‘Twice the work’: Farmers report higher-than-expected 2020 sales, but also higher costs

When spring sprung in 2020, so did the Coronavirus Pandemic, forcing farmers to make life-altering decisions in the face of an unknown future. A recently published survey  of Southern Appalachian farmers shows that those decisions built a reality that was better than anticipated but still full of challenges. 

Female farmers survive a challenging year

By Laura Lauffer • Contributing writer | During the holiday season, we often recognize and appreciate the farmers in our community for the abundance of food on our tables. Three women farmers in the region shared their farming experience during this challenging year, what it means to them to farm as women and how they continued to grow and distribute their goods to the community in the challenging times of COVID. 

A Clear Contrast — The NC Agriculture Commissioner Race

By Boyd Allsbrook

Agriculture has always been an integral part of the North Carolina culture and economy. Every year, farming and agribusiness bring in over 90 billion dollars—a sixth of the state’s net income. Here, more than in most states, it matters who we elect to oversee this massive industry.

President Trump thanks Mills River business

President Donald Trump made an appearance in Mills River on Monday, touting a food program designed to reduce food insecurity and retain jobs in North Carolina’s critically important agriculture sector. 

Planting for a pandemic: Agricultural community navigates through COVID-19 crisis

For farmers and agriculture businesses across Western North Carolina, spring is the time to plan and plant for the green season ahead, but uncertainty cultivated by the COVID-19 crisis is complicating that process, often in devastating ways. 

Agriculture commissioner election about more than just farming

From the mountains to Manteo, it’s easy to see that agriculture is North Carolina’s largest industry, but while driving through or flying over this vast state it’s much harder to see the challenges that threaten it. 

Legislature to ban smokable hemp in N.C.

Hemp has only been legal in North Carolina for a couple of years, but already the plant is presenting an issue in the criminal justice system that the legislature is still trying to iron out. 

Riding the wave: Hemp testing begins in Asheville

Though just barely off the ground, a new hemp testing service launched in Asheville is receiving a markedly positive response from Western North Carolina farmers. 

“We’re definitely feeling pretty busy,” said Amanda Vickers, director of the US Botanical Safety Laboratory. “Our phone has started ringing a lot more since we announced this testing, and a lot of people are really excited to be able to hand deliver their samples. It’s looking like this is really something that there is a demand for.”

Schooled in ag: School gives students a hands-on education

With a new school year just begun, the 300 students who participate in Waynesville Middle School’s robust agriculture program now have an array of new woodshop equipment at their disposal. 

“In two weeks this will be like Santa’s little helper’s woodshop,” Noal Castater, agriculture teacher at WMS since 2010, said in an interview the Friday before the first day of school. 

Fair time for future farmers

For many people the county fair conjures up images of Ferris wheels, carnival games and cotton candy, but here in Western North Carolina the annual events represent a time of year when the region’s agricultural roots get to take center stage. 

Of course there will be the beloved fair foods, carnival rides and children giggling on the Ferris wheel, but there will also be hundreds of gardeners, farmers, agricultural students and others signing up to show off their prized plants, produce and cattle.

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