Ohio approves livestock board

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio voters have delivered a victory to farmers, approving a new board to oversee livestock care.

Voters in 69 of Ohio's 70 counties approved the constitutional amendment by an overall margin of 64 percent to 36 percent.

The measure was designed to thwart efforts of animal rights groups such as the Humane Society of the United States that are intent on outlawing the close confinement of laying hens, breeding sows and veal calves.

Laws outlawing keeping those animals in cramped cages or crates have passed in seven states.

The ballot issue was viewed as a blueprint for other rural states to avoid such laws being imposed.

Ohio's livestock care board will have 13 members of both parties representing farmers, veterinarians, food safety experts and consumers. It will have one animal rights advocate.

Commercial pigs H1N1 positive

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Wednesday, Nov. 4, that pigs in a commercial herd in Indiana have tested positive for H1N1 flu, making it the first time the virus has been found in such hogs.

The USDA said it discovered four tissue samples that tested positive for the virus using its swine surveillance program.

The sample was collected in late October, and the USDA said the pigs as well as the people caring for the animals have recovered.

The USDA declined to say where in Indiana the sick pigs were located.

USDA officials have stressed repeatedly that instances of pigs with the flu do not pose a threat to consumers of pork products.

Still, word of a commercial herd contracting the virus for the first time is bad news for the pork industry, which has struggled with poor prices blamed on flu fears for the virus often referred to as swine flu and the global recession.

Care of Capitol tree from Bend

BEND, Ore. (AP) -- A Bend company is tasked with keeping the nation's Christmas tree fresh from its cutting this week until its arrival in Washington, D.C., in three weeks.

The Capitol Christmas Tree, which will be erected in front of the U.S. Capitol building the first week of December, will be protected and nourished during its cross-country journey with products from GSI Horticultural of Bend.

An 85-foot blue spruce from the White Mountains in Arizona's Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest will be cut on Saturday, Nov. 7, and begin its three-week journey a few days later through Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia and Maryland on the back of a flatbed truck.

The tree will reach the capital on Nov. 30, and the lighting ceremony will be Dec. 8.

Philippines eyes rice imports from S. Korea, Vietnam

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- A Philippines effort to import 275,000 tons of rice to make up for shortages caused by back-to-back storms has elicited the lowest offers from South Korean and Vietnamese companies, the government said Wednesday.

The country lost at least 1.3 million tons of rice after being pummeled over the last two months by typhoons that left more than 900 dead and rice paddies submerged.

As a result, the government pushed up its auction for rice imports to this week from December.

The winning bidder will be announced after about a week.

The Philippines, the world's biggest rice importer, may need to import from at least two suppliers for rice deliveries from January to April 2010, said Rex Estoperes, the food agency's spokesman.

The government last year bought a record 2.54 million tons of rice to plug a 10 percent domestic production gap.

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