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In Brief… – for Jun. 16, 2011

Road repairs underway:

Assessments are still underway, but repairing roads and bridges damaged during this year’s flooding could cost $40 million, Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton says. Advances of up to 60 per cent or $100,000, whichever is greater, of repair costs will be made to municipalities against disaster financial assistance claims. These advances are in addition to an improved $5 per capita cap on municipal cost sharing introduced in 2009, which will allow municipalities to more quickly restore roads and other infrastructure, Ashton said. – Staff

More money for roads:

The Manitoba government is launching a second five-year highway renewal plan as part of its commitment to invest $4 billion over 10 years in the renewal of roads and bridges across the province, Premier Greg Selinger announced June 11.

Budget 2011 invests over $520 million in Manitoba’s plan to upgrade roads and bridges across the province. With the second Highway Renewal Plan, over 1,100 kilometres of highway will see improvements in 2011. – Staff

It just keeps coming:

Manitoba’s flood forecast levels have been increased significantly this spring due to three major storms that produced record rain on already saturated land across southern Manitoba, the province’s 71st daily flood bulletin said June 8. Precipitation amounts are almost 300 per cent of normal in the Souris River basin. Other areas of southern Manitoba have experienced rain amounts between 150 and 250 per cent of normal.

Under these conditions, additional rain can change the flood situation quickly, the province warns.

– Staff Supporting cultural diversity:Farm Credit Canada (FCC) will award $50,000 from the FCC Expression Fund to nine community projects across Canada to help residents express cultural and linguistic diversity. The recipients include the Centre culturel franco manitobain in Winnipeg, which received $6,500, and Table de concertation régionale du Centre in Notre Dame de Lourdes, which received $3,500. “It’s important for us to support community empowerment efforts that preserve the identity of official language minority communities beyond the office,” said the FCC’s Kellie Garrett.

– Staff Appointed:Ron Bell, former Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) president, was appointed June 11 as appeals commissioner for the province’s Flood 2011 Building and Recovery Action Plan. The commissioner presides over appeals from farmers, owners of primary and secondary residences, and businesses under all components of the Lake Manitoba Financial Assistance Program. Bell will also advise government on how to address any gaps that exist in programs and a process for buyouts of property along Lake Manitoba where flood-proofing is impossible or impractical.

– Staff More sustainable approach needed:The ravages from half a century of intensive farming must give way to a more sustainable approach if farmers are to feed the world in 2050, the FAO says. The world needs to invest a total gross $209 billion, at constant 2009 prices, a year in agriculture in developing countries to achieve the needed increases, the FAO said. Climate change and growing competition for land, water and energy with industries mean agriculture can no longer rely only on intensive crop production, it said. Viterra welcomes end of CWB:Viterra supports Ottawa’s plan to end the Canadian Wheat Board’s grain monopoly, chief executive Mayo Schmidt said June 8.

Schmidt told analysts on a quarterly conference call, the change will resullt in “important and lasting benefits” including more efficient grain movement. “We believe these changes will result in greater returns for agriculture producers, the industry as a whole and therefore Viterra shareholders as well.” Viterra posted an 80 per cent rise in quarterly net profit, bolstered by record-high South Australian crop shipments.

Protectionism rising:

Nations are succumbing to protectionism in the wake of the global financial crisis, limiting exports of food and raw materials and installing new import barriers, the WTO warned in a new report. “New measures aimed at restricting exports, in particular of certain raw materials and agricultural commodities, have been introduced for various reasons … including (by) G20 countries, which is in contradiction with the G20 standstill pledge,” the report says. At least 30 new restrictions were imposed between October 2010 and April 2011.

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