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News from Around the Farm World - March 20, 2013
2012 ag exports at Virginia port reached record level
NORFOLK, Va. — Progressive Railroading reported the value of agricultural exports at the Port of Virginia reached $2.61 billion in 2012, shattering the previous record of $2.35 billion set in 2011, according to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

The port’s agricultural exports, which also include forestry products, have grown in value by about 17 percent since 2010.

“With the trade offices we’ve established in key global regions and new ones we’ll open this year, as well as the trade missions we will conduct later this year, I expect to see Virginia agricultural exports continue to grow,” said McDonnell in a statement.

The top exported products in 2012 included soybeans, soybean meal, lumber, wheat, corn, barley, pork, animal feed, processed foods and beverages, wood pellets, cotton, seafood and raw peanuts. The top three export markets were the same as in 2011: China, Canada and Morocco.

The export commodity that registered the largest percentage growth in value was wood pellets, which soared more than 800 percent from $4 million in 2011 to about $35 million in 2012, largely because of new sales to the European Union. The export value of soybeans more than doubled from $327 million to $734 million.

Iowans fatally injured in bin were father and son

WAVERLY, Iowa (AP) — Authorities have released the names of two men who were fatally injured in a grain bin accident in northeastern Iowa. Waverly Fire Chief Dennis Happel identified the two on Friday as Rick Schneider and his son, Adam.

The two were pulled unconscious from the bin at Schneider’s Milling around 2:15 p.m. Thursday and taken to Waverly Health Center, where they were pronounced dead. Happel said the men went into the bin a little before 1 p.m. and collapsed atop several feet of corn.

He said they likely were felled by a lack of oxygen in the bin. He didn’t know whether they took any safety equipment with them. Station KWWL reported the Schneiders were checking the bin because a small fire had occurred inside the day before.

Indiana crop insurance payouts for 2012 losses top $1B

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Indiana crop insurance payouts for losses during last year’s drought have reached a record $1 billion.
Purdue University said last week Indiana farmers have received the payouts for 2012 corn, soybean and wheat losses. That’s nearly twice as much as the previous record of $522 million in 2008.
Purdue extension agricultural economist Dr. Chris Hurt said the total will likely grow in the coming weeks as final claims are filed. He said the payouts are the primary reason Indiana’s farm sector income has not collapsed under drought losses.

Indiana corn yields averaged 99 bushels per acre last year, or nearly 40 percent below normal. Purdue said about 75 percent of Indiana crop acres were insured last year.

Number of dead pigs in and near Shanghai goes to 12,566

BEIJING (AP) — The number of dead pigs retrieved from waters in and near China’s financial hub of Shanghai has reached 12,566.
Authorities in Shanghai plucked 611 dead pig carcasses Saturday from Huangpu River, which provides drinking water to the city’s 23 million residents. In total, 8,965 dead pigs have been found in the river since March 8.

The swollen and rotting pigs are largely believed to be from the upstream city of Jiaxing in neighboring Zhejiang province, but Zhao Shumei, a deputy mayor, said it was inconclusive to say all the pigs were from her city. Jiaxing – where small hog farms are prevalent – reported Friday night it had recovered 3,601 dead pigs from its streams, according to state media.

The head veterinarian for China’s Agriculture Ministry, Yu Kangzhen, told state media Saturday there has been no major swine epidemic, but said some samples tested positive for the common porcine circovirus and the epidemic diarrhea virus. Yu also said cold weather and fluctuating temperatures have caused a spike in deaths among baby pigs.

Villagers have told state media pig dumping is on the rise following police campaigns against the illicit trade of pork products harvested from diseased pigs that were illegally sold, instead of properly disposed of.

In Shanghai, authorities have repeatedly assured residents that tap water is safe, but locals remain worried about water contamination.