In Brief… – for Mar. 25, 2010

Risk and reward: Jeff Conrad, president, Hancock Agricultural Investment Group told the Reuters Food Summit last week agriculture has its limits for investors. “The U. S. is a very mature marketplace – good technology base, good infrastructure, ability to harvest good crops … If you tell me you want to do 20 per cent returns in the ag space, I would say, ‘you’re not going to get that in the U. S.’… If you want it to be higher risk, higher return, then Brazil or Eastern Europe or some of these other more emerging markets might be a good place for you.” Show some respect: The Grain Growers of Canada is calling on the Standing Committee for Agriculture and Agri-Food to be more professional.

“BlackBerry use, partisan attacks and a general lack of professionalism have become the norm at committee,” said president Doug Robertson in a release. “We expect our parliamentarians to engage in an intelligent, respectful debate that leads to better policy for farmers. “If someone is frequently busy checking their BlackBerry, they are not following the discussion as closely as they should be.” Just walk away: Agrium chief executive Michael Wilson says pulling his hostile bid for rival fertilizer maker CF Industries was not a hard decision. Calgary-based Agrium cancelled its bid for CF Industries earlier this month after CF set a $4.7-billion deal to buy Terra Industries. “It wasn’t hard (to walk away) because it wasn’t the right decision. We could have bumped our bid a little bit, to be quite honest, but to the degree it would have taken to get them to come to the table … we didn’t think it was worth it to our shareholders,” Wilson said. Recreational spending: “The American psyche is that it’s a consumer society … Americans, a lot of their leisure time is spending money, it’s going to restaurants … That is their relaxation,” Peter Swinburn, chief executive officer of Molson Coors told the Reuters Food Summit recently.

Buses keep rolling: The Manitoba government has announced a $3.12-million investment in a one-year service maintenance agreement with Greyhound to ensure passenger bus service remains active in Manitoba until a long-term solution is found. In addition to passenger services, Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton noted the province also depends on the bus service. Ashton said consultations will take place in affected communities towards developing options for long-term inter-city bus services. Pass it on: Posted food prices in 2010 will rise as commodity costs rise, but most of the increases are likely to be given right back to consumers as “special” discounts and coupons. “We have beef, pork, and dairy prices all increasing substantially since December, in the area of roughly 10 per cent,” said Bill Lapp, economist and president of Advanced Economic Solutions. “Because food manufacturers and restaurants tend not to be philanthropic organizations, they are going to pass those costs on to their consumers.” Sport connections: The True Sport Community Fund and The J. W. McConnell Family Foundation believe in the power of sport to connect communities. The True Sport Community Fund is a four-year $1.89-million community investment program that provides opportunities for Canadian communities to access funds for sport programs for low income, Aboriginal and new Canadian families. Grants range from $5,000 to $50,000. The deadline to submit an expression of interest is April 12, 2010. For more information on eligibility go to: www.truesport.ca/tsfund.Thirsty: World Water Day March 22 was an opportunity for the International Federation of Agricultural Producers to highlight water’s critical importance to farmers around the world.

“In 2050, nearly two of the world’s nine billion inhabitants are expected to live in areas where water is absolutely scarce, while two-thirds of the world’s population will have difficult access to adequate clean water. This will have a huge impact on farmers everywhere in the world,” an IFAP release said. The 2010 theme was “Clean Water for a Healthy World.”

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