The 2019 North Carolina Cooperative Extension Conference brought Extension professionals from across the state to Raleigh to share information and engage with each other in-person. From Monday, October 28th through Thursday October 31st, employees from NC A&T and NC State showcased their Extension efforts and the impacts their projects have had in their communities. Sharing knowledge and research through an annual conference is an activity that makes the Cooperative Extension stronger.
Faculty from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics led three sessions: NC Animal Agriculture Economic Update, The Executive Farm Management Program, and the Workshop on Contemporary Market and Environmental Issues Affecting North Carolina. Marne Coit participated in the Industrial Hemp Law, Regulations, and Production in NC panel. Presentation summaries and PowerPoints are below and Andrew Branan participated in presentations about livestock and land.
NC Animal Agriculture Economic Update
Nick Piggott identified and explained the feed grain deficit for North Carolina’s “tails and feather.” Despite animal agriculture generating a majority of cash receipts in NC, almost half of the feed grains needed must be imported from out of state. Creating a more efficient pipeline for local feed grains to be sold within North Carolina could be mutually beneficial to farmers and integrators but poses both a challenge and an opportunity. One way to accomplish that would be to develop a new type of contacts, preferred grower for example, between integrators like Smithfield and local farmers. Other potential solutions include reducing the deficit through double crop rotation or achieving increased yields by growing new varieties. Research into higher yielding grains and more drought tolerant grains will be conducted at the new Plant Sciences building.
Piggott’s presentation: Update on Feed Grain Deficits
Brittany Whitmire identified micro trends within the dairy industry. Although prices have been increasing and the demand for dairy is up (thank you cheese and butter), the market still poses challenges for dairy farmers. The sale of fluid milk continues to trend downward, although it still penetrates over 93% of consumer shopping carts today.
Exports have suffered in 2019, following a steady climb upward in recent years. Total domestic consumption is at an all time high at 646lbs of milk equivalent (a measure of the quantity of fluid milk used in both fluid and processed dairy products), which has helped absorb some of the export losses in the first half of 2019.
Whitmire also updated the audience on the Discover NC Dairy initiative to provide virtual reality tours of dairy farms through headsets. Since May 2019, about 12,000 people (mostly children) have experienced a dairy farm through virtual reality.
Whitmire’s presentation: Dairy Outlook
Kelly Zering discussed the rising world population and the potential impacts that could have on food production and meat in particular. Other topics included new efforts in manure management, specifically the partnership between Smithfield and Dominion energy to generate renewable natural gas from Swine manure.
Zering’s presentation: Economic Update: Pigs and Pork
The Executive Farm Management Program
Brown’s presentation: 2020 EFM
Workshop on Contemporary Market and Environmental Issues Affecting North Carolina
Rod Rejesus compared the commodity programs Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). He also covered the disaster assistance program Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) which is administered through the FSA. Rejesus also mentioned that there will be crop insurance coverage for hemp under Whole Farm Revenue Protection Policy.
Rejesus’ Presentation: Farm Bill and Trade Aid
Nick Piggott called the group’s attention to the current market for commodities. He identified trends in the greater American economy as well as explaining the current economic situation in North Carolina.
Piggott’s presentation: US and NC Ag Outlook
Heidi Schweizer explained that transportation is an important determinant of basis pricing. For example, the maximum price that farmers can get in NC for grains would be the price of imported grains plus transportation costs. This means NC grain prices are not only determined by the price of grain from Ohio or Brazil, but the cost of rail or ocean freight for bringing the imported grains to market. Understanding transportation costs and options are a huge component of grain pricing in North Carolina.
Schweizer’s presentation: Transportation and Agriculture
Eric Edwards shared climate change projections for the region and the effect it could have on land value and commodity viability. Experts predict that the state will see more rainfall overall in a year, but the rain will be more variable. This means the state will likely experience longer periods of dryness during the summer and wetter autumns. Edwards is currently assessing the effects this could have on the feasibility of growing corn, cotton, soybeans, and wheat.
Edwards’ presentation: Climate Change and NC Ag
Sara Sutherland discussed market options for getting rid of water pollution. Pollution abatement can be costly but there are options such as cap-and-trade and offsets that businesses can engage in to reduce costs. Sutherland has found that while there have been relatively few uses of this type of market to solve pollution problems in North Carolina, the potential is there.
Sutherland’s presentation: Markets for Water Trading in NC
Andrew Branan provided an update on the 2019 NC Farm Act, the hog nuisance trials, the Ag “Gag Law,” Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rules revisions and other important legal matters in NC Agriculture.
Branan’s presentation: Ag Law Issues Presentation
Industrial Hemp Law, Regulations, and Production in NC
Marne Coit took part in a panel discussion on hemp. After researchers shared the results from multiple field trials, Coit briefed the group on the new hemp regulations from the US Department of Agriculture. You can find out more about hemp law on the Industrial Hemp Extension Portal.
Silvopasture and Preparing Your Farm for the Public