Court reopens Nebraska lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on April 4 reopened Kansas' lawsuit against Nebraska aimed at stopping its northern neighbor from using Republican River water to irrigate thousands of acres of farmland.

The high court gave Kansas permission to file a new petition over its allegations that Nebraska took more than its share of water in 2005 and 2006 -- enough to supply a city of 100,000 people for a decade. Kansas sued Nebraska over the Republican River in 1998. The two states settled the case five years later, but Kansas contends Nebraska violated the terms of the agreement.

Now Kansas wants to force Nebraska to reduce farm irrigation in its portion of the nearly 25,000-square-mile river basin and to pay Kansas back for the economic gains Nebraska allegedly saw for using too much water. Kansas previously calculated the amount of the potential payment at $72 million.

If Kansas prevails, Nebraska will be forced to stop irrigating about 500,000 of the 1.2 million acres in its portion of the Republican River basin, and farmers there would have to rely on rain to grow crops.

Cotton acreage expected to rise

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Virginia cotton producers expect to plant 125,000 acres this season, up more than 50 percent from last year.

Record high prices for cotton are fueling the increased interest. The last time the 100,000-acre mark for cotton was reached was in 2006.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also reports increased acreage for soybeans and corn, but a decline for peanuts.

Soybean growers expect to plant nearly 600,000 acres, up 30,000 acres from a year ago.

Corn plantings are expected to increase 20,000 acres to 510,000.

On the down side, peanut producers will plant 14,000 acres, down 4,000 acres from last year.

Another Virginia standard, flue-cured tobacco, will see a small increase from last year, up less than 1,000 acres to 18,500 acres.

Snow delays Minn. fieldwork

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- It's going to be about three more weeks before full-scale fieldwork begins on Minnesota farms.

In its first weekly crop-weather report of the season for Minnesota, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said April 4 that this winter's heavy snow and below-average temperatures have put spring fieldwork behind last year's pace, but near the five-year average.

Livestock producers report good calving conditions.

Snow melt conditions varied across the state last week. Cool temperatures, averaging 3 degrees below average, slowed the thawing process and extended the flooding potential. Statewide precipitation was below average.

Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 35 percent adequate and 65 percent surplus; subsoil moisture supplies were rated 45 percent adequate and 55 percent surplus.

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