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DES MOINES, IA

Iowa pig population reaches record 23.6 million

Iowa has reached a record number of pigs on farms as the pork industry continues to expand production amid questionable export demand due to tariff battles with China.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday Iowa has 23.6 million pigs on farms as of Sept. 1, an increase of 4 percent from the previous year and the highest number recorded.

That makes Iowa the leading pork producer by far. North Carolina is second with 9.4 million pigs and Minnesota third with 8.6 million.

The total for the United States has reached 75.5 million pigs, a 3 percent increase from a year ago.

Overproduction and fewer export markets could result in cheaper pork chops and ham, but low prices make profitability a challenge for farmers.

The USDA predicts increased U.S. demand for pork and industry groups say they're working to find other markets to sell product.

PETALUMA, CA

67 animal activists arrested at California chicken farm

Sheriff's officials say 67 animal welfare activists were arrested during an organized protest at a Northern California poultry farm.

The protesters, part of the group Direct Action Everywhere, say they were demonstrating Saturday against what they characterized as inhumane conditions at McCoy's Poultry Services near Petaluma. The activists allege they documented mass confinement of chickens in filthy industrial sheds at the site.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office says the owner and an employee of the company were assaulted by a protester.

The operators of the facility could not be reached on Sept. 30 for comment.

Officials say those arrested could face trespass and burglary charges.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat newspaper reports it was the third large protest organized by the activist group at a Sonoma County poultry farm this year.

FORT WAYNE, IN

Officials: Indiana farmers may struggle with grain storage

Indiana farmers may see storage problems amid forecasts of higher-than-average yields and lingering tariffs from President Donald Trump's trade disputes with China, according to state agriculture officials.

Greg Matli, a statistician with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service, told The Journal Gazette that the service's September report predicts record yields for corn and soybeans.

Some crops from last year remain unsold and are occupying storage space because of low prices and the Trump administration's trade tariffs, said Jordan Seger, the deputy director of the State Department of Agriculture.

"Some of the discussion has been, one of the reasons for those low prices right now is just some of the trade and tariff discussions that are going on at a national and international level," Seger said. "And obviously low prices affect when a farmer wants to sell his or her grain. So, it's all kind of interrelated."

Indiana officials announced last week that licensed facilities, such as farmers and grain elevators, can apply to store grain outside in covered piles if grain bins fill up.

Some grain elevators have 25 percent of their capacity in leftover grain, said Roger Hadley, the Allen County president of the Indiana Farm Bureau. Some locations aren't accepting grain yet this season, he said.

"They're probably still a little bit full, and they're trying to figure out how to get rid of this grain at a price that's going to be good for them and still be able to make it to where we're actually in full harvest," Hadley said.

ST. PAUL, MN

Muddy field conditions challenge Minnesota farmers

Scattered rainfall has created muddy field conditions that are making harvesting a challenge in parts of Minnesota.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday in its weekly crop progress and condition report for Minnesota that farmers had 3.8 days suitable for fieldwork last week.

The report says 87 percent of Minnesota's corn crop has reached maturity, 12 days ahead of the five-year average. The harvest of corn for grain reached 8 percent complete, over two weeks ahead of last year and six days ahead of average.

Minnesota soybeans are also developing ahead of schedule. Twenty-seven percent of the crop had been harvested as of Sunday, 10 days ahead of last year's pace and one day ahead of average.

The sugarbeet harvest was 18 percent complete, one week ahead of average.

Kansas City, MO

Certified Hereford Beef modifies program marbling score specification

The Certified Hereford Beef® and the American Hereford Association (AHA) Board of Directors voted unanimously to modify the minimum marbling score requirement of the current Schedule G-10 for the Certified Hereford Beef brand.
 
The minimum marbling score requirement will be modified from a Slight marbling score to a Small marbling score to elevate the quality level of the Certified Hereford Beef brand to a USDA Choice quality grade.
 
“Our Hereford farmers and ranchers have worked diligently over the years to improve the Hereford breed,” says Amari Seiferman, Certified Hereford Beef chief operating officer. “This modification is a testament to their work and proves Certified Hereford Beef is a premium quality product. We are proud to move our brand forward into a new era of success.”
 
The marbling score modification will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. The Certified Hereford Beef brand will serve customers with two flagship programs — Choice and Premium. The Choice program will provide a USDA Choice and higher product, while the Premium program will provide an upper-two-thirds USDA Choice and higher product.

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