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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.

Winter woes drive up costs at Agrium potash mine, impede product rail shipments

CALGARY - Nasty weather is driving up costs at Agrium's potash mine expansion in Saskatchewan and making it more difficult for the fertilizer maker to get its products to market. On a conference call on Friday, company executives said the cost of the Vanscoy project, southwest of Saskatoon, has risen by 25 per cent over the original estimate of $1.5 billion. That brings its price tag close to $1.9 billion.

Ag census shows boom in farm sales, small increase in younger farmers

WASHINGTON - American agriculture has experienced a boom, with market values of crops, livestock and total agricultural products reaching record highs even as the amount of U.S. farmland declined, according to a new government survey. Continuing a long-term trend, the number of U.S. farms dropped to 2.1 million in 2012, about a 4 per cent drop from five years earlier. But some of the bigger farms got bigger. The average farm grew from 418 to 434 acres.

Number of US farms declines, farmers are aging - but ray of hope in number of younger farmers

WASHINGTON - The number of U.S. farms is declining even as the value of their crops and livestock has increased over the past five years, a government census of American agriculture released Thursday says. The survey, taken every five years, shows there were a total of 2.1 million farms in the United States in 2012, down a little more than 4 per cent from 2007. That follows a long-term trend of declining numbers of farms.

U.S. proposes new safety rules for farm pesticide use

By Carey Gillam (Reuters) - Farm workers, children and other people working or living near farm fields would have more protection from hazardous pesticides under changes proposed on Thursday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Today marks an important milestone for the farm workers who plant, tend, and harvest the food that we put on our tables each day," Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, said in a statement.

First update to workplace standards in 20 years aims to better protect farmers from pesticides

WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to strengthen 20-year-old standards aimed at protecting farmworkers from toxic pesticides. The changes proposed Thursday would bar anyone 16 and younger from handling the most toxic pesticides and require no-entry zones around and in treated fields to protect workers from drift and fumes. Farms would also have to provide annual training sessions on pesticide risk to workers. Now, farmworkers receive training once every five years.

Gov't to strengthen quarantine requirements for animal farms

SEJONG, Feb. 18 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government said Tuesday it will enforce stricter requirements in issuing licenses for animal farms in its latest measure to battle animal diseases. The measure was announced as quarantine authorities confirmed more than 70 cases of avian influenza (AI) since the first outbreak reported on Jan. 16 at a duck farm in Gochang, some 300 kilometers southwest of Seoul in North Jeolla Province.

US crop values declined in many states last year as corn, soybean prices dropped

DES MOINES, Iowa - The value of U.S. crops fell 9.8 per cent last year as prices declined for major crops, including corn and soybeans, from 2012's record high levels, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its annual estimate. The value of field crops fell 9.8 per cent to $166.95 billion in 2013, down from $185.12 billion in 2012, the USDA said in Friday's report. The value is determined by multiplying the average price for a crop from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 by the total production.

France moves to ban GM maize planting in short, long term

PARIS (Reuters) - France published a decree on Monday to prevent the planting of genetically modified maize as a stopgap measure, while the government works on changes to domestic and European laws to ensure a longer-term ban. The French government, which maintains that GM crops present environmental risks, has been trying to institute a new ban on GM maize (corn) after a senior court twice struck down similar measures.

Floods in Britain threaten farm output and investment

By Nigel Hunt LONDON (Reuters) - Floods in southwest England and elsewhere have submerged crops and destroyed cattle bedding and feed, with the consequences likely to be felt for months, or even years, in terms of lower production of both crops and meat. Britain's Environment Agency had issued 416 flood warnings and alerts, as of early Thursday, including 16 under its most serious category, indicating danger to life.
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