Sampson County Ethanol Plant Gets Financial Boost from USDA

On Wednesday, USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development, Dallas Tonsager was in Sampson County, North Carolina meeting with the Chemtex organization about a loan guarantee awarded by USDA for ethanol production:

“Chemtex is a company that is wanting to build a major biofuels project in Sampson County, one that will produce 20 million gallons of ethanol per year. They want to do it using local grass from local farms.”

USDA’s zero interest loan guarantee is a significant portion of the cost of the project:

“The whole project is $160 million. We are guaranteeing a $99 million loan. So both parties are bringing a lot to the table. It’s a big commitment on both parts to bring this project to fruition. The exiting part is that we are using products that are not food based products. We are taking from land that isn’t typically used to grow food. It’s a grass product and its going to create some real jobs.”

The goal of Chemtex will be to use second generation fuels stocks such as switch grass and miscanthus

Tropical Storm Isaac Stirs in the Caribbean

Yesterday, the military began evacuating about 200 visitors from Guantanamo including legal teams and families of Sept. 11th victims who were there for the start of terrorism hearings this week. Department of Defense Spokesperson Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale says the proceedings are being put off because Tropical Storm Isaac is approaching:

“The military judge issued an order suspending court for the time being.”

Earlier this week NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler encouraged agricultural producers to review their hurricane plans. For more on hurricane preparedness, visit our list of ag stories and then, answer the poll question at the bottom of the homepage concerning preparing for tropical weather events.

West Nile Virus Nothing to Fool With

The Centers for Disease Control is reporting a sharp rise in West Nile virus infections in the U-S. More than 11-hundred infections have been reported in nearly 40 states, along with at least 41 deaths. The C-D-C's Dr. Lyle Petersen expects the numbers to keep increasing through late September.

“These are the highest numbers of West Nile Virus disease numbers reported to CDC through the third week in August since West Nile Virus was first detected in the US in 1999.”

Equine are particularly susceptible to West Nile, and should be vaccinated as soon as possible. The virus is almost always fatal in horses. Dallas, Texas seems to be the epicenter of the outbreak, and many attribute that to stagnant water in swimming pools of unoccupied homes.

NC Apple Crop Showing Signs of Late Freeze

Apple growers in North Carolina may have lost 80 percent of their crop this year. The combination of an early spring that prompted the trees to bloom and a late cold snap has devastated the crop in Henderson County, the state's top apple producer. North Carolina's apple crop is usually worth about $24 million. Some producers are reporting losses up to 90%, while others are reporting no reduction in their crop size. 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.