No Smithfield Plant Closings Due to Merger

Smithfield Foods and Shuanghui International Holdings Limited today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement that values Smithfield at approximately $7.1 billion, including the assumption of Smithfield's net debt. Smithfield will become a private company. Current leadership and management will remain in place. The headquarters will remain in Smithfield, Va.

There will be no Smithfield plant closings as a result of the transaction, Smithfield President and CEO C. Larry Pope said. He also confirmed that he will remain in his current role.

Savannah River Shipping Channel Released from the Court System with Settlement

A federal judge has approved a settlement of a lawsuit challenging the $650 million deepening of the Savannah River shipping channel leading to Georgia's ports.

Environmental groups sued last year, contending deepening the 32-mile shipping channel will dredge toxic cadmium from the river. Under the settlement, the Army Corps of Engineers would provide additional environmental monitoring and the Georgia Ports Authority will provide millions for conservation work. It also will transfer 2,000 acres of marsh to South Carolina.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel in Charleston thanked attorneys for both sides Wednesday for reaching a settlement in a case he said could have dragged through the courts for years.

The settlement allows the deepening to proceed.

Important Cotton Customers to See U.S. Cotton Production Up Close

Textile executives from eight Chinese mills and two Hong Kong mills will tour the Cotton Belt next month – getting a chance to meet with U.S. exporters. All COTTON USA Special Trade Missions seek to enhance trading ties between the U.S. cotton industry and key overseas textile manufacturing customers. The overall goal is to capture additional market share for U.S. cotton. The tour begins in New York with a CCI briefing and an ICE Futures seminar. The group will observe cotton research in North Carolina, tour the USDA cotton classing office in Tennessee and visit a farm in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Senate Expects to Vote on Farm Bill Next Week

For now – a final vote on the farm bill is expected sometime next week – once legislators return from the Memorial Day recess. Leadership has indicated the farm bill will come to the House floor mid-month. As the Senate adjourned last week – Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow expressed confidence that they would finish the bill in June. But she says it will be a challenge in the House.

First, Sweet Potato Beer, Now Sweet Potato Vodka

Sweet potato growers Jimmy Burch and Bobby Ham are thinking beyond the dinner plate. And there's more than sweet potato pie on their menu. The North Carolina farmers want to turn sweet potatoes into vodka. They and their business partners have created Covington Spirits. Now, their sweet potato vodka has won some top-shelf prizes in competition. The farmers-turned-distillers say they're goal is to end America's dependence on foreign vodka. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.