areas to help farmers, industry, schools and communities,” Gov. Roy Cooper said. “These bridges will be rebuilt better and smarter to include flood monitoring and create more opportunities to expand broadband in areas that need it most.” The bridges included in the project serve communities with significant agriculture and agribusiness interests. Many of the bridges scheduled for replacement are weight-restricted, which limits use by large trucks that often serve the agriculture industry as well as buses that take students to school, said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Good infrastructure is a critical lifeline for our rural communities and agriculture as ag products move from the field to consumers and overseas markets,” Troxler said. “Improving these bridges will help reduce costs for agricultural haulers, which will help our farmers save money and be more competitive.” …
- “NC agriculture officials hold workshop for farmers about hemp as a crop,” CBS17: Industrial hemp is catching on with farmers across the country, including in eastern North Carolina where state officials recently talked to more than 50 farmers about growing the crop. Hemp is a form of cannabis that doesn’t the user high. Farmers got the chance to learn about the crop in Beaufort County. There is a lot that goes into being an industrial hemp farmer, especially because it’s so new in North Carolina. Farmers are finding out what they can and can’t do with the plant. Daniel Cahoon is a third generation farmer. “We’ve farmed for some time now, since the early 50s,” said Cahoon. The farm has grown everything from corn to cotton Cahoon said. But, now, this new plant has caught his attention. Within the last month, he’s started putting up greenhouses. He’s hoping to see hemp become a huge success in North Carolina. …
- “Duplin County hog farmer Joey Carter on the recent lawsuits: ‘You’ve got to hold on to the positive’,” News & Observer: In an interview with the NC Farm Bureau’s Lynda Loveland, Duplin County hog farmer Joey Carter talks about the stress of multi-million dollar verdicts against his operation and the loss of his hogs and livelihood. Full interview at https://bit.ly/2B.
- “FARM BILL PASSES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, HEADS TO PRESIDENT TRUMP,” Southern Farm Network: The House of Representatives followed through with passage of the farm bill Wednesday, sending the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 to President Trump for signature. House members voted 369 to 47 in favor of the bill. Of the votes against the bill, 44 were Republicans and just three were Democrats. The action followed Tuesday’s passage in the Senate, 87 to 13. The long-awaited five-year farm bill replaces the expired 2014 farm bill. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, says the bill “sets us on a better path – for producers, for rural communities and American consumers.” The House action met obvious fanfare from the agriculture community. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, whose department will be charged with implementing the bill once signed, said there were “missed opportunities” in forest management and work requirement for certain SNAP recipients, but adds the bill does provides a strong safety net for farmers and ranchers “who need the dependability and certainty” from Washington.
- “‘Hemp prohibition’ is almost over, but you’ll need a license from the state to grow it,” News & Observer: The farm bill that Congress has sent to President Trump this week would make it legal to grow hemp in the United States, but that doesn’t mean you can plant some in your backyard this spring. Hemp has long been prized for its fiber and is the source of the increasingly popular CBD, an oil thought to have medicinal qualities that is used in a host of products. Hemp is also a cannabis plant that looks very much like its cousin, marijuana, and the U.S. government has treated it as an illegal drug for decades. Now through the farm bill, Congress has moved to legalize the growing of cannabis plants that contain 0.3 percent or less of THC, the compound in marijuana that gives you a high. That compares to THC in marijuana of anywhere from 5 to 25 percent. The farm bill passed by wide margins in the House and Senate, and several news organizations report that Trump is expected to sign it next week.
- “Ag Groups Applaud Animal Health Provisions in 2018 Farm Bill,” Southern Farm Network: The National Pork Producers Council is pleased that the 2018 Farm Bill contains important mandatory funding for animal disease prevention and preparedness efforts. The five-year bill includes $120 million in funding for the first four years of the legislation going to animal health and disesase preparedness. At least $5 million a year will go directly to the National Animal Disease Preparedness Program. Money can go to a national disease vaccine bank; to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, which provides disease and diagnostic support; and through block grants, go to state efforts to prepare for any foreign animal disease outbreak. The Animal Agriculture Coalition is also pleased with the animal health provisions in the farm bill. “Livestock and poultry producers, working together with veterinarians, work hard to ensure the health of the animals they raise,” the coalition says in a statement. “They play a central role in feeding the nation’s families, as well as providing jobs that contribute to economic stability. That’s why producers and veterinarians agree that preventing the impact of devastating animal diseases must be a high priority.” The AAC is pleased the bill provides funding for research into animal diseases, as well as the ability to respond if diseases are identified in the nation’s herds and flocks.