SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Springfield and Sangamon County officials have announced an agreement with the state on design work for consolidating train traffic through Illinois' capital city. The effort is part of high-speed rail development.
The agreement made public Wednesday involves nearly $8.7 million to pay for half of the design work. The project would move rail traffic through the downtown core farther out to a corridor on the city's east side.
The deal was signed by Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider, Springfield Mayor Michael Houston and Sangamon County Board Chairman Andy Van Meter.
The project is part of the Chicago-to-St. Louis high-speed rail development. There is no current funding for train traffic consolidation.
The plan would include new track alignments and separating automobile and train traffic in spots.
BEIJING (AP) — Rising global food demand will push up prices 10 to 40 percent over the coming decade and governments need to boost investment to increase farm production, a forecast by two international agencies said Thursday.
Growth in food production has slowed over the past decade even as rising incomes in developing countries boosted consumption, said the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
"We're observing slower growth in production and productivity, and that is a concern," said Merritt Cluff, an FAO economist, at a news conference.
Governments need to find ways to give farmers access to technology to increase output and get more of their crops to market, the agencies said in a report, "Agricultural Outlook 2013-2022."
Prices are expected to rise 10 to 40 percent over the coming decade, with the cost of meat rising faster and that of grains more slowly, according to Ken Ash, director general of the OECD's trade and agriculture division.
"We would urge governments around the world to begin to shift and to shift quickly from old-style policies to a greater focus on productivity and innovation," said Ash. "If we carry on blissfully as if nothing has changed in the world, there could be a problem."
Higher prices will have their biggest impact in developing countries where some families spend up to 60 percent of their incomes on food, Cluff said.
Investment in farming has fallen in recent decades due to a long-term decline in commodity prices and has yet to rebound despite price spikes since 2008, the agencies said. As a result, they said, annual production growth is forecast to slow to 1.5 percent compared with the past decade's 2.1 percent.
"It's about a third less. That's a big difference," said Angel Gurria, the OECD secretary-general.
The agencies urged governments to avoid interfering with market forces that can encourage farmers to produce more by raising prices for their goods.
Food consumption in developing countries has grown by up to 30 percent a year over the past decade as incomes rose, while consumption in developed countries changed little, the agencies said.
China's imports of meat and oilseeds are forecast to grow as its increasingly prosperous consumers spend more on food, the agencies said.
Beijing has pursued self-sufficiency in production of rice, wheat and other grain but for soybeans and other oilseeds relies on imports from the United States, Brazil and other countries.
Imports of oilseeds are expected to rise by 40 percent over the next 10 years, accounting for 59 percent of global trade in oilseeds, while dairy imports would rise 20 percent, the OECD and FAO said.
China should remain self-sufficient in its main crops but for other products its sheer size "will keep markets on edge over the next decade," said Cluff.
A St. Charles County man is facing charges for molesting children on three different occasions.
Prosecutors say Donald Knaust was at a Fort Zumwalt North High School sporting event when he improperly touched and 8-year-old boy. That event was in January of this year.
Then earlier this month, while out of jail on bond, he was accused of having sex with another 8-year-old boy on two separate occasions.
Knaust faces a laundry list of charges including child molestation and statutory sodomy. He is held on a half-million dollar bond.
The release of a small amount of a toxic gas led the fire department's hazardous management team to suit up earlier today.
St. Louis city police and fire crews responded to a late morning call to a building at McPherson and Skinker which is in the process of demolition.
Deputy Fire Chief Mike Harris explains how some anhydrous ammonia was released. "There was an old refrigeration unit in the basement and likely there was residual anhydrous and either it was heated with his cutting or just trapped and released," said Harris.
Harris says anhydrous ammonia is lighter than air and in small amounts like this, dissipates quickly. No gas escaped the building. He says every precaution is used on each of these calls. regardless of the extent. All crews worked in Hazmet suits today with two hazardous management vehicles on site.
There were no injuries.