Category Archives: NCDA

State of NC Ag

NC Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler will deliver his state of agriculture speech as part of the Agriculture Development Forum at the NC State Fairground. Troxler speaks at noon on Thursday, Feb. 4 at the Holshouser Building, State Fairgrounds, Raleigh

Using social media to build community

The NC Department of Agriculture is encouraging farmers to consider using social media and has pointed to an organization in Raleigh as an example.

The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, which works closely with vendors at the State Farmers Market to redistribute unwanted fresh produce to local pantries and shelters, used social media.

Before the Food Shuttle began using social media, they were looking for ways to tell their story. “We asked “how can we get this out to folks in a way they will hear the story?”” said Communications Director Jason Boone. The answer became social media.

Now the organization connects with a variety of audiences through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. “When we started, we weren’t looking at specific targets; we just wanted to tell our story,” Boone said. In the process, the organization has found new partnerships and engaged more fully with its active volunteers.

The new audiences have formed communities of their own around four blogs managed by the nonprofit. Three focus on different program areas of the organization. Another one gives a behind-the-scenes look at the organization, allowing staff and volunteers to tell their stories.

Ultimately, social media is an effective and cost-efficient tool for the nonprofit. It also has added to the popularity of the organization’s Web site. Boone says traffic to the site has doubled since last year, due in part to social media efforts.

To see how the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle tells its story, visit its blogs:

Behind the Scenes at the Food Shuttle Blog : An inside look at the people behind the Food Shuttle
Durham Blog : The stories and events taking place at the Durham Service Center
Farms and Community Gardens Blog : An account of the Farms and Community Gardens Program
Operation Frontline Blog : News and helpful tips from the Operation Frontline courses

NCDA to host food marketing workshops

A new marketing series is designed to help food entrepreneurs decide if it makes sense for them to turn a small or part-time value-added food business into a full-time business.

“Food Marketing in the Real World” will take place March 9, “Making Media Work for Your Food Business” will be held July 20, and “The Secrets of Marketing and Selling Success” will be held Nov. 9.

The registration period is now open for the March 9 workshop, and will open June 1 for the July 20 event and Oct. 4 for the Nov. 9 workshop.

The workshops, hosted by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and sponsored by Carteret Community College, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at the college’s Small Business Center in Morehead City.

The workshops will cover a variety of topics, including creating a competitive advantage, understanding the difference between sales and marketing, knowing when to make the move from part-time to professional, marketing to food service and retail, and understanding the financial considerations of expanding a business.

Each workshop costs $30, which covers materials and lunch. The deadline for each workshop will be the week prior to the event date. Space is limited to 30 people, and interested participants are encouraged to register early once the registration period opens.

For a registration form for the March 9 workshop, go to http://www.ncagr.gov/markets/agbizmarketing.htm, or call Annette Dunlap in the NCDA&CS Marketing Division at (919) 733-7887.

Troxler: New group will focus on growing N.C.’s local food economy

NC Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler says interest in local food has resulted in the creation of the N.C. Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council:

Over the past few years, interest in locally raised food has grown dramatically. I don’t know whether it’s all because of Got to Be NC, but I’d like to think we had at least something to do with North Carolinians’ increased interest in where their food comes from.

The General Assembly took note of the trend last summer by passing legislation creating the N.C. Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council. Its diverse membership includes farmers, educators, food industry executives, community activists and local-food advocates, plus State Health Director Jeff Engel, Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco and me. Some of us serve because of our positions in the state, and Gov. Beverly Perdue, Senate leader Marc Basnight, House Speaker Joe Hackney and I appointed the rest of the members.

The council will hold its first meeting at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2, in the Martin Building at the State Fairgrounds. The meeting is open to the public, and I encourage anyone interested in local food to attend.

The General Assembly charged the council to focus its work on four subjects: health and wellness, hunger and food access, economic development, and preservation of farmlands and water resources.

North Carolina agriculture makes many positive contributions to the state’s economy and environmental quality. Agriculture creates jobs, preserves open space and provides our citizens with nutritious food. I’m looking forward to this council going to work to benefit North Carolina by expanding our local food economy.

Troxler to discuss state of NC Agriculture

The economic outlook for animal agriculture and federal policy issues will be the chief topics of discussion at the fifth annual Ag Development Forum Thursday, Feb. 4, at the State Fairgrounds.

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler will deliver his annual State of Agriculture address during the forum, which will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Holshouser Building.

The forum will feature two panel discussions. The first will focus on the economic state of the beef, pork, poultry and dairy industries. Panelists will be Greg Doud, chief economist with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; Dr. Kelly Zering, a pork industry expert at N.C. State University’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics; Dr. Geoff Benson, a dairy industry expert and professor emeritus at NCSU; and Larry Haller, poultry economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

The second panel discussion will highlight federal policy issues. Panelists will be Dr. Joe Outlaw, co-director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University; Stephanie Mercier, chief economist for the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee; and Leroy Watson, legislative director for the National Grange.

Other speakers will include Ed Luttrell, president of the National Grange, and N.C. State Grange President Jimmy Gentry.

Farmers, agribusiness professionals and others interested in agricultural policy are invited to the forum. Admission is free, and lunch will be provided. Registration is requested by Jan. 25. To register, go to www.ncagr.gov/agforum or call Christina Waggett at (919) 733-7125.

The forum is sponsored by the N.C. State Grange and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It is being held in conjunction with the Southern Farm Show at the fairgrounds.

Food marketing workshop set for April

A one-day food marketing workshop offered by the N.C. Department of Agriculture  is set for April 20.

The “Food Marketing in the Real World” workshop will lead off the Western North Carolina Food Marketing Series.

The workshop is geared toward food entrepreneurs who may be interested in expanding their smaller, value-added food venture.

Space is limited to 40 participants. Check http://www.ncagr.gov/markets/agbizmarketing.htm for a registration fees and forms or call Annette Dunlap at (919) 733-7887, ext. 257.

Agritourism Winter Conference set for February

The Fourth Annual Agritourism Networking Association Winter Conference will be held Feb. 18 and 19 at the City Hotel and Bistro on Greenville Boulevard in Greenville. The conference is designed for agritourism entrepreneurs and others who may be interested in starting an agritourism venture.

A reception will be held Feb. 18, and there will be seven workshops on Feb. 19. Keynote speaker Lynn Minges, assistant commerce secretary, will talk about “Marketing Rural Tourism in North Carolina.”

The workshop topics include “Planning for Success,” “Grassroots Gumption: Persuasion and Public Policy” and “Agritourism Farms — What Flies and Flops.”

For information on registration fees and forms, go to http://www.ncagr.gov/agritourism, or call Martha Glass at (919) 733-7887, ext. 276.

1,600 NC Farms in Century Program

The NC Department of Agriculture started the  Century Farm Program in 1970 at the N.C. State Fair with a push to find and honor farms that had been in continuous family ownership for 100 years or more. Accomplishing this is no easy task, and it may be even harder today with the amount of development pressure in certain parts of the state.

When the program started, newspaper articles statewide spread the word that there would be a celebration at the State Fair in Raleigh and these farm families would be invited. A luncheon was hosted, starting a tradition of periodically honoring Century Farm families at the State Fair.

That initial effort found more than 800 farms. Today there are roughly 1,600 in the program — an indication that is still going strong.

To qualify for Century Farm status, farm owners must be able to show 100 years of continuous family ownership. That can come from courthouse records, deeds, or through family history. Farms receive a blue and yellow sign suitable for outdoor display, a directory of Century Farm members and a certificate signed by the Governor, Agriculture Commissioner and State Fair manager.

2009 N.C. Christmas tree crop offers great selection

North Carolinians looking for a real Christmas tree should have plenty to choose from this year because the crop is excellent, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said today.

“We have one of the best crops we’ve ever had,” Troxler said at a news conference at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market. “Both the selection and the quality are very, very good. Cool weather and adequate rainfall have combined to help our growers harvest and handle the freshest trees possible.”

North Carolina’s 2009 Christmas tree harvest should top 5 million trees from more than 1,500 growers, Troxler said.

More than 96 percent of N.C. Christmas trees are Fraser firs, which are grown in the mountains. Farmers in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain grow pines, cedars and other varieties well-suited to warmer climates.

Customers can find trees at choose-and-cut farms, nurseries, garden centers, farmers markets and retailers across the state.  To find a choose-and-cut tree farm or retailer, log on to www.ncfarmfresh.com or request a directory by calling the Marketing Division at the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at (919) 733-7887.

“Choosing a real Christmas tree can become a great family tradition,” Troxler said. “Plus, real Christmas trees are renewable. Each tree that is harvested is replaced with one or more new trees. And after the holidays, trees can be recycled as mulch or used as habitat for wildlife and fish.”

The state was second in the nation in cash receipts from Christmas trees in 2008, with sales of $100 million.

NCDA redesigns food safety website

The Food and Drug Protection Division at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture has created three new ways for NC consumers to find answers to their food safety questions.

A newly redesigned “Got to be NC Food Safety” Web site, www.ncfoodsafety.com, provides food safety information, laws and news for consumers, retailers, producers and educators. The site also features a “Food for Thought” section with statistics and trivia for children and families.

In addition, a new toll-free number and e-mail address will provide North Carolina residents with more in-depth responses to their food safety questions. Consumers can call 877-366-3644 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or e-mail ncfoodsafe@ncagr.gov.

“This new site is an additional resource for North Carolinians to learn about ways to prevent food-related illnesses,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Foodborne illnesses cost the nation $6.9 billion annually, so we also have a strong financial interest in ensuring the safety of our food supply. Each person from the farm to fork has a role to play in food safety.”

These tools serve as supplements to the department’s other food safety outreach programs, including the annual Food Safety Forum and educational seminars for food businesses.

The NCDA&CS also partners with federal, state and local agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, N.C. State University and North Carolina’s 86 local health departments.