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In Brief… – for Feb. 5, 2009

Smaller Alta. beet crop costs Rogers:

Shrinking sugar beet acreage helped bite deep into Rogers Sugar’s bottom line for the company’s first quarter. The Montreal income trust posted profit of $73,000 on $138.4 million in revenues for Q1 ending Dec. 31, down from $18.5 million on $173 million in the year-earlier period. Its gross margin fell on reduced volumes in its higher-margin consumer sales plus a drop of about $1 million in byproducts revenue due to a smaller crop feeding the company’s Taber, Alta. refinery. Distribution costs rose as Rogers had to haul cane sugar into the Prairie market.

Grain revenue helps CPR:

Higher grain revenue from a slightly lower grain handle helped offset lower full-year operating income in fiscal 2008 for Canadian Pacific Railway. CPR posted full-year profit of $619 million on $4.93 billion in revenues, down from $946.2 million on $4.71 billion in 2007. Fourth-quarter operating income was “essentially flat” despite CPR having to forfeit $38.9 million in excess Prairie grain revenue and penalties. The Calgary company’s grain handle in 2008 was down 0.7 per cent at 382,400 carloads, but grain revenue per carload was up four per cent at $2,537.

Peanut poisoning criminal:

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration is joining the Justice Department in a criminal investigation of Peanut Corp. of America, whose plant caused an outbreak of salmonella that has sickened more than 500 people and may have killed eight.

The FDA’s Dr. Stephen Sundlof said the agency would help investigate the outbreak, traced to a single Blakely, Georgia, peanut plant. State and federal health officials have found widespread contamination at the plant and evidence that plant management knowingly shipped salmonella-tainted products.

Up, up and away:

Camelina, an oilseed crop expected to gain ground in Manitoba, has taken off – literally. Japan Airlines (JAL) announced it has become the first airline to conduct a demonstration flight using camelina fuel blended with jet fuel. It was also the first demo flight using a combination of three sustainable biofuel feedstocks, as well as the first one using Pratt & Whitney engines. The results of the flight are expected to conclusively confirm the second-generation biofuel’s operational performance capabilities and potential commercial viability.

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