NC Board of Agriculture Meets Today; Arundo Donax on the Agenda

The NC Board of Agriculture is scheduled to meet this afternoon at 2:00 pm at the Eaddy Agronomic Services building in Raleigh. The agenda includes a report on the NCDA’s review of a request by environmental groups and a recommendation from the NCDA Plant Industry Division whether to have Arundo donax classified as a noxious weed. Several groups, including the Environmental Defense Fund, American Rivers, the NC Coastal Land Trust plus others have asked that Arundo donax be classified as a noxious weed in North Carolina. Chemtex, and Italian based biofuel company has funding to build an ethanol plant in Sampson County in which their basic business model is based on using commercial stands of Arundo as feedstock for the plant.

MarketReady Workshop Postponed

The S.C. MarketReady workshop scheduled for Wednesday, February 27, at the State Farmers Market has been canceled and will be rescheduled. We’ll pass that information along as soon as it’s available.

Red Meat Consumption Predicted to Decrease this Year

Recently at USDA’s Ag Outlook Forum, USDA Livestock analyst Shayle Shagum predicts Americans will consume less red meat this year:

“We look at beef to be the big decline, down about 1.3 pounds to be 56.1 pounds per capita. Pork will be up about 3/10th of a pound to 46.1 pounds.” 

And it should come as no surprise that cost at the retail counter will affect consumption of red meat says Shagum:

“We do expect to see records in terms of our retail prices for choice beef and a record for a broiler price. And probably a similar price on the pork side.” 

It has recently become a concern that beef is on its way to being a ‘luxury’ item compared to other proteins due to price.

Smithfield Highlights Ability to Deliver Ractopamine-Free Pork

The nation’s largest hog producer and pork processor says it is well positioned to meet the increasing demand for ractopamine-free pork. Smithfield Foods says it has been leveraging its integrated platform to supply customers with ractopamine-free pork for some time. Larry Pope – Smithfield President and CEO – says the company is uniquely qualified to deliver differentiated products to customers. A Smithfield plant in Clinton, North Carolina has been 100-percent ractopamine-free since last year – and the largest pork processing plant in the world – located in Tar Heel, North Carolina – will be fully ractopamine-free by the 1st of March. These two plants will handle 43-thousand ractopamine-free hogs per day.

Commissioner’s BBQ Cookoff Calling for Entries

Do you think you’ve got what it takes to win the Commissioners Cup State Championship BBQ Cook Off? If you’re a backyard barbecue warrior, or a professional that hits the barbecue circuit, then now is the time to sign up for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Smokin’ at the Market Commissioners Cup BBQ Cook Off. The competition is March 22-23 at the State Farmers Market in West Columbia.

The categories for the Commissioners Cup include: Anything Butt, Butts, Pork Ribs, Grand Champion, and Reserve Champion. South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers will present the awards on Saturday afternoon of the event. The cook off is sanctioned by the Southern BBQ Network. 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.