Hurricane Michael ruined 7 percent of the U.S. cotton crop

Georgia, the No. 2 cotton state, lost one-third of its crop to Hurricane Michael, said the USDA on Thursday in lowering its estimate of the total U.S. harvest by 7 percent because of storm damage in the Southeast.

Field tests of poison bait for wild pigs to begin soon

The USDA will begin tests in Texas and Alabama of a toxic sodium nitrate bait to kill feral swine, said USDA's Wildlife Services, which combats invasive animals. More than 6 million wild pigs roam parts of at least 35 states and cause an estimated $190 million in crop damage annually, says the USDA.

Outsider Moore defeats Senate Ag panelist Strange in Alabama runoff

Bible-quoting conservative firebrand Roy Moore handily defeated appointed Sen. Luther Strange in the runoff for the GOP nomination to complete the term of former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions. The result guarantees turnover in Senate Agriculture Committee membership to replace Strange, a supporter of additional cotton subsidies, following the Dec. 12 general election.

The Alabama runoff election could affect 2018 farm bill

The newest member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Luther Strange of Alabama, is also the first to face the voters. The outcome of today's runoff election between Strange, cast as the establishment candidate, and Roy Moore, the Bible-quoting, conservative outsider, for the Republican nomination for the Senate could influence the course of the 2018 farm bill.

Alabama farm group sticks with Strange in GOP Senate runoff

The 357,000-member Alabama Farmers Federation, the largest farm group in the state, endorsed appointed Sen. Luther Strange four months ago and is standing by him for next Tuesday’s runoff election with Roy Moore, former chief justice of the state Supreme Court. President Trump is scheduled to hold a rally for Strange on Friday night in Huntsville, in northern Alabama.

Trump plays favorites in Alabama Senate race, Brooks cries foul

In a 22-word tweet, President Trump dove into the Republican primary for Senate in Alabama, endorsing appointed Sen. Luther Strange, a reliably conservative vote on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Three front-runners are vying for two spots on the runoff that is expected to follow Tuesday's primary; Rep. Mo Brooks said Trump was "somehow misled" into endorsing Strange.

Senate race in Alabama could change Ag panel lineup

The newest member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Luther Strange of Alabama, appointed to the Senate in February to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, also is the first of the panel's members to face the voters. He's in a neck-and-neck race ahead of the Aug. 15 Republican primary election and has appealed to the farm block for support.

Alabama has case of mad cow disease

An 11-year-old cow, intercepted at a livestock market in Alabama, is the fifth U.S. case of mad cow disease, the brain-wasting fatal disease found generally in older cattle, said the USDA. "This finding ... should not lead to any trade issues," said USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, because it was the "atypical" type that seems to occur spontaneously.

Alabama FarmPAC backs Strange out of 19 Senate candidates

Less than a week after the filing deadline for the special Senate election this year, the political action committee of the Alabama Farmers Federation endorsed appointed Sen. Luther Strange out of 19 candidates in the race.

Second outbreak of deadly bird flu found in Tennessee

The USDA confirmed the second case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in southern Tennessee since March 4, in a 55,000-bird broiler-breeder flock less than two miles from the first outbreak in Lincoln County. "Depopulation has begun," a standard step to prevent spread of the bird flu virus that can wipe out an infected flock in two days, said USDA.

Bird flu suspected in three counties in northern Alabama

The Alabama state veterinarian issued a "stop movement" order affecting poultry because of three suspected cases of bird flu in northern counties that border Tennessee, said the state Department of Agriculture and Industries. The incidents follow the confirmation of highly pathogenic avian influenza on a broiler-breeder farm in southern Tennessee last week.

As drought spreads, the South prays for rain

At the same time rainfall is slaking drought in the Pacific Northwest, the southeastern quadrant of the United States faces intensifying drought, with the worst conditions in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and eastern Tennessee. Georgia's state agriculture director, Gary Black, is to take part in a rally to "discuss the drought facing Georgia's agricultural community and to pray for the rain Georgia so desperately needs" on Monday.

Catfish farming loses its lure

U.S. fish farms are producing only one-quarter as many catfish this year as they did when the industry peaked in 2002, according to USDA data. The decline has been blamed on higher feed costs, a change in consumer tastes, and imports from Asia.