In Brief… – for Aug. 5, 2010

Drought cuts production:

Russia may harvest less than 80 million tonnes of grain this year as severe drought has hit many key grain-growing regions, Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Klepach said July 26. “(The) previous official grain crop forecast was 80 million to 85 million tonnes. Now we believe the outcome of the year may be less than 80 million,” he told reporters, citing experts’ estimates.

Earlier on Tuesday SovEcon agricultural analysts said the drought might cut the Russian grain production even further – to less than 70 million tonnes.

Fatal fall:

A 16-year-old girl died July 25 after falling 23 metres from the Paterson Grain Elevator at Indian Head, Sask. RCMP said the girl and a friend had climbed the elevator to take in the early-morning view. She fell while climbing down the structure. The youth was transported to the Regina General Hospital where she later died from her injuries. RCMP are continuing their investigation into the incident. – Co-operator contributor Sylvia MacBean

Churchill season opens:

Manitoba’s minister of agriculture was on hand to meet the season’s first ship into the Port of Churchill July 29. “The arrival of the first ship is an exciting time and an important marketing link for the grain produced in Manitoba and across the Prairies,” said Stan Struthers in a release.

The MV Federal Danube was loading approximately 33,000 tonnes of durum bound for Europe. In 2009, 529,000 tonnes of wheat were shipped through the Port of Churchill with 424,000 tonnes in 2008 and 620,000 tonnes in 2007, a 30-year high.

– Manitoba Government release

China wins dispute:

A World Trade Organization panel has ruled in favour of China in its dispute with the United States over an effective U. S. ban on imports of cooked Chinese chicken, a Chinese source said July 27. The dispute arose because of a spending bill passed by the U. S. Congress that prevented the authorities from taking any measures to process imports of Chinese chicken.

China said the measure was discriminatory and protectionist because its poultry met international health standards and it was exporting chicken to Europe and Japan.

BLT season:

Bacon-hungry consumers pushed prices for pork bellies to a record $140 per cwt on Aug. 2, surpassing the previous record of $135 set the previous week, livestock analysts said. Bacon usage surges in the summer when tomatoes ripen and consumers eat bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwiches. This year that demand surge comes at a time when pork supplies are low. In addition to use on BLTs, bacon usage has become strong year round as fast-food restaurant use.

Oil spill meets dead zone:

This year’s low-oxygen “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico is one of the largest ever and overlaps areas hit by oil from BP’s broken Macondo well, Louisiana scientists report. The area of hypoxia, or low levels of oxygen, covered 20,000 square kilometres of the bottom of the Gulf and extended far into Texas waters, researchers from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium said Aug 1. The annual summer “dead zone” in the Gulf is fuelled by nitrogen and phosphorus in agricultural run-off, which stimulates algae growth.

Hear them roar:

What do you get when you put 200 combines at work in the same field – besides a lot of noise? Organizers of the Sound of Hope Charity Harvest in Winkler Sat., Aug. 7 are hoping they get a spot in theGuinness Book of World Records.The harvest is expected to begin at noon with a judge from the famous keeper of records on hand to observe. Here’s hoping the sound of 200 combines isn’t muffled by thunder. – Staff

Town with A-Peel:

Melita’s big banana was en route to Manitoba this week from Calgary. The 30-foot-tall banana weighing 6,200 pounds was scheduled to be officially peeled Aug. 7.

The banana holds a blue jay in its hand to represent Melita and area’s status as an “Important Bird Area,” or IBA, meaning it is a well-recognized site for birders. The banana also wears a belt and buckle around his middle to signify that Melita and area is also recognized as the “Banana Belt” of southwestern Manitoba. – Staff

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