**Record heat and drought are taking a toll on the U.S. barley crop this year, a factor that could hamper a key ingredient in beer brewing.

USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey tells www.agweb.com, weather woes in the Northern Plains and Pacific Northwest means crops are getting scorched.

The latest USDA Crop Progress report shows 22% of the U.S. barley crop is in good to excellent condition, a 9-point drop in just a week.

39% of the crop is rated poor to very poor.


**A new study says cleaner air has boosted corn and soybean yields by about 20% since 1999.

According to www.agrimarketing.com, the Stanford-led project found about a 5% corn and soybean production loss was tied to pollution from ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.

Researchers say yields, across a nine-state Midwest region, were clearly higher in areas further away from coal-burning power plants.


**Tight labor supplies will increase the pace of automation in the food supply chain, according to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange.

CoBank vice president Dan Kawalski tells www.thepacker.com, the most significant impact from COVID will be an acceleration in automation.

Kowalski adds while investment in automation and robotics was increasing before the pandemic, labor challenges over the past 18 months, and likely the next year, will only hasten the pace of automation.


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