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Federal officials are looking to expand the room where they will hold a hearing next Friday (August 27th) on competition in the cattle business. Cattle groups are chartering busses from across the Great Plains to bring people to Fort Collins, Colorado, where the Departments of Justice and Agriculture will take testimony on possible antitrust violations in the livestock industry. To register for the hearing, go here

• A group of Eastern Kentucky landowners have sued two coal companies, saying improper mining practices caused flooding damage in Pike County last month. (Photo above.) The floods on Harless Creek were devestating, washing away homes and vehicles. 

• Two dozen towns in western Massachusetts will try to increase consumption of fresh food among low-income people by offering a 30% discount on fruits and vegetables. The discount will be given to food stamp recipients in Hampden County, according to the Boston Globe. This experiment in eating fresh food was authorized by the 2008 farm bill. 

• The invaluable ag news service DTN is writing about the “acreage race” — the increasing size of farms around the world. Marcia Zarley Taylor tells us that one farm in Brazil now tops 2.75 million acres. 

Farmers “believe that crop producers are on the verge of a major consolidation, much like the one that shrunk the pork industry 90 percent or more in the 1990s,” Taylor writes. “As proof, they point out that of the nation’s largest farms–just 5,500 of them–generate almost 40 percent of all ag production today. That’s more than all the part-timers combined, they argue, and a group that barely registered in the Ag Census a decade ago.” 

• The company that is being blamed for a salmonella outbreak from eggs it sells “has a long history of environmental, immigration and labor violations,” according to the Des Moines Register’s Philip Brasher. Wright County Egg is recalling 380 million eggs it sold over the last three months after hundreds of people have contracted salmonella in three states. 

Brasher finds that the company and members of the family that founded it have had a number of run-ins with the law. Members of the DeCoster family have paid penalties for violations of immigration laws, for mistreatment of female workers and state animal cruelty charges in Maine. 

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