Farmers can now sign up for a six-state pilot program to restore up to 500,000 acres of farmable wetlands and associated buffers, according to USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA). The Farmable Wetlands Pilot Program will help producers improve the hydrology and vegetation of eligible land in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. This pilot is part of USDA's ongoing Conservation Reserve Program.

Eligible cropland includes farmed and prior converted wetlands impacted by farming activities.

FSA will offer annual rental payments for a 10- to 15-year period, plus an upfront signing incentive payment.

Producers will also receive a cost-share payment that will be up to 50% of the actual cost of establishing the permanent cover.

Contact your local FSA office for more information.

An A+ For Biotech. The International Food Information Council reports that it's newest food biotech survey shows most Americans, 64%, expect to benefit from biotech in the next five years.

However, overall awareness of the presence of biotech foods in grocery stores has decreased since May 2000 (36%, down from 43%). Ninety-five percent of respondents say they have not taken any action in the last few months on the basis of concerns regarding biotech foods.

Big Bean Crop In Argentina. At nearly 97% complete (press time), Sparks is forecasting Argentina's soybean production at 25.5 million tons, 5.3 million above last year.

Hospital Uses Biodiesel. St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach, CA, announces that they've switched to biodiesel to run on-site generators and boilers.

“We're excited about the advantages this new fuel provides in responding to our statewide energy crisis,” says Tomi Hadfield, hospital president.

St. Mary expects a daily cost savings of $350 over an average natural gas price of $14.28 per decatherm. In addition, the hospital can stay up and running during blackouts without emitting high levels of pollution.