Avian flu expected back in the fall

This spring the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza epidemic tore through poultry farms across 15 U.S. states, leading to the death of 48 million birds. The bulk of those were egg-laying hens, though turkey production was affected, too.

Crop-insurance claims zoom for prevented planting

Crop-insurance claims by farmers for prevented planting are up by 48 percent this year, said Bloomberg, a reflection of the cold and rainy spring. Growers filed claims on 2.3 million acres of corn and nearly 2.2 million acres of soybeans, said the news agency, based on its review of federal data.

Somewhat smaller U.S. crops but little lift for low prices

Corn and soybean growers will harvest smaller crops than projected by the government, according to a private survey of 1,300 growers, but that will mean little relief for depressed market prices.

Senate bill would label GE salmon, block beef imports

Retailers would have to identify transgenic salmon as genetically engineered and imports of raw beef from Brazil and Argentina would be barred under the USDA/FDA funding bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

As popularity of almonds surges, prices rise due to drought

America's almond craze - per-capita consumption doubled in the past seven years - "has come at a cost," says Bloomberg. Prices are up by $1 per pound from last year and growers feel the strain of the fourth year of drought in California, the largest almond producer.

Monsanto-Syngenta merger could start chain reaction

If Monsanto pulls off a merger with Syngenta, a leader in one of the remaining major agrochemical companies expects an industry-wide overhaul of strategy, said Bloomberg.

USDA pricetag for bird-flu epidemic may top $500 million

In a Bloomberg interview, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the government may spend more than half a billion dollars to fight the avian-influenza epidemic and to compensate poultry producers for their flocks.

Soy crop is second-largest ever, analysts say

Farmers planted slightly more land to soybeans than they planned in June, analysts said ahead of a USDA report that will provide the best evidence yet of this year's crops. In surveys by Reuters and Bloomberg, analysts forecast soybean plantings at a record 85.3 million acres, up 1 percent from the USDA's March survey of intentions and 2-percent more than the mark set last year.

After three-week surge, fewer bird-flu outbreaks reported

The worst avian influenza epidemic ever to hit the U.S. poultry industry is losing its punch, says Agri-Pulse, with fewer outbreaks being reported on a weekly basis and "leading industry and government officials to discuss steps to prevent a similar outbreak in the fall."

Mexico eases restrictions on U.S. poultry

A decision by Mexico to allow the import of poultry meat from states affected by avian influenza "signals the disease's threat to U.S. poultry exports is starting to subside," according to a report from Bloomberg.

Japan lowers its target for food self-sufficiency

Japan, the largest Asian importer of corn, beef and pork, has lowered its target for food self-sufficiency to 45 percent by 2026 from the current 50 percent, said Bloomberg.

USDA data-fest highlights early crop projections

The USDA's annual Outlook Forum traditionally generates headlines with its projections of U.S. crop production seven months before harvest, a challenging exercise considering the many factors that could intervene. A late-winter surge in commodity prices could sway planting decisions, a cold and rainy spring can force last-minute changes among crops, and a summer drought can destroy crop prospects.

Dow gets cold shoulder for its 2,4-D seed technology

Two major seed companies say they don't plan to use Dow's genetics that allow soybeans to tolerate the herbicides 2,4-D and glyphosate, says Bloomberg.

Obama mentions farm use while discussing drone rules

In a CNN interview, President Obama called for regulations for drones to ensure "that we get the good and minimize the bad." The president commented one day after a two-foot wide drone crashed on the White House grounds.

Senate vote unlikely on amendment against ethanol mandate

A co-sponsor of a Senate amendment to eliminate annual targets for ethanol consumption says the amendment will not be called for a vote as part of debate on the Keystone pipeline.

Japan election puts cloud over farm-sector reform

In a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plans for economic reform, including agriculture policy, his party's candidate for governor in heavily agricultural Saga prefecture was defeated in weekend elections.

Big US shift to soybeans in 2015, says farmer survey

Growers plan "a massive shift into soybeans" and away from corn in 2015, according to an email survey of 1,650 farmers by Farm Futures that concluded a few days ago.

Egg producers prepare for new California rule

California's new humane-treatment rule for egg-laying hens takes effect on Jan 1 and is having an impact on producers as far away as Pennsylvania, says Bloomberg.

First female agriculture minister is appointed in Brazil

Katia Abreu, a former head of the largest farm lobbying group in Brazil, is the first woman to be appointed agriculture minister of the world's largest coffee, sugar and beef exporter, says Bloomberg.

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