Ag News Briefs

Quick Hits on Issues Affecting Ag From Around the World

The following are news briefs on issues affecting agriculture from around the nation and world.

(LAST UPDATED: 2/12/2019 AT 3:28 p.m. CDT)

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30 Acres in Illinois Once Owned By Lincoln Head to Auction

(AP) -- A plot of Illinois farmland once owned by President Abraham Lincoln is heading to auction.

A retired farmer in the central Illinois city of Charleston is selling his family's 590-acre farm, which includes a 30-acre plot once owned by the nation's 16th president.

The retired farmer, Ron Best, tells the (Charleston) Times-Courier and Mattoon Journal-Gazette that he knows some people might think of the land's historical significance during Tuesday's auction.

He says the land has been farmed the entire time, adding: "It's not like Lincoln's stove pipe hat, that you can put on a shelf and say this was Lincoln's."

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Farmers Optimistic on Ag Economy, Concerned on Farm Values

(Dow Jones) -- Farmers were more optimistic about the agricultural economy in January, but are still concerned about farmland values, the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer says. The barometer--based on 400 survey responses from agricultural producers--rebounds to 143 in January, up 16 points from December. The survey measured farmer sentiment after the announcement of USDA's second round of Market Facilitation Program payments and the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. "It appears that these two announcements provided a significant boost to producer sentiment regarding both current and future economic conditions," says James Mintert, director of Purdue's Center for Commercial Agriculture. The percentage expecting higher farmland values over the next 12 months declined from 17% to 13% and producers expecting higher farmland values in five years declined 2 points to 48%.

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Experts Predict Another Challenging Year for Dairy Farmers

(AP) --- The country's dairy farmers are in for another challenging year with milk farm prices only expected to improve slightly, following four straight years of low prices, experts said Thursday.

One plus is that the new farm bill includes an improved insurance program that farmers pay for to help them when the gap between milk prices and feed prices reach a certain level. But the program was delayed by the 35-day partial government shutdown. While the shutdown is now over, the Farm Services Agency still has to write the rules for the margin program.

"The good news is that farmers have insurance. The bad news is that farmers even have to use insurance to make their milk check whole," said Doug DiMento, a spokesman for Agri-Mark, Inc., a dairy cooperative in the Northeast.

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Poland Exports 5,500-Pounds of Meat From Sick Cows

(AP) -- About 2,500 kilograms (5,500 pounds) of meat from sick cows who were slaughtered illegally in Poland has been exported to 10 other European Union countries, the country's top state veterinary official said on Thursday.

Pawel Niemczuk said the meat was also distributed to 20 selling points in Poland but has since been recalled.

The announcement follows the recent airing of an undercover report by the private broadcaster TVN that documented sick cows being slaughtered in violation of the law in the northeastern Polish town of Ostrow Mazowiecka.

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Ranchers Whose Case Sparked Standoff Get Grazing Rights Back

(AP) -- Two ranchers who were convicted in 2012 of intentionally setting fires on public land in Oregon have had their grazing rights restored.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, in one of his last actions before resigning, ordered the renewal of a 10-year grazing permit for Hammond Ranches Inc., run by Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven Hammond. The decision was dated Jan. 2, but it wasn't sent out until this week.

Zinke ordered the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to renew the grazing permit through 2024.

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EU Approves US Soybeans for Biofuel Production

(AP) -- The European Union has approved U.S. soybean exports to be used in the production of biofuels in an effort to boost such imports following last summer's trans-Atlantic meeting between President Donald Trump and his EU Commission counterpart Jean-Claude Juncker.

The summit meeting was able to stave off a tariffs war on industrial goods like cars but Juncker made a commitment to buy more U.S. soybeans.

Sales have doubled since, but mostly because of market forces. Tuesday's approval that US soybeans can be used for biofuel is bound to boost sales even more.

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Using Banned Pesticide That Sickened Family Nets Man Prison

(AP) -- The ex-manager of a pest-control company in the U.S. Virgin Islands has been sentenced to a year in prison for poisoning a Delaware family with a banned pesticide.

The News Journal reports 59-year-old Jose Rivera was charged with knowingly using methyl bromide in the St. John condominium complex where the Esmond family stayed in 2015. He was also charged with applying it in St. Croix and St. Thomas. He pleaded guilty to four counts.

His public defender lobbied against prison, arguing Rivera didn't know the pesticide was banned. He was sentenced Tuesday.

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German Farmers Protest Agro-Industry, Back Healthy Foods

(AP) -- Thousands of farmers from across Germany and their supporters have protested at Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate, calling for climate-friendly agriculture and healthy food.

Some 170 tractors drove in from farms around the country to join 12,000 protesters for the Saturday demonstration under the motto "we are fed up with the agricultural industry."

The protest was called to coincide with the German capital's "Green Week" agricultural fair, and Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner's meetings with dozens of countries about more international cooperation on agricultural issues, the dpa news agency reported.

(BE)