Aussie's hunger strike ends

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- A hunger striker who became a champion of farmers who complain that they pay the price for Australia's climate change policy ended his 52-day fast Wednesday, Jan. 13, his supporters say.

Sheep farmer Peter Spencer, 61, said he consumed only water mixed with a little lemon juice since Nov. 23 in protest of state laws enacted throughout Australia since 1995 that restrict the amount of land farmers can clear of vegetation that absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Slowing land clearing is equivalent to reducing a country's greenhouse gas emissions in calculations under the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol.

Spencer and his supporters argue that farmers deserve federal compensation because the restrictions make their land less productive.

While the government has not changed the laws, or offered them compensation, Spencer said he had made his point.

Dakotas cut winter wheat

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- Winter wheat seedings in most states are down, in large part because of wet fall weather and a late row crop harvest.

The Agriculture Department says South Dakota farmers planted 1.25 million acres last fall, down 26 percent from the previous year.

In North Dakota, where winter wheat is a minor crop, seedings totaled 340,000 acres, down from 580,000 acres in 2008.

Winter wheat is seeded in the fall and harvested the following year.

In South Dakota, the winter wheat acres are the lowest since 1.2 million acres were planted in 1980.

South Dakota Wheat Commissioner Laird Larson says fields that couldn't be seeded to winter wheat last fall likely will be seeded to other crops such as corn, soybeans or spring wheat this spring.

Corn, soybean stocks up sharply

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- Record corn and soybean crops in South Dakota last fall means a lot of grain in storage.

The government's reporting service said the amount of corn on hand Dec. 1 was a record 632.3 million bushels. That's a 30 percent increase from a year earlier.

On-farm storage was up 34 percent.

Soybean stocks totaled 112.4 million bushels, up 18 percent from a year earlier. On-farm storage was down, but off-farm storage was up 72 percent.

The state's farmers produced a record 719.1 million bushels of corn and a record 175.98 million bushels of soybeans in 2009.

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