Panama Canal officials say the opening of the larger locks is not expected until the second quarter of this year after already being postponed several times by construction delays. The Panama Canal Authority says the larger locks should open for commercial use early in the second quarter though a certain date remains to be set. Work is currently estimated at 96 percent complete, and the new locks are operational. However the Authority wants to make sure the locks are working perfectly before opening them. The new locks will nearly triple the capacity of the canal’s existing infrastructure, allowing for much larger container ships to pass through.
USDA announced the availability of $150 million in funding to help producers voluntarily improve the health and productivity of private and tribal working lands. The Natural Resources Conservation Service plans to add 10 million acres to the Conservation Stewardship Program this year through the funding. USDA suggests producers interested in the program should submit applications by the end of March. Funding is available for more than 100 kinds of enhancements nationwide.