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In Brief… – for Jan. 27, 2011

Saudis to raise wheat reserves:Saudi Arabia plans to increase wheat reserves to one year from six months in around three years, the head of the grains authority said Jan. 16. The kingdom would increase grain storage capacity by 550,000 tonnes in four cities within three years to reach that goal, Waleed ElKheriji told reporters. Last year, Saudi Arabia imported 1.98 million tonnes of wheat, he said, declining to give a forecast for this year.

Deere to invest in India:

Deere and Co. will spend $100 million to expand its capacity to produce tractors for the Indian market and for export, building a new factory and expanding an existing one. The new factory, whose location is not yet decided, will make small tractors for both India and for export markets. Deere will expand a current tractor facility in Pune. Deere said Jan. 19 that its India-made tractors are sold in 70 countries.

La Nińa possibly at peak:

Australia’s weather bureau said Jan. 18 the La Nińa wet weather pattern, which has caused destructive flooding in Australia and Southeast Asia and hit major agricultural commodity markets, may be at its peak. The Bureau of Meteorology said the La Nińa event would persist into the Southern Hemisphere autumn, another two months. The bureau said the 30-day Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), which measures the strength of La Nińa, recorded a +27 in December, its highest level on record and the highest value for any month since November 1973.

On the dioxin trail:German

authorities say their probe into the first source of the toxic chemical dioxin in a current health alert had led them to used chip fat which had undergone industrial processing. German and European Union authorities are dealing with an alert which began on Jan. 3, when German officials said feed tainted with the highly poisonous dioxin had been given to hens and pigs, contaminating eggs, poultry meat and pork at affected farms and causing a massive drop in egg, chicken and pork sales.

Environmental challenge:

Environmental conservation groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Jan. 20 to force it to tighten regulation of pesticide use. The Center for Biological Diversity has successfully sued the EPA on similar grounds, focusing on individual species, but the new suit seeks a broad change in policy by the agency to meet what it says are Endangered Species Act rules.

The EPA does a number of tests on pesticides but rarely discusses their effects with U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials, which the suit aims to force them to do.

Increased demand:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency backed a request that would sharply boost the use of corn-based ethanol in more than half the nation’s cars Jan. 21.

The announcement boosting the ethanol blend rate in gasoline to 15 per cent from 10 per cent in vehicles built from 2001 to 2006 is likely to fire heated rhetoric over the increased use of ethanol at a time of rising food and fuel costs. Already some 40 per cent of the U.S. corn crop goes to make ethanol, and the fuel has helped spur prices on commodity markets.

CN, mechanics reach last-minute deal:About 4,300

mechanics, intermodal truckers and related staff at Canadian National Railway (CN) reached a tentative labour deal Monday morning following a “48-hour marathon” of talks, the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) report. The workers said Saturday they would strike starting at 12:01 a.m. Jan. 25, but have now called off the pickets pending ratification votes over the next three weeks. The CN deal doesn’t affect the CAW’s strike deadline of Feb. 8 at Canadian Pacific Railway (CP), where it’s in talks representing about 2,100 repair and inspection staff.

Member services:

Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) in conjunction with Hereiam has launched a new cellphone long distance service for members. No long-term contract is necessary.

There are two services: Hereiam Phonesaver offers long distance calling rates as low as five cents per minute. Hereiam Full Service provides easy and safe driving access to cellphone users, with or without smartphones, and allows them to listen and reply to their emails as well as forward and send emails – all through voice activation. For more information call 1-877-227-8240. – Staff

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