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SC Food Policy Council Elects New Board Members

The South Carolina Food Policy Council would like to welcome new board members Hub City Farmers Market Executive Director Ana Parra, York County Clemson Extension Agent Ben Boyles, Horry County Clemson Extension Agent Blake Lanford, and Darcy Freedman, Assistant Professor of Social Work and Centenary Faculty in Social Disparities at the University of South Carolina, to the SC Food Policy Council’s Board of Directors.

These new members will join fellow board members, Dave Lamie, with Clemson University, Diana Vossbrinck, with Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Lisa Turansky with the Coastal Conservation League, Joe Watson with Watsonia Farms, and Nikki Seibert with Lowcountry Local First in their efforts to promote policies, infrastructure, and opportunities that lead to a healthy and safe food supply for all SC residents.

Johanns Questions Vilsack on FSIS Furloughs

Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns is asking Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack why he never requested funding flexibility from Congressional Appropriators to avoid furloughing crucial employees like food safety inspectors. Johanns says USDA has had more than a year-and-a-half to prepare for these spending reductions. During that time – he says the Secretary – among other spending changes – asked Congress to provide funds to the Department of Interior to roundup wild horses and requested additional funds to process the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

NCDA Accepting Grant Applications

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is offering about $1 million in grants to government, collegiate and nonprofit agencies interested in improving the competitiveness of specialty crops across the state. 

Funding is available for a variety of projects related to enhancing the competitiveness of fruits and tree nuts, vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants, as well as nursery, floriculture and horticulture crops.

NCDA&CS will accept grant applications starting at $20,000 from nonprofit organizations, commodity associations, state and local government agencies, colleges and universities. Grants are not available for projects that directly benefit or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual. The application deadline is 5 p.m. April 26. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is managed by the NCDA&CS and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the 2008 farm bill.

For grant manuals and an application, go to .

Obamacare Realities About to Hit Home & Wallet

The fight over Obamacare, so far held at the 30,000-foot level, is about to hit home. The latest impact hot off the grill: prices of burgers and hot dogs at Five Guys are going to rise to cover the president’s mandated insurance coverage. 

Mike Ruffer, a Five Guys franchise holder with eight restaurants in the Triangle area explained he will need all the profits from at least one of his outlets just to cover his estimated added $60,000-a year in new Obamacare costs. 

What’s more, he’s iced plans to build another three restaurants until after the administration explains the exact rules and penalties employers will face.

Shareholder Recommends Splitting Up Smithfield

A large shareholder is recommending Smithfield Foods Inc. hire an adviser to consider splitting the company into three independent businesses, saying the stock has performed poorly while management has been well compensated.

The letter from Continental Grain Co. to Smithfield’s board of directors, revealed in a regulatory filing late last week, recommends splitting the company into three pieces – hog production, fresh pork and packaged meats, and international – to unlock shareholder value.

Cotton Marketing Estimates for Current Year Increase

The latest 2012/2013 U.S. cotton estimates include larger exports and reduced ending stocks according to Ag Outlook Board Chair Gerry Bange:

“They have gone up another 250,000 bales, at 12.75 million bales, that’s an increase of about 8.8% from the 2011-2012 year.” 

And the resulting price predictions according to Bange:

“We are looking at a cents per pound price of 71.5 cents, about a half cent per pound above our original forecast, reflecting a tighter stock situation in these continuing exports we are seeing, especially to China.” 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.