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SALEM, OR

Fewer suppliers means Christmas trees may cost more 

Christmas trees in Oregon may cost a bit more this year as the supply of holiday firs in the state has dropped.

An oversupply of trees in 2015 led some growers to leave the market, meaning there are fewer trees to go around this year, which could push prices slightly up.

Tracy Fisher of Hupp Farms, Silverton, said the company has seen high sales and has turned down at least 50 inquiries for trees. People are just scrambling for Christmas trees, she said.

Fisher said Hupp Farms is selling noble firs for around $5 per foot — with popular sizes ranging between 6 and 8 feet tall. She said those prices are slightly higher and more in line with 2005 levels. The farm has sold 22,000 trees so far.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, harvest and sales of trees dropped 26 percent in 2015 compared to 2010. USDA statistician Dave Losh said growers planted an overabundance of trees compared to the demand for them and as supply outpaced demand, prices fell and growers left.

JEFFERSON. GA

Kubota begins construction on major expansion of distribution center

Kubota Tractor Corporation announced that it has begun construction on an important 617,865 sq. ft. expansion of its National Distribution Center (NDC) on the company’s existing property in Jefferson, GA, the project is adjacent to the Kubota Industrial Equipment (KIE) facility off of I-85 North.

Scheduled for completion in July 2017, the expansion’s nearly $16 million investment is a direct response to Kubota’s continued growth and manufacturing demands in its compact tractor, utility vehicle and turf product markets.

The extended facility will triple the existing square footage to accommodate 956,161 sq. ft. of space that will allow the company to increase warehousing efficiencies to store and process more equipment produced by nearby Kubota Manufacturing of America (KMA) and KIE, which are both primed to increase production to meet growing consumer demand.

The newly expanded NDC will store and process Kubota equipment – tractors, backhoes, loaders, tires, weights, along with hay tools, utility vehicles, and turf equipment – until it’s ready for distribution to dealers around the country.

NASHVILLE, TN

Governor eases restrictions on trucks hauling hay 

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has issued an executive order to ease restrictions on trucks hauling hay in response to drought conditions.

Haslam said in a news release that the order will allow haulers to move hay across Tennessee so farmers can feed their livestock during the drought.

The order will increase the height and width of hay trailer loads during daylight hours on Tennessee highways. The increase in width will allow haulers to move standard round hay bales side by side, which will increase the capacity hauled per truck without a special permit.

Tennessee ranks fifth in the nation in hay production. The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service predicts Tennessee will produce nearly 4 million tons of hay this year. The executive order will expire on Jan. 31, 2017.

SANTA MARIA, CA

Cockfighting leads to bust

Nearly a dozen people were detained and several roosters were rescued after authorities busted a weekend cockfighting tournament at a California farm where spectators bet thousands of dollars, officials said.

Officers acting on an anonymous tip responded Sunday to the property near Santa Maria and found as many as 50 people gathered around a large ring with a cockfight in progress, said Santa Barbara County Sheriff's officials. Authorities managed to detain 11 people on suspicion of participating in an illegal cockfight and other charges. Several of those detained were also cited for possession of cockfighting paraphernalia including blades and suture kits, she said.

A search of the farm turned up six dead roosters, as many as 20 live roosters in cages, and two injured roosters, officials said. Santa Barbara County Animal Services took possession of all the birds. The injured roosters will be euthanized.

An initial investigation found the cockfight was part of a tournament that attracted spectators from surrounding counties. Some of the bets placed were as high as $12,000.

ALBANY, NY

Farm-to-foodbank bill awaits action by NY Gov. Cuomo

A bill creating a tax break for New York state farmers who donate food to food banks is awaiting action by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Farmers already donate millions of pounds of food every year, but say the credit of up to $5,000 annually would reduce the costs of harvesting and transporting surplus crops that would otherwise go to waste.

The Hunger Action Network of New York State has made the bill a priority, saying it will address a growing hunger problem around the state.

It's also supported by environmentalists and agriculture groups who say it will reduce food waste and help poor New Yorkers get access to healthy fruits and vegetables.

The Democratic governor vetoed the bill last year because lawmakers didn't include it in the budget.

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