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In Brief… – for May. 26, 2011

Accelerated efficiency:

The chief executive of Viterra says plans to scrap the Canadian Wheat Board’s marketing monopoly on western wheat and barley would likely accelerate improvements to the grain transportation system.

“Obviously, change brings more change, so that certainly may accelerate that change in creating greater efficiencies in that system,” said Mayo Schmidt May 18. “We think there’s a lot that can be brought to the Canadian logistics and transportation system and that’s an area of deep expertise in our company – we just need a little more flexibility.”

Make the call:Flooding and

other kinds of stress can make life extremely challenging. Farmers and other rural Manitobans can contact the Manitoba Farm &Rural Support Services for information and support during difficult times. The service provides free confidential telephone and online counselling. Call 1-866-367- 3276 or visit www.ruralsupport.ca.

Hogs perish in barn fire:

More than 4,000 feeder hogs perished in a barn fire in the Rural Municipality of Hanover May 21, Steinbach RCMP say. Fire had engulfed the structure when police and firefighters arrived at the scene shortly before 3 a.m. The fire commissioner’s office ruled the fire was accidental. Harvest perk:Brad McLaughlin of Dauphin, Man. is one of three Prairie farmers who will be harvesting his InVigor canola this year with a 2011 New Holland combine. Now in its second year, a contest co-promotion between Bayer CropScience and New Holland delivers a New Holland combine to a canola grower from each Prairie province to use for harvest. “It’s definitely going to speed up our harvest this year,” says McLaughlin, who farms 3,200 acres, noting neighbours are offering to run it for him. Here’s hoping he gets it planted. – Staff U.S. cattle supply largest in four years:The number of cattle being fattened for beef rose by more than expected last month while meat in cold storage surged, data showed May 20.

The U.S. Agriculture Department reported 11.2 million cattle in feedlots on May 1, the most for that date since 2007. That is up seven per cent from a year ago, and more than the five per cent increase that analysts had expected. The increase in cattle has been widely attributed to droughts in Texas, Oklahoma and Mexico that forced cattle off of pastures and into feedlots.

From drugs to food:Colombia

plans to nearly double agricultural land growing crops for food and biofuel, part of a new investment boom in the country as violence ebbs from a decades-long internal conflict fuelled by drug profits.

The idea is to transform the vast eastern plains, dotted for years with illicit coca plantations, into the country’s breadbasket.

Colombia has 53 million acres that could be planted with crops such as corn, soy, African palm and sugar but just 12 million are currently being used, says the Agriculture Ministry. Under water:Nearly 3.6 million acres of farmland in the Mississippi River Valley, including 40 per cent of U.S. rice area, have been affected by spring flooding, said the largest U.S. farm group May 23.

The figure was larger than earlier reports of three million acres of flooded farmland and amounts to 1.1 per cent of land usually planted in the two dozen principal U.S. field crops. Arkansas is the hardest hit with one million acres flooded, including 300,000 acres of rice and 120,000 acres of wheat, said the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Quick flips flopped:Iraq has

temporarily halted wheat imports until the end of this harvest to curb traders illegally reselling imported crops as local produce to take advantage of high prices, the agriculture minister said.

Iraq is one of the world’s largest grain importers and the government pays some of the highest prices for wheat in the region as they try to encourage farmers to plant more local crops and increase domestic production. Record crush:Canada’s oilseed crushers processed a record 4.812 million tonnes of canola in the current 2010-11 crop year, data from the Canadian Oilseed Processors Association (COPA) shows With more than two months left in the crop year, crushers will far surpass the previous record of 4.787 million tonnes set in 2009-10. The rapid pace reflects additional capacity from new plants in Saskatchewan opened by Richardson International Limited and Louis Dreyfus Canada, as well as strong export demand for canola meal and oil.

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