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Farmers post record crops

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says farmers harvested record crops for soybeans, peanuts, canola, rapeseed and hops in 2017.

The annual crop production report shows that peanut production jumped 30 percent to 7.2 billion pounds. Production of hops, a main ingredient in beer, grew 20 percent as Idaho's production surpassed Oregon's for the first time. Washington remained the leader, producing 75 percent of the nation's crop.

Soybean production was at 4.39 billion bushels, up 2 percent from the previous year as farmers planted a record 90.1 million acres.

Canola production was up 1 percent. Rapeseed, used to make cooking oil, rose 7 percent.

Corn production fell 4 percent to 14.6 billion bushels on fewer planted acres. Wheat production was down 25 percent.

Groups oppose pork rules

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Labor, public health, environment and animal protection organizations are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reject plans to change the way hogs are slaughtered and processed for meat.

Thirty-five organizations, including Compassion Over Killing, Friends of the Earth and Waterkeeper Alliance, have asked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to reject the rules proposed last month.

The rules allow plant employees instead of government inspectors to determine which animals are slaughtered and allow increased line speeds.

The groups say the changes risk increased food contamination, worker injuries, animal abuse and water pollution.

The USDA says the rules don't risk food safety and improve industry practices, and the National Pork Producers says they increase efficiency, inspection effectiveness and the rapid adoption of new food-safety technologies.

The USDA is taking comments until April 2.

Report: Demand for hops has peaked

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Production of hops has grown dramatically in the United States since 2012, and no more acreage is needed to meet the demand for the plant that flavors beer.

That's according to a report from the Yakima-based trade group Hop Growers of America.

Most of the nation's hops are grown in Washington, Idaho and Oregon.

The report says the U.S. has hit a saturation point with production of 104 million pounds last year.

The report says that's a 77 percent increase from 2012.

The report also found that Idaho has surpassed Oregon to become the second-highest hop producing state at 13 percent of the crop. Washington grows 75 percent and Oregon 11 percent.

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