U.S. citrus harvest down 20 percent in one year

Citrus production has trended downward for years, but it dropped abruptly, by 20 percent, in the just-ended 2017/18 season, affected greatly by Hurricane Irma in Florida, said the USDA in its annual Citrus report.

As ICE threatens, meatpacker struggles to find workers

In December 2006, Immigration and Customs Enforcement carried out the largest workplace raid in history. They arrested over 1,300 workers in six states, including 300 from Cactus, Texas, a small town with just over 3,000 residents. The Cactus workers were picked up from a meatpacking plant, then owned by Swift & Co. before it was acquired by JBS in 2007.

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.

Texas asks EPA for waiver from 2018 biofuels mandate

Almost as soon as the EPA set the biofuel targets for the new year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requested a waiver that would exempt one-fourth of U.S. refining capacity from the Renewable Fuel Standard for the coming year, reports Argus Media. Meanwhile, the White House was reported to schedule a meeting for Thursday between the oil industry and ethanol producers to discuss possible changes to the 10-year-old RFS.

Hurricanes walloped Texas and Florida but vegetable market persevered

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which ravaged Florida's orange crop, "seem to have had little effect on vegetable prices," says USDA's Vegetable and Pulses Outlook. The storms arrived early in the planting season for so-called winter vegetables, "primarily causing a delay in plantings," according to USDA economists.

Hurricanes knock 600,000 bales, or 3 percent, out of U.S. cotton harvest

The one-two punch of Hurricane Harvey on Gulf coast and Hurricane Irma in the Southeast reduced the U.S. cotton crop by more than 600,000 bales, or 3 percent, said the USDA in its monthly crop report. The USDA lowered its estimate of the harvest in Texas, the No. 1 cotton state, and in No. 2 Georgia, down by 300,000 bales apiece.

For Texas high school students, a low-cal latte before first period

Timber Creek High School in Keller, Texas, opened a coffee bar that sells lattes, mochas and iced blended coffee drinks along with muffins and fruit cups to students, joining several other schools in the Forth Worth area that offer the caffeinated perk, reports the Star-Telegram. "We have a generation that drinks coffee," said a food-service manager for the Keller schools who oversees the coffee shop.

Traffic accident injures three during Perdue tour of Texas damage

Three federal workers were injured in the collision of a semi-truck and another vehicle in a motorcade carrying Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on a tour of hurricane damage on the Texas Gulf Coast, said the Texas Tribune. Perdue, who was in another vehicle with Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and U.S. House Agriculture Committee chairman Michael Conaway, was not injured.

Serious damage to Florida citrus crop, says state ag commissioner

Florida, the No. 1 citrus-growing state in the nation, suffered "serious and devastating losses from Hurricane Irma," said state agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam after an aerial tour of groves in central and southwest Florida. The harvest season for oranges and grapefruit normally begins in October, so the storm arrived as the fruit was nearing maturity.