In the latest drought monitor for North Carolina released by USDA, the state saw slight improvement in abnormally dry conditions, going from 46% of the state reporting abnormally dry condition down to 44%. More than half The state is now free of drought at about 55 ½ %, up from just under 54%. The state is now free of moderate drought, down to zero from just over 6%. The area of abnormally dry conditions has shifted east however, to include almost all of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, from Currituck County down to portions of Onslow County, west to Chatham county in the north to Union County in the south.
South Carolina Sees Drastic Improvement in the Latest Drought Monitor
The latest drought monitor released by USDA shows significant improvement in the dry conditions in South Carolina. the state has gone from 66% drought free to 83%. The area of the state reporting abnormally dry conditions is now about 16 ½ % down from more than 33%, split into two areas, in Aiken & Edgefield Counties to the south and from Lancaster to the western tip of Horry County to the north and east. The state was reporting just shy of 11% moderate drought in the last report, and that has now been reduced to zero.
No ‘Smoking Gun’ in Decline of Honey Bee Health
USDA and EPA officials say there’s no smoking gun in a major new report on the cause of honey bee colony collapse disorder. But researchers now blame multiple causes. National Institute of Food and Agriculture Chief Sonny Ramaswamy says the USDA-EPA-Penn State report stemming from a stakeholders conference last year shows no single cause of honey bee die-offs…
“It’s due to a whole host of factors including parasites, disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure. There isn’t one that is really the smoking gun.”
Ramaswamy says 20 to 30-billion dollars a year in U.S. crops – mostly fruits, vegetables and nuts – are dependent on pollinators. He says honey bee survival is too low right now to be confident the U.S. can meet crop demand.
North Carolina Ag Businesses Receive more than Half a Million Dollars in USDA Grant Money
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and USDA Rural Development State Director Randy Gore have announced grants to four agricultural producers and rural businesses in North Carolina that will help create jobs and develop new products. The awards announced include: Calderon Produce, Inc. in Vale and Sandoval Produce, Inc. in Hendersonville, NC will each use a $100,000 grant to develop a business and marketing plan for a food safety program, Celebrity Dairy, LLC, in Pittsboro will use a $14,500 grant to fund a feasibility study to confirm the viability of a biomass heat-service business model, Tate Family Farm, Inc., in Climax will use a $300,000 grant for expansion of their marketing plan.