Progress/Duke Energy Merger Approved

North Carolina utilities regulators have approved the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy, the last major hurdle to creating the largest American electric company.

North Carolina Utilities Commission Chairman Edward Finley Jr. said Friday the deal was the best possible in an environment of energy industry consolidation. Finley says it was preferable for the two North Carolina-based companies to combine rather than be bought up by a company elsewhere.

USDA’s Planted Acreage Report Shows More Corn & Beans

USDA released it’s planted acres report on Friday, and as anticipated, corn acreage is up from the planting intentions report last March. USDA’s chief economist Joe Glauber:

“We now have even higher actual numbers for corn.” 

Up another half million, taking acres up to 96.4 million acres of corn. This probably isn’t a big surprise:

“People have been expecting a lot of corn acreage, there was some discussion whether or not we would see some switch to soybeans because prices were so strong. On the other hand we have had such ideal weather that they got out early and planted the corn early.”

Soybean growers have planted just over 76 million acres, according to Glauber that number is also an increase from the March planting intentions:

“That is up about 2.2 million acres from what producers said they would plant this spring.”

The third highest ever.

Drought Continues to Worsen in Major Food Producing States

Last year’s historic drought in the southwest gained a lot of attention for its dramatic impact on people, livestock and wildlife. This year’s drought, however, is worse in many ways and likely to be much more expensive to both agriculture and to consumers.
According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, 72 percent of the continental United States is classified as “abnormally dry” or worse. By comparison, at the end of the third week in June last year just 32 percent of the continental United States was classified as “abnormally dry” or worse. This year’s drought will hit consumers much harder due to the impact it has already had on corn and soybean production.

Pretty Tomatoes Have No Taste

If that tomato in the produce section of the supermarket is bright red, you probably reach for it…assuming it'll taste good. Don't bet on it. CBS News correspondent Gary Nunn reports:

“A study in the Journal of Science finds that when geneticists made tomatoes prettier, they reduced some of the important compounds that make them sweet, fragrant and flavorful. Essentially, bright red means a less tomato-y taste. Chances are it doesn’t matter if the fruit came from the backyard or from a truck, sure they are often picked green, refrigerated and shipped great distances, which also hurts taste and texture. But the red gene introduced in almost all tomato varieties makes them tastes bad.”

You can’t go wrong with German Johnson tomatoes…I always say they’re never going to win a beauty contest, but the taste is exceptional. You can find those at your local farmers market.

Need Tracking System to Ensure Retailers Deliver on Promises

With so many retailers promising to source pork from farms using open pen sow housing in the near future – University of Missouri Ag Economist Dr. Ron Plain says we’re going to need a system to track the pork delivered to a retailer back to the farm and the type of facility the sows were housed in. He says that’s the only way the retailers can make a claim to their customers. Right now – while there are firms implementing some open pen gestation – Plain says there’s not a tracking verification system in place to make sure consumers are getting what some retailers say they’re going to deliver. According to Plain – confusing customers or promising things that can’t yet be delivered is bad for retailers and producers. 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.