BladenOnline.com

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NCDA&CS declares sweet potato weevil quarantine for  Berkeley and Jasper counties in South Carolina

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has established Berkeley and Jasper counties in South Carolina as quarantine areas for the sweet potato weevil after the highly destructive pest was trapped on wild morning glory by South Carolina regulatory officials. The quarantine is effective immediately. Under the quarantine, the movement of certain sweet potato-related articles from Berkeley and Jasper counties in South Carolina is prohibited or regulated. This includes sweet potato roots, potatoes and plants including ornamental sweet potato plants, sweet potato vines, and vines or roots of other plants belonging to the morning glory family. Sweet potato weevils are generally considered the most serious threat …..

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Farmers, industry leaders and others participate in On Farm Readiness Review Demonstration

WHO/WHAT: The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and North Carolina Farm Bureau will kick off a two-day On Farm Readiness Review demonstration. The program is geared to assess farmers’ readiness to comply with the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Part of this act, the Produce Safety Rule, went into effect this year for larger farms. This represents the most sweeping regulatory changes in more than 70 years and the first time inspectors will be proactively inspecting produce at the farm level. Speakers include Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, N.C. Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten, Dr. Rich …..

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Troxler encourages horse owners to vaccinate against EEE Cases on the rise; mosquito-borne disease usually deadly to equine

 The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently confirmed a sixth positive case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis for 2018. In the last month there have been confirmed cases in Richmond, Onslow, Duplin, Craven and Carteret counties. In all cases, the equines had no records of vaccinations or were not vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian. “Last year we didn’t reach six cases of EEE in the state until October,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The excess rain this year, or just an increase in mosquito population, could be attributing to the early onset of cases. “EEE is a mosquito-borne disease that causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal …..

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USDA

Deadline Approaches for Continuous Conservation Reserve Program Enrollment

WASHINGTON — Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Richard Fordyce reminded producers today that the deadline to sign up for enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is Friday, Aug. 17, 2018. “Any agricultural producer that has eligible land should review the benefits of this program,” said Fordyce.  “It removes from production marginal, erodible land and, in doing so, improves water quality, increases wildlife habitat and provides more opportunities for recreational activities, including fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing.” For this year’s signup, limited priority practices are available for continuous enrollment. They include grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. View a full list of practices. FSA will use updated soil …..

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Pollinator Field Day to be held Sept. 8 at the Piedmont Research Station in Salisbury

SALISBURY – The Piedmont Research Station in Salisbury will host Pollinator Field Day on Saturday, September 8, from 1 to 5 p.m. “Because pollinators play such a vital role in crop production, it is important to protect and promote their health,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “This field day is designed to help farmers, beekeepers, urban planners, landscapers and landscape architects, master gardeners, greenhouse growers and others learn more about these valued ag “workers” and how to create habitat for them.” Attendees will learn about habitat for farms, roadsides or constructed pollinator meadows; plants that make for good pollinator habitat; native bees, butterflies and beneficial insects; honeybees and beekeeping; pesticide …..

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NCDA&CS issues stop-sale order on tractor hydraulic fluid J303

RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has issued a stop-sale order for tractor hydraulic fluid products labeled, claimed or implied as meeting THF 303, which has no known specifications available. This specification was discontinued in 1974 and it was subsequently replaced with the current JDM-J20C or D specifications. Manufacturers and distributors will have six months to remove these products from retail locations. These products may be relabeled to either remove the J303 specification or include a more recent John Deere specification it does meet. Online sales shall include a note that these products are not legal in North Carolina. The Division’s Motor Fuels Laboratory tested nine …..

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USDA

Deadline Approaches for Continuous Conservation Reserve Program Enrollment

WASHINGTON, August 7, 2018 — Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Richard Fordyce reminded producers today that the deadline to sign up for enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is Friday, Aug. 17, 2018.   “Any agricultural producer that has eligible land should review the benefits of this program,” said Fordyce.  “It removes from production marginal, erodible land and, in doing so, improves water quality, increases wildlife habitat and provides more opportunities for recreational activities, including fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing.”   For this year’s signup, limited priority practices are available for continuous enrollment. They include grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. View a full list …..

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Van Oriental Foods Inc. Recalls Pork Egg Rolls

Van Oriental Foods Inc., a Dallas, Texas establishment, is recalling approximately 10,385 pounds of heat treated but not fully cooked and not shelf stable pork egg rolls that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically soft plastic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. The pork egg rolls were produced on May 30, 2018. The products have a shelf life of 12 months if frozen and 11 days if refrigerated. The following product is subject to recall: 5.4-oz. packages containing two pieces of “VAN’S KITCHEN 2 EGG ROLLS PORK GRAB AND GO” with lot code 18150, a Julian date of 18150A and various “FRESHNESS …..

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Agriculture Commissioner Troxler calls on FDA to take quick action to enforce truth in labeling on milk products

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler has called on the Food and Drug Administration to enforce the standard of identity for milk and require proper labeling of plant-based beverages as part of comments made recently at FDA’s Nutrition Innovation Strategy Public Meeting. Assistant Commissioner for Consumer Protection Joe Reardon made comments on behalf of the department at the open meeting, in which he highlighted an existing FDA definition of milk and a recognized standard of identity for milk. In advocating for enforcement, Reardon said “without enforcement of the law as written, the validity of all standards of identity is compromised. Uniformity and consistency of enforcement are hallmarks of an effective regulatory program.” …..

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USDA

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for August 2018

WASHINGTON, August 1, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation, today, announced interest rates for August 2018. The Commodity Credit Corporation borrowing rate-based charge for August is 2.375 percent, up from 2.250 percent in July. The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during August is 3.375 percent, up from 3.250 percent in July. Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for August are as follows: 2.625 percent with three-year loan terms, the same as 2.625 percent in July; 2.750 percent with five-year loan terms, the same as 2.750 percent in July; 2.875 percent with seven-year loan terms, the same …..

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USDA

Nearly $2 Billion Now Available for Eligible Producers Affected by 2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that agricultural producers affected by hurricanes and wildfires in 2017 now may apply for assistance to help recover and rebuild their farming operations. Signup began July 16, 2018, and continues through Nov. 16, 2018. “Hurricanes and wildfires caused billions of dollars in losses to America’s farmers last year. Our objective is to get relief funds into the hands of eligible producers as quickly as possible,” said Secretary Perdue. “We are making immediate, initial payments of up to 50 percent of the calculated assistance so producers can pay their bills.” Additional payments will be issued, if funds remain available, later in the year. The program, known …..

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USDA

USDA Opens Election Period for Seed Cotton Program

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that seed cotton producers, who want to participate in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2018 crop year, may now submit applications. The signup period begins today and ends on Dec. 7, 2018. In accordance with changes to ARC and PLC made by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, farm owners with generic base acres and recent planting history of covered commodities have a one-time opportunity to allocate all of the generic base acres on their farm. “ARC and PLC are a vital part of the safety net that ensures American agriculture remains …..

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FDA warns: Do not purchase Honey Smacks Cereal

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia as well as the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA & CS) are warning consumers not to purchase any packages of Kelloggs Honey Smacks Cereal. Retailers have been asked to stop selling the products after more than 30 people sickened by the product. A recall was issued in June after the product was found to be contaminated with Salmonella but the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Inspectors found as recently as this week that retailers in North Carolina are continuing to sell Honey Smacks Cereal. “We are concerned we …..

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NCDA&CS offers organic certification cost-share assistance

RALEIGH – Organic growers in North Carolina can apply for partial reimbursement of the cost of becoming certified or for recertification through a program offered by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Growers who are certified or recertified between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018, can apply for assistance through the program. “Applicants can be reimbursed up to 75 percent of the cost of organic certification per category,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and I would encourage growers and handlers to submit their applications early.” Under the grant, operations can be certified and reimbursed in four separate categories: crops, livestock, …..

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USDA

Bladen County Producers Have Until Aug. 1 to Submit FSA County Committee Nominations

Elizabethtown, NC — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director for BladenCounty, Chris Tatum, today reminded farmers and ranchers that they have until Aug. 1, 2018, to nominate eligible candidates to serve on local FSA county committees. County committees are made up of farmers and ranchers elected by other producers in their communities to guide the delivery of farm programs at the local level. Committee members play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of FSA. “The Aug. 1 deadline is quickly approaching,” said Tatum. “If you know of a great candidate or want to nominate yourself to serve on your local county committee, visit …..

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USDA

Nearly $2 Billion Now Available for Eligible Producers Affected by 2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2018 – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that agricultural producers affected by hurricanes and wildfires in 2017 now may apply for assistance to help recover and rebuild their farming operations. Signup begins July 16, 2018, and continues through November 16, 2018. “Hurricanes and wildfires caused billions of dollars in losses to America’s farmers last year. Our objective is to get relief funds into the hands of eligible producers as quickly as possible,” said Secretary Perdue. “We are making immediate, initial payments of up to 50 percent of the calculated assistance so producers can pay their bills.” Additional payments will be issued, if funds remain available, later …..

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Mid-summer Leaf Fall

Everything is going along fine, then your favorite tree’s leaves begin to drop. What caused this and will the tree die? Here is a list of factors that could lead to mid-summer leaf drop. 1. In droughts, a tree may shed up to 10 percent of its leaves. This helps, because then it loses less water into the air. Loss of this much food-making capacity does little harm. 2. Vigorous trees may produce too many leaves. In wet springs, foliar growth may be over lush. Once normal summer dryness arrives, the excess leaves drop in adjustment. Such physiological leaf drop doesn’t hurt trees. 3. Inner leaves and twigs are “shaded …..

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OPINION: Hog trial misleading; living high on the hog isn’t for everyone

By Charlotte Smith Some would agree country living is worth millions, maybe even priceless. Jurors in two landmark trials have awarded multi-millions of dollars to country neighbors in the recent months. Bladen County farmers are in the midst of the third lawsuit in a series of more than 20 cases over the nuisances from smells and pests. The plaintiffs claim nuisances are produced on the farms stretched across Bladen, Duplin, Harnett, Johnston, Onslow, Pender, Robeson, Sampson, and Wake counties. Rural, farm counties may see changes they don’t like in the coming months and years. My husband and I lived over 12 years as country neighbors. We had dozens of mice …..

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NCDA&CS Agronomic Services can help ID growth concerns

RALEIGH — With the growing season for summer agronomic crops underway and many landscapes actively growing, it is an excellent time to utilize diagnostic testing to identify existing abnormal growth problems. The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Agronomic Services Division offers a range of services to help optimize crops and yards. Soil testing, nematode assay, and plant tissue analyses are usually used for predictive, routine testing, but they can also help identify a current growth concern or problem. With soil testing, clients receive reports with crop-specific lime and fertilizer recommendations. A nematode assay will provide crop-specific control measures based on nematode species and populations. Plant tissue analysis provides …..

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Jury to decide country smell or collateral damage in hog industry law suit

By Charlotte Smith The United States District Court in Raleigh was packed full Wednesday for the opening arguments during the third lawsuit involving hog farms and their neighbors. Two prior lawsuits against the hog industry has resulted in millions of dollars in fines effecting Bladen County farmers since April of this year. A jury of 10 women and two men will decide the fate of the next lawsuit in line with at least 20 more cases to follow. Michael Kaeske, a Texas attorney representing the Plaintiffs in the cases gave his teams opening arguments stating, “Murphy Farms, Inc is industrialized”. He continued to point out how since 1972 the companies …..

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Early morning in Tar Heel

Rural Bladen County offers many beautiful views to those who drive through it. The sunrise above was captured near Tar Heel on Wednesday morning as the sun made its appearance above a pasture. The peaceful scene beckons one to stop and sit for a while. Share:

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State sees first EEE case of the year

Equine owners encouraged to vaccinate animals RALEIGH – A four-year-old quarter horse stallion in Richmond County was euthanized after contracting the first case of Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis in North Carolina this year. EEE is a mosquito-borne disease that is preventable in equine by vaccination. EEE causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord and is usually fatal. Symptoms include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death. Once a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take three to 10 days for signs of the disease to appear. “If your horses exhibit any symptoms of EEE, …..

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Commissioners learn about FFA Center Expansion

By Erin Smith The Bladen County Board of Commissioners learned about a planned expansion of the facilities at the FFA Camp located at White Lake.North Carolina FFA Foundation Director of Development Alycia Thornton told the board there will be a groundbreaking on Wednesday, August 1, 2018, for a new dormitory and male bath house. Thornton was joined by Gerald Barlow, who is also with Future Farmers of America (FFA) North Carolina. She addressed the Commissioners regarding the North Carolina FFA Center initiative. Thornton told the Commissioners that there is a need for additional space for females and a need for renovations to the existing female dormitory. Plans are to add …..

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USDA

Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Educational Tool Available for Farms who planted seed cotton

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) is notifying farmers with generic base acres that planted seed cotton that a new tool is available to assist them in understanding how the new seed cotton program may affect their FSA payments. It helps a producer make decisions on how to allocate generic base acres to other covered crops based on a producer’s planting history. The educational tool can be viewed at https://www.afpc.tamu.edu/tools/cotton-base. Developed by Texas A&M University, the tool is for educational purposes only, and by using the tool, it is agreed that the results are not a guarantee of future FSA program parameters or payments. Users also acknowledge …..

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Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Educational Tool Available for Farms with Generic Base Acres that Planted Seed Cotton

July 5, 2018 —The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) is notifying farmers with generic base acres that planted seed cotton that a new tool is available to assist them in understanding how the new seed cotton program may affect their FSA payments. It helps a producer make decisions on how to allocate generic base acres to other covered crops based on a producer’s planting history. The educational tool can be viewed at https://www.afpc.tamu.edu/tools/cotton-base. Developed by Texas A&M University, the tool is for educational purposes only, and by using the tool, it is agreed that the results are not a guarantee of future FSA program parameters or payments. Users …..

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Gagging local farmers and awarding millions

By Charlotte Smith Bladen County farmers along with pork companies in the mother county are grasping for help after a multi-million dollar lawsuit. The verdict handed down in one case resulted in a Bladen County farmer losing all his hogs according to witnesses. There are over 20 more similar pork industry lawsuits set to take place and the next one has other local farmers fighting to keep their farms. In April, 10 hog farm neighbors were awarded 50 million dollars by a jury. To comply with a 1995 North Carolina law capping damages the judge presiding over the landmark verdict reduced the damage sentence from 50 million dollars to 3.25 …..

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USDA

Bladen County Farm Service Agency Acreage Reporting Dates for 2018

Elizabethtown, N.C. , July 5, 2018 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Chris Tatum in Bladen County today announced that producers who file accurate and timely reports for all crops and land uses, including failed acreage, can prevent the potential loss of FSA program benefits. Please pay close attention to the acreage reporting dates below. “In order to comply with FSA program eligibility requirements, all producers are encouraged to visit the Bladen County FSA office to file an accurate crop certification report by the applicable deadline,” said Tatum.   The following acreage reporting dates are applicable for Bladen County: July 15, 2018:  Spring Seeded …..

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Tasty Ways to Support Your Local Farmers 

by Jacqueline DiGiovanni With scares over contaminated, big-ag produce the last few years, consumers have become more interested in where their food comes from, how it is grown and how far it traveled to get to their tables. People have become more interested in growing their own vegetables and herbs, or when space and time do not allow for that, they shop at farmers markets. Some consumers take it a step further and partner with a farmer to grow their food through a community supported agriculture program, or CSA. Tips for Shopping Farmers Markets If you are new to farmers markets, expect your experience to be educational and fun. Some …..

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N.C. Forest Service seedling sales begin July 2

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Forest Service Nursery Program will be accepting orders for seedlings on July 2. The NCFS produces about 16 million quality seedlings for nearly 50 species of conifers and hardwoods annually, including an expanded selection of control mass-pollinated loblolly pine seedlings. These seedlings offer superior growth, form and disease resistance due to solid nursery research and production experience. “Trees are one of North Carolina’s greatest renewable resources and an important economic driver in North Carolina, contributing around $32.7 billion annually to the state’s economy and provide more than 150,000 jobs for North Carolinians through the forest products industry,” said N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. The NCFS nursery …..

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General Assembly overrides Governor’s veto of NC Farm Bill

By Erin Smith The NC General Assembly completed an override of Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the NC Farm Bill 2018 on Wednesday morning. The measure will now become law and it will restrict when and how neighbors of farms can file a lawsuit. The NC Senate override vote was 37 for and 9 against on Tuesday and the NC House override vote was 74 for and 45 against on Wednesday morning. The law attempts to modify the State’s right to farm law after a federal court ruling scuttled the law and removed protections for farms. One provision of the NC Farm Bill states that a plaintiff may not receive …..

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Governor vetoes NC Farm Bill

By Erin Smith NC Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the NC Farm Act of 2018, which addresses several issues that are facing North Carolina’s farmers and their families. The NC General Assembly will attempt to override the veto this week. NC Rep. William Brisson, a Republican who represents NC District 22 which includes Bladen County said, “I’m sure we’ll have the votes to override the veto.” He added that NC Farm Bill does have some bipartisan support in the General Assembly. It is on calendar to be discussed Wednesday, June 27th, according to Rep. Brisson. NC Senator Brent Jackson, a Republican of Sampson County, said the bill attempts to modify the …..

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USDA

USDA Announces Loan Rates for 2018-Crop Peanuts

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) today announced 2018-crop loan rates for four types of peanuts. Eligible producers can obtain peanut loans through their local FSA county offices or alternative delivery partners (DMA’s – Designated Marketing Associations, and CMA’s – Cooperative Marketing Associations). These loans provide producers with interim financing on their production, and facilitate the orderly distribution of loan-eligible peanuts throughout the year. The 2014 Farm Bill established the national loan rate for peanuts at $355 per ton, which is unchanged from the previous farm bill. CCC calculated the price support levels for each peanut type using the same method as last year. CCC …..

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West Bladen FFA Members attend North Carolina State FFA Convention

Contributed West Bladen FFA members attended the 90th North Carolina State FFA Convention from June 19th-21st, 2018.  The State FFA Convention was held at the Raleigh Convention Center located in downtown Raleigh.  During the Convention, West Bladen FFA members competed in the Agriculture Mechanics, Agricultural Tools and Materials Identification, Food Science and Technology, and Prepared Public Speaking Career Development Events. During the 2017-2018 school year, the West Bladen FFA Chapter grew by at least 30 members.  Due to this growth, West Bladen FFA received a membership growth award and on-stage recognition during the 2nd general session of FFA Convention.  West Bladen FFA member, Rainey Thompson, was recognized on stage during …..

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USDA

USDA to Help Producers Prepare for Addition of Seed Cotton to Two Key Safety Net Programs

Information to Help Farmers and Ranchers Select the Coverage Options that Fit Their Needs WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is sending acreage history and yield reports to agricultural producers with generic base acres covered by the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. This information will help producers decide the best options for how to allocate generic base acres, given the addition of seed cotton as a covered commodity in the programs. “We’re sending this information to make sure farmers and ranchers have the data they need to make critical decisions about these USDA programs,” said Richard Fordyce, administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). …..

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Gardening: Closed to Pests

By Rachel Williams Gardening is harder than it looks … just when we think we know what we’re doing, our beds are attacked by outside forces. How to prevent ultimate defeat? Rather, how to be at war with nature, when you’re trying to be in harmony? Be your garden’s ally – provide adequate reinforcements by instituting an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan using some of these methods. As with insects, our ecosystem is delicate. Please think through your actions carefully – you wouldn’t want to go get your legs waxed and end up leaving with a bald head. Okay, the bad news first: There’s no such thing as 100 percent …..

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US House Passes 2018 Farm Bill

WASHINGTON, DC –  Congressman Rouzer released the statement below following the passage of H.R. 2 – the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, commonly referred to as the 2018 Farm Bill: “A strong farm bill is critical to our farm families and rural communities — not to mention its role in providing every American with the safest, most affordable food supply in the world.  The 7th District will especially benefit from the Farm Bill because of the steps taken to prevent potential animal disease outbreaks, the enhancements made to the farm safety net, and the investments made to help address the infrastructure needs of our rural communities.  The Farm Bill also makes …..

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North Carolina peach season under way

RALEIGH – Good news for peach lovers. Growers are reporting fair to good crops for the 2018 peach season, which runs through Labor Day. “Growers are reporting an average crop with availability varying depending on where the orchard is located. We’ve seen some loss in early varieties, but later clingstone varieties and freestone varieties should be plentiful this year,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Our growers are really good at protecting their crops from volatile weather, but you can only do so much about the extreme cold weather and heavy rains we experienced earlier this year.” Troxler encourages consumers to check with their favorite peach grower for availability and timing …..

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All About Squash Workshop

The Bladen County Cooperative Extension Office is offering a workshop “All About Squash” on Tuesday, July 24, at 6 p.m. Learn what to do with your excess summer squash. The workshop will explore a variety of ways to use squash in your meals. There is no cost to attend. The Bladen County Cooperative Extension Office is located at 450 Smith Circle in Elizabethtown. For more information contact Nancy Olsen at 910-862-4591.   Share:

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Garden Tool repair workshop set

Learn how to repair, sand and sharpen your garden tools the right way. The Bladen County Cooperative Extension Office will be conducting a Garden Tool Repair Workshop on Thursday, August 16, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Bring your spade, hoe, and hand clippers. A very nice tool kit will be provided for participants. The cost is $15 registration and the class will be conducted at the Bladen County Cooperative Extension Office located at 450 Smith Circle, Elizabethtown. Reserve your space by August 13th. Contact Nancy Olsen at 910-862-4591 for more information. Share:

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Farmers Can ‘Bee’ a Friend to Pollinators

Did you know what’s good for bees, butterflies and other pollinators can also be good for your bottom line? Through a variety of USDA conservation programs, farmers and ranchers can manage for top-notch pollinator habitat while also improving their operations. Three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants depend on pollinators, such as bees, bats, beetles and butterflies, to reproduce. Pollinators are critical to our food supply. More than 30 percent of the world’s food and flowering plants, including 130 fruits and vegetable plants, depend on insect pollination. Scientists credit insect pollinators for one out of every three bites of food eaten. While pollinators are a critical foundation of our food chain, many species are …..

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USDA

USDA Extends Application Deadline

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2018 – U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced the re-enrollment deadline for the Margin Protection Program (MPP) for Dairy will be extended until June 22, 2018. The new and improved program protects participating dairy producers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below levels of protection selected by the applicant. USDA has already issued more than $89 million for margins triggered in February, March, and April, and USDA offices are continuing to process remaining payments daily. “Last week we re-opened enrollment to offer producers preoccupied with field work an additional opportunity to come into their local office …..

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Enchanted Evenings

by Katie Jackson A moonlit garden is enchanting, but sometimes the moon needs a little help shedding light on a garden’s nighttime beauty. That’s when it’s time to turn to technology. One of the most helpful developments in the outdoor lighting realm is the increased availability of LED (light-emitting diode) bulb, a technology that has been used for decades in appliances and electronic devices but only recently has become more affordable for the average consumer. While LED lights still cost more than traditional bulbs, they are safer, sturdier, more energy efficient, and longer lasting than halogen and incandescent bulbs, so they easily pay for themselves over time. LED lights also …..

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USDA

USDA Extends Application Deadline for Dairy Margin Protection Program to June 22

The re-enrollment deadline for the Margin Protection Program (MPP) for Dairy has been extended until June 22, 2018.   The new and improved program protects participating dairy producers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below levels of protection selected by the applicant.   The re-enrollment deadline was previously extended through June 8, 2018. The deadline is being extended a second time to ensure that dairy producers are given every opportunity to make a calculated decision and enroll in the program if they choose.   This will be the last opportunity for producers to take advantage of key adjustments Congress made to …..

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High and Dry: keeping kitchen gardens productive during dry periods

by Cindy Shapton A kitchen garden’s survival during a drought, or periods drier than normal requires planning, preparing and making smart, water-saving decisions along the way. Start with the Soil Add organic matter and compost to your garden soil before sowing seeds or planting veggies. This will help the soil retain more water and to absorb more rainfall when it does come. Choose the Right Plants Choose plants that have low to moderate water needs or those that can better handle drought and water restrictions. Mulch Pile it on! Mulch with newspapers, cardboard, leaf mold, grass clippings, straw, etc. My neighbor Jack puts down a heavy layer of leaf mold …..

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USDA

Farm Service Agency County Committee Nomination Period in Bladen County to Launch June 15

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages America’s farmers and ranchers to nominate candidates to lead, serve and represent their community on their local county committee. According to USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) Bladen County Executive Director Chris Tatum, FSA will accept nominations for county committee members beginning Friday, June 15, 2018. Producers across the country are already serving on committees where they play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of FSA, making important decisions on programs dealing with disaster and conservation, emergencies, commodity loan price support, county office employment and other agricultural issues. “County committees are unique to FSA and allow producers to have a voice on federal …..

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Statement from Commissioner Steve Troxler on the  contributions of the N.C. pork industry to the state North Carolina’s pork industry feeds us and provides jobs in North Carolina

North Carolina’s pork industry has been in the news a lot lately, but not in a way that tells the true story of its contributions to our economy. While the industry has drawn attention as the subject of nuisance lawsuits, what has been consistently overlooked is the significant economic contributions the pork industry makes in terms of jobs and its role in producing safe and affordable food for consumers. I consider the production of food and fiber to be admirable and certainly not a nuisance, and I want people across the state to understand how important agriculture, including the pork industry, is to our state. When we take our farmers …..

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USDA

USDA Partners with Texas A&M to Help Veterans Seeking Agriculture Loans and Careers

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension Service to help military veterans obtain loans and pursue careers as farmers and ranchers. Secretary Perdue joined local dignitaries, members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and community leaders at the Dallas Farmers Market to unveil the new pilot program. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is collaborating with AgriLife Extension Service on the pilot, which is part of the Texas A&M Battleground to Breaking Ground project. The program makes it easier for veterans to meet federal requirements to get FSA direct farm ownership loans, which can help provide access to …..

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Laurel Wilt Confirmed in Sassafras in NC by NC Forest Service

The first confirmed case of Laurel Wilt in Sassafras has been found in the Greenevers area of Duplin County.  This occurrence was found while examining areas affected by laurel wilt with personnel from both the US Forest Service and NC State University.  An area of approximately 20 trees showed signs of dieback, evidence of ambrosia beetles, and the characteristic vascular streaking associated with the disease.  Samples collected from this site were confirmed by two different labs using multiple techniques.  Additionally, forest health staff have visually confirmed laurel wilt in sassafras in other areas.  This is the northernmost known occurrence of laurel wilt in sassafras although it has been confirmed in …..

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USDA

USDA Reopens Application Period for Producers Recovering from Cattle Loss, Other Disasters

Signup Begins June 4 for Livestock Indemnity Program and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin accepting disaster assistance program applications on June 4 from agricultural producers who suffered livestock, honeybees, farm-raised fish and other losses due to natural disasters. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is reopening the application period for two disaster assistance programs in response to statutory changes made by Congress earlier this year. Beginning June 4, FSA will accept new applications for losses for calendar year 2017 or 2018 filed under the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) or Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP). Producers who already submitted applications and received decisions on their …..

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Lawsuits against Smithfield Foods are a dangerous threat to all North Carolina farmers

Letter from Dean Hilton, HD3 Farms of the Carolinas Many people believe that a series of nuisance trials under way in the federal court in Raleigh affect only the named defendant, a division of Smithfield Foods. They’re wrong. All of agriculture is on trial – and the outcome of these lawsuits affects all of us across the state, especially in rural North Carolina. These lawsuits affect every farm family who raises pigs, chicken, cattle or crops. They affect every employee who makes their living on a farm. They affect every local business that sells farm equipment, supplies, and fuel to the farmers in their community. And, they affect our banks, …..

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LaGrange Farmer Sentenced for Crop Insurance Fraud, Fraudulent Federal Crop Disaster Claims, Aggravated Identity Theft and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering

RALEIGH – United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that in federal court today, Chief United States District Judge James C. Dever III sentenced JAMES TRUMAN WIGGINS, JR.¸68, of LaGrange, North Carolina to 25 months of imprisonment to be followed by 5 years of supervised release.  In addition the court ordered WIGGINS to pay restitution in the amount of $5,669,891.00 and he is excluded from participating in any federal crop insurance programs for 5 years.  The court also ordered forfeiture in the amount of $5,600,433.00. WIGGINS previously pleaded guilty to a Criminal Information charging him with conspiracy to commit various offenses against the United States, false statements to the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, material …..

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USDA

Dairy Farmers Have Until June 1 to Apply for Improved Safety Net under Margin Protection Program

Many Participants Will Receive Payments Beginning in Early June The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds dairy farmers of the June 1 deadline to enroll in the improved Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy).  Many producers will see payments in early June, depending on the coverage they elect. The program protects dairy producers by paying them based on the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost.  The 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act made several changes to the safety net program to provide better protections for dairy producers from shifting milk and feed prices. Updates include: Calculation of the margin period is monthly rather than bi-monthly. Covered production is increased to …..

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USDA

Dairy Farmers Have Until June 1 to Apply for Improved Safety Net under Margin Protection Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds dairy farmers of the June 1 deadline to enroll in the improved Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy).  Many producers will see payments in early June, depending on the coverage they elect.   The program protects dairy producers by paying them based on the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost. The 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act made several changes to the safety net program to provide better protections for dairy producers from shifting milk and feed prices.  Updates include: Calculation of the margin period is monthly rather than bi-monthly.   Covered production is increased to 5 million pounds on the Tier 1 premium …..

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FSA County Committee Nominations Launch June 15

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages America’s farmers and ranchers to nominate candidates to lead, serve and represent their community on their local county committee. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept nominations for county committee members beginning Friday, June 15, 2018. Producers across the country are already serving on committees where they play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of FSA, making important decisions on programs dealing with disaster and conservation, emergencies, commodity price loan support, county office employment and other agricultural issues. “Our county committees make decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally to best serve the needs of agriculture in their community,” said …..

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Cooperative Leadership Camp accepting registrations

The Cooperative Council of North Carolina will conduct a Cooperative Leadership Camp (CLC) from June 18th through June 22nd, 2018, at the FFA Center at White Lake.  CLC is a five day four night summer camp that puts teens in the positions of Worker Owners of a T-shirt cooperative. The teens work through the week to elect a board of directors, design, produce and sell T-shirts for their cooperative. At the end of the week they have their Annual Meeting to hear about the week and vote to dissolve the cooperative. Sponsored teens will learn skills such as team building, the seven cooperative principles, and industry workshops as well as a …..

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NCDA&CS expects good blueberry crop through July

By Dexter Hill, NCDA&CS RALEIGH – Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler says the 2018 blueberry season is shaping up to be a good one despite unusually cold weather in the first quarter of the year. “Our blueberry growers have become accustomed to dealing with unusual weather,” Troxler said. “They have done an excellent job protecting the crop from frost this year, and overall, it is in very good condition. Consumers should expect fresh, N.C. blueberries from now through July.” To celebrate the season, the department will host two Blueberry Days in June. The State Farmers Market in Raleigh will host Blueberry Day on June 21. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., visitors can …..

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FSA Releases Signup Information for Tree Assistance Program

USDA’s Farm Service Agency recently released signup information for the Tree Assistance Program, a nationwide program that provides orchardists and nursery tree growers with cost share assistance to replant eligible trees, bushes, and vines following a natural disaster. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 prescribed several changes to the program, including the removal of the $125,000 per person and legal entity payment limitation. The notice outlined when producers should file applications for any recent losses, given the changes to the program.   Eligible producers should file for TAP assistance by the later of these two dates: *90 days of the disaster or when damages from the disaster are noticed; or *60 days after …..

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USDA

Secretary Perdue Names FSA Administrator

Washington, D.C.– U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today the appointment of Richard Fordyce to serve as Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA). In his role, Fordyce will provide leadership for FSA and its mission to support agricultural production across America through a network of over 2,100 county and 50 state offices. “As a fourth-generation farmer, Richard brings firsthand knowledge and experience to this role,” Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “I am confident that he will continue to help USDA become the most efficient, effective customer focused agency in the federal government as he leads this customer focused mission area.” Richard Fordyce most recently …..

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USDA

FSA Reminds Producers of May 31 Deadline for Cotton Ginning Cost Share Program

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is reminding producers of the May 31 deadline for the Cotton Ginning Cost Share (CGCS) program. Through the program, cotton producers may receive a cost share payment, which is based on a producer’s 2016 cotton acres reported to FSA multiplied by 20 percent of the average ginning cost for each production region. FSA is mailing a postcard to remind eligible cotton producers of the May 31 deadline. FSA mailed pre-filled applications with this deadline information to eligible cotton producers in March when the original signup was announced. For more information on CGCS, producers should contact their local USDA service center. Share:

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West Bladen FFA Participates in South Central FFA Regional Rally

On Friday May 4th, 2018, WBHS FFA members joined hundreds of fellow FFA members at Fayetteville Technical Community College for the South Central FFA Regional Rally. West Bladen High School FFA had over 20 FFA members competing in and helping with various Career Development Events (CDEs). WBHS FFA members competed in Agriculture Mechanics, Creed Speaking, Extemporaneous Public Speaking, Job Interview, Nursery Landscape, Parliamentary Procedure, and Prepared Public Speaking CDEs. During the awards ceremony, WBHS FFA members were recognized for their performance in previously held CDEs. Those events were: Hunter Safety, Livestock Judging, and Poultry Judging. Pictured below are WBHS FFA members who attended the South Central FFA Regional Rally on …..

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USDA

Perdue Announces Additional Hurricane and Wildfire Recovery Details

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2018 – Under the direction of President Donald J. Trump, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced new details on eligibility for a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster program, 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). In total, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will deploy the up to $2.36 billion that Congress appropriated through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to help producers with recovery of their agricultural operations in at least nine states with hurricane damage and states impacted by wildfire. Following the announcement, Secretary Perdue issued this statement: “Last year our nation experienced some of the most significant disasters we have …..

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USDA

Perdue Announces Additional Hurricane and Wildfire Recovery Details

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2018 – Under the direction of President Donald J. Trump, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced new details on eligibility for a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster program, 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). In total, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will deploy the up to $2.36 billion that Congress appropriated through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to help producers with recovery of their agricultural operations in at least nine states with hurricane damage and states impacted by wildfire. Following the announcement, Secretary Perdue issued this statement: “Last year our nation experienced some of the most significant disasters we have seen in decades, some back-to-back, at the most …..

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USDA

Perdue Announces Florida Citrus Hurricane Recovery Details

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2018 – Under the direction of President Donald J. Trump, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced new details on eligibility for a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster program, 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). Additionally, USDA will provide $340 million through a block grant to the State of Florida for Hurricane Irma losses to citrus production expected during the 2018 through the 2020 crop year, reimbursement for the cost of buying and planting replacement trees – including resetting and grove rehabilitation, and for repair of damages to irrigation systems among other things. In total, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will deploy the up to $2.36 billion that Congress …..

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N.C. Tomato Growers Association offering scholarship

ASHEVILLE – The N.C. Tomato Growers Association is offering a $1,000 merit/need-based scholarship for the 2018-2019 academic year. Any North Carolina resident who pursues a horticulture or agribusiness undergraduate or graduate degree at a four-year North Carolina college or university is eligible to apply. The deadline for submitting an application is May 30. The award will be based on a student’s demonstrated scholastic achievement, initiative, leadership, financial need and extracurricular activities. The scholarship is contingent on the recipient maintaining at least a 2.5 grade point average out of a possible 4.0 on all course work during the scholarship period. The recipient must be enrolled for the entire school year to receive …..

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USDA

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for May 2018

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation today announced interest rates for May 2018. The Commodity Credit Corporation borrowing rate-based charge for May is 2.125 percent, up from 2.000 percent in April. The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during May is 3.125 percent, up from 3.000 percent in April. Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for May are as follows, 2.500 percent with three-year loan terms, up from 2.375 percent in April; 2.625 percent with five-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.625 percent in April; 2.750 percent with seven-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.750 percent …..

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Troxler encourages horse owners to vaccinate against  mosquito-borne diseases and rabies

RALEIGH – Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler is encouraging horse owners to have their animals vaccinated against Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis and West Nile Virus. “April until November is prime mosquito-breeding season in North Carolina and when horses are at risk if not properly vaccinated,” Troxler said. “EEE is fatal 90 percent of the time in horses and WNV has a fatality rate of 30 percent. Both diseases are preventable by vaccination.” There were six recorded cases of EEE in horses in North Carolina in 2017, but the mild winter could cause that number to go up this year, State Veterinarian Doug Meckes said. Meckes recommends that equine owners talk to their …..

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Local students participate in state environmental science competition

The Eagle 1 FFA team from East Bladen High School placed 8 the in FFA teams at the State Envirothon event held at Cedarock Park in Alamance county April 27th and 28th. Fifty middle school teams and fifty-two high school teams competed in five-member teams at the event. Envirothon is the most widely recognized hands-on environmental education program in the nation. Middle and high school students immerse themselves in a year-long learning process that combines in-class curriculum with hands-on field experiences facilitated by resource professionals such as soil scientists, foresters and wildlife specialists. This intense training culminates in a competition where teams are tested in five subject areas: Soils/Land use, …..

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Smithfield Foods to Appeal Nuisance Lawsuit Verdict

A statement was released by Smithfield Foods regarding the recent verdict of the nuisance lawsuits. It is as follows: Smithfield Foods Statement Regarding North Carolina Verdict We are extremely disappointed by the verdict. We will appeal to the Fourth Circuit, and we are confident we will prevail. We believe the outcome would have been different if the court had allowed the jury to (1) visit the plaintiffs’ properties and the Kinlaw farm and (2) hear additional vital evidence, especially the results of our expert’s odor-monitoring tests. These lawsuits are an outrageous attack on animal agriculture, rural North Carolina and thousands of independent family farmers who own and operate contract farms. …..

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Response to Lawsuit Verdict from Agriculture Commissioner Troxler

Statement from Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler about the verdict in the Murphy-Brown LLC/Smithfield Foods nuisance lawsuit “I am very disappointed in the verdict and believe it will harm our hard working farm families who produce food for the state, nation and the world. I fear this will have a detrimental effect on their ability to continue to do that. Family farms built this state, and our family farms are vital to our state’s economy.” Share:

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Jury awards plaintiffs more than 50 million in historic hog nuisance lawsuit

By Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch Dog A jury deliberated for less than two days before awarding 10 plaintiffs $50 million in a hog nuisance lawsuit against Murphy-Brown/Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer. According to the verdict sheet, the jury unanimously agreed that Murphy-Brown, which owns the hogs at Kinlaw Farms in  Bladen County, “substantially and unreasonably interfered with the plaintiff’s use and enjoyment of their property.” The jury awarded each of the plaintiffs $75,000 on those grounds. But the jury also had the latitude to award punitive damages. They did so: $5 million for each plaintiff. In sum, the plaintiffs, ranging in age from their teens to 85, were awarded …..

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USDA

Farm Service Agency Makes Administrative Change to the Livestock Indemnity Program

April 24, 2018 – Starting today, agricultural producers who have lost livestock to disease, resulting from a weather disaster, have an additional way to become eligible for a key U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance program. USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey announced an administrative clarification nationwide to the Livestock Indemnity Program. In the event of disease, this change by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) authorizes local FSA county committees to accept veterinarian certifications that livestock deaths were directly related to adverse weather and unpreventable through good animal husbandry and management. The committees may then use this certification to allow eligibility for producers on a …..

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Bladen farmers getting ready for growing season

By Erin Smith Many Bladen County farmers are busy getting their fields ready for the summer growing season. Tractors can be encountered on our highways throughout  Bladen County as farmers move equipment from one field to another, ripping the soil, and preparing the land to plant.  Ripping the soil is a method farmers use to break up hard-packed soil layers so water can seep through the layers underneath, according to the NC Department of Agriculture.  For many Bladen County farmers, corn, soy beans, tobacco and cotton are all crops that will soon begin to dot the landscape. Some other crops that are reported to be performing well include strawberries and blueberries.  …..

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Duplin Winery Announces the Release of Sweet Rosé This May

ROSE HILL- Duplin Winery is jumping on the “Rosé All Day” train with its newest product addition, Sweet Rosé. Duplin Winery specializes in Muscadine wines, so naturally this sparkling wine is made with a secret blend of delicious Muscadine grapes. Duplin Winery’s last product debut was the release of Pelican Red in 2017. Since then, many dedicated minds have been working together to create the perfect blend of red and white muscadines for the Sweet Rosé and its finally here. Sweet Rosé will be available to all Duplin Winery fans starting Wednesday, May 2. The launch of Sweet Rosé will be celebrated with a ‘Pick-Up Party’ held from May 7-9 …..

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USDA

A Special 2018 Earth Day Message from: Len McBride, State Executive Director, North Carolina Farm Service Agency

America’s farmers and ranchers are the original stewards of the Earth. You understand the fragility of the land and work tirelessly to sustain and protect it to ensure its availability for generations to come. The 2012 United States Census of Agriculture counted 3.2 million American farmers, ranchers and foresters. That’s over 3 million responsible landowners and caretakers continuously looking for new and sustainable operating practices to help preserve our natural resources, while supporting an ever-growing population.  Your use of precision agriculture technologies, along with other conservation practices, help protect drinking water and reduce soil erosion. Your efforts also help preserve and restore wildlife habitats, forests and wetlands.  The world relies …..

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USDA

Submit Loan Requests for Financing Early

The Farm Loan Teams are working on operating loans for spring 2018 so it is important that potential borrowers submit their requests early so they can be timely processed. The Farm Loan Team can help determine which loan programs are best for applicants.   FSA offers a wide range of low-interest loans that can meet the financial needs of any farm operation for just about any purpose.  The traditional farm operating and farm ownership loans can help large and small farm operations take advantage of early purchasing discounts for spring inputs as well expenses throughout the year.   Microloans are a simplified loan program that will provide up to $50,000 to eligible applicants. These loans, targeted for smaller operations and non-traditional …..

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USDA

Payment Limitations by Program

The 2014 Farm Bill established a maximum dollar amount for each program that can be received annually, directly or indirectly, by each person or legal entity. Payment limitations vary by program for 2014 through 2018.   Below is an overview of payment limitations by program.   Commodity and Price Support Programs The annual limitation for the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, Loan Deficiency Payments (LDPs) and Market Loan Gains is $125,000 total.   Conservation Programs The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) annual rental payment and incentive payment is limited to $50,000. CRP contracts approved before Oct. 1, 2008, may exceed the limitation, subject to payment limitation …..

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Upcoming Events

FAMACHA Goat and Sheep Training May 10

There will be a FAMACHA Certification Training for Goat and Sheep Producers on Thursday, May 10th at 4 pm at West Bladen High School, located at 1600 NC 410 Hwy Bladenboro, NC.  The training will be behind the school at the greenhouse. Becky Spearman, Extension Livestock Agent in Bladen County and Liz Lahti, Extension Livestock Agent in Cumberland and Hoke Counties, will present the training.  There will be a classroom portion of the training and a hands-on portion at the school.  The cost is $15 per card (a farm can certify multiple people and get 1 card or more). Please bring money to class – either cash or check made payable to Bladen Extension.  Please call 910-862-4591 …..

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Taming Tough and Tiny Spaces

By Helen Yoest In most gardens there are corners, ells, edges and trees, all of which create areas that are tough to work with. Oftentimes, the smaller the spot the tougher it is to tame. Instead of ignoring those tough, tiny spaces, consider plantings that will enhance your garden by taking advantage of these available spaces. Side Yards Side yards, or space created by a new addition or any narrow strip near a building or a wall, can seem like a daunting gardening challenge. It takes acrobatics to dig the soil well, drainage is not always great and sometimes the sun in blocked. Instead of viewing the space as one …..

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N.C. strawberry season has arrived

RALEIGH – Strawberry lovers won’t have to wait any longer because N.C. strawberry season is here. Growers in Eastern North Carolina are already harvesting their crop, and growers in the piedmont and mountain regions of the state are slated to begin in the coming weeks. “Despite unusually cold weather in the first quarter of the year, crop conditions at this point look to be good,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “It may not be a record-breaking year, but there should be plenty of N.C. strawberries for consumers to enjoy.” North Carolina is the third-largest producer of strawberries in the nation, with about 1,200 acres harvested across the state. The peak …..

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USDA

USDA Announces 2018 Cotton Loan Rate Differentials

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced the 2018-crop loan rate differentials for upland and extra-long staple cotton. The differentials, also referred to as loan rate premiums and discounts, have been calculated based on market valuations of various cotton quality factors for the prior three years. This calculation procedure is identical to that used in past years, with the exception of a reduced discount applied to color white, leaf 8 upland cotton. The Commodity Credit Corporation adjusts cotton loan rates by these differentials so that cotton loan values reflect the differences in market prices for color, staple length, leaf, extraneous matter, …..

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Still Time to be Counted in the 2017 Census of Agriculture

Farmers and ranchers still have time to be counted in the 2017 Census of Agriculture, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Although the first deadline has just passed, NASS will continue to accept Census information through the spring to get a complete and accurate picture of American agriculture that represents all farmers and ranchers. Federal law mandates that everyone who received the 2017 Census of Agriculture questionnaire complete it and return it even if not currently farming. NASS will continue to follow-up with producers through the spring with mailings, phone calls, and personal visits. To avoid these additional contacts, farmers and ranchers are …..

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USDA to Immediately Assist Producers for Qualifying Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program Losses

$34 Million in Payments for 2017 Losses Part of Broad Suite of Programs Aiding Ag Operations  WASHINGTON, April 13, 2018 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will issue $34 million to help agricultural producers recover from 2017 natural disasters through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP), which covers losses not covered by certain other USDA disaster assistance programs. These payments are being made available today, and they are part of a broader USDA effort to help producers recover from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, wildfires and drought. A large portion of this assistance will be made available in federally designated disaster areas. “From Florida, Puerto Rico and the …..

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Vendor registration open for the Got To Be NC Festival

The annual Got To Be NC Festival takes place May 18-20 at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. Got To Be NC members are invited to show, sample and sell your products in the 50,000-square-foot Exposition Center. This is your chance to join more than 100 other North Carolina food and beverage companies to promote your products to thousands of consumers. For booth and event information, including vendor rules, regulations and application, visit http://www.gottobenc.com/node/1542. The deadline to sign up is April 20. Applications with payment are required to secure your booth(s). For more information, contact Sherry Barefoot at Sherry.Barefoot@ncagar.gov or 919- 707-3154. The show is expected to sell out, so apply …..

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USDA

USDA to Immediately Assist Producers for Qualifying Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program Losses

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2018 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will issue $34 million to help agricultural producers recover from 2017 natural disasters through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP), which covers losses not covered by certain other USDA disaster assistance programs. These payments are being made available today, and they are part of a broader USDA effort to help producers recover from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, wildfires and drought. A large portion of this assistance will be made available in federally designated disaster areas. “From Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, through the South, the Southwest, California and the Great Plains, American agriculture …..

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USDA

USDA Announces a Near-Record Year for Farm Loans

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced another year of high activity in its farm loan programs. Hard-working farm families across the country accessed nearly $6 billion in new credit, either directly or guaranteed through commercial lenders in 2017. At year end, FSA was assisting more than 120,000 family farmers with loans totaling just over $25 billion. “FSA loan funds have been in high demand the last few years,” said Dr. Robert Johansson, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for the Farm Production and Conservation mission area. “We provide opportunities to qualified small, beginning and underserved farmers who are unable to obtain …..

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USDA

USDA Implements up to $2.36 Billion to Help Agricultural Producers Recover after 2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2018 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will make disaster payments of up to $2.36 billion, as provided by Congress, to help America’s farmers and ranchers recover from hurricanes and wildfires. The funds are available as part of the new 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). Sign-up for the new program, authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, will begin no later than July 16. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will make these disaster payments to agricultural producers to offset losses from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and devastating wildfires. The 2017 calendar year was a …..

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NCDA&CS to host Voluntary Agricultural District training for local government and nonprofit staff

RALEIGH – The N.C. Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund will hold five workshops across the state for local government and nonprofit staff involved in protecting their communities’ agricultural lands and administering their local Voluntary Agricultural District programs. The Voluntary Agricultural District training workshops are for county leadership, Soil and Water Conservation districts, N.C. Cooperative Extension, the N.C. Forest Service, tax assessors, planning departments, register of deeds, land trusts, and other local and nonprofit staff. The workshops are free and open to the public, but registration is required. Interested participants may register at https://fs30.formsite.com/ ADFPTrustFund/form24/index. html. Workshops will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the following dates: Tuesday, May …..

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USDA

USDA Reopens Enrollment for Improved Dairy Safety Net Tool

WASHINGTON— U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is encouraging dairy producers to consider enrolling in the new and improved Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy), which will provide better protections for dairy producers from shifting milk and feed prices. With changes authorized under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has set the enrollment period to run from April 9, 2018 to June 1, 2018. “We recognize the financial hardships many of our nation’s dairy producers are experiencing right now. Folks are losing their contracts and they are getting anxious about getting their bills paid while they watch their milk check come in …..

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USDA

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for April 2018

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation today announced interest rates for April 2018. The Commodity Credit Corporation borrowing rate-based charge for April is 2.000 percent, up from 1.875 percent in March. The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during April is 3.000 percent, up from 2.875 percent in March. Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for April are as follows, 2.375 percent with three-year loan terms, up from 2.250 percent in March; 2.625 percent with five-year loan terms, up from 2.500 percent in March; 2.750 percent with seven-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.750 percent …..

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USDA

USDA Announces No Actions under Feedstock Flexibility Program

WASHINGTON, March 30, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) announced today that it does not expect to purchase sugar under the Feedstock Flexibility Program in the second quarter of 2018. The CCC is required by law to announce quarterly estimates of sugar to be purchased for the Feedstock Flexibility Program based on crop and consumption forecasts. Federal law allows sugar processors to obtain loans from USDA with maturities of up to nine months when the sugarcane or sugar beet harvest begins. Upon loan maturity, the sugar processor may repay the loan in full or forfeit the collateral (sugar) to USDA to satisfy the loan. …..

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Bladen County Master Gardeners to conduct plant sales

The Bladen County Master Gardener Volunteers will be having their Annual Plant Sale on Saturday, April 28, and again on Saturday, May 5, at the Cape Fear Farmers Market in Elizabethtown, from 8 a.m. until  1 p.m. each day. A huge variety of North Carolina grown trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and tomatoes will be available at reasonable prices. This is the only fund raiser the Master Gardeners have to sponsor two $500 scholarships for college bound students with a focus in agriculture and to promote the Bladen County Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program. Share:

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Be careful when burning debris in spring

Wildfire risk typically higher through May; burning debris is the No. 1 cause of wildfires RALEIGH – The N.C. Forest Service is urging residents across the state to think safety and exercise caution during the spring fire season, which typically lasts from March to May. “Burning debris is the No. 1 cause of wildfires,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “If you’re thinking about burning debris, contact your county forest ranger first. The ranger can offer technical advice and explain the best options to help maximize safety for people, property and the forest.” During the spring fire season, people do a lot of yard work that often includes burning leaves and yard …..

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N.C. Forest Service encourages people to plant a tree to celebrate Arbor Day

RALEIGH – The N.C. Forest Service is encouraging all North Carolinians to plant a tree this weekend to celebrate Arbor Day in North Carolina, which takes place on Friday, March 16. Seedlings are available to order through the N.C. Forest Service Nursery and Tree Improvement Program. Trees bring more than scenic beauty; large deciduous trees shade and cool houses in the summer, reducing dependence on air conditioning. Evergreen trees help save on heating bills by blocking the wind in the winter. Trees are also excellent filters for pollution that find their way into our lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and underground sources of drinking water. “Residents interested in planting trees …..

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Freezing temperatures have farmers working long hours 

By Erin Smith Freezing temperatures the past several nights have had farmers keeping long hours to save their early fruit crops. Blueberry farmers have been irrigating their crops with water to protect blossoms and early fruit from freezing. North Carolina State University (NCSU) recommends using irrigation systems to control frost on blueberry plants that are susceptible to freezing temperatures. NCSU recommends using 12 sprinklers per acre. Farmers were feeling optimistic on Thursday morning as they checked their crops and fields. Carey Horrell with Barnes Food Company/Big Sky Blueberry Farm near White Lake said, “I feel like we are doing well.” He said his sprinklers were still operating as of 9:30 …..

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Filing CCC-941 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) Certifications

Many producers have experienced delays in receiving Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments, Loan Deficiency Payments (LDPs) and Market Gains on Marketing Assistance Loans (MALs) because they have not filed form CCC-941, Adjusted Gross Income Certification. The above payments will not be paid until all eligible producers, including landowners who share in the crop, have filed a valid CCC-941. Producers without a valid CCC-941 certifying their compliance with the average adjusted gross income provisions will not receive payments that have been processed. All farm operator/tenants/owners who have not filed a CCC-941 and have pending payments should IMMEDIATELY file the form with their recording county FSA office. Farm …..

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Commissioners approve option to purchase agreement with Bladen’s Bloomin’ Agri-Industrial

By Erin Smith The Bladen County Board of Commissioners met on Monday night and approved an option to purchase agreement with Bladen’s Bloomin’ Agri-Industrial. The option to purchase agreement came about as part of a grant opportunity, according to Bladen County Economic Development Director Chuck Heustess. He said the Rural ReadySites program through the North Carolina Department of Commerce is making $12 million in funds available for 10 sites which will be selected from the applications submitted. Some of the criteria for consideration for the program include: the site must be located in a Tier 1 or Tier 2 county; the site must be publicly owned or controlled; it must …..

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USDA

$1 million USDA award expands public-private partnerships for ag sustainability

The NC Pork Council is proud to be a partner in this successful, on-going collaboration between Smithfield Foods and Environmental Defense Fund. This is a guest post by Shelby Shelton, which originally appeared on the Environmental Defense Fund’s Growing Returns blog. A collaboration between Smithfield Foods and Environmental Defense Fund has reduced fertilizer loss and improved soil health on more than 400,000 acres in the regions where Smithfield sources feed grain. That acreage is set to grow thanks to a new USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) award of $1,080,000. The RCPP project will expand Smithfield’s ongoing grain sustainability efforts in North Carolina and scale up the program in Iowa, providing …..

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