AG Summary For Tuesday December 29
Expanding interest in traditional Chinese medicine in the United States is fostering a potentially lucrative new niche market for farmers.

While almost all practitioners still rely on imports from China, concerns over contamination and quality is driving up demand for herbs grown in the U.S. Grower groups have been set up in New York, Virginia and Washington to help farmers establish trial stands of the most popular plants.

Jean Giblette is a researcher who established New York’s group this year. She estimates the market for domestically grown medicinal plants to be $200 million to $300 million a year.

Rob Glenn is chairman of the Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine in Pilot, Virginia. He says practitioners have indicated they’re willing to pay a premium price for high-quality domestically grown herbs.

A Chipotle restaurant near Boston College has reopened several weeks after 136 patrons fell ill with norovirus.City health inspectors had given the restaurant in the Cleveland Circle neighborhood permission to reopen as soon as Thursday, but it wasn’t able to open its doors immediately because of an unrelated water leak.  The Chipotle reopened Saturday instead.Officials ordered the restaurant closed on Dec. 7 after patrons, including members of BC’s men’s basketball team, became sick with the gastrointestinal illness.  They say the outbreak was likely caused by a sick employee and isn’t linked to E. coli cases that shuttered dozens of restaurants in Oregon and Washington in October.  Boston’s chief health inspector told the Boston Herald he plans to have lunch at the Chipotle as a show of confidence.

This winter, the National Corn Growers Association will convene task force of state and national staff to examine ways in which the association can broaden membership and continually improve grassroots communications.   The group, assembled at the behest of NCGA’s Grower Services Action Team with input from state corn organizations, will report back to GSAT during its annual spring meeting.

The Membership Task Force, which came about as a result of the most recent GSAT meeting, will explore issues including: extending full membership to farming spouses, expanding communications to interested parties beyond farmer members, potentially expanding membership categories, and identifying the tools necessary to track members’ and advocates’ preferred contact methods, social media handles and other alternate contact information.

Following the February meeting, GSAT will make recommendations to the Corn Board for consideration. Final discussion on recommended changes and possible further action will be taken during the State and National Staff Meeting held in April of 2016.

Pender County Farm Bureau recently made a contribution of $5,000 to the Battleship North Carolina Generations Campaign, the effort to restore and save the USS North Carolina Battleship. In all, 93 county Farm Bureaus collectively donated $54,826 to the campaign.

This summer, the NCFB Federation Board of Directors approved a giving campaign challenge to county Farm Bureaus, asking them to donate at a minimum level of $25 per each currently serving county board member.