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Briefs continued – for Jan. 21, 2010

Producer car plea: B. C. MP Alex Atamanenko has written to federal Transportation Minister John Baird appealing for quick action to preserve farmers’ access to producer car-loading sites. “It is important to note the significance of a decision made by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1902, which upheld the provision of producer cars to farmers as a right and not merely a matter of privilege,” he says. “It is my hope you will introduce legislation that will firmly protect farmers’ rights to load their own producer cars as soon as Parliament resumes.” Seed companies

scrutinized: The U. S. Justice Department has opened a formal antitrust investigation of the seed industry, spokeswoman Gina Talamona said Jan. 14. “The antitrust division is investigating the possibility of anti-competitive practices in the seed industry,” Talamona said, while declining to discuss which companies were the target of the probe. However, Monsanto Co. said earlier the department had sent it a civil investigative demand for information after complaints that the company was using anti-competitive strategies to push new, pricier products.

Hogs spared a fiery death:

Fire departments from Morris and Rosenort battled a hog barn fire in the Rural Municipality of Macdonald Jan. 14. RCMP says seven employees working in the barn owned by Sunnybrook Swine Inc. escaped without injury. And only 12 sows perished out of the 3,000 hogs in the barn. RCMP, with the assistance of the Manitoba Office of the Fire Commissioners, continues to investigate. The cause has yet to be determined and the estimate of damage was unknown as of press time. Big budget: The European Union’s large farm sector support budget as well as the direct subsidies it pays to farmers are justified and should be maintained, the bloc’s commissioner-designate for agriculture said Jan. 15.

Romania’s Dacian Ciolos told a parliamentary hearing the bloc should continue and if possible increase budgetary support to farmers. Agriculture makes up about 40 per cent of the 27-nation bloc’s total budget, worth about US$180 billion annually. “I think this budget is justified,” Ciolos said, winning applause from some lawmakers.

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