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Higher prices for lettuce, tobacco, cattle and corn helped boost prices paid to the nation's farmers in March, the Agriculture Department says.

USDA said prices paid to producers for their crops, livestock and other farm products were up 0.7 percent in March from a month earlier.Declines were noted for oranges, milk, hogs and wheat. USDA said the decline for wheat followed seven consecutive months of increases; milk prices continued a downward trend that began in January.

March's overall farm prices were down by 3.4 percent from a year ago, USDA said Monday, citing lower prices for hogs, cattle and eggs. Partially offsetting the decreases were higher prices for wheat, milk and corn.

Crop prices collectively increased 1.6 percent from February and 2.4 percent from a year earlier. But overall prices for meat, dairy products, poultry and eggs were down 0.6 percent from a month earlier and 8.3 percent below March 1991.

USDA said commercial vegetable prices paid to farmers were up 13 percent over the preceding month and 28 percent over a year ago. Increases in lettuce and sweet corn prices were the main contributors, caused by good demand and seasonal lulls in supply.

Tomato prices continued to be very high compared to a year ago as reduced shipments from Mexico have stretched domestic supplies and created a premium market for U.S. tomatoes.