If you’re planning on attending the 23rd Annual Joint Commodity Conference in Durham on Thursday, be aware of a deviation from the previous format. NC State’s Dr. Jim Dunphy:

“This year will be concurrent sessions with the four production specialists with updates on the various crops, Randy Weisz, Keith Edmiston, Ron Heineger, and myself. In the past, those have been on Friday morning, this time they’re on Thursday afternoon starting at 3:45.”

The general business session and annual business meetings of the four commodity groups:  corn, cotton, soybean and small grain will be held Friday morning before the conference adjourns around noon.

Progress & Duke Energy Set New Date for Merger

Progress Energy and Duke Energy have set July as their new deadline for completing their merger creating the country's largest electric utility.  The companies said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that they agreed last week to forgo a termination date in the merger agreement until July.

Agricultural Research Service to Close 259 Facilities

The announcement that a total of 259 USDA offices will close around the country this year includes the Agriculture Research Service facing their share of downsizing.  ARS Spokesperson Sandy Miller-Hayes says the USDA budget signed last November doomed several of their research facilities:

“There was a $39 million reduction in the ARS budget, and therefore, it’s been known since last February, almost a year now, that there were nine locations that would most likely close if that budget came to pass.”

While the department says they won't lay off anyone, finding positions for displaced researchers may not be easy.

Farmers Talking about Their Operations Difficult, but Necessary

These days – farmers and ranchers often hear they need to do a better job of telling their stories to curious and sometimes concerned consumers. Keith Yazmir is a member of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance communications team and says farmers and ranchers need to make sure they’re part of the conversation about what they grow and what people eat.

Yazmir talks about how hard it can sometimes be for farmers to discuss controversial topics about their livelihood:

“These are incredibly emotional issues because it’s about our livelihood, it’s about what we do, for many of us it’s about what our parents did, what our grandparents did, but equally importantly, for other audiences — for consumers, for influencers, for people that have questions about food, because it’s of course, fundamental to all of us, and because it’s literally what we put in our children’s’ mouths each day.”

Yazmir talks about the importance of interacting with critics of agriculture:

“To be effective we need to go out there and meet some of these other voices because keeping in mind these folks are the folks that are regulating us, these folks are consumers are buying from us and who we’re here to serve. So, how can we do a better job truly, of addressing truly what they’re talking about in ways that they can hear.” 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.