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As Dow seeks growth, new Enlist crop/chemicals seen as key

By Carey Gillam INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Dan Kittle has spent more than a decade waiting for this day. As the man in charge of research and development at Dow AgroSciences, the unit of Dow Chemical Co that develops agricultural seeds and pesticides, Kittle remembers the "big shock" when rival Monsanto Co unveiled a genetically modified seed in 1996 designed to be used in combination with a specific herbicide, a combination that rapidly led Monsanto to riches.

U.N. world food price index jumps 2.6 percent in February

By Naomi O'Leary ROME (Reuters) - Global food prices rose 2.6 percent in February in the sharpest climb since mid-2012 due to unfavorable weather, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday, with the crisis in Ukraine threatening to cause future volatility. The Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) price index, which measures monthly price changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 208.1 points in February, up 5.2 points from a slightly revised January index of 202.9.

Top British vet calls for halal, kosher changes

The incoming head of Britain's professional vets body called Thursday for traditional Jewish and Islamic animal slaughter practices to be banned if they cannot adapt to methods deemed more humane. John Blackwell, president-elect of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), said allowing animals to bleed to death for halal and kosher meat caused unnecessary suffering. In an interview with The Times newspaper, he urged Muslims and Jews to allow sheep, poultry and cattle to be rendered unconscious before having their throats slit.

Dairy supply management costs billions, limits dairy industry: Conference Board

OTTAWA - The Conference Board says Canada's protectionist supply management system is costing consumers of dairy products billions of dollars, while also acting as a drag on the industry it coddles. The report argues that Canadian consumers pay $2.6 billion — or about $276 per family — more a year than those in other countries as a result of a system that inflates prices for dairy products, including milk and cheese.

Even as Japan baulks at trade concessions, farmers move on

By James Topham CHIBA CITY, Japan (Reuters) - When it comes to trade policy, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces a choice between the fears of Japan's ageing farm lobby and the hopes of suburban families lined up here at a nearly 20-metre long meat counter in a mall showcasing Australian beef.

China vows to cut industrial capacity faster, fight pollution

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will cut excess industrial capacity a year earlier than planned and fight pollution through reforms in energy pricing to boost non-fossil fuel power, the government said on Wednesday. To ensure food security, Beijing also said it will expand the scope of agricultural subsidies for grains and other commodities, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's economic planner, said in its 2014 work document.

Slow U.S. winter thaw needed to avoid more wheat damage: USDA

By Colin Packham CANBERRA (Reuters) - A gradual end to the U.S. big freeze is needed to prevent further damage to the country's wheat crop, the chief economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said on Tuesday. U.S. wheat futures have firmed in recent weeks amid concerns over potential curbs to yields as a result of cold weather across the U.S. plains. "The persistence of winter has been a problem...," said the USDA's Joseph Glauber at a commodities conference in the Australian capital Canberra.

Bovines with buddies learn better, says new UBC research on Holsteins

VANCOUVER - If you're cattle are easily rattled or your heifers seems a little half-witted, maybe they just need a bovine buddy. New research out of the University of British Columbia suggests dairy calves learn better when they're in pairs, which might help them get the hang of that new robotic milker or feeder.

USDA to spend $3M to help honeybees by improving pastures in Upper Midwest

MILWAUKEE - The U.S. Department of Agriculture will spend millions of dollars to help farmers and ranchers improve pastures in five Midwestern states to provide food for the nation's struggling honeybees under a program to be announced Tuesday. Commercial honeybees pollinate an estimated $15 billion worth of produce each year. Many beekeepers bring hives to the Upper Midwest in the summer for bees to gather nectar and pollen for food, then truck them in the spring to California and other states to pollinate everything from almonds to apples to avocadoes.

Some California almond farmers decide to rip out high-value trees in face of record dry year

FIREBAUGH, Calif. - With California's agricultural heartland entrenched in drought, almond farmers are letting orchards dry up and in some cases making the tough call to have their trees torn out of the ground, leaving behind empty fields. In California's Central Valley, Barry Baker is one of many who hired a crew that brought in large rumbling equipment to perform the grim task in a cloud of dust.
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