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U. S. soy checkoff probed:

A USDA inspector will review a soybean checkoff program that’s been criticized as mismanaged and wasting money. U. S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said this investigation will take at least a year. The checkoff collected about US$140 million in 2008 from farmers who contribute 0.5 per cent of market price from each bushel of soybeans. The American Soybean Association alleges checkoff money was improperly spent on lobbying and excessive salaries by the United Soybean Board and Soybean Export Council. USB denies the allegations. Meet us at Ag Days: If you’re visiting Ag Days in Brandon Jan. 21, be sure to bring the mailing label from your Co-operator and stop by our reader appreciation event, running from 2 to 4 p. m. at the Great Western Roadhouse on the main floor of Canad Inns. Your mailing label will be your ticket to enter our reader appreciation draw for airfare for two to anywhere in Canada. You can also visit us anytime during show hours at Booth 403 in the City Square Mini Arena, to enter one of our other prize draws.

COOL’s trade impact felt:

Two U. S. market analysts say mandatory country-of-origin labelling (COOL) in the U. S. has been “quite effective, if you measure effectiveness by the degree to which it has been able to stifle cattle trade in North America.” Steve Meyer and Len Steiner, authors of the CME Daily Livestock Report, write that from July 14 to Dec. 27, 2008, U. S. imports of Canadian feeders were 38 per cent lower than the year-earlier period, imports of Canadian slaughter steers and heifers were down 35 per cent and U. S. imports of Mexican feeder cattle (July 14 to Dec. 20) were down 39 per cent.

Province to broaden shelter beneficiaries:

Manitobans who set up a tax-free savings account (TFSA) will soon be able to designate a beneficiary outside of a will. Currently, a beneficiary must be designated under a will, except for those getting funds from an RRSP, RRIF, pension plan or annuity. The province pledged it will amend legislation this spring to grant the same exemption for TFSA beneficiaries, thus reducing or eliminating the usual probate fees. Contributions to a TFSA aren’t tax deductible, but income earned in or withdrawn from a TFSA is free of federal and provincial income tax.

Caution urged over warranty offers: If you get an unasked-for phone call offering an extended vehicle warranty, be very cautious, the Manitoba Consumers’ Bureau warns. A direct-selling operation usually must be licensed by the bureau, and a call to 1-800-782-0067 will tell you if it is. If not, the bureau says, you shouldn’t enter into any deal to buy the product or service. The Saskatchewan Financial Services Commission has already issued a cease-and-desist order stopping one company, World Wide Warranties of St. Louis, Mo., from selling vehicle warranties without an SFSC licence.

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