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In Brief… – for Jan. 20, 2011

Vet fined:A Manitoba veterinarian has been fined $10,000 for certifying uninspected cattle for export. Dr. Earl Van Assen pleaded guilty in a Winnipeg court to two counts of contravening the federal Health of Animals Act. Court was told Van Assen submitted certification documents in Feb. 2009 for 42 cows shipped to the United States, stating they were suitable for export. But he did not inspect all the animals himself, taking the word of the farmer instead. BSE regulations require Canadian vets must certify that cattle exported to the U.S. are born after March, 1999. – Staff Last call:The Abattoir Competitiveness Program is now accepting applications for final payments. Eligible applicants have until Jan. 31 to apply, a federal release says. The Abattoir Competitiveness Program was developed from the Agricultural Flexibility fund and provides a one-year, up to $25-million injection designed to help cattle slaughterhouses maintain critical capacity in Canada for OTM cattle while the industry undertakes efforts to become more innovative and competitive when dealing with specified risk material (SRM). – Staff

Canola and culinary arts:

The Manitoba Canola Growers Association recently approved a $300,000 contribution to the Assiniboine Community College (ACC) culinary arts program. “Canola oil plays an important role in the kitchen and in an active lifestyle. That is why the Manitoba Canola Growers Association has made this generous donation involving the state-of-the art theatre at ACC’s Manitoba Institute of Culinary Arts,” said association president Rob Pettinger. The theatre is a unique facility that blends culinary and broadcast training, along with community programming. – Staff Thirsty:Around 2.2 million people are facing a shortage of drinking water due to a severe drought in parts of central, southern and eastern China, with some cities starting to run low on supplies, state media said Jan. 17. Rainfall is down by between 20 to 90 per cent compared with the same period last year in the provinces of Henan, Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui and Shaanxi, the official Xinhua news agency quoted a government official as saying. Some of the areas affected are major growing regions for winter wheat, the report added.

Fertilizer boon:Surging corn and soybean prices and a surprising supply outlook from the U.S. Department of Agriculture boosted fertilizer stocks on Jan. 12, with shares of industry leaders CF Industries and Mosaic Co. setting multi-year highs. The rally comes as global food supply is barely able to meet demand, prompting a need for more fertilizer to boost production.

The USDA said America’s stockpiles of corn and soybeans will be drawn down to surprisingly thin levels this year.

No more cheap food:The

European Union’s executive is playing down the risk of a repeat of 2008’s food price crisis, and is warning the era of cheap food has ended. Last week the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said its measure of food prices had hit its highest since records began in 1990, topping levels seen in 2008 when price spikes sparked deadly riots in some countries. Rising food prices in North Africa and the Middle East prompted protests in Jordan Jan. 14 following riots in Algeria and Tunisia.

Piracy costs soar:Grains shipments

are being diverted around Africa as Somali pirate gangs strike deeper at sea, increasing journey times and potentially lifting insurance costs at a time of unrest over food prices. Pirates operating off the Horn of Africa are threatening traffic aiming for the vital Gulf of Aden trade route, either from Asia towards Europe and the Middle East Gulf or from the United States and Europe heading towards Asia. A wheat cargo from Australia to Saudi Arabia this month cost an additional $10,000 a day due to the higher risk.

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