Michigan beet growers satisfied

BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) -- The Michigan sugar beet harvest didn't top last year's bumper crop but growers seem satisfied after a wet fall.

Michigan Sugar, a major grower-owned cooperative, said it harvested nearly 4.97 million tons of beets with 18 percent sugar content, 30,000 tons under the spring estimate and 200,000 tons below 2010 production. The last beets came in about two weeks ago.

Some growers were hit with additional cleaning fees because beets came out of muddy ground.

"We had a difficult harvest season with it being wet," Paul Pfenninger, a Michigan Sugar vice president, told The Bay City Times. "Our numbers weren't quite what we were hoping for when we planted this spring, but we're not disappointed with them at all. ... We've probably got the second-best harvest industry-wide."

Beets are a major crop in Michigan, with more than 1,000 growers on 150,000 acres.

Official slams child labor laws

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello said a proposed U.S. Department of Labor rule that would govern child farmworkers is an attack on the rural family farm and ranch.

The federal agency is proposing that family farms or ranches that are legal partnerships or corporations not be allowed to employ children 16 years of age or younger in farm work that is deemed hazardous.

Costello said that would bar young teens from riding on a tractor and herding and branding cattle. He also said grandparents would be prohibited from having their grandchildren work on the family farm.

Costello said the proposal could damage agricultural jobs, hurt American agricultural competitiveness and damage the cultural integrity of the rural family. He also said the idea threatens to criminalize traditional family farm life.

Milk production up in Midwest

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Milk production has improved modestly in Wisconsin, and Minnesota has reversed a short-term slide by holding about even.

The latest statistics show that Wisconsin produced 2.2 billion pounds of milk in October. That's 2 percent better than its output in October of last year.

In Minnesota, dairy farmers harvested 732 million pounds in October. That's about even with the state's production a year ago, and an improvement over recent months in which declines ranged from 1 percent to 7 percent.

Overall, milk production was up 2 percent nationwide to 15.2 billion pounds. California is still the national leader, producing 3.4 billion pounds in October. Wisconsin remains solidly in second place.

Kansas harvest nears completion

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- This season's fall harvest in Kansas is drawing to a close as the 2012 winter wheat crop begins to emerge.

Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported that 3 percent of the state's sorghum and 5 percent of the sunflower acreages remain to be cut.

The agency also noted that all but 3 percent of the winter wheat crop has emerged. It rated wheat condition as 5 percent excellent, 42 percent good and 40 percent fair. About 13 percent of the wheat is in poor to very poor condition.

Hay and forage supplies are short to very short in 55 percent of the state as winter nears. Livestock producers are also still voicing concerns about low water in stock ponds despite recent rains.

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