In Brief… – for Jul. 21, 2011

Construction underway:

Legumex Walker Inc. is starting construction of its 10th production facility, a canola oilseed-processing plant in Warden, Washington. The new facility, the company’s first in the United States, will produce expeller-pressed canola oil and high-quality canola meal. The plant will be the first commercial-scale canola-crushing operation west of the Rockies and is well positioned to supply the expanding demand for canola products on the west coast of the United States, the company says in a release. The facility is expected to be completed by late 2012 and operational in 2013. – Staff

U.S. flooding continues:

The swollen Missouri River was swamping more farmland in Missouri on July 13 as federal officials began to prepare for a gradual reduction in water releases from a key dam starting later in July. Residents from Montana through Missouri have built flood barriers and evacuated homes for more than 1,000 miles over the last two months as melting snow and heavy rains overwhelmed six reservoirs on the Upper Missouri River.

Federal officials have released water from the dams at double previous record rates, straining levees in six states.

Robots elude pirates:

Climate scientists have turned to navy robots in the Indian Ocean where pirates have made the area too dangerous for researchers.

About a quarter of the Indian Ocean is now off limits to climate scientists trying to complete a network of deep ocean devices that gather data crucial to climate change studies and weather forecasts. The robotic measuring devices, called Argos, are about two metres (six feet) long and drift between the ocean surface to a depth of about 2,000 metres, before resurfacing to send salinity and temperature data via satellite. Hot beef:Japan’s second-biggest retailer said July 17 it had sold beef from cattle that ate nuclear-contaminated feed, the latest in a series of health scares from radiation leaking from a quake-crippled nuclear power plant.

Cases of contaminated vegetables, tea, milk, seafood and water have already stoked anxiety after the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986. Aeon Co. said in a statement cattle from Fukushima prefecture were given animal feed originating from rice straw that exceeded the government’s limits for radioactive cesium.

Lost sales:A lawsuit questioning the contents of its seasoned beef product was dropped, but the damage lingers for Yum Brands Inc., the owner of the Taco Bell chain. A California woman withdrew the lawsuit she filed in January against the company after Taco Bell threatened legal action against the “false statements” being made about its food. But Taco Bell sales at established restaurants, which were up two per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, were flat in the first quarter and tumbled five per cent in the second quarter ended June 11. Delayed:The Canadian Wheat Board has postponed its annual crop-year- end news conference by one month to late August, the latest it has ever been held, with grains developing more slowly than usual, a board spokeswoman said July 18. The wheat board will hold the news conference in late August, said spokeswoman Maureen Fitzhenry, but has not yet finalized a date. The board is delaying the news conference to ensure it has solid information about crop and export prospects, given the late-developing crop, she said. Pay per pig:China will give pig farmers 100 yuan ($15.50) for every sow they breed to increase pork supply and cool inflation that is at a three-year high, the state council said. The government also plans to invest 2.5 billion yuan in pig farms and increase subsidies for veterinarians who fight epidemics. The decision was made July 13 during a cabinet meeting about pork production.

Pork, a staple food in China, has been a key driver of consumer inflation in recent months due to rising corn prices and a supply shortage after an epidemic hit pig farms last year.

On the defensive:World Bank

president Robert Zoellick says it is time for countries to get out of their defensive positions on trade and push for a broad agreement that could help the struggling global economy. Zoellick said he was disappointed the global round of trade negotiations, which he helped launch in 2001, might only deliver a deal much smaller than originally envisaged. “I won’t sugarcoat it,” Zoellick said. “Negotiators from key countries – developed and developing – let themselves fold into defensive crouches. Tactical ploys overwhelmed strategic vision and leadership.”

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