As meat plants reopen, Iowa, South Dakota, Pennsylvania and Nebraska are coronavirus leaders

As many as 18 percent of workers in meat and poultry plants are infected with the coronavirus in Iowa and South Dakota, while Pennsylvania and Nebraska account for one-quarter of the Covid-19 cases nationwide, said CDC scientists and state public health officials. The CDC released the report as Smithfield Foods, one of the giants of the meat industry, began to reopen a hog plant that was a coronavirus hot spot three weeks ago.(No paywall)

Smithfield closes pork plant indefinitely; hot spot for coronavirus

Under pressure from state and local officials, Smithfield Foods said that its mammoth pork plant in Sioux Falls "will remain closed until further notice" and suggested Covid-19 cases could jeopardize the U.S. food supply. The pork plant was linked to 38 percent of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Dakota.(No paywall)

Drought in northern Plains fuels futures market

Futures prices for spring wheat soared 40 percent in a month and hit nearly $8 a bushel at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange on Monday, a four-year high, due to drought in the northern Plains, said the Wall Street Journal. The spring wheat prices, far above USDA's forecast of a season average $4.30 a bushel for this year's wheat crop, illustrate the demand for high-quality wheat despite a global glut.

New SDSU degree fills void in precision-ag education

South Dakota State University will launch the nation's first four-year degree in precision agriculture this fall, with a goal of educating "the next generation of innovators," reports AgWeb

One-third of cropland shift to corn was in the Dakotas

U.S. corn plantings grew 10 percent in the past decade, driven by the commodity boom that began in 2006. Economist Gary Schnitkey says the expansion occurred mostly in the western Corn Belt, with North Dakota and South Dakota accounting for one-third of the increased U.S. acreage of 7.9 million acres.

Farming on the urban edge, bison on the Plains

In Brentwood, a "para-urban" community in Contra Costa County on the eastern outskirts of San Francisco, an amalgam of groups combines to keep 20,000 acres of farmland in production and out of subdivisions, office parks and strip malls, says Kristina Johnson at Civil Eats.

Crop tour wraps up, do big crops get bigger?

Crop scouts reported strong potential corn yields in southwestern Iowa and the northern half of Illinois as the annual Pro Farmer crop tour headed toward release today of an estimate of the U.S. corn and soybean crops.

Tour indicates strong corn yields in Ohio and South Dakota

Corn yields in Ohio and South Dakota are likely to be far above last year's levels, say scouts on the Pro Farmer crop tour. Their reports indicate a yield of 182.1 bushels an acre in Ohio and 152.7 bushels an acre in South Dakota.

Crop insurance, direct payments favor different states

The 2014 farm law ended the direct-payment subsidy and made crop insurance the major farm support. For most states, there is little difference in the state's share of the receipts.