Some lawmakers are coming to the defense of the lowly French fry. Ed Donahue reports:
Congresswoman Jean Schmidt says, it's a great vegetable and she doesn't know why they're picking on the potato. She is in a group that is asking Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack why his department wants to reduce the amount of potatoes and other starchy vegetables in school meals to about two servings a week. There is a big push to take French fries off school menus. It has been blamed for the nation's obesity epedemic. Margot Wooten at the Center for Science and the Public Interest says, kids aren't eating enough vegetables and when they do, they eat potatoes way too often.
Beekeepers to Get Help Keeping Colonies Healthy
North Carolina State and Appalachian State universities are joining a national project to study unexplained deaths in the U.S. bee population. USDA announced this week a five-year, $5 million project to developing best-practice guidelines for beekeepers. Agriculture officials said they hope to reduce honeybee losses by 50 percent in the next five years.
Since 2006, beekeepers have lost 30 percent or more of overwintering bees each year. The unexplained losses have affected all aspects of the industry, from commercial beekeeping operations to home hobbyists. Bees are valued not only for their honey, but they also are required for pollinating a number of crops.
Tough Economic Times Affect Organic Production
It's getting harder to be an organic farmer - thanks to the bad economy. That's what organic peach grower Lance Jackson is finding as he markets his all-natural crop:
"We see mixed signals. We see processors that are using up all of our product but then we're also seeing reduction in price."
A few years ago, Jackson was getting 200-dollars a ton more for organic peaches than what processor contracts were paying for conventional crops. That price has faded to just 30-dollars extra per ton making it hard to stay in the organic business:
"We're right on the edge of it now. We're having to make decisions now on whether we're going to keep blocks of peaches organic or not, based purely on economics."
Jackson says the public often doesn't understand that organic products cost more to buy because they cost more to produce.
Sea Turtles Coming Ashore
North Carolina Marine Fisheries agents are warning fishermen and beach-goers to look out for endangered sea turtles as the large reptiles move into coastal waters as temperatures warm.
Sea turtles have been spotted in the ocean near Cape Lookout, Beaufort Inlet, Topsail Island, Oak Island and Long Beach. Some also have been seen in the Intracoastal Waterway near Oak Island and in Core Sound. All sea turtles found in North Carolina waters are protected by law.