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In Brief… – for Sep. 30, 2010

Pigeon King’s roost sold:

Real estate owned by Arlan Galbraith, the bankrupt Pigeon King, was auctioned off Sept. 23 in a bid by London, Ont. receivers to recoup some of the millions lost by investors.

The property contained two homes, some pigeon coops and 300 acres, including river frontage.

Galbraith enticed hundreds of farmers to invest in raising pigeons on contract with Pigeon King International of Waterloo. Police continue to investigate whether he was running a Ponzi scheme, but no charges have been laid. – Jim Romahn

Mega-monsoon:

More than three million people in northern India have been affected by floods that have washed away homes, swept through holy sites and damaged crops as the authorities step up efforts to contain the damage.

Heavy monsoon rains have swelled mighty Himalayan rivers, which broke their banks in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Uttarakhand. In Bihar, where the Gandak River burst through its embankments in various places and flooded villages, houses were invaded by stray dogs, snakes and scorpions.

Fast-tracked subsidies:

The European Union is speeding up payment of direct subsidies to farmers in 10 EU states in order to help farmers overcome the effects of the financial crisis.

Farmers in France, Greece, Spain, and Italy are among those who will receive up to half of their direct subsidies for 2010 from Oct. 16, a month and a half ahead of schedule.

In 2009, direct EU subsidies to farmers amounted to more than eight billion euro ($10.63 billion) in France, about five billion euro in Spain and more than four billion euro in Italy.

Hope springs eternal:

World leaders could give the nine-year- old Doha round of world trade talks a much-needed boost when they meet in November, the head of the World Trade Organization said Sept. 21.

But to close the remaining gaps requires “a complex chemistry of technical progress and the necessary political signals,” Pascal Lamy said. “This is technically doable. But whether and when the chemistry will unfold I’m not sure,” he said, when asked if he thought the negotiations could conclude before their 10th anniversary. Roses privatized:The Canadian Nursery Landscape association will take over the rights to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s ornamental breeding programs, including its signature rose series from Morden. The association, working with Ontario’s Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, said the Canadian wholesale industry now has access to important genetic material developed by AAFC researchers. “Royalty fees paid by nursery growers on new plant varieties will be reinvested by the CNLA into the development of new plant varieties.”

Staff

Phosphorus reserves:

A fertilizer industry group is disputing U. S. Geological Survey warnings of declining global phosphate reserves with its own report estimating reserves three times higher.

“I don’t see any indication of any peak phosphorus,” the lead researcher for the International Fertilizer Development Center said last week. The report estimates there is enough phosphate rock to make fertilizer for several hundred years.

The IFDC is a non-profit aid group focused on using fertilizer to boost crops and food supplies in developing nations. Thirsty:Ethanol industry leaders want the U. S. government to increase blending levels as well as fund greater investment in broad biofuel infrastructure improvements.

The U. S. provides a 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit to refiners who blend ethanol with gasoline, and imposes an import tariff as a deterrent to foreign competition.

But the tax credit, worth an estimated $4.7 billion last year, expires on Dec. 31. So does the tariff.

“All eyes are on Washington,” said Tom Buis, spokesman for Growth Energy, an industry coalition. PROs jump:The arrival of fall frosts and worries over U. S. corn yields contributed to last month’s rise in the Canadian Wheat Board’s pool return outlook (PRO) values for wheat. Based on what the CWB called “another tumultuous month,” values for Canada Western (CW) feed wheat and the highest-protein Red Spring (CWRS) wheat rose by $30 per tonne (82 cents a bushel) in the board’s September 2010-11 PROs, released Sept. 23.

Other wheat classes and grades saw values rise by at least $4 and as much as $25 per tonne.

– Staff

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