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Hen under close scrutiny at FFA poultry evaluations at the State Fairgrounds.

Avian Flu Information

Extension and NCDA&CS are working together to develop a response plan for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). Find the latest information regarding this at NCDA&CS.

Hen under close scrutiny at FFA poultry evaluations at the State Fairgrounds.

Avian Flu Information

Extension and NCDA&CS are working together to develop a response plan for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). Find the latest information regarding this at NCDA&CS.


Grants for Diversifying
Farmers Now Available

WNC Agricultural Options is now accepting grant applications from farmers diversifying or expanding their businesses.  With funding from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, WNC AgOptions is distributing a total of $178,000 to western North Carolina farmers in 2016.  The application deadline is Nov. 13. WNC AgOptions helps offset farmers' risk of trying new ventures with $3,000 and $6,000 grants.  "The WNC AgOptions program is an excellent example of grant funds providing direct support to those who need it most," said Ross Young, Madison County Extension Director and WNC AgOptions steering committee leader.  "Our farmers are arguably the most important people in our society.  I sincerely appreciate the Commission's interest in supporting western North Carolina agriculture." The Commission has supported the mountain region throughout major changes in agriculture, ensuring farmers continue farming.  "Farmers in western North Carolina have proven time and time again that they are very innovative, resourceful and creative in how they produce and market their products," said Bill Teague, Chairman of the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.  "Our board is committed to the success of farmers in the targeted counties and we know these grants will encourage many successful projects." Applicants should contact their Cooperative Extension Agents by Oct. 16 to set up an appointment to discuss their projects.  Applications are available at www.wncagoptions.org or at local Cooperative Extension Centers.  Extension Agents remain a resource for farmers throughout the year as they complete their projects. Since 2004, WNC AgOptions has awarded nearly $2 million to farmers.  Grants often pay for a simple improvement that make a big difference, such as the purchase of an air-forced refrigerator at Perry's Berry's in Burke County.  The cold storage reduced Owners Debbie and Terry Perry's blueberry losses from 20 percent in 2014 to less than 5 percent in 2015. Cooling their berries immediately after harvest enhances the quality of their product, which they sell to a variety of customers, including Food Matters in Transylvania County, Fonta Flora Brewery in Burke County and Blind Squirrel Brewery in Avery County. Wehrloom Honey in Graham County has exceeded their expectations since opening a new retail store in Robbinsville in May.  With the help of a WNC AgOptions grant, Owner Jessica Wehr added new products such as spun honey, which is a thick spreadable honey, and bee pollen, which is considered a superfood due to its rich source of vitamins. Hoopers Creek Botanicals expanded production with a 2015 WNC AgOptions grant, and Owner Wallace Souther says he is able to sell all the medicinal herbs that he can grow.  He also secured a contract with Sow True Seeds in Asheville to grow winter squash, which he says he wouldn't have been able to do without the grant.  "I feel so honored," Souther said. WNC AgOptions offers grants to farmers in the following counties/units:  Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey counties as well as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Applicants are encouraged to attend information sessions, which will be held throughout the region in the next two months.  One will be held in Watauga County on Tuesday, September 22.  Call the Watauga Extension Office at 828-264-3061 for more information.  Check the WNC AgOptions website for other dates and locations or call Project Coordinator Jennifer Ferre at (828) 252-4783. The administrator of WNC AgOptions is WNC Communities, a non-profit organization that has been improving agriculture in the region since 1947.  WNC Communities provides a unique forum for leaders in western North Carolina to carry out innovative programs to improve the quality of life for rural communities and to enhance the agriculture economy. "WNC Communities is delighted to serve as administrator for WNC AgOptions," said L.T. Ward, Vice President of WNC Commuities.  "We are grateful to the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and North Carolina legislators for their support for twelve years." Members of the WNC AgOptions steering committee include:  representatives from N.C. Cooperative Extension, N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services–Marketing Division, WNC Communities, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and other leaders in agribusiness.  For more information, see the following: WNC Agricultural Options:  www.wncagoptions.org; N.C. Cooperative Extension Centers:  www.ces.ncsu.edu; N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission: www.tobaccotrustfund.org; WNC Communities:  www.wnccommunities.org.

Food Processing and Manufacturing Initiative

Food Processing and
Manufacturing Initiative

NC food processing and manufacturing initiative feasiblity study released The agricultural resources, industrial capacity and research innovation assets present in North Carolina create opportunities to catalyze development of value-added food processing and manufacturing businesses, according to a joint NC State-NCDA&CS economic feasibity study released Jan. 12. One page summary of the Initiative View the Full Report


60th Annual Farm City

                                    The 60th Annual Farm City Banquet will be held on Thursday, November 12th, at 6:00PM at the Boone United Methodist Church located on New Market Boulevard in Boone. The theme for this year’s banquet is “Goodness Grows in Watauga County” as we celebrate connecting our city and farm’s agricultural heritage. Following dinner, with food from local farms, several organizations will recognize individuals for their contributions and support of our local agricultural economy. Charlie Jackson, the Executive Director of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, is the keynote speaker and will address the importance and future of agriculture and specialty crops in western North Carolina. Awards will be given out to individuals and/or businesses that have made significant contributions to agriculture; organizations, service or civic, that have benefited the community and our agricultural economy. Awards will also be given out to those that have made significant contributions to volunteerism, local agri-tourism, and socially-sustainable agricultural practices. Commodity groups also will award their respective producers of the year, and Watauga Soil and Water will present the Farm Family of the Year award. The Boone Chamber of Commerce will present the Tuckwiller Award presented for Community Development in memory of the late Lake Ernest Tuckwiller, past Watauga County Farm Agent. Organizations as well as the general public are invited to nominate candidates for these awards. Nominations forms can be picked up at the Extension office. Door prizes will be given out at the end of the program and will include baskets filled with locally produced foods and other items. Acclaimed local artist Richard Tumbleston will be on site to finish an original painting highlighting this year’s banquet, which will be given away as the final prize. The Watauga County Farm Bureau is our Platinum Sponsor this year and encourages both farm & city folk alike to join in on an “old fashion supper”. Tickets are $10.00 per person (children 5 and under eat for free; children 6-12, $5) and can be purchased at the NC Cooperative Extension Office, 971 W King St., Boone. Tickets must be purchased in advance. No tickets will be sold at the door and ticket sales are limited to 250. For more info, please call 828-264-3061.


Tobacco Research

The Watauga County Tobacco Research Referendum will be held on Thursday, November 19, 2015.  Jim Hamilton, County Extension Director, said there will be one polling place in the county, which will be at the Watauga County Extension Office at 971 West King Street in Boone. Jim explained that the referendum is being held to let tobacco growers decide if they wish to continue the self-assessment program.  This program has been in place since 1991, and the law requires that a new referendum be held every six years. A 2/3 favorable vote will mean that growers are willing to continue to assess themselves to support tobacco research and education.  The assessment is ten cents per hundred pounds of tobacco produced in North Carolina. The funds, about $300,000 annually, are collected at buying stations by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and then allocated by the Tobacco Research Commission to research and Extension projects for tobacco at NC State University. For more information on the referendum, please call the Watauga County Extension Office at 828-264-3061.

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