In Brief… – for Aug. 19, 2010

Pickups rise on U. S. theft list:

Hauling power has made pickups a “group to watch” in an annual U. S. insurers’ study of vehicle theft losses. Models such as the Ford F-250/350, Chevy Silverado 1500, and Dodge Ram 2500 were found to be attractive “not only because of the vehicles themselves but also because of the tools and cargo they carry,” the Highway Loss Data Institute said. No. 2 on its list (behind the Cadillac Escalade SUV at No. 1) was the Ford F-250 4-WD, with average loss payments of US$9,636 per claim. At No. 9: the Chevy Silverado 1500, with average loss payments of US$6,814 per claim. Left out:Manitoba cattle producers say they are drowning while the province leaves them high and dry. “Many of our producers are in an absolute critical state and on the verge of collapse, and yet we cannot get any clear communication from the province,” Manitoba Cattle Producers Association president Major Jay Fox says in a release.

MCPA director Kim Crandell said while the $100,000 offered to Pakistan’s flood relief effort is commendable, “we simply don’t understand why flooded producers in our own backyard are left stranded.”

– Staff

Extreme weather triples:

Devastating floods in Pakistan and Russia’s heat wave match predictions of extremes caused by global warming, scientists say.

This year is on track to be the warmest since reliable temperature records began in the mid-19th century, beating 1998, according to the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Reinsurer Munich Re said a natural catastrophe database it runs “shows that the number of extreme weather events like windstorms and floods has tripled since 1980, and the trend is expected to persist.” Farm fatality:A farm worker on the Fairholme Colony in the R. M. of South Norfolk died Aug. 13 after becoming entangled in a feed mixer at a hog production facility. Treherne RCMP say the 32-year-old man was repairing the machinery when he became trapped in the machine.

He was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Witnesses report the man had only been alone in the area of the machine for a short while when the accident occurred. RCMP and Manitoba Workplace Health and Safety are investigating. – Staff Peak exposure:Manitobans are in the peak summer period for exposure to West Nile virus through infected mosquitoes, Manitoba Health says. But although the risk has increased over the past week, it is relatively low compared to previous years. Seven mosquito samples tested positive for the West Nile virus during the week of Aug. 1 to 7. Four of these samples were collected in Winnipeg and one each in Boissevain, Russell and Stonewall. So far this year, a total of 11 positive mosquito samples have been found. No human cases have been reported.

– Staff Cheese chasers:Cheese lovers chased a giant wheel of Canadian Cracked Pepper Verdelait cheese down a B. C. mountain last weekend at the Dairy Farmers of Canada Cheese Rolling Festival. The two grand-champion cheese rollers took home an 11-pound wheel of cheese and a Whistler season ski pass for two. In addition to the races, more than 10,000 spectators took in a host of other fun activities including cheese Twister, cheese bowling, cheese seminars and a farmers’ market full of delicious samples of Canadian cheese. – DFC release

Sask. to lose beef packer:

XL Foods has announced plans to permanently close Saskatchewan’s only federally inspected beef-packing plant within the next three months, media in that province reported Aug. 13. The XL Beef plant at Moose Jaw hasn’t been fully staffed since April last year, when the company laid off its staff for the summer, then locked them out in September.

When Calgary-based XL took over the Moose Jaw plant in 2000, it had capacity to process about 180,000 animals per year. The decision also means permanent layoffs for about 200 employees. – Staff Teachers chop stake in Maple Leaf:The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which controlled about a third of Maple Leaf Foods, has agreed to sell all its non-voting common shares and a chunk of its voting stock – in all, an 11.4 per cent stake in Maple Leaf – to West Face Capital, a Toronto investment management firm, for an undisclosed sum. The teachers’ fund said Aug. 10 it would still hold just over 25 per cent of the Toronto food firm, but will “still consider all of our options.” West Face, meanwhile, said its stake was “acquired for investment purposes.”

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