Filed under: Agriculture/Farming

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Potash Corp. rival posts Q4 profit

Intrepid Potash posted its second straight market-topping quarterly profit as potash sales increased 44 percent on surging demand for grains.

Rising crop prices are giving strong incentives to farmers to maximize yield, which entails applying more fertilizer, thus helping fertilizer companies like Potash Corp. and Mosaic clock good sales numbers. Get the full story »

Strawberry genome may mean cheaper berries

Farmers have long struggled with getting ripe strawberries to market in good shape, but scientists say the recent mapping of the wild strawberry’s genome may help them produce berries that are cheaper and easier to grow and arrive in stores in peak condition. Get the full story »

BHP makes first acquisition since Potash bid

Global mining giant BHP Billiton has agreed to buy shale gas interests from Chesapeake Energy Corp. for $4.75 billion in its first move into shale gas as it looks to beef up its oil and gas business.

In BHP’s first big acquisition since a string of failed deals, the global miner said it was buying Chesapeake’s holdings in Arkansas’ Fayetteville shale natural gas field. Get the full story »

Weak crops push coffee prices to 14-year high

Coffee prices hit a 14-year high this week, and it’s only a matter of time before java lovers will have to pay more in stores and coffee shops.

Coffee futures have doubled in the last year, closing at $2.46 per pound  Thursday. That’s the highest price since May 1997, when coffee was trading at $3.20 per pound. Get the full story »

CF Industries Q4 profit jumps on fertilizer demand

CF Industries Holdings Inc. said quarterly profit spiked due to strong demand for its nitrogen fertilizers, a trend that executives said would only continue in 2011.

The company posted fourth-quarter net income of $200.3 million, or $2.78 per share, compared with $51.4 million, or $1.04 per share, in the year-ago period. Get the full story »

Midwest farmland values rise 12% in 2010

Farmland values in the Midwest posted their second-largest increase in  30 years in 2010, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Agricultural land values in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan rose 12 percent in 2010. The report surveyed 212 agricultural bankers in the area. More than half  said they expect farmland values to continue increasing in the first quarter of 2011. Get the full story »

Freezing weather knocks ‘T’ out of BLTs

Freezing weather across the South and Mexico recently damaged such crops as tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers, leading to shortages and price increases. It’s left some restaurants scrambling to revamp such staples as sandwiches and salads.

“It’s sort of like the perfect storm — Florida, Texas and Mexico all get hit with unseasonably cold weather, which decreased the yields of tomatoes and cucumbers,” said Gary Karp, executive vice president for Technomic, a food market-research firm. “It’s going to take about 60 days or so before new tomatoes and other replacement products can come to market.” Get the full story »

Farm income seen rising 20% on grain prices

U.S. farm income will jump nearly 20 percent this year, with soaring grain prices boosting farmer profits even as production costs climb, according to a government report.

Net farm income is expected to reach $94.7 billion this year, which would be the second-highest, inflation-adjusted total in 35 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farm income includes all production regardless of when sales take place. Get the full story »

Bunge beats Street on strong agribusiness results

Agricultural processor Bunge Ltd. reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and revenue on strength in grain merchandising.

Bunge’s grain marketing, storage and transportation operations benefited from rising global demand for food amid thinning stocks, and the company said it was able to withstand highly volatile commodities markets with favorable futures hedge positions. Get the full story »

ADM invests in Brazilian palms, biodiesel plant

Archer Daniels Midland Co. on Wednesday announced a 5-year plan to invest in nearly 30,000 acres of palm trees in Brazil and build a new processing plant as part of a program to use palm in its biodiesel production.

The plant and palm acres are located in the northern Brazilian state of Para. Construction on the plant near Sao Domingos do Capim is anticipated to begin in 2013. It is expected to be operational in 2016. Get the full story »

World food prices hit record high

The U.N.’s food price index hit a record in January and recent catastrophic weather around the globe could put more pressure on the cost of food, an issue that has already helped spark protests across the Middle East.

Up for the seventh month in a row, the closely watched Food and Agriculture Oganisation Food Price Index on Thursday touched its highest since records began in 1990, and topped the peak of 224.1 in June 2008, during the food crisis of 2007/08. Get the full story »

Sugar prices hit 30-year high

Sugar prices spiked to their highest level in more than 30 years as a massive tropical cyclone slammed into the northeast coast of Australia, the world’s third-biggest exporter of the sweetener. Raw sugar futures jumped 4% to settle at 35.31 cents a pound on Wednesday after trading as high as 36.11 cents. Get the full story »

Potash Corp. profit more than doubles

Potash Corp. said Thursday that its quarterly profit more than doubled, as a surge in grain prices boosted crop nutrient demand and allowed the world’s top fertilizer maker to raise prices on key products. The Chicago and Saskatchewan-based company said fourth-quarter net income rose to $482.3 million, or $1.61 a share, from $239.2 million, or 79 cents a share, a year earlier. Get the full story »

EPA approves wider use of ethanol in gas

U.S. regulators on Friday backed a request that would sharply boost the use of corn-based ethanol in more than half the nation’s cars, elevating the stakes in a contentious debate over the safety and cost of converting more corn into fuel.

The  Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement boosting the ethanol blend rate in gasoline to 15 percent from 10 percent in vehicles built from 2001 to 2006 was not a surprise, coming just months after it allowed the E15 in cars and trucks built in 2007 or later. Get the full story »

Deals to boost Illinois soybean sales to China

China’s growing appetite for Illinois soybeans was on display Thursday at a ceremonial signing of purchase agreements that could trigger as much as $450 million in Illinois soy sales to Chinese companies this year.

The potential sales represent a hefty slice of business for Illinois farms and soy operations, which have seen agricultural exports to China grow in recent years to more than $500 million annually, from $149 million in 2007, according to data from Gov. Pat Quinn’s office. Get the full story »