10-1 AM Live Ag Report

FRESNO, Calif.

Another bill signed by the governor authorizes the agriculture department to re-work the licensing fee schedule for processors of farm products. The restructuring is based on current operating costs.

The governor also signed a bill that temporarily re-works the terms of farm-preservation contracts under the Williamson Act. Currently, the program is unfunded. Counties would not be compensated for the tax revenue they lose by signing contracts with landowners. But by temporarily increasing the value of contracted farmland, the bill can restore about half of the money counties lost when funding was cut last year.

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A conservative republican is holding up a broadly supported bill in the Senate aimed at paying off settlements with black farmers and American Indians.

The legislation would set aside $4-billion for black farmers who say they were discriminated against by the agriculture department and settle claims accusing the interior department of mismanaging Indian trust funds.

Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is blocking the bill. An aide to the senator says Coburn is dissatisfied with the way the bill would be paid.

Democrats and Republicans thought the measure would pass, because it includes several Republican bills to resolve Indian water claims.

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Heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar says it will raise prices up to 2-percent worldwide starting in January.

The company makes machinery for farming, mining and other industries.

It announced Thursday the price hike was due to "industry factors" and the economy. Caterpillar says price hikes will vary by product and location. It plans to give dealers the details soon.

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