First Commissioner

On March 23rd and 24th, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture and the State Farmers’ market in Columbia will host the Commissioner’s Cup Smoking at the Market bar-b-que contest. SC Ag Commissioner Hugh Weathers:

“Bringing all the bar-b-que teams together to showcase what they do and have a little good competition.”
Weathers explains that this is a way to show off the different types of bar b que that South Carolina has to offer:

“With South Carolina we have so many varieties of bar-b-que; in the low country we have the mustard based, across the lake we have vinegar, upstate, you’ve got a little different mix yet. So, what we want to do is bring everybody who wants to vie for the title of the Commissioner’s Cup in. this is a great event, people love bar-b-que, I think bar-b-que teams take it as seriously as we do about football.”

If interested in entering the Commissioner’s Cup or attending to sample all the bar-b-que, Weathers suggests visiting the SCDA website:

“The way to find out more is go to our website; forward slash smoking 2012.”
Consumer Confidence Continues to Rise

Consumer confidence is up a reading of 61.5 in January to 70.8 this month…. Ken Goldstein with the Conference Board says an improving job market is the reason.

“Three big things on consumer’s minds are jobs, incomes and gas prices in that order. And since we’ve got better news on jobs, and our incomes or our gas prices, I think that’s why we continue to see this trend.”

BOLD Study Boosts Beef’s Benefits

February Heart Month has been a revelation to many beef lovers – thanks to a Pennsylvania State University study demonstrating a diet that includes lean beef every day can be just as heart-healthy as well-promoted plant-based diets. The Beef in an Optimum Lean Diet – or BOLD – study had a very straightforward result – according to lead researcher Penny Kris-Etherton…

“Consumers can include lean beef and a heart-healthy diet and health benefits.”
The Beef Checkoff Program helped fund the thorough and peer-reviewed research.

More Corn Expected This Year

Corn prices topped 8-dollars last summer and that is expected to encourage an expansion in planting of corn this year. As a result, USDA predicts the price of corn could fall 20 percent and the stockpile could double. USDA expects farmers will plant 94-million acres of corn this year— about 2-million acres more than last year which would be the largest area planted to corn since 1944.

Supermarkets Feeling the Pinch of Higher Prices

Consumers have adopted a coping mechanism to deal with rising food prices and that mechanism is helping to reshape the retail food industry. USDA analyst Ricky Volpe

“Consumers increasingly are buying their food in places other than conventional supermarkets.”
Volpe says that consumers have made huge shifts away from the conventional supermarket, searching super stores, warehouse clubs and big box stores for lower prices.

Suit Against Monsanto Dismissed

A law suit brought against Monsanto by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and dozens of other plaintiff growers and organizations has been dismissed. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York took Monsanto at its word. That word being Monsanto's long-standing public commitment that "it has never been, nor will it be, Monsanto policy to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of our patented seeds or traits are present in a farmer's fields as a result of inadvertent means."
The plaintiffs feared a patent-infringement lawsuit in the event Monsanto’s traits happened to enter their fields inadvertently through, for example, cross-pollination.

EPA Gets Slapped Down in State Water Quality Suit

A U.S. District Court agreed with the American Farm Bureau’s challenge to water quality standards that the EPA set for the state of Florida. AFBF Chief Legal Counsel Ellen Steen explains an important aspect of the court’s ruling on this case…

“The big news coming out with this court opinion is that the court found that EPA had acted unlawfully in choosing the numbers that it set for Florida streams, and also for certain lakes that were already reaching water quality standards.”

And Today’s Ag Fact:

Agriculture has recently surpassed tourism in South Carolina as the number one economic driver, with livestock being more than half of those cash receipts. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.