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Potash miners ratify deal:

About 500 miners and processing workers at PotashCorp’s Allan, Cory and Patience Lake mines near Saskatoon, represented by the United Steelworkers, have approved a new three-year contract retroactive to May 1. Last Thursday’s vote ends a 99-day strike which by itself strengthened market fundamentals for potash producers, by limiting supplies. Workers get raises and other contract improvements but won’t get their key demand: a bonus plan tied either to the price of potash or to PotashCorp profits, both of which have risen substantially in recent months.

DFC chief heads international body: Richard Doyle, the Ottawa-based executive director of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, was elected president of the International Dairy Federation at last week’s World Dairy Summit in Mexico City, succeeding Jim Begg, director general of Dairy UK. IDF is a knowledge exchange body focused on topics such as nutrition, sustainability, animal health and international standards. Its 56 member countries represent about 85 per cent of world milk production. Brazil, Egypt and Lithuania recently became members. Alberta to ban weed-and-feed: Farm chemicals won’t be affected in Alberta’s plan to ban the sale of combination herbicide-fertilizer products, commonly known as “weed-and-feeds.” The ban is to start Jan. 1, 2010 and “will not impact the agriculture sector or the landscaping industry since these products are almost exclusively used on homeowners’ lawns,” the province said. It cited 2,4-D, common in weed-and-feeds, as “highly mobile” when over-applied. Alberta’s average 2,4-D level in affected waterways is below the federal threshold but the province has opted for a “proactive stance.”

“Safeguard” use down:

Countries are not using emergency measures to temporarily restrict imports of products that compete with a domestic industry as much as they have in the past, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said in a Reuters report.

WTO members have initiated only five “safeguards” – so far this year, down from eight in all of 2007. The number of investigations peaked in 2002 at 34. The WTO report covers 2008 and looks back to 1995, so does not reflect fears of growing protectionism that have emerged since the global financial crisis burst.

Farm workers can unionize:

The Ontario Court of Appeal has told the Ontario government to drop its ban on farm unions. The court ruled Nov. 17 that Ontario’s Agricultural Employees Protection Act (AEPA), which currently denies Ontario farm workers the right to unionize, is a violation of Freedom of Association rights guaranteed under the charter. The court has given the McGuinty Ontario government 12 months to bring farm workers under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, or draft new legislation respecting the rights of farm workers to unionize.

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