As opposed to viewing the depressing news about the imploding Greek economy on the Drudge Report, I'm glad you find this kinder, ag-oriented news digest and commentary.

Quarterly reports were issued for Publix and Fresh Del Monte today. 

From Publix, a  short and sweet news release about improved sales but a lower stock price:

Publix’s sales for the third quarter of 2011 were $6.4 billion, a 5.5 percent increase from last year’s $6 billion. Comparable-store sales for the third quarter of 2011 increased 4.3 percent.

Net earnings for the third quarter of 2011 were $311.9 million, compared to $283.2 million in 2010, an increase of 10.1 percent. Earnings per share for the third quarter increased to $0.40 for 2011, up from $0.36 per share in 2010.

Publix’s sales for the first nine months of 2011 were $19.7 billion, a 5.2 percent increase from last year’s $18.8 billion. Comparable-store sales for the first nine months of 2011 increased 3.7 percent.

Effective Nov. 1, 2011, Publix’s stock price decreased from $22.05 per share to $20.20 per share. Publix stock is not publicly traded and is made available for sale only to current Publix associates and members of its board of directors.

“I’m pleased that our Publix associates delivered strong operating results,” said Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw. “Unfortunately, these results were not enough to offset the continuing challenges in the stock market.”

Publix is privately owned and operated by its 150,000 employees, with 2010 sales of $25.1 billion. Currently Publix has 1,042 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. The company has been named one of FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For in America” for 14 consecutive years. In addition, Publix’s dedication to superior quality and customer service is recognized as tops in the grocery business, most recently by an American Customer Satisfaction Index survey.

Meanwhile, the quarterly report for Fresh Del Monte described the perky sales picture:

Net sales for the first nine months of 2011 were $2,808.9 million compared with $2,736.2 million for the first nine months of 2010.  The increase in net sales of $72.7 million was attributable to higher net sales in all of our segments.
   
Net sales of bananas increased by $43.7 million principally due to higher sales volume and per unit sales prices in North America and higher per unit sales prices in Asia, partially offset by lower sales volume in Europe and the Middle East.  Worldwide banana per unit sales prices increased 4% and sales volume was relatively flat as compared with the prior year.
 
North America banana net sales increased principally as a result of higher per unit sales prices due to industry shortages.
 
Asia banana net sales increased principally due to higher per unit sales prices as a result of improved market conditions and favorable exchange rates.

 Europe banana net sales decreased primarily as a result of lower sales volumes earlier in the year, partially offset by higher per unit sales prices and favorable exchange rates.
   
Middle East banana net sales decreased principally due to lower sales volume and lower per unit sales prices.
   
Net sales in the other fresh produce segment increased $21.2 million principally as a result of higher net sales of non-tropical fruit, fresh-cut products and pineapples, partially offset by lower net sales of melons, strawberries and Argentine grain.
   
Net sales of non-tropical fruit increased principally due to significantly higher per unit sales prices of avocados in North America as a result of increased demand, combined with higher sales volume of grapes in Asia and North America and higher per unit sales prices of grapes in the Middle East, partially offset by lower per unit selling prices of grapes in North America.
   
Net sales of fresh-cut products increased primarily due to higher per unit sales prices and sales volume in North America, Europe and the Middle East that resulted from improved market conditions and an expanded customer base.
   
Net sales of pineapples increased principally as a result of higher sales volume in Asia, the Middle East and North America principally due to favorable growing conditions in Asia, partially offset by lower sales volume in Europe and lower per unit sales prices in Asia and the Middle East.
   
Net sales of melons decreased principally as a result of planned sales volume reductions.
   
Net sales of strawberries decreased due to lower customer demand in North America.

Other headlines of note:

CBS coverage of labor shortage in NW apple country From the story: So where are all the workers? A lot of growers are convinced that all the talk about illegal immigration in Washington, D.C., has scared away the apple pickers here in Washington state.

USDA FAS France to tax soft drinks From the report: A significant share (€160 million or $216 million) of the money raised will be used to fund a lowering of social taxes on farm labor.

Senate misses deadline: allows excessive regulation to take place From the statement by Lucas:  "There are no winners today. Because this is a duplicative permit, there will be no additional environmental gains. The farmers, ranchers, and business owners who will be burdened with additional costs and paperwork from this duplicative permit will have less time and money to invest in jobs."

On the virtues of tomato paste

The world's changing demograpics From the story: He also says that Europe and the industrial states of Asia, i.e. Japan, are the “poster children” for the shift in demographic rates, China, Brazil and the Islamic Middle East are also keeping up with the slower pace in fertility. In fact, UAE has a recorded 1.8 fertility rate. Today, Japan is losing more citizens than what they are gaining, and South Korea is also alarmed with a low fertility rate which is 1.1, said Poston.