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COL Sierra Club blasts 'animal factories'

ST. LOUIS -- Large corporate animal farms in Missouri and Illinois have repeatedly violated state and federal environmental laws, resulting in extensive air and water pollution, an environmental group said in a report released last week.

The Sierra Club's "Rap Sheets on Animal Factories" cited violations at 24 farms in Missouri and six farms in Illinois. They ranged from nitrogen runoff at chicken farms to dead baby pigs floating in streams.

"Missouri is one of the states that has a very significant problem and has had for the last decade," said Scott Dye, who directs a volunteer water quality testing program for the Sierra Club in Missouri.

But Joe Engeln, assistant director for science and technology at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said the farms are under control.

"We're doing very well compared to most states," Engeln said. "Our permits are pretty strict."

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The Sierra Club, which has long been critical of what it calls "factory farms," said it had documented violations at 630 farms in 44 states.

Sanchez wins World Food Prize

DES MOINES -- A Cuban farmer's son was named winner of the 2002 World Food Prize for helping to transform depleted tropical soil into productive agricultural land.

Pedro Sanchez will receive $250,000 in recognition of his work that includes finding ways to neutralize acidity in Brazilian soil and to improve nitrogen flow in blighted farmland in Africa.

The award was announced Aug. 11 at the International Horticultural Congress in Toronto, Canada, by Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the Des Moines-based World Food Prize Foundation.

Sanchez, 62, is the former director general of the International Center for Research in Agroforestry in Nairobi, Kenya.

He left Cuba during Fidel Castro's revolution, earning a master's degree and a Ph.D. from Cornell University.

Milk is doing well for California farming

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FRESNO, Calif. -- Milk is doing California farming good.

The state's farm revenue increased to $27.6 billion dollars last year, up from $27.2 billion the previous year -- a boost partly bolstered by dairy sales, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

"The prices were good and the production was up," said Bill Appleby, assistant agriculture commissioner in Tulare County, the No. 1 agriculture county in the nation thanks to $1.2 billion in dairy sales last year. The county's milk production increased 11 percent last year, he said.

Dairy revenue in California, where it is the top crop, jumped from $3.7 billion in 2000 to $4.6 billion in 2001, the agriculture department said.

Oranges also fared well in California, with revenue rising to $989.7 million in 2001, an increase from $644 million in 2000.

Potato prices rise with supply pressure

People who dig eating potatoes for dinner are paying a pretty penny for their spuds.

A tight supply of potatoes has pushed up potato prices in grocery stores to some of the highest levels in years, if not in history.

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The price of a 10-pound bag of potatoes at grocery stores in Grand Forks ranged from about $4.50 to $5.99.

"It's high," said Duane Maatz, Northern Plains Potato Growers president, noting that he's heard longtime growers comment that it may be the most expensive potatoes ever have been in local grocery stores.

Normally, potato prices drop this time of year because there is a big supply of spuds on the market.

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