Today’s quick hits, Feb. 19, 2019

Early release of SNAP benefits (Politico): Nearly three dozen states will release March SNAP benefits on an expedited basis to minimize the financial strain on households that, because of the partial government shutdown, received their February benefits early. At least four states are already planning for the early release of April benefits.

Trade war inhibits equipment purchases (Deere): “Customer concerns over tariffs and trade policies … caused farmers to become more cautious about making major purchases,” said Deere and Co. chief executive Samuel Allen in reporting higher overall first-quarter earnings for the world’s largest farm equipment manufacturer.

An ‘agri-hood’ in Iowa (Des Moines Register): A land developer wants to build the state’s first “agri-hood” — a housing development that will contain a farm, an orchard, a vineyard, and retailers — on 400 acres near a small town on the outskirts of Des Moines.

Toledo to vote on Lake Erie pollution plan (OSU): Voters in the Ohio city will decide on Feb. 26 whether to amend the city charter with a Lake Erie Bill of Rights, which would empower residents and the city to file lawsuits against business and government entities to prevent industrial waste or noxious runoff from entering the lake.

Fifty percent is a passing grade (Washington Post): In trials this year, engineers of the latest iteration of a mechanical strawberry picker aim to harvest half of the fruit without crushing or dropping it. Field workers, whose livelihood is threatened by the mechanical picker, successfully harvest an average of 80 percent of strawberries.

Grains Council chief to retire (USGC): After a quarter-century at the U.S. Grains Council, the last seven as CEO, Tom Sleight will retire this summer from the export trade group.