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Blowin’ in the wind

Our History: May 2008

The photo of dust blowing from a field near Miami was typical of many others across southern Manitoba on May 16, 2008. There were blizzard-like conditions in the Red River Valley, and Manitoba Agriculture reported that many fields had lost so much topsoil that seed was exposed. As of May 22, crop insurance officials reported receiving about 100 reseeding claims, with more expected.

We reported that municipal officials were requesting funds from the provincial Disaster Financial Assistance program to help clear ditches of topsoil. The reeve of the RM of Macdonald estimated that 30 miles of ditches needed to be cleared at a cost of $1.6 million, and said 18 track hoes had already started. The reeve of the RM of Dufferin estimated its cost at $300,000, 10 per cent of the municipality’s total budget.

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In the ongoing seesaw of reports that the world is either running short of food or overflowing with surplus grain, things were in the former category. “Hungry world awaits onset of U.S. wheat harvest,” said a headline on a May 29 Reuters story. “The harvest this year is critical as world supplies have dwindled so low that sharp prices and food shortages have hit markets around the world.”

We reported that Canadian cattle producers were nervously watching for the effect of the controversial country-of-origin labelling (COOL) provision of the 2008 U.S. Farm Bill. They correctly anticipated the need to segregate U.S. and Canadian cattle in feedlots.

The closing of the U.S. border to Canadian cattle in 2003 had led to a series of initiatives to process more cattle at home, but another story reviewed their difficulties or failure of several. This included the Ranchers Beef Co-op slaughter plant that had been planned for Dauphin as well as problems at startup slaughter plants in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

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