Syngenta Scientist Named Tar Heel of the Year

On Sunday, the Raleigh News & Observer named Syngenta’s Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton Tar Heel of the Year for her pioneering work in genetic modification of seeds for food crops. In June, Dr. Chilton shared the World Food Prize with other scientist gaining more world recognition for her work that has helped farmers grow more crops on the same or less land in the past 20 years, and that work is believed to be instrumental in keeping the growing world population fed throughout this century. Dr. Chilton has been with Syngenta in Research Triangle Park since the early 80’s.

USDA Names New FSA Director for North Carolina

Former congressman and state schools superintendent Bob Etheridge is the new executive director of the North Carolina Farm Service Agency.

Etheridge succeeds Aaron Martin as state director. There’s been an interim director for about a year. USDA announced Etheridge’s new job, which he began Monday.

Annual Meeting for SCCSA Set

The South Carolina Corn and Soybean Association has scheduled the annual meeting and sporting clay shoot on Thursday, February 13th at the Wagon Trail Range in Sumter, South Carolina. The meeting will feature yield contest awards, clay shoot, banquet and business meeting. All members of SCCSA, nonmembers and avid sportsmen are welcome. The tentative event schedule is a noon sign-in, and the meeting and banquet at 5:30 after the clay shoot. There is no cost to current SCCSA members, there is a $100 registration fee for non-members and includes a one-year membership in SCCSA. Registration deadline is January 31st.

Smithfield Foods Business Looks Good Moving Into New Year

Despite a 4.2-million dollar second quarter loss – published reports from Smithfield Foods President and CEO Larry Pope say the base business is fine. Pope says the numbers involved in the loss are a bit messy – and he believes this should be put aside until the beginning of 2014 when numbers become clearer and easier to understand. The company blames weak results in its pork division and 52-million dollars in expenses from its recent acquisition by Shuanghui International for the loss. Pope says Smithfield’s fresh pork business has been weak the entire fiscal year from closed markets in Russia and somewhat in China

Tobacco Production Meeting Scheduled for Johnston County

The Johnston County Cooperative Extension is hosting a Tobacco Production and GAP meeting on January 9th at the Extension Center near Smithfield. Registration gets underway at 3:30 pm and wraps up about 6:00 pm with a sponsored meal. Pre-registration is required by calling 919 989-5380. Pesticide and GAP certification credits will be offered.

Food Transparency More Important to Younger Consumers

Fifty-nine percent of consumers report it is extremely important (rated it as an 8-10 on a 10-point scale) for grocery stores and restaurants to provide information about the way the food they sell is grown and raised, and more than half want more information than they are currently getting, according to new research from the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.

As part of its goal of fostering dialogue between consumers and the producers and manufacturers of food products, USFRA surveyed consumers on the importance of transparency in making and marketing food, including meat products.
One outcome of the research was that the younger the consumer, the more important transparency is.'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.