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Demand for both beef and pork increased noticeably through the first quarter of this year according to demand indexes calculated by the Livestock Marketing Information Center. The first quarter demand index for beef worked out to 79 in 2011 compared with 74 in 2010.Q1. Similarly, the pork demand index increased from 76 to 85 from 2010.Q1 to 2011.Q1. Improving domestic demand and strong exports have helped push retail beef and pork prices to historic highs. In fact, in April both all fresh beef retail and pork retail prices reported by USDA Economic Research Service hit new record levels: 445.3 cents/pound for beef and 337.7 cents/pound for pork.

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0611pc_scherer_1Five years after the passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which banned the processing of horses in the U.S., the debate over domestic horse slaughter remains a subject of controversy.

This past February, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) submitted a proposed strategy for the future management of America’s wild horses and burros, based on comments received from the public in 2010.

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0611pc_peck_1Brazil
The U.S. may lift a ban on fresh beef imports from some Brazilian states this year, according to a Brazilian official.

“There are well-founded reasons to believe the situation may be solved by the end of this year,” Emilio Garofalo, secretary of the government’s Foreign Trade Chamber, said in an interview from Brasilia.

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The National FFA Organization has selected 50 outstanding young people to participate in the 2011 New Century Farmer program. This exclusive, highly competitive program develops young men and women committed to pursuing a career in production agriculture.

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On April 14, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published an interim rule for Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) in the Federal Register. This interim rule modifies the existing grant and guaranteed loan program for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. In addition, it adds a grant program for feasibility studies for renewable energy systems and a grant program for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance, as provided in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.

Although effective immediately, USDA is requesting comments on the interim rule. These comments must be received on or before June 13. See the Federal Register notice for instructions on submitting comments.

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