In Brief… – for Sep. 16, 2010

Few hail claims seen

Hail activity remained relatively low in Manitoba with fewer than 200 new claims in the past two weeks, the Canadian Crop Hail Association said Friday. The province’s claim total for the season is now near 2,600, the hail insurers’ group said. Most claims in the past two weeks followed storms Sept. 1, largely in a strip between Notre Dame de Lourdes and Crystal City. Claims also came from the Rosenfeld and St. Jean areas, mostly on canola crops. Crops still in the field remain vulnerable, the group said, citing “significant” hail claims well into September last year.

Que. agriculture minister dies at 41:Quebec’s agriculture, food and fisheries minister Claude Bechard died Sept. 7 of complications from pancreatic cancer, just hours after resigning his ministerial posts and his seat in the provincial assembly for health reasons. Premier Jean Charest on Sept. 8 named Municipal Affairs Minister Laurent Lessard, himself a former agriculture minister (2007-09), to replace Bechard in the agriculture ministry. Deputy Premier Nathalie Normandeau will take over Bechard’s duties as minister for Canadian intergovernmental affairs.

Pioneer plans new parent seed facility:DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred seed business plans a new parent seed production facility to serve its markets across the country, processing parent seed for crops such as canola and soybeans. Construction is to begin this month on land the company bought near Wingham in southwestern Ontario. It expects the new plant to be up and operating in late 2011. The company also recently said it will expand its IMPACT research program across North America for a 50 per cent increase in the number of experimental products it can test for the 2011 season.

Goodale named Grits’ deputy leader:Former federal agriculture minister and Regina MP Ralph Goodale has been named deputy leader of the federal Liberals in advance of the party’s return to Parliament. Party leader Michael Ignatieff last week also added a new critic portfolio for rural affairs in his shadow cabinet, to be handled by Nova Scotia MP Mark Eyking, a former parliamentary secretary for agri-food. Prince Edward Island MP Wayne Easter remains the party’s agriculture critic. Goodale will be expected to take an active role in Ottawa while Ignatieff continues his current touring schedule.

Dauphin still in running

As of Sept. 10, Dauphin sits at No. 2 in the online voting for Canada’s Ultimate Fishing Town, a contest operated by Toronto-based cable TV channel WFN. Its rivals in the vote, which runs until Sept. 28, include Port Alberni and Chilliwack, B. C., Nestor Falls, Thunder Bay, Port Rowan and Seeley’s Bay, Ont., Miramichi, N. B., O’Leary, P. E. I. and Nipawin, Sask. The winning community gets a $25,000 donation toward fishing-related causes and will be featured in a 30-minute show about the town on WFN. The online contest is posted at www.wfn.tv/fishingtown.

Big Aussie wheat crop

Australia is on track for a wheat cop of 23.4 million tonnes, the largest since 2005/06, Australian Crop Forecasters (ACF) said on Monday. Rain in August and into this month boosted crops in eastern and southern Australia but dry weather saw crops wither in Western Australia, usually Australia’s top grain-exporting state. Harvesting of winter crops including wheat, canola and barley usually starts next month or November in most regions and can run into January.

Suspects eyed in bale fires

Carman RCMP say three men from the Morden/Winkler area will appear in court in Morden next month to face charges of mischief relating to allegations of a fence post thrown at a parked pickup truck south of Morden on the evening of Sept. 11. However, RCMP said, the same three people, ages 19 and 20, are also suspected of setting fire to a bale and storage shed and damaging several rural mailboxes. Plus, RCMP said, two of the three are believed to be responsible for a large fire on Aug. 21 south of Morden involving 50 hay bales and damages estimated at $2,500. Study downplays forests as carbon sink:Policymakers hoping we can use forests to suck up increasing amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide may be overestimating the role of trees as carbon sinks, a University of Guelph study suggests. The Kyoto Protocol encourages nations to use forests to sequester carbon and help meet targets for emissions of greenhouse gases, believing the carbon will “fertilize” forests. Under warming-related stress, though, some trees use water more efficiently, grow more slowly and thus store less carbon dioxide than expected, Guelph professor Madhur Anand said. Soy studied for pain prevention:Researchers at McGill University plan to follow up on suggestions raised in past studies that a soy-rich diet can help people manage post-traumatic pain. Yoram Shir’s study, launched earlier this month, will look at the potential benefits of soy in preventing chronic pain after breast cancer surgery. Pain-relieving drugs are “largely ineffective in preventing acute post-surgical pain from becoming chronic,” Shir said, but “if shown to be efficacious, (soy) would be a natural and safe preventive treatment that is easily incorporated into the everyday diet.”

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