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Published April 02, 2012, 09:07 AM

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Animal cruelty petitions ready for circulation

By: Agweek wire reports, Agweek

Animal cruelty petitions ready for circulation

• BISMARCK, N.D. — A ballot initiative to toughen North Dakota’s penalties against animal cruelty is ready for circulation. North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger approved the petitions for circulation March 27. The proposed ballot measure would make cruelty to dogs, cats and horses a potential felony. Supporters need to turn in at least 13,452 petition signatures by Aug. 8 to put the idea on the ballot for the November general election.

Corn prices rise on worries of tight supply

• WASHINGTON — A drop in the amount of corn in storage increased concerns that corn supplies will remain tight and prices high in the near term. Corn futures surged about 6.6 percent March 30. The report — and the possible impact on food prices — overshadowed a projection by the government that corn growers would plant the largest crop in 75 years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says corn supplies as of March 1 totaled 6.01 billion bushels, down about 8 percent from a year ago. About half the corn is stored on farms. Although prices have eased some in recent months, high crop prices have been a thorn in the side of consumers and governments for the past two years. Corn is used in everything from fuel and animal feed to syrup for soda. Wheat stocks also plunged 16 percent from a year ago, USDA says. Soybean supplies, meanwhile, rose 10 percent.

Saskatchewan reviews proposed Viterra deal to assess impact on province

• REGINA, Saskatchewan — The Saskatchewan government wants to know how a proposed takeover of grain handler Viterra by a Swiss company will affect the province. The government is reviewing the $6.1 billion deal that would see Viterra acquired by Glencore International — although much of the business would remain in Canadian hands. Premier Brad Wall says the review will look at employment, the impact on competition and the effect on the province’s economy and revenues. The government is to get the report from Informa Economics Inc. by May 7 and make it public a few days later. Saskatchewan did a similar analysis of BHP Billiton’s ultimately unsuccessful bid for Potash Corp. in 2010. The study formed the basis of Saskatchewan’s opposition to that deal and to the province’s recommendation to Ottawa, which decides on such matters. Glencore has offered $16.25 a share for Viterra. Calgary-based Agrium Inc. and privately held Richardson International, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, would in turn buy the majority of Viterra’s Canadian assets for a combined $2.6 billion in cash. Glencore wants to use Viterra to build its business in North America. The Competition Bureau will do its own review but it’s unclear how long that will take.

Wendy’s says its beef is ‘pink slime’-free

• DUBLIN, Ohio — The Wendy’s Co. ran full-page advertisements in eight major newspapers across the country March 30, reassuring customers that it has never used the beef filler known as “pink slime” and never will. It is the latest company to publicly speak out against the controversial filler, known in the industry as lean, finely textured beef, as public concern about it grows. Wendy’s ran ads in the New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and other publications, letting its customers know the company only uses 100 percent beef from North American-raised cattle with no additives, fillers, preservatives or flavor boosters. Wendy’s spokesman Bob Bertini says the restaurant chain has fielded a number of customer questions and wanted to set the record straight. The company, based in Dublin, Ohio, recently surpassed Burger King to become the second-largest hamburger chain in the U.S. It runs more than 6,500 restaurants worldwide.

Average farm income in SD falls in 2011

• MITCHELL, S.D. — The average farm saw a 12.3 percent decrease in net farm profit from 2010 to 2011, according to financial information provided by farmers enrolled in South Dakota’s Farm/Ranch Business Management Program, says farm management instructor Roger DeRouchey. The program, which assists farm and ranch operators in upgrading their management skills, is offered to South Dakota farmers and ranchers through Mitchell Technical Institute in Mitchell, S.D. Average net farm profit of the 100 farms enrolled in the program was $260,891 in 2010 and that profit decreased to $228,908 in 2011. The decrease is not as bad as it might seem because 2011 figures were up against an extraordinary 2010, which DeRouchey says was “really phenomenal — 2010 was the best year I’ve ever seen and 2011 was probably the second best.” Placed in perspective, the average farm’s 2011 net profit of $228,908 was still much higher than the 2009 average net profit of $120,000. Net farm profit represents dollars earned from the farm before business expansion, loan principal payments and family living expenses are paid. The average enrolled farm family spent $66,103 for living expenses but also earned $17,471 from outside income. Nonfarm income helps cover family expenses for today’s farming, DeRouchey says. A number of factors contributed to the decrease in net income. The 2010 farming year was good in both livestock and crop enterprises, but a wet spring increased the prevented plant acres in 2011. Conversely, a dry fall in 2011 saw reduced corn and soybean yields when compared to the remarkable 2010 crop year. The top 20 percent of most profitable farms did considerably better, with net farm profit of $459,716. The lowest 20 percent, or least profitable, farms netted $45,311. The spread in income is often a result of differences in management practices, size of the farming operation and climatic conditions. Progress was made toward increasing net worth or owner’s equity. The average farmer in the program saw a change in equity of $234,570, or a 16 percent increase. In 2010, the change in equity was an increase of $206,076 or 15 percent. Those gains can occur as a result of investing farm income into capital assets or repaying debt, DeRouchey says.

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