Today’s quick hits, April 15, 2019

Tom and Bernhardt confirmed by Senate (Congressional Record): The Senate confirmed by voice vote Indiana mega-farmer Kip Tom as U.S. ambassador to the UN agencies on food and agriculture and on a 56-41 roll call David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary.

China to lose 30 percent of pork output (National Hog Farmer): Analysts Rabobank Research says Chinese pork production could fall by 30 percent due to the epidemic of African swine fever – more pork than either the United States or the EU produces in a year – with no easy way to fill a gap of 10 million tonnes of animal protein this year.

Fruits and vegetables keep California No. 1 (USDA): The annual Crop Values report lists California as the leading agricultural state with $33.5 billion worth of crops, most of it fruit, nuts and vegetables. It’s well ahead of second-place Iowa with $14.2 billion and No. 3 Illinois with $13.9 billion in production, both of which see almost all of their revenue from field crops.

Quotas get in the way of a corn deal (AgriCensus): Unless China changes its import quota system for corn, it will be difficult to achieve the doubling in U.S. purchases that reportedly is being considered as part of a Sino-U.S. trade agreement, said an official of the feed trading company Donlink; the official was similarly skeptical about a large increase in sales of U.S. soybeans.

Harder to get farm operating loans (Des Moines Register): Some Iowa farmers are selling parcels of land to generate revenue so they can stay in operation this year due to continued low commodity prices; “dozens” of farmers may be unable to get bank financing for spring planting.

Starkist to pay price-fixing penalty (Undercurrent): The U.S. tuna canning company Starkist tentatively agreed to pay $50 million as a penalty in a price-fixing case while arguing that a potential maximum penalty of $100 million would lead it to bankruptcy.