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Deere to lay off nearly 700 workers

MOLINE, Ill. — Farm equipment maker Deere & Co. will lay off nearly 700 workers between factories in Brazil and Iowa.

The Moline, Ill.-based company says it’ll fire 502 workers at an agricultural harvesting equipment plant in Horizontina, Brazil.

And 190 employees at a plant in Davenport, Iowa, which makes construction and forestry equipment, will be laid off or temporarily reassigned effective Feb. 16.

In November, Deere announced that South American market sales could drop by 20 percent and worldwide construction and forestry equipment sales could fall by 12 percent.

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In the past six months, Deere has placed 188 employees on indefinite layoff at the John Deere Dubuque Works in Iowa.

Pioneer Hybrid releases 96 new corn products

DES MOINES — Pioneer Hybrid is releasing 96 new Pioneer brand corn products to growers across North America for the 2009 planting season.

The new class includes 39 new genetic platforms providing improved genetic gain across all maturities.

The 2009 lineup features new double-stack and triple-stack products that feature Herculex insect protection and the Roundup Ready Corn 2 trait.

Of the 96 new hybrids, 35 are double-stack products.

Tyson reports first-quarter loss on high costs

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Tyson Foods Inc. announced a $112 million loss last week for its first quarter, but the world’s largest meat producer also said the prices it pays for feed are receding and the company could return to profitability within two quarters.

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The loss of 30 cents per share in the period that ended Dec. 27 compares with a profit a year earlier of $34 million, or 10 cents per share, and comes even though revenue rose slightly to $6.52 billion from $6.48 billion.

The company, which has beef and pork processing plants in the Iowa cities of Denison, Columbus Junction, Perry, Storm Lake, and Waterloo, was scalded by high grain and fuel costs, particularly in its chicken business, which lost $286 million for the quarter. But feed contracts executed when prices were high are expiring, and Interim Chief Executive Officer Leland Tollett cut poultry production 5 percent in December.

Summary finds Jersey breed has an advantage

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — After the January 2009 USDA genetic summaries, Jerseys have a 180-day advantage in Productive Life among the six dairy breeds evaluated in the United States.

For cows born over a five-year period — 1998 through 2002 — Jerseys had the longest average productive life of 33.6 months. A total of 204,383 Jerseys were included in the data published by the USDA Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory in Beltsville, Md.

The trait of productive life is defined as "time in the milking herd before removal by voluntary culling, involuntary culling or death.’’

Accelerated Genetics introduces ‘Essential Solutions’

BARABOO, Wis. — Accelerated Genetics has introduced a new product line called "Essential Solutions.’’

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The product line features various products for organically fed cattle. The first product introduced is Direct Fed Microbial.

Essential Solutions DFM is a combination of ruminant-specific micro-organisms that promotes rumen micro flora function and growth for a more stable and effective digestive tract.

Dairy Shrine seeks applications for awards, scholarships

MARIBEL, Wis. — The National Dairy Shrine is seeking nominations for its annual awards and scholarships. The deadline for awards applications is March 15.

The awards include Guest of Honor, Distinguished Dairy Cattle Breeder, Pioneers, Progressive Dairy Producers, and the new Graduate Production Award.

Application for the student scholarship awards must be submitted between March 1 and May.

Those scholarships include Kildee Graduate and Undergraduate scholarships; the Dairy Student Recognition Award; NDS/DMI Milk Marketing scholarships; NDS/lager scholarship and the new Maurice Core Scholarship.

Scholarship applications will be available on the revised National Dairy Shrine Web site in February.

Wetlands Reserve Program comments sought

WASHINGTON — USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is seeking public comments on the Wetlands Reserve Program. The 2008 farm bill reauthorized and amended the program, and an interim final rule was published in the Federal Register.

USDA encourages written comments on the interim final rule from individuals and government agencies.

The interim final rule can be viewed at http:/www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/. The public comment period will end March 16.

Senators want action on school lunch programs

WASHINGTON — Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Richard Lugar of Indiana and 38 other senators have sent a letter to President Obama urging the administration to provide new funding in its budget for legislation to extend, update and improve laws authorizing and funding federally sponsored school breakfasts and lunches.

Senators said that added funding is critical for improving child health and for increasing participation of low-income children.

NFU calls for fairness in all trade deals

WASHINGTON — The National Farmers Union wants the Obama administration to promote fair trade agreements that level the playing field for all producers.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative-designee Ron Kirk, the NFU board of directors wrote, "NFU stands ready to work with you to identify priorities for United States trade policy, resolve problems that exist in current agreements and provide a foundation for future trade negotiations.’’

The board said all future trade deals must address all factors of trade, including an assurance that trading partners meet the same high labor, environmental, and health and safety standards required by U.S. producers.

USDA seeks comments on WHIP until March 17

WASHINGTON — The USDA is seeking public comments on changes to the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, which is designed to develop and improve fish and wildlife habitat on eligible land and water uses.

USDA released an interim final rule that contains legislative changes to WHIP. The rule, published in the Federal Register, is open for public comments. Public comments must be submitted by March 17.

The WHIP interim final rule can be viewed at the USDA-NRCS Web site; at the official government regulation Web site and at the Federal Register.

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