New Equine Virus Identified in North Carolina

A contagious virus that affects horses has made its first confirmed appearance in North Carolina after a decade of growing frequency in other states. The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs said late last week that the virus known as EHV-1 has been found in a horse at a Rockingham County stable. State Veterinarian David Marshall says this is a key development:

"This is the first time that the neurologic, or the form that effects the nervous system of this disease, has been found in a North Carolina horse.  The virus does have other manifestations and those are quite common but this is the first time we've seen the neurologic form."

Marshall says the horse has been quarantined at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The virus, while highly contagious among horses, poses no threat to humans.

2012 Beltwide Cotton Conference a Success

The 2012 Beltwide Cotton Conference is in the books. Show Coordinator Bill Richardson of the National Cotton Council says that by all accounts the show was a success:

"Everybody I talked to thought this was a really good conference.  It really addressed production issues at hand and if you looked at what our major issues were, we addressed those.  And attendees were really pleased with the presentations here a lot of straight forward presentations on how to address issues and a lot of questions and a lot of answers were given."

San Antonio Texas will host the 2013 Beltwide.

Unemployment Numbers Continue to Drop

A strong employment report for December. The jobless rate fell to 8.5 percent and employers added 200,000 jobs, more than analysts had predicted. But Wells Fargo Senior Economist Mark Vitner says there's reason to believe that the January report will be weaker because tens of thousands of seasonal jobs have now been eliminated. He says the unemployment rate will likely climb again between now and the end of June.

"Our forecast continues to call for the unemployment rate to rise back up  toward 9 percent toward middle of 2012 and then begin to come back down again in the second half of the year."

Food Smuggling Becoming a Problem

You've heard of smugglers trying to sneak drugs across the Mexican border? Well, that's not the only problem customs agents have to deal with… They're now seizing bundles of illegal meat and cheese! Reporter Michael Board has more from San Antonio.

Americans who went to Mexico for the holidays are now coming back and a surprising number are trying to get food across the border.  Customs spokesman Roger Myer says they're finding meats and cheeses in places they usually find cocaine and marijuana:

"We've had rolls of bologna hidden inside a spare tire of a vehicle, we've had avocadoes concealed within the door frame of a vehicle." 

He says there are fruit flies and swine diseases that they're trying to stop.   Travelers that are caught are slapped with a $500 fine. 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.