Japan to boost cattle inspections
The Health Ministry of Japan says it will now inspect all cattle that will be slaughtered for meat to ensure that mad cow disease does not get into the food supply.
Currently, only cows aged more than 30 months are tested for bovine spongiform encephalopathy. But the discovery last month of an infected cow in the Chiba prefecture caused Japanese officials to make the change in policy.
The change will take effect Oct. 18, and is meant to ease public concerns about the disease, which has spread throughout Europe but had not gained a foothold in Asia.
Testing for mad cow disease will take place at 117 meat hygiene inspection centers across Japan after inspectors complete training for testing methods.
The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said that bone meal and meat was given to about 8,000 cows in Japan. Meat and meal coming from infected cows can cause the disease to spread to other livestock.
During 2000-2001, about 1.27 million cows were slaughtered in Japan. The nation's cattle population totals about 4.6 million.
The agriculture ministry wants food processors to voluntarily recall any products they cannot confirm were free of cow parts that could be unsafe.
Agriculture officials in Japan also want food processors to stop using brains, spinal cords, eyes and the tip of the small intestines in processed food products.
In a separate matter, the National Farmers Union in Britain said that three of every 10 farmers are likely to get out of agriculture due to problems with mad cow and the foot and mouth virus, both of which have devastated livestock throughout Europe.
Union Chairman David Hill said he thinks the British government has been negligent in controlling the spread of the diseases, and said that cull policies were dreamt up by "mathematicians and statisticians" rather than by people who understand the realities of livestock and agriculture.
Monsanto, DuPont reach settlement
Monsanto Co. and DuPont have reached a settlement on issues related to Monsanto's YieldGard insect-protected corn traits used in corn hybrid products made by Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.
The settlement will result in the dismissal of several lawsuits that are pending in federal courts in St. Louis and Rockford, Ill.
Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont subsidiary, will continue to offer customers the corn hybrid while paying royalties to Monsanto. Neither company would say how large those royalty payments would be.
A federal judge in St. Louis earlier this year had ruled that DuPont violated licensing agreements, and was subject to significant damage claims by Monsanto on the grounds that DuPont's license to sell seeds containing the herbicide-tolerant technology was terminated when DuPont and Pioneer merged in 1999.
Neogen offers new test for StarLink corn
Neogen Corp. of Lansing, Mich., has devised an inexpensive test that is meant to detect the presence of StarLink corn, a genetically-altered type that has not been approved for human consumption.
The new Agri-Screen for Cry9C Strip Test is in a dipstick format, and requires water and about 10 minutes to detect as little as 1 kernel of StarLink corn from among 800 kernels.
The Agriculture Department's grain inspection, packers and stockyards administration has verified the legitimacy of the test.
StarLink has been a concern in recent months after it was learned that some of the genetically altered corn has managed to get into food products such as corn chips and pre-manufactured tortilla shells. It is a type of corn that gives off a toxin meant to prevent insects from damaging the crop, and has only been approved for use as animal feed.
Prize pumpkin pushes half a ton
Call it the Great Pumpkin, if you will. But at slightly more than 1,000 pounds, 4-feet high and a circumference of more than 14 feet, the prize winner of the Safeway World Championship Weigh-Off is a sight to behold.
The Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival north of San Francisco gave its top prize to Steve Daletas, who said he drove the orange beast from his farm in Pleasantville, Ore., in the back of a pickup truck, and got a lot of stares along the way.
Daletas said he thinks the size of the pumpkin is due to great seed, great weather and great pollination. He did not use much fertilizer but admits he used a "different soil amendment" than usual.
For the record, Daletas does not even like the taste of pumpkin, so he has no use for the gigantic gourd. But he figures his kids can take it to school to show off.
Feds show harvest progressing
The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Tuesday that 90 percent of the corn crop is mature, compared to 81 percent last week, 95 percent at this time last year and 91 percent average for the past five years. Of that, 29 percent of the crop is harvested, compared to 20 percent last week, 48 percent last year and 31 percent for the past five years. Fifty-eight percent of the crop is in excellent or good condition, with 30 percent fair and 12 percent poor or very poor.
For soybeans, 90 percent of the crop is dropping leaves, compared to 79 percent last week, 94 percent last year and 90 percent for the past five years. Of that, 40 percent is harvested, compared to 16 percent last week, 55 percent last year and 43 percent for the past five years. Fifty-four percent is excellent or good, with 31 percent fair and 15 percent poor or very poor.
For winter wheat, 70 percent of the crop is planted, compared to 52 percent last week, 47 percent last year and 56 percent for the past five years. Of that, 40 percent is emerged, compared to 25 percent last week, 19 percent last year and 30 percent for the past five years.
For cotton, 89 percent of the crop is opening, compared to 84 percent last week, 93 percent last year and 88 percent for the past five years. Of that, 29 percent is harvested, compared to 21 percent last week, 41 percent last year and 32 percent for the last five years. Forty-four percent is excellent or good, with 30 percent fair and 26 percent poor or very poor.
For sorghum, 86 percent of the crop is mature, compared to 79 percent last week, 95 percent last year and 84 percent for the past five years. Of that, 59 percent is harvested, compared to 52 percent last week, 79 percent last year and 48 percent for the past five years.
For rice, 88 percent of the crop is harvested, compared to 79 percent last week, 84 percent last year and 83 percent for the past five years.
For peanuts, 44 percent of the crop is harvested, compared to 30 percent last week, 40 percent last year and 42 percent for the past five years. Sixty percent is excellent or good, with 29 percent fair and 11 percent poor or very poor.
For sugarbeets, 40 percent of the crop is harvested, compared to 10 percent last week, 36 percent last year and 35 percent for the past five years.
For sunflowers, 17 percent of the crop is harvested, compared to 6 percent last week and 26 percent last year.
Grains mixed on CBOT
Corn and soybeans futures were down while wheat was up at the close Tuesday on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Soybean futures fell due to mild harvest pressures and activity by traders as they tried position themselves ahead of Friday's crop production report by the Agriculture Department.
Corn futures were down due to concerns about recent military strikes and how they would affect future exports. Harvest pressures and concerns about higher estimates expected in the crop production report also hurt prices.
Wheat futures were up due to a boost from strength in overnight trading. Oats futures fell, due to thoughts among traders that the market may be overbought.
Soybeans: Nov 4.51 1/2 off 2 1/2, Jan 4.58 1/2 off 3, Mar 4.65 off 2 1/2, May 4.69 1/4 off 2.
Corn: Dec 2.13 off 2 1/2, Mar 2.25 1/4 off 2, May 2.32 1/2 off 2 1/2, Jul 2.38 off 2 1/4.
Wheat: Dec 2.74 1/4 up 2 1/2, Mar 2.82 up 3/4, May 2.83 1/4 off 1/4, Jul 2.84 off 1.
Oats: Dec 1.85 1/4 off 4 1/2, Mar 1.69 3/4 off 4, May 1.60 1/2 off 4 3/4, Jul 1.53 1/2 off 1 1/2.