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European Union negotiators have agreed on a five per cent minimum reduction in subsidy payments above 150,000 euros a year to individual farms, in a deal which finalizes sweeping reforms to the EU's common agricultural policy (CAP).
Under the deal struck late Tuesday, EU governments will have the option of capping individual payouts at 300,000 euros a year. The two other institutions in the talks -- the European Parliament and European Commission -- had wanted a mandatory cap.
Most elements in the complex overhaul of the 50 billion euro-a-year (US$67 billion) CAP were agreed by EU negotiators at the end of June. Among the changes agreed were new environmental requirements for farmers and an end to EU sugar production quotas from 2017.
Tuesday's deal on the remaining issues dispelled any fears that payments to farmers would be disrupted if the legislation was not in place by the start of next year, when the reforms begin to enter force.
"I am delighted that we have now been able to finalise the reform as a whole," EU agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos said in a statement.
"This is important for European farmers as it provides them with greater certainty for the coming year."
Other parts of the deal were in line with an agreement struck by EU leaders in February on the bloc's long-term budget for 2014-2020, of which the CAP remains the largest single item.
That includes plans to reduce somewhat the disparity between producers in Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands who receive more than 400 euros per hectare on average, and those in the Baltic states such as Lithuania who get less than 150 euros per hectare.
The deal must now be formally rubber-stamped by EU governments and the parliament before the reforms begin to bite from next year. Changes to the direct subsidies paid to farmers -- worth about 40 billion euros a year -- will only take effect from 2015.
A swine virus deadly to young pigs, and never before seen in North America, has spiked to 199 sites in 13 states - nearly double the number of farms and other locations from earlier this month.
Iowa, the largest U.S. hog producer, has the most sites testing positive for Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus: 102 sites, as of June 10. The state raises on average 30 million hogs each year, according to the Iowa Pork Producers Association.
PEDV, most often fatal to very young pigs, causes diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration. It also sickens older hogs, though their survival rate tends to be high. The total number of pig deaths from the outbreak since the first cases were confirmed May 17 is not known.
Researchers at veterinarian diagnostic labs, who are testing samples as part of a broad investigation into the outbreak, have seen a substantial increase in positive cases since early June, when data on the PEDV outbreak showed it at some 103 sites nationwide.
The data was compiled and released last week by Iowa State University, University of Minnesota, Kansas State University and South Dakota State University.
The virus does not pose a health risk to humans or other animals and the meat from PEDV-infected pigs is safe for people to eat, according to federal officials and livestock economists.
But the virus, which is spreading rapidly across the United States, is proving harder to control than previously believed. In addition to Iowa, Oklahoma has 38 positive sites, Minnesota has 19 and Indiana has 10, according to the data.
Wheat futures jumped to a four-week high on speculation that China, the world’s biggest consumer, will increase imports to curb record domestic prices. Corn and soybeans also rose.
China may sell grain from stockpiles and ask state-owned companies to import more to curb rising prices, Shi Wei, an analyst for Shanghai JC Intelligence Co., said today. Wheat in centralHenan province rose 3.4 percent this month to a record 2,760 yuan ($451) a metric ton, datafrom China National Grain & Oils Information Center show. China may triple imports this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Sept. 12.
“Record prices in China may increase demand” for U.S. wheat exports, Jason Britt, the president of Central States Commodities Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri, said in a telephone interview. “It looks like China may become more aggressive importing wheat.”
Wheat futures for delivery in December jumped 1.9 percent to close at $6.705 a bushel at 1:15 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest gain since Aug. 26. Earlier, the most-active contract touched $6.75, the highest since Aug. 26.
Prices gained for a third day on speculation that a USDA report this month will show Sept. 1 inventories fell 7.6 percent from a year earlier. Traders surveyed by Bloomberg said supplies totaled 1.945 billion bushels, on average, down from 2.105 billion a year earlier.
“Demand is sneaking up, and supplies are getting a little smaller,” Britt said.
Corn futures for December delivery added 1.3 percent to $4.5475 a bushel in Chicago. The most-active contract yesterday dropped to $4.48, the lowest since Aug. 14.
Soybean futures for November delivery rose 0.7 percent to $13.2175 a bushel on the CBOT.
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State Fair watching closely for signs of swine flu Minnesota Public Radio A strain of swine influenza swept through fairs last summer sickening 309 people in a dozen states, including Minnesota. One person died from the new virus.