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In Brief… – for Dec. 2, 2010

Volatile markets:

Wheat values generally dropped $1 to $4 per tonne in the November CWB Pool Return Outlook (PRO). The exception is No. 1 CWRS 14.5, No. 1 CWSWS and feed wheat, which have all increased slightly from October. Durum is up between $1 and $6 per tonne. Malting barley is down $7. The board said volatile and uncertain world markets will continue to influence grain commodities. “Wheat will continue to be supported by corn and soybean price structures, but negatively affected by the volatile macroeconomic conditions.” – Staff

Short crop:

The tally for the nearly complete Russian harvest stands at 64.2 million tonnes of grain, down 38 per cent from last year. That figure, close to earlier Agriculture Ministry estimates, is for so-called “bunker weight” and will shrink by five to seven per cent after the grain is cleaned and dried. Farmers had also harvested 5.1 million tonnes of sunseeds, and 20.8 million tonnes of sugar beets, and have 15.3 million hectares of winter wheat. That was in line with targeted acreage but well down from the 18 million acres sown last year.

Resilience:

Canada’s canola crop took advantage of warm, dry weather in October to produce a bigger crop. The industry’s estimate of production is 11 per cent over Statistics Canada’s October estimate of 10.4 million tonnes. October’s favourable weather, which followed wet, cool growing conditions through much of the summer, boosted production, said Denise Maurice, vice-president of crop production for the council.

“We’re seeing a lot of recovery,” Maurice said. “Resilience, it’s just amazing.”

Uncomfortable:

The possibility of food riots in the Third World is increasing.

“The situation is getting a little bit uncomfortable,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, senior grains economist at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. “Poor countries have to import food at much higher prices. Whether or not this will lead to domestic problems, turmoils, demonstrations, riots, the kind of things we saw in 2008, or not, it is not possible to predict. ” It depends very much on how these countries will cope with these high prices.” Ritz names food safety board:Ottawa lawyer and ex- Canadian Food Inspection Agency chief Ronald Doering will chair Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz’s new advisory board on food safety and other CFIArelated issues. Board members also include former University of Manitoba agriculture dean Harold Bjarnason, oilseed breeder Keith Downey, plant breeder Rob McLaughlin, ex-Nova Scotia agriculture minister Brooke Taylor, dairyman Marcel Groleau and CFIA chief food safety officer Dr. Brian Evans. Such a board, at “minimum,” was urged in the Weatherill report on the 2008 listeria outbreak in deli meats. CN conductors ratify labour deal:Canadian National Railway’s (CN) conductors, yardmen and traffic co-ordinators have voted in favour of a deal that keeps them off the picket line until at least July 2013. The agreement, tentatively reached in early October pending the outcome of a ratification vote, followed a round of what the conductors’ union, the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), described then as “last-chance meetings” with a federal mediator. Contract talks by that time had stalled to the point where a walkout or lockout could have been launched with 72 hours’ notice. ADM eyes soy protein product:Vancouver plant protein processor Burcon NutraScience has signed on to draft a licence agreement for agri-food firm Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) to market its soy protein products. The company said it has a non-binding letter of intent laying out its and ADM’s plans for a licence agreement, under which Burcon would license its Clarisoy technology exclusively to ADM to produce, sell and market soy protein isolates. Clarisoy is billed as 100 per cent soluble, transparent and low in viscosity in acidic beverages.

Ex-CountryGuideeditor Don Baron dies at 82

Funeral services were held Nov. 20 in Regina for farm writer Don Baron, a vocal critic of regulation in the Prairie grain industry and an early proponent of corn and soybean production in Ontario. Baron, who died Nov. 13 of unspecified causes, first joinedCountry Guidein 1952 and was its editor from 1962 to 1975. He later worked for the Palliser Wheat Growers group and for then-Saskatchewan premier Grant Devine and authored four books includingCanada’s Great Grain Robbery(1997) andJailhouse Justice (2001).

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