Budget cuts limit North Carolina ag department promotions

Fiscal belt-tightening in North Carolina is taking its toll on the state government’s funding for programs that benefit fruit and vegetable growers, said Nick Augostini, a marketing specialist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“There’s a budget crunch and funds will be limited until we find out what next year’s budget is going to be,” he said.

In jeopardy are funds for promotional programs, including “Goodness Grows in North Carolina” and “Got to be NC,” Augostini said.

“Hopefully they’ll be funded again,” he said. “Promotions are on hold for now.”

The state is “supposedly” set to pass a new budget by July 1, Augostini said.

North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission releases DVD for chefs, culinary students

The Benson-based North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission has created an instructional DVD for chefs and culinary students, said Sue Johnson-Langdon, the commission’s executive director.

Made up of four stand-alone segments of 6-8 minutes, the DVD will be used in classes next school year on the Charlotte campus of the Johnson & Wales culinary school, Johnson-Langdon said.

Part of the commission foundation’s Culinary Education Series, the DVD provides background on how sweet potatoes are grown in North Carolina, their nutritional content and how to cook with them, Johnson-Langdon said.

Other schools also will have the opportunity to incorporate the DVD into their curricula, she said.

Patterson Farms sees growth in repacking program

There’s been no sophomore slump for Patterson Repack, a division of China Grove, N.C.-based Patterson Farms, said Doug Patterson, vice president.

Now in its second full year of operation, the tomato repacking division continues to grow, Patterson said.

“We did very well last year,” he said. “It was a good decision.”

The year-round operation features two-layer boxes of tomatoes, packed under Patterson Farms’ house label, Millbridge Finest.

The company sources from all over, but tries, when it can, to get tomatoes from as close to home as possible, Patterson said.