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Farm groups meet with Transport Minister Raitt about clogged grain rail system

OTTAWA - Farm groups in Western Canada have given the federal government some ideas on how to get the clogged grain transportation system back on track. The groups met with Transport Minister Lisa Raitt last week to discuss what they call the dire situation facing grain farmers. Doug Chorney of Manitoba's Keystone Agricultural Producers says they told Raitt that Ottawa should fine grain shippers that don't meet their commitments. The groups also suggested the government should toughen and enforce rules that pertain to railways.

Google pledges $6.8M for free transit for low-income San Francisco kids

SAN FRANCISCO - Google is donating nearly $7 million to allow San Francisco to continue providing free bus and other transportation services to low-income city kids. City officials announced the donation on Thursday and said it will cover an additional two years of the free transit program. The program is currently funded by a regional transportation agency through June 2014.

AP Weekly News Calendar

?Thursday, Feb. 27: BRUSSELS — DAY 2 of NATO defence ministers' meeting, with focus on Afghanistan and Ukraine. News conference by alliance secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen scheduled at 1240 GMT. MANILA — U.N. Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos to hold a press conference on her latest visit to areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan three months ago to assess relief work and plans for rehabilitation and reconstruction.

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.

Trend of older farmers, fewer farms shows no signs of reversing: StatsCan

OTTAWA - A report released by Statistics Canada says the number of farms in Canada is dropping, while their size is growing along with the age of the people running them. The agency, which looked at the makeup of the industry based on data from the 2011 agricultural census, says there were 205,730 farms in 2011 — a decline of more than 74,000 since 1991. Its report released Tuesday also says the average farm area increased from 80 hectares to 315 hectares.

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.

France's Trierweiler wants to extend charity work after slum visit

Former French first lady Valerie Trierweiler said Tuesday during a charity trip to India that she did not wish to return to political journalism but would like to deepen her humanitarian commitments. On a visit to a Mumbai slum on the second day of her India trip with French charity Action Contre La Faim (Action Against Hunger), Trierweiler told AFP that she would like to do more charity work -- "especially towards poor children". Still employed as an arts writer by the French magazine Paris Match, she said however that she did not wish to return to political reporting.

Eastern Chinese province first to ease one-child policy

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's wealthy eastern province of Zhejiang became the first to implement a new landmark relaxation of the country's strict one-child policy on Friday, state media reported, allowing more parents to have a second child. The government said late last year it would allow millions of families to have two children, the most radical relaxation of its strict one-child policy in close to three decades. The move is part of a plan to raise fertility rates and ease the financial burden on China's rapidly ageing population.

China to ease one-child policy early next year

BEIJING (Reuters) - Changes to China's strict one-child policy, which will allow more parents to have a second child, will begin to roll out early next year, state media said. The policy change is expected to go into force in some areas of China in the first quarter of 2014, Yang Wenzhuang, a director at the National Health and Family Planning Commission, told the official Xinhua news agency.
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