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In Brief… – for Mar. 10, 2011

Cash for clunkers:Russia will

spend an extra four billion rubles from this year’s budget to subsidize farm equipment leasing and may look into a “cash for clunkers” scheme to boost tractor purchases, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said.

“I hope it will help reap a good harvest and stabilize the situation with food prices,” he told small farmers in the Black Earth town of Tambov. He also said he would look into a tractor scrappage scheme like the U.S.- style “cash for clunkers” scheme which helped Russia’s automakers survive the aftermath of the 2008 crisis. Pleasant return:A $20,300 cheque to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank marks the return to profitable times for one of Manitoba’s largest hog producers, Puratone Corporation. The corporation annually donated to the CFGB between 1997 and 2007, which added up to $137,000. But there were no profits to share for the past three years.

“Last year we made money, and are in the pleasant position of being able to donate again,” said president Ray Hildebrand.

Drought area shrinks:The

wheat acreage affected by a drought in eight Chinese provinces has fallen by two-thirds since Feb. 8 to 2.52 million hectares, the Ministry of Water Resources said in a statement on its website on Monday.

That means the drought area has more than halved since late February, when it was 5.71 million hectares, according to the Agriculture Ministry. The area severely affected has shrunk by about 80 per cent to 208,000 hectares. But precipitation in the majority of those areas is still 30 per cent below normal.

Inflation worries:Mexico’s

Central Bank is worried about crop failures from bad weather and may have to raise interest rates if they poison inflation expectations, the bank’s Gov. Agustin Carstens said in a newspaper interview.

Northern Mexico recently suffered its coldest weather in two decades, wiping out a significant portion of the region’s corn and vegetable crops. The situation complicates the country’s enviable outlook of strong growth and low inflation, and investors increased bets the central bank will hike interest rates over the next year. On hold:Russian potash miners Uralkali and Silvinit have had their merger plans put on hold after a court issued an injunction on the process following a claim by Silvinit shareholder Acron. Uralkali and Silvinit have agreed to create the world’s second-biggest potash producer but fellow fertilizer group Acron thinks the merger terms were stacked in favour of Uralkali shareholders.

Uralkali said in a statement the court will hear the the claim April 12, while the injunction would not prevent the purchase of 20 per cent of Silvinit ordinary shares by Uralkali.

Growing stamps:Horticultural

experts with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa were commissioned by Canada Post to grow the sunflowers that will be appearing on two new stamps. After choosing cultivars of Sunbright and Prado Red suitable for local growing conditions, the Central Experimental Farm team planted and tended the sunflowers from seed to seedling, and on to mature flowering beauty.

– Staff Cold, wet spring:The U.S.- based AccuWeather is forecasting a cold, wet spring that will delay seeding on the Canadian Prairies. According to AccuWeather.com Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler, the colder-and wetter-than-normal conditions predicted for the Canadian Prairies will likely cause the spring planting season to get off to a slow start, especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

But he said the situation this year may improve sooner than last year and in the long run, the extra moisture could be welcome.

– Staff

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