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To: johnlw who wrote (158)5/24/2003 6:02:24 PM
From: Jon Koplik
   of 4346
Officials Look at Feed in Mad Cow Case .....................

May 24, 2003

Filed at 3:04 p.m. ET

TORONTO (AP) -- Investigators looking into the roots of
North America's first mad cow case in a decade were tracing
where the infected cow lived, how many calves it produced
and what it ate.

Cattle feed from animal sources contaminated with bovine
spongiform encephalopathy is considered the most likely
cause of the infection case in the Canadian province of

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said 13 farms were now
under quarantine -- eight in Alberta; two in Saskatchewan
to the east; and three in British Columbia to the west.

The farms quarantined in British Colombia were feed
suppliers, said Brian Evans, the agency's chief veterinary

Evans defended Canadian safeguards against BSE, such as a
1997 ban on giving cattle feed made from animals such as
cows and sheep, but acknowledged that violations can occur.

``It's the individual feeding the animal who has the
ultimate responsibility,'' he said, adding investigators
had yet to find evidence of any wrongdoing.

The growing list of quarantined farms reflects the
thoroughness of the investigation, rather than any
indication of further spread of BSE, said George Luterbach
of the Canadian food agency.

Early indications showed the infected cow might have been
born on a Canadian farm, which would make it the first case
of a North American-born animal contracting the illness.

Mad cow disease decimated the British beef industry in the
1990s. The human form of the illness is Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease, which causes paralysis and death.

Scientists believe humans develop new variants of
Creutzfeldt-Jakob when they eat meat from infected animals.
More than 130 people have died of the disease, mostly in

The discovery has caused the United States, Japan,
Australia, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia
and Barbados to ban all beef imports from Canada, despite
reassurances from Canadian government and industry
officials that the beef was safe.

Some U.S. legislators have criticized the delay in testing
and called for guarantees of improvement before reopening
the U.S. market, which consumes more than 70 percent of
Canada's beef product exports.

Alberta Agriculture Minister Shirley McClellan said Friday
that improvements would be considered.

``We have a system and it did work,'' McClellan said.
``Should we change our testing priorities? If our trading
partners would ask us to change that, certainly we'll look
at that. Absolutely.''

Canadian investigators removed all the cattle from one
Alberta farm and were destroying the herd to examine the
brains for further possible cases of BSE. Test results were
expected early next week.

``I don't believe that cow came in contact with anything
that gave it that disease on my farm,'' owner Marwyn
Peaster said Thursday.

While Canadian authorities and farmers say the lone case of
BSE presents minimal public risk, the closing of major
foreign markets to Canada's beef products brought immediate
cuts in production and uncertainty to a $22 billion

The only previous case of BSE in North America was in 1993,
involving a bull imported from Britain. The animal and its
herd were slaughtered, but no trade bans resulted.

The recent infected cow was slaughtered Jan. 31 but kept
out of the food chain because it was believed to have
pneumonia, officials said. Testing was delayed several
months because there was no suspicion of BSE, as well as a
backlog of higher priority cases, officials said.

Mad cow disease first erupted in Britain in 1986 and is
thought to have spread through cow feed made with protein
and bone meal from mammals.

Canada and the United States outlawed the feeding of meat
and bone meal to cattle, sheep and goats in 1997, a rule
believed to be the main defense against the disease.


On the Net:

Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy:

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company.

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To: Jon Koplik who wrote (159)6/3/2003 4:18:30 PM
From: johnlw
   of 4346
Mad-cow tests fail to pinpoint birth farm

Globe and Mail Update

UPDATED AT 3:54 PM EDT Tuesday, Jun. 3, 2003

DNA analysis intended to pinpoint the birthplace of a cow infected with mad-cow disease was "inconclusive," officials said Tuesday — meaning that cattle producers will likely have to wait even longer for a beef ban on Canadian meat to be lifted, and more cows will have to be slaughtered.

"The DNA analysis has not returned a definitive finding," said Brian Evans, chief veterinary officer of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, at a briefing in Ottawa Tuesday.

Mad-cow disease has been confirmed so far in Canada in that one cow on May 20. Tests have been trying to identify where the sick cow was born.

Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief told the House of Commons Tuesday that investigators have determined more testing is required. It will take another three or four days before those results are known, he said.

Before the United States agrees to re-open the border to Canadian beef officials will need the results of those tests, Mr. Vanclief said during Question Period.

Dr. Evans said Tuesday that the possibility that scientists would not be able to isolate the cow's birthplace was known all along, because the officials did not have complete genetic material or breeding records for all of the herd sires used in the past several years.

Although officials are convinced that the positive cow was from one of a primary line of farms being investigated, because the DNA test was inconclusive about 650 cows belonging to the "second line" of five Alberta farms being investigated will now have to be slaughtered, to clear them of the possibility of having the disease. Four farms in the primary line are also being investigated.

CFIA officials did receive some good news in that nearly 800 of the 1,160 cows slaughtered thus far have tested negative for the brain-wasting disease formally called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

"Today, we received further negative results which extend our findings to the second herd in Saskatchewan in its entirety ... we also now have partial negative results on one of the farms in Alberta and three of the premises in B.C.," Dr. Evans said.

A total of 14 farms in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia are still under quarantine as part of the investigation.

Industry officials, meanwhile, want the borders opened as soon as possible.

Cindy McCreath, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Cattlemen's Association in Calgary, told Tuesday that the association's "main focus is on getting borders reopened."

The cattle industry is looking at several options to get the borders at least partly reopened. One of the options, which would have to be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to allow beef younger that 22 months to cross the border, Ms. McCreath said.

BSE does not manifest itself in animals under 22 months and would include veal as well as the "majority of slaughtered cattle in Canada," she said. Beef producers are also awaiting some sort of aid package for those who have lost money, she said. "Discussions are taking place," between federal and provincial officials.

Ms. McCreath said that, in terms of export losses, the industry is losing between $10-million and $11-million a day.

Opposition MPs demanded to know when the Liberal government will provide compensation to farmers affected by mad-cow disease and the closed border.

Mr. Vanclief said federal officials are working with the Canadian Cattlemen's Association and all those affected to come up with solutions. But he offered no concrete answers.

"The best compensation for our industry is an open border between Canada and the United States and that is our primary concern," Mr. Vanclief said during Question Period.

Meanwhile, a team of mad-cow experts will visit Canada by the end of this week to examine the country's response to the disease and to try to pinpoint how the single cow fell ill.

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To: johnlw who wrote (160)6/4/2003 12:06:36 AM
From: Jon Koplik
   of 4346
WSJ -- Poultry in Motion: With Invention, Chicken Catching Goes High-Tech.

June 4, 2003

Poultry in Motion: With Invention, Chicken Catching Goes High-Tech


ELLIJAY, Ga. -- One enduring frustration of the poultry industry is that chickens can't be made to cross the road. Or even the chicken coop.

It's a snap to coax barnyard animals like pigs and cattle to go where you want them -- but "you can't herd chickens," says Paul S. Berry of the British Silsoe Research Institute, an agricultural-research center that has studied the problem for decades.

For that reason, poultry farmers have long relied on human catchers. Their job is to run around inside chicken houses, nabbing by hand more than eight billion birds a year. This is hard not only on the chickens, which get roughed up, but also on the catchers. The birds flap, scratch and befoul their captors. Most people can tolerate only a few months of that before flying the coop.

Now after years of attempts that ended in failure, including one ill-fated chicken vacuum, manufacturers have finally produced machines capable of catching and caging chickens. Looking like a combination airport baggage carousel and tank, the devices can capture 150 birds a minute. That's as many as a team of eight skilled men can corral.

"Automation is the way to go," says Brad Cole, live-production manager for a Tyson Foods Inc. slaughter plant in Georgia, the nation's top poultry-producing state. In a dimly lighted chicken house here in Ellijay, he stood and watched as one of the new harvesters, Lewis/Mola LLC's model PH2000, strutted its stuff.

Out of the gloom and dust of a chicken house as long as a football field, a PH2000 emerged. Hundreds of fluffy white birds tipped their heads and stared. The nine-ton, 42-foot-long contraption crept closer, slowly sweeping a low metal ramp back and forth through the flock like a giant scythe. The ramp gently nudged the birds in their chests. They lifted their feet to get out of its way, only to find themselves standing on the ramp itself. As more birds stepped on, they crowded one another toward a conveyor belt.

Whoosh! Each chicken was whisked up the belt into a small compartment, where a burst of air pushed it into a metal chute. Within seconds, the bird came to rest, blinking, still on its feet inside a wire cage.

In the past year, chicken companies including Tyson, Perdue Farms Inc. and Pilgrim's Pride Corp. have snapped up scores of the machines, which cost around $200,000. Today, about 5% of U.S. birds are caught mechanically, according to industry officials. The machines come from manufacturers including Bright Coop Inc., Techno-Catch LLC and Anglia Autoflow Ltd.

Some of the biggest fans are animal-rights groups, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The machines are far more gentle on the birds than human handlers are. "We support using machines that reduce the panic, fear and horror of chickens," says Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns, a Machipongo, Va., group that opposes eating chickens and also runs a sanctuary for a few lucky birds that manage to escape the farms (usually by falling off a truck).

Chickens hate being caught by human beings because catchers grab them by the feet and carry several birds upside down in each hand. "Being held upside down freaks out the birds," says Michael P. Lacy of the University of Georgia's poultry-science department. "As long as they are on their feet, they feel like they are in control, like people."

Human catchers are expected to snag as many as 1,000 birds an hour. As the men tire during eight-hour shifts, they accidentally slam birds against the cages, breaking wings and legs. Up to 25% of broilers on some farms are hurt in the process. By contrast, a recent study in the British scientific journal Animal Welfare found that a mechanical catcher in use in Germany reduced some injuries by as much as 50%.

That's good news for the birds, and also for the industry. Bruising disqualifies a chicken from the supermarket meat counter, relegating it to less profitable uses such as livestock feed. The fast-food industry is also encouraging mechanical catchers, eager to assure customers that they care about the humane treatment of animals. McDonald's Corp. is encouraging its chicken suppliers to mechanically collect at least half the birds it buys by year's end.

The reason the birds need to be caught in the first place is that unlike chickens put to work laying eggs (which are kept in tiny cages), birds raised for meat are allowed to roam freely inside giant barns.

Far from being fleet-footed or elusive, these birds are in fact deeply reluctant to move at all. Because they are bred to reach their slaughter weight of six pounds in less than eight weeks -- a fraction of the normal time -- they are basically babies in giant bodies. The trick is to get them into their cages for the short trip to the slaughterhouse without injuring them.

Early devices included the chicken vacuum, which sucked up birds and shot them through tubes to waiting trucks. But the birds tended to plug up the tubes and turn somersaults as they traveled inside the contraption. "We had too many die on us," recalls Buddy Burruss, vice president of operations at Tip Top Poultry Inc. of Marietta, Ga., which tested and quickly abandoned the pneumatic approach two decades ago.

The technological breakthrough came from Europe, where the industry is under more pressure from animal welfare groups to reduce livestock suffering. Starting in the early 1980s, Britain's Silsoe Research Institute received about $200,000 a year from the government to design a humane harvesting machine. At Silsoe, Mr. Berry tried everything to force the birds to move under their own power. He flashed strobe lights in their eyes, hoping to startle them into action. He tried goosing them along with tiny jets of air. Nothing worked.

His eureka moment came after realizing that soft rubber fingers could be used to gently close around each bird, ushering it onto a conveyer belt -- a sort of Venus' flytrap for chickens. Techno-Catch of Kosciusko, Miss., uses the technology in its Chickat harvester and sees a U.S. market for 600 of the machines.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union says it worries the machines will eliminate jobs and douse efforts to organize chicken catchers. A five-man crew using a mechanical harvester can do the work of eight men.

Tyson and Perdue officials say the companies will retrain chicken catchers. Ray Martinez, who caught chickens by hand for three years, is now part of a crew operating a PH2000 for Tyson here in Ellijay.

It's still hard work. Chicken houses stink and the men must toil in the dark because that keeps the birds calmer.

But Mr. Martinez, 21 years old, no longer has to sling chickens. He takes turns steering the PH2000 and stacking cages on the back. He's paid $3 for every 1,000 chickens the machine collects, which often translates to $16 an hour, about what he made before the machine. Tapping himself on the chest, and then nodding at the chickens, Mr. Martinez says, "This is much easier on everybody."

Write to Scott Kilman at

Updated June 4, 2003

Copyright © 2003 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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To: Jon Koplik who wrote (161)6/27/2003 8:57:03 AM
From: johnlw
   of 4346

Mad Cow: From Crisis to Catastrophe?

The Canadian cattle industry is stumbling down a cliff edge. The U.S. border must open soon or a crisis will become a catastrophe.
It’s hoped that Alberta Premier Ralph Klein’s high-level visit to Washington this week will yield results. But his appeal to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney to have a ban on Canadian beef lifted immediately is not likely to result in a sudden or complete opening of the border. The U.S. ban on Canadian ruminant imports was imposed following a May 20 announcement that a single cow in Alberta had tested positive for BSE, commonly called mad cow disease.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has completed a full investigation and found no additional animals with BSE. A panel of international experts has given the CFIA high marks for its work.

However, the American government has refused to re-open the border to Canadian imports, choosing to err on the side of caution.

Rather than opening the floodgates to Canadian beef, the U.S. is likely to ease the door open gradually. The Deputy Administrator for the USDA's Veterinary Services, Dr. Ron DeHaven, says that when it has determined it’s safe to import Canadian ruminant products, it will likely be through a “case-by-case permit process.”

"There would be a gradual opening of the border, where we would take into account the science and impose appropriate certification or risk mitigation measures that would allow certain products or animals to enter the U.S.," said Dr. DeHaven at a recent meeting.

He did not speculate on when the border may re-open, adding that the U.S. has not made its determination yet. He did say that once the permit process goes into effect, U.S. importers would probably need to apply to the USDA. Dr. DeHaven added that if everything was in order, “[The USDA] would issue a permit, which is going to typically require some endorsement, certification or assurance that the (BSE) mitigation factors are met, and then that permit would need to accompany the shipment at the border."

It would probably take three to five days to issue the permit after the USDA receives the request, Dr. DeHaven estimated.

Some Americans are now more sympathetic to Canada’s case than they were previously. That’s because the American industry is finding itself in the same boat as Canada. Big beef importers including Japan and South Korea, along with several smaller importers, have demanded that any U.S. meat coming their way must be certified free of Canadian beef, starting July 1. But the Americans don’t have the trace-back systems or segregation to provide such certification. Their best method of keeping their exports flowing may be to do all that’s possible to convince the offshore buyers that both U.S. and Canadian beef is safe.

Meanwhile, the financial losses in Canada that are occurring as a direct result of the border closure are staggering. Prices for fed cattle are plummeting. The spotlight remains on the Alberta beef industry, as the biggest beef producing province and home to the infamous single “mad cow” but the industry across Canada has been deeply wounded.

In Ontario, the price for direct-to-packer rail grade steers has plunged to about $100/cwt, down about 46 percent from $185 before the issue hit the news. Live cattle prices are down by about a third, and would be lower if not for the fact that producers are holding back market-ready cattle in what could prove to be a futile effort to ride out the void of demand caused by the lack of American buying.

According to the Canadian Cattle Buyer, published by the Guelph-based George Morris Centre and written by Kevin Grier, feedlot operators who had to market cattle the past several weeks saw losses mount from $200 per head in late May to $350 per head in early June. Grier says some fed cattle in Alberta have traded for just $55/cwt and feedlot losses for those cattle would be in the area of $600 per head.

Banks are said to be standing behind the big feedlot operations, but how long will their support last? There’s talk in the trade that the financial institutions are becoming concerned about the risks they’re assuming.

Questions are arising as to whether a joint federal/provincial aid package will offset the losses. The fact is, it will offer partial recompense but it won’t fully compensate. Details have not been circulated to all producers yet but the basic framework of the program is for support on a sliding scale when the Canadian price falls below a U.S. reference price.

The U.S. reference price will be the USDA’s five-area daily weighted average direct slaughter cattle report. That price will be converted by the exchange rate and $5 will be subtracted for the Canadian basis. Based on a general review of the information, trade sources say the program would pay approximately 90 percent of the difference between the U.S. reference price and comparable Canadian prices when the Canadian price falls up to 20 percent below the U.S. price. But the program will pay smaller and smaller percentages of the difference as the Canadian price falls. A reasonable program, some say, but again, it will not provide full coverage for losses.

Precisely when this money will flow into producers’ hands is questionable and the compensation capabilities of the program are limited. The money won’t offset the extra cost of feeding the cattle. It won’t help ancillary industries. It won’t compensate exporters of various products that have run into snags because of the mad cow issue. (Even truckloads of ingredients such as grain screenings are being detained for several hours and closely inspected by U.S. customs officials, who are also seizing any packed lunches or food products containing beef such as canned stew and pet food.)

And to make matters worse, the U.S. reference price is falling. From about US$81/cwt for U.S. top steers before the mad cow incident hit the news to $75 late last week, and some say they’re heading for just $72 this week.

Kevin Grier says that even if the U.S. border were to open at the end of June, the backlog of Canadian cattle would swamp markets for at least another eight weeks. “This would pressure prices lower through that timeframe,” he says.

Grier says that the industry in Canada normally moves 75,000 to 80,000 head per week, and without cattle or beef exports the sales have collapsed to less than 30,000 head.

These cattle have to come out at some point and when they do it’s anyone’s guess as to what they’ll be worth. How they might be disposed of is not yet known.

The closed border has bearish ramifications for crop prices. Barley growers in Western Canada are worried about the demand base for their crop. How many feedlot operators will be left standing six months from now when the crop is off and looking for a home? Barley futures are spiraling downwards; they hit new contract lows again on Monday.

In summary, it’s quite clear that the ability to ship cattle and beef to the U.S. is absolutely vital. We need the border open, pronto. This is the biggest, most critical issue facing Canadian agriculture.

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To: johnlw who wrote (162)7/17/2003 1:01:14 AM
From: Jon Koplik
   of 4346
WSJ article on grapefruit & drug-interaction stories.

July 17, 2003

One Sure Thing About Grapefruit: Citrus Sales Are Beginning to Sour

Drug-Interaction Stories Scare Off Pill-Takers; Enter the 'Truth Squad'


VERO BEACH, Fla. -- About half of the world's grapefruit grows on a mineral-rich strip of land along Florida's eastern seaboard. But 79-year-old Nathan Valleck won't touch Citrus paradisi. He fears it might be bad for his health.

Mr. Valleck, a retired supermarket-produce buyer, hasn't had a taste for grapefruit since he read in a health-advice column that it could make the doses of medications he takes too strong. He takes blood-pressure pills, and while his doctor hasn't warned him to stay away from grapefruit, he says he'd rather be on the safe side. "I just quit," he says.

Even on grapefruit's home turf, the outlook for this citrus fruit is sour. Declining sales have sliced production in Florida to its lowest level in nearly a decade. Kids have never been particularly big fans, and many busy parents think preparing grapefruit takes too much time and makes too much of a mess. Worst of all, some of grapefruit's most loyal customers, older people, are spooked by reports that mixing it with certain commonly prescribed drugs can strengthen the medications so much that they cause muscle pain, headaches and other problems.

"We're under fire," says Daniel Richey, one of Florida's 12 citrus commissioners, industry representatives who oversee the state's efforts to juice up citrus sales. About a third of the state's grapefruit growers have given up and gone out of business during the past decade, leaving about 1,100 growers today. Mr. Richey says he hasn't turned a profit on U.S. grapefruit sales in his own business for seven years.

Thus the campaign, pushed by Mr. Richey and others, to revive what many have come to see as a forbidden fruit. Part of that means tempering the notion that grapefruit and medicine don't mix. At the Florida Department of Citrus in Lakeland, the state agency that plugged the grapefruit diet a few years ago, a "truth squad" of agricultural scientists, marketers and public-relations people makes the case to doctors, pharmacists and media outlets that grapefruit is safe with most medications.

Persuading people to like grapefruit at all is an uphill battle. Some previous marketing moves, like an ad campaign promoting grapefruit juice as "heart healthy," proved mostly fruitless. Nor did sales respond when Sarah Jessica Parker and her "Sex and the City" co-stars started drinking the Ruby -- pink-grapefruit juice and citrus vodka -- a couple of seasons ago. Grapefruit juice unit sales declined 4.9% in the 52 weeks ending June 15, according to Information Resources Inc.

While it's true that grapefruit interacts with some medications, serious interactions are rare. "This isn't a major public-health concern," says Paul Watkins, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina who has studied grapefruit-drug interactions.

Still, mixing grapefruit with some medications can cause unpleasant effects for some people. So the Food and Drug Administration isn't taking any chances. The agency currently requires drugs that could interact with grapefruit to carry warnings or precautions. It says grapefruit juice should be avoided altogether with Cyclosporin A, a drug given to transplant patients to prevent rejection of new organs. It suggests that people taking certain cholesterol-lowering drugs avoid drinking grapefruit juice in large quantities (a quart or more a day). The FDA also says it has found interactions with dietary supplements including St. John's Wort.

That hardly clears up the matter. "There are so many interactions, even most doctors don't know specifically which drugs are affected," says Isadore Rosenfeld, clinical professor at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York and author of a May column in Parade magazine advising readers to avoid grapefruit juice with any medication.

The grapefruit effect was discovered by accident in 1989, when researchers at the University of Western Ontario found the grapefruit juice it had used to mask the taste of alcohol in a test raised blood levels of a blood-pressure medication, felodipine, as much as three times.

Further study by scientists at the University of Michigan in 1997 unlocked the mystery: Grapefruit juice inhibits an enzyme in the small intestine, called CYP3A4, that breaks down certain medications. Without the enzyme, more medicine is absorbed into the bloodstream, amplifying the drug's effect. A higher dose of the cholesterol medications Mevacor, Zocor or Lipitor might cause muscle pain. Higher doses of felodipine, known as Plendil, could cause headaches.

Seville oranges, used in marmalade, are the only other fruit that contains the compounds, known as furanocoumarins, that cause the interaction. But the small amounts in which these sour oranges are used aren't believed to cause an interaction.

Soon, grapefruit was blamed for all sorts of problems. Woman's World magazine published a claim that grapefruit juice can reduce the effectiveness of birth-control pills. (There's no evidence of that, experts say.) In Michigan, grapefruit juice was cited as a possible cause of death in a man who had a heart attack after washing down the allergy medicine Seldane with two glasses of grapefruit juice. Exactly what caused his death was never established. By last year, 76% of medical professionals were warning their patients to avoid drinking grapefruit juice at any time while taking medications, the Department of Citrus found in a survey.

That's where the "truth squad" comes in, firing off letters to publications such as Woman's World and Parade along with reprints of a scientific article concluding that the interaction is limited to a few medications. "Parade is perpetuating an obvious and extremely serious threat to the very survival of the grapefruit industry," the letter to that publication said.

Dr. Rosenfeld defends the advice he offered in Parade, which he says was based on a wide search of articles from scientific publications. "I love grapefruit juice, and I'd love to read somewhere that grapefruit doesn't affect this enzyme," he says. He avoids grapefruit juice himself because he takes blood-pressure pills. "Instead of writing letters, they should do a study with a list of drugs not affected by the enzyme and say, here are the drugs you can take. I'd be the first to write it up."

The citrus department says it's trying to do just that. An "evidence-based overview" for pharmacists of grapefruit-drug interactions, which was posted on the Internet, lists some well-known medications as either having a "significant" or "negligible" potential interaction with grapefruit. Lipitor, Mevacor, Zocor and six blood-pressure medications are listed as having a significant potential interaction, while two cholesterol medications and two blood-pressure drugs have a negligible interaction. The department's suggestion: Switch to a medication that doesn't interact. The grapefruit officials have also assembled a group of food-drug interaction experts from Tufts University and the University of Florida, among others to line up further studies to determine the extent to which these top-selling drugs interact with grapefruit.

Even with a list, the interactions aren't cut and dried. Effects on an individual depend on the amounts of medication and CYP3A4 enzyme he or she has in the small intestine, Dr. Watkins says. Some people might have no reaction at all, he says. "There's not an easy take-home message here."

In fact, grapefruit gurus insist, grapefruit can help tackle health problems. While oranges have more vitamin C, grapefruit has more nutrients that fight high cholesterol and obesity, says Joseph Ahrens, director of scientific research for the Department of Citrus. He cites a study in which pigs were fed a grapefruit diet. Not only did the animals not complain about the taste; they lost weight. "I'm convinced we can prove that grapefruit can reduce or even cure several diseases," says Mr. Ahrens, who eats three or four grapefruits a day, peeling and sectioning them like an orange.

Still, Mr. Ahrens is trying to be helpful. In a laboratory one floor below his office, technicians have stripped out of juice the substance that causes drug interactions. It's being offered now for clinical testing.

Write to Betsy McKay at

Updated July 17, 2003

Copyright © 2003 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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To: Jon Koplik who started this subject8/4/2003 8:34:23 AM
From: johnlw
   of 4346
Sun, August 3, 2003

Mad cow crisis scourges Alberta


PONOKA, Alta. (CP) - Layoffs, closures, missed bank payments, unpaid tax bills: Canada's mad cow crisis is wreaking havoc on rural Alberta.

Few businesses have been left unscathed by the closure of the United States border to beef exports.

And many predict the worst is yet to come.

They say the crisis that has ravaged the Prairies since the May 20 border closure will rocket in magnitude in coming weeks, compounded by a drought and a grasshopper plague.

"It's basically a perfect storm - that's what it is - and we're right in the middle of it," lamented trucker Lewis Cline, whose idle cattleliner has been parked most of the summer.

"I'm basically sitting and waiting. There is nothing I can do. My bank has been behind me until now, but that's not going to go on forever."

Human Resources Development Canada has reported that 4,200 beef industry workers have already lost their jobs as a result of the crisis, which is costing the industry $11 million a day.

As bad as it is, cowboys say the other hoof is about to drop. The crisis that has ensnared feedlot operators the past two months is expected to rocket in magnitude in the coming weeks when cow-calf operators bring their spring-born calves to market.

So far, the hundreds of farmers who pasture calves during the summer to sell in the fall have been mostly spared the direct impact of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy crisis, but if the border doesn't open there won't be a market for their animals.

"The closer we get to the fall, the wider the impact is going to be - and it won't be just a portion of the industry. It will be hitting everybody," said Cindy McCreath of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association.

"It is really important that people understand that this is not an issue that just affects beef farmers. It affects the underpinnings of rural society. And it is not just an Alberta issue - it's right across the country."

Feedlot operator Allan Bonnett is bleeding $50,000 a day.

"I got my kids into this and that's probably the worst thing I ever did," he moaned. "It's almost like child abuse."

The list of casualties grows longer by the day: fuel companies, truckers, farm equipment dealers, lumberyards, buffalo, elk and deer breeders, sheep producers, rendering plants and pet food operations. Even grain farmers are going to be affected.

Livestock trucker Randy Hammond said he isn't buying anything he doesn't absolutely need until the crisis is over.

"I sure the heck wouldn't have bought a new cattle trailer in January if I knew this would happen. I can't give the thing away, never mind sell it."

Businesses in Ponoka, a town of 6,330, 100 kilometres south of Edmonton, are already reeling.

"It is touching everyone from the car dealers to the clothing stores," said Don Laing, who owns a farm equipment dealership just outside town. "If something doesn't change soon, it will be truly devastating."

Larry Henkelman, a local furniture store owner who serves on town council, said his business is definitely feeling the pinch.

"I think everyone in town will find their sales are going to be down 20 to 30 per cent," he said.

Farmers still crowd Ponoka's auction market, but most are just anxious to see firsthand how much is moving and for what price. With cows they bought for $800 now selling for $200, they're playing a waiting game. Most of the cattle that are moving are being sold by farmers who have no pasture left to feed them.

Sales are down 80 per cent and the auction has been forced to lay off 35 part-time people and put 15 full-time staff on a job-sharing arrangement.

Blair Vold, who runs the auction with his father, said that even if the border opens in September as federal Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief is predicting, it could be a while before prices recover.

"We're not out of the woods, even if it does open," he said. "I think we will see a restricted border opening for specific cuts of meat or ages of cattle that are no-risk, but it will definitely help."

Ponoka County Reeve Gordon Svenningsen said the impact of last year's drought and this year's BSE crisis is evident in the county's tax rolls. About 10 per cent of county taxes - a million dollars - is outstanding, compared with one per cent last year.

The county has declared itself a disaster area, following the lead of Lethbridge in the south. After Lethbridge, Ponoka has the highest number of cattle per square kilometre in Alberta. The county has also appealed directly by letter to U.S. President George Bush to reopen the border. So far there's been no response.

Equipment dealer Bryan Kasha in Eckville, Alta., has never seen it so bad. In past years he sold 20 to 25 tractors, but so far this year he has sold three. Sales are down 80 per cent.

"Nobody is buying anything," he said. "It is having a big impact on us."

The BSE crisis combined with drought conditions and a plague of grasshoppers has the area on the verge of disaster, he said. Farmers and supporting businesses are struggling to survive.

"I have been in business for 54 years," Kasha said. "I would sure hate to shut the doors."

The pain is Prairie-wide. Roberge Trucking - based in Lloydminster, Alta., and Moose Jaw, Sask. - has laid off staff and closed offices in Winnipeg, Prince Albert, Sask., and Clyde, Alta.

Marcel Roberge said 80 of his company's 140 units are sitting idle because there's no place to haul cattle.

"What the hell are you going to do with these cattleliners? You can't start hauling chickens."

Trucker Cline is bracing for the worst.

"My girlfriend says I am pessimistic, but I don't see any silver lining in this deal," he said. "It is almost like the light at the end of the tunnel is a train."

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To: johnlw who wrote (164)9/11/2003 8:14:13 AM
From: Jon Koplik
   of 4346
WSJ -- Got Raw Milk? / Not Unless You Own Your Own Cow

September 11, 2003

Got Raw Milk?

Not Unless You Own Your Own Cow

Farmers Offer Bovine Stakes To Bypass Health Rule; Wisconsin Sours on Plan


Robert Corya, a retiree in Indianapolis, craves a substance that Indiana law forbids him to buy: unpasteurized milk. He and his wife drink eight gallons of it a month, and he believes it makes him healthier. "Tastes like melted French vanilla ice cream," he says.

Mr. Corya can slake his thirst thanks to a dairy cow named Charlotte and a loophole that is setting off battles over milk across the U.S. Laws in Indiana and other states allow cow owners to drink raw milk from their own cows. So Mr. Corya bought a share in Charlotte.

Today, there are more than a dozen cow-share programs in the U.S. Farmers Mark and Deborah Apple of McCordsville, Ind., who launched a program for Charlotte and their other cows early last year, say demand is so great that people sometimes burst into tears when told they have to go on a waiting list.

Ever since Louis Pasteur first invented it back in the 1860s, pasteurization -- flash-heating liquids to kill bacteria -- has been one of the world's great food-safety discoveries. Today, as a precaution against common milk-borne pathogens including salmonella and E.coli, it is required for all milk sold to U.S. consumers in interstate commerce.

But a growing group of raw-milk lovers, from people who grew up on farms to devotees of organic food and health gurus, say unpasteurized milk is not just delicious and nutritious, it is also good for everything from arthritis to lactose intolerance.

Aajonus Vonderplanitz, a popular author in the raw-milk underground, says he has cured himself of cancer and diabetes with an all-raw-food diet. Today, much of the appetite for raw milk is being whetted by the Weston A. Price Foundation, a Washington-based group that promotes traditional foods such as grass-fed beef and unpasteurized milk. The foundation, established in 1999, has quickly grown to 150 U.S. chapters with 3,500 members.

State laws about raw milk differ. In California, it is legal for licensed dairies to sell it in stores. In Wisconsin, and in 21 other states, it is illegal to sell raw milk, even from right off the farm.

In 1999, Wisconsin dairy farmers Gleta Martin and Tim Wightman started hearing from customers that they were looking for a source of unpasteurized milk. They started a cow-share program, which had been tried by others elsewhere on a smaller scale. Consumers bought a $10 share in a particular cow, such as Louella or Anabell or Twila. As owners, they were entitled to the milk. Then, each time they picked up a gallon, they paid the farm, Clearview Acres, a $2.50 "boarding fee," ostensibly to compensate for care and housing of their cow.

Wisconsin regulator Thomas Leitzke says the division of agriculture initially approved the cow share, thinking it would benefit just a few people. But word quickly spread and within a year and half, 265 families had joined. The tiny, debt-burdened farm's income increased by a third. "It was the most wonderful thing that ever happened" in her 27-year career on the farm, says Ms. Martin.

Farms across the country quickly took notice. U.S. dairy farmers have been getting as little as 94 cents a gallon this year, the lowest prices since 1978. But people eager for unpasteurized milk have been willing to pay as much as $12 a gallon. Cow shares popped up in Virginia, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Utah, Florida and Washington.

Wisconsin officials say they grew alarmed by how large and commercial the Clearview Acres' cow share had become. The farm was advertising it in the local paper. The division of agriculture sent out an employee posing as a shareholder to take samples of raw milk for analysis in the state laboratory. Though the milk was found to be wholesome, the division sent Clearview Acres a letter in April 2001 informing the farm that it was canceling the cow-share program.

"We made a mistake. We never should have let them do it in the first place," says Mr. Leitzke.

But Mr. Wightman and Ms. Martin refused to quit, arguing that the cow share had been established with the state's blessing. The bickering continued until December 2001, when the farm was implicated in an outbreak of campylobacter, a pathogen that gave 75 people in the area bloody diarrhea, fever and nausea. This time Wisconsin officials shut down the cow share and declared all such programs illegal.

Health officials said that 70 of the 75 people who got sick had drank milk from the farm. Mr. Wightman denies that his milk caused the outbreak, saying his tests showed the milk was clean. He believes people got sick from eating hamburgers or Thanksgiving turkey.

Cow shares in other states have also run into trouble with regulators. Last fall, the Apples in Indiana received a cease and desist order from the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, accusing them of operating a dairy without a license. Farmers in Colorado, Tennessee and Texas say their raw-milk operations have also been heavily scrutinized.

Raw-milk defenders fought back. Clearview Acres spent a year and $27,000 in legal fees wrangling with Wisconsin officials. The Apples logged hours at the law library. And the Weston A. Price Foundation set up a fund to support cow-share programs.

Some shareholders rebelled in their own way. Billy Belt, an Indianapolis schoolteacher and father of three, was incensed. At night, when he was sure no state regulators were watching, he sneaked into the Apple's milk shed and smuggled out milk, leaving a few dollars on the table.

Today, armed with new legal structures they hope will shelter them from pasteurization laws, both farms have restarted their programs. Clearview Acres has stopped dealing with the department of agriculture and registered with the Wisconsin division of securities instead. Today, people buy a share of the farm's dairy license and enjoy a "shareholder privilege" that allows them to buy raw milk. Fifty families have signed on to date, Clearview Acres says.

To strengthen the argument that their customers are true cow owners, the Apples have asked them to get more involved in animal husbandry. So now the shareholders, mostly suburbanites and city folk, hold semiannual meetings where they decide things like what to feed the cows and how many times a day to milk.

Health regulators in both Wisconsin and Indiana say they still frown on using loopholes to sell raw milk. They haven't yet taken a good look at the new programs and can't say whether the farms are breaking any laws.

Write to Katy McLaughlin at

Updated September 11, 2003

Copyright © 2003 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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To: Jon Koplik who wrote (165)10/17/2003 7:40:36 AM
From: johnlw
   of 4346
Soybeans Rocket to Five-Year Highs
An incredibly bullish soybean crop report fired futures to their highest level since 1997 and pushed some Canadian prices past the C$9/bu mark. USDA’s crop report Friday morning pegged production at only 2.468 billion bushels, down from both the September forecast of 2.643 billion bushels and last year’s crop of 2.75 billion. If accurate, this leaves the U.S. crop at its smallest since 1996.
Based on conditions as of October 1, the average yield is forecast at 34 bu/acre, 2.4 bu/acre less than expected in September and down 4 bu/acre from last year. This reflects the “hot, dry conditions in August and continued mostly dry weather during September,” said USDA.

The only areas that enjoyed excellent growing conditions were those in the Mississippi Delta, Kentucky and Tennessee. Soybeans in the larger growing areas in the Midwest were hit hard by heat and lack of moisture during the critical stages of flowering and pod development.

Most traders were expecting a poor crop but not this poor. After the release of USDA’s report, futures bolted higher. The November future surged briefly by as much as 40 cents right after the news, although it backed off to a lesser gain later in the session.

The bulls retained control of the bean pit Monday and Tuesday as well, as the November contract was 28 cents higher. However, by Wednesday at noon the market was backtracking, with November down 16 cents.

The Big Picture
The monthly soybean chart shown below gives some perspective on where this leaves the market relative to the past several years. It shows that in 1997, the market topped at slightly over US$9. This year, the U.S. supply/demand sheet is similar to that of 1997. Ending stocks are expected to be just as tight, according to USDA on Friday, as 2003-04 ending stocks will tighten to 130 million bushels.

It’s great to see a bull market, something all too rare in the cash crop farming business. It’s a real boon for farmers with good soybean yields. Unfortunately, average yields for Manitoba soybeans are down this year and that could mean the gross returns per acre for many farmers are little changed.

The bull market in soybeans is good news for canola growers but there again some offsetting factors are in play. A rising Canadian currency, as already noted, is limiting the canola market’s ability to follow beans higher.

Up, Up and Away?
While some traders think the US$9 mark can be hit again, others strongly disagree. That’s because although the 1997 U.S. supply and demand condition was similar to today’s, the South American supply was far smaller. South American production has stepped higher every year since 1997 and a new record is expected the coming season. Current high prices are a big incentive for South American farmers to plant as much as they can.

It might be said that back in 1997, South America’s grocery store offered some minor competition to the U.S. Now, South America has grown to become a big box store, with far more for sale than the U.S.

In summary, Canadian soybean growers can enjoy the higher prices wrought by problems with the U.S. soybean crop. Just don’t bask in the glory for too long without cashing in on the higher prices the market is offering. And canola growers should be aware that some of the impact of the problems in the U.S. is already “in the market.”

U.S. Cattle Soaring on Bidding War
A bidding frenzy in the central and southern Plains fed cattle market has pushed prices for a few top choice cattle up to as high as US$110 per hundredweight and feeders now are said to be passing bids that run up to $113.

In Chicago, live cattle futures have been smashing all-time records but are still trading at a considerable discount to cash.

Early on Tuesday, the December contract was trading unchanged at US$93.75 after an incredible run, as the chart below shows.

The bullish enthusiasm gripping the American cattle industry is certainly rubbing salt in the wounds of Canadian producers. For cattlemen on this side of the border the fact that they can’t sell their beef and cattle for the staggering prices found in the U.S. are the least of their problems. Right now, they’re more concerned with mere survival during the mad cow crisis.

Alberta Working to Deal with Cattle Inventory
The Alberta government is attempting to ease the problems facing the province’s cattle industry with two new programs developed in consultation with industry representatives.

Complete details of the new programs have not been announced and producers are being asked to register their herds in advance. This will allow the development of better programs that will address the most critical needs effectively.

These programs are intended to focus on the balance of the May 20, 2003 fed cattle inventory as well as the outstanding issue of market-ready (cull) cows and bulls as of September 1.

Alberta cattlemen who wish to access CAIS funds should contact Agricultural Financial Services Corporation at 1-877-744-7900. Cheques will start to be sent out in roughly three weeks, according to the government.

Wheat Prices Hit By Southern Hemisphere Competition
Wheat futures have been under pressure in the U.S. recently on concerns that American wheat is not competitive globally with the big crops that are expected from South America and Australia this year.

Early on Wednesday, the Minneapolis December contract was trading down 4 1/4 cents at US$3.39 3/4/bu. This is down over 69 cents from its summer high close of US$4.09 1/4 made on August 18.

After drought severely reduced wheat output from Australia last year, production is forecast to rebound sharply this year. Argentina is also expected to be a major exporter on the world scene as production rises to over 13.5 million tonnes, well above 12.3 million last year, according to a USDA report released Friday. Roughly two thirds of that output will find its way into the export market, say sources.

But all hope is not lost. There’s talk that interest in US wheat from European buyers will support futures soon. Sources say Italian buyers have booked a large volume of US wheat. South Korea is said to be buying U.S. wheat this week, too.

U.S. Edible Bean Crop Down Sharply
Edible bean industry players knew as soon as last winter that they were in for a smaller U.S. crop than last year. Farmers were turning away from beans in droves.

In Minnesota and North Dakota, farmers saw better government support programs for soybeans, corn, sunflowers, dry peas and spring wheat. They were offered some good prices for malting barley, too.

In Michigan, there were the same disincentives for growing dry beans. Farmers there had planted a big fall acreage of winter wheat, leaving less room for beans.

Dealers also knew it would be hard to repeat the tremendous yields seen in 2002 in North Dakota and Minnesota.

As it turns out, they were right on all fronts, although yields are even lower than those expected. USDA released a dry edible bean crop survey on Friday pegging yields at 1665 lbs/acre on a cleaned basis, well short of 1736 last year. Across the U.S., the edible bean output is set at 23.60 million cwt, down 21 percent from 2002.

In North Dakota this year, production is pegged at 8.66 million cwt, down from 10.63 million last year. Average yield in the state is down 20 lbs/acre from 2002 at 1520.

Minnesota and Michigan are expected to produce 2.08 and 2.85 million cwt respectively, both down sharply from last year. The average yield is pegged at 1600 lbs/acre in Minnesota and 1500 in the wolverine state.

Ethanol Industry Poised to Expand in West
Western Canada may be home to more ethanol production in the years ahead as part of Canada’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol.

A recent Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada report notes that wheat or corn is used to produce ethanol, which can be blended with gasoline to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Government incentives are available to support the expansion of the domestic ethanol infrastructure. Proposals are currently under review in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

A side effect of ethanol production is an increase in dried distillers grain (DDG) for feed use. DDG has lower starch content and may have higher fusarium content, which may limit is use, says the report.

The current market price for DDG in the U.S. is about US$120/tonne, a 10 percent discount to soy meal after adjusting for protein content. At a 10 percent discount from its nutritional value, DDG in Western Canada should be around C$165/tonne, roughly in line with canola meal.

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To: johnlw who wrote (166)11/15/2003 10:18:29 AM
From: Jon Koplik
   of 4346
Barrons commodities column on corn, ethanol from corn, etc.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Commodities Corner

Energetic Corn

Bill would increase the grain's use for ethanol


ALONGSIDE THIS YEAR'S RECORD corn harvest, U.S. farmers stand to reap a huge gain from the energy bill being discussed in Congress.

If enacted, the measure would promote the use of renewable fuels, including corn-derived ethanol, and eliminate methyl tertiary butyl ether as an additive to gasoline. A renewable-fuel standard to be included in the bill requires gasoline to have a specific volume of such fuel, which would rise through 2012.

What that means for corn use is "a slow, gradual increase up to two billion bushels a year" of corn use for ethanol, "almost doubling current usage by 2012," says Joe Victor, a vice president of Allendale & Associates in McHenry, Ill.

Currently, slightly over one billion bushels of corn are processed into ethanol each year. The Renewable Fuels Association estimates ethanol production at over 2.7 billion gallons in 2003, up from 2.13 billion in 2002. There are 73 ethanol plants currently in the U.S. with the capacity to produce 2.9 billion gallons annually, and 16 plants are under construction.

In just over two decades, U.S. ethanol production capacity has risen from virtually zero to over two billion gallons a year, with dry-mill processing plants producing 55% of U.S. ethanol. Analysts see the energy bill sustaining the growth in ethanol output, boosting it to as much as five billion gallons a year by 2012.

The implementation of the renewable-fuel standard has the potential to increase corn prices by 30 cents a bushel based on baseline projections by 2013, while providing an additional $51 billion in farm income over the next 10 years, says Monte Shaw, spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association.

Ethanol will become a substantial part of total U.S. corn demand, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts at 10.025 billion bushels in 2003-04. It forecasts production at a record 10.278 billion bushels with a record national yield of 143.2 bushels an acre.

While supplies are plentiful for now, ethanol's growing claim on corn raises the possibility of future tight supplies. The question of what happens when the crop comes up short must be addressed, because it will happen 15%-18% of the time, says Bob Wisner, agricultural economist at Iowa State University in Ames.

If this occurs during 2008-10, the new policy may cause problems. That's what happened in the 1995-96 marketing year, when yields were only 113.5 bushels an acre. Corn prices on the futures market raced to over $5 a bushel and processors were forced to shut down some ethanol plants as the competition for corn supplies rallied prices to unprofitable levels.

"This tells us that we ultimately will need more supplies if other corn uses such as exports and feed hold true," observes Dan Basse, president of AgResource in Chicago. "Exports will be a key -- if demand stays constant, the combination of ethanol and exports would provide more robust demand opportunities, forcing analysts to make upward adjustments to price curves," adds Basse.

The ethanol expansion could be extremely bullish to the market in short crop years while limiting downside price moves in years when exports tail off. However, notes Basse, the U.S. has the capacity to expand corn production to 11 billion bushels.

The bill would increase the use of corn in the long run, but could also reduce demand for feed corn, declares Sid Love of Kropf & Love Consulting in Overland Park, Kan. That's because the byproduct of ethanol processing is distillers' dry grain, a feed for livestock.

"Thirty percent of the dry matter produced will return to feed matter, providing competition for feed corn," Iowa State's Wisner said. One bushel of corn produces 18 pounds or 2.72 gallons of ethanol and 17 pounds of distillers' grain in various forms.

Distillers' grain has advantages over corn. When ethanol is produced from corn, only the starch is used, leaving protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. While corn contains about 7%-10% protein, distillers' dry grain contains about 25%. It is ideal for dairy animals, and because of its higher protein content, it could be substituted for corn as well as soymeal in feed rations as an energy source. And the greater supply of distillers' grain will reduce its price, adds Shaw of the Renewable Fuels Association.

The biggest impact of the energy bill on corn demand will come after 2005, beyond the current horizon of the futures market.

Andrew Johnson is a reporter with OsterDowJones Commodity News.

Copyright © 2003 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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To: Jon Koplik who wrote (167)12/3/2003 6:51:54 AM
From: johnlw
   of 4346

China Changing Fundamental Grain Outlook

Regardless of the short-term trade tension between China and the U.S., many observers feel Chinese demand has fundamentally changed the outlook for many grains and oilseed markets over the next decade.
Falling Grain Stocks
China’s need for imports is a function of falling Chinese grain stocks as well as a rising middle class that is demanding improved nutrition at a reasonable cost, Dan Basse, the president of Ag Resources in Chicago, told a global grain conference in Geneva, Switzerland last week.

The Chinese government zealously guards statistics on grain stocks and supply-demand balances, but analysts feel they are getting an increasingly better handle on those numbers, despite Chinese secrecy.

USDA is estimating that China’s annual production of wheat, rice and coarse grains has dropped from 392 million tonnes in 1998-99 to just 326 million in 2003-04. And with consumption of these same commodities pegged at 377 million tonnes this year, the country will need to draw down its stocks to meet its needs.

Since 2000-01, China’s total ending stocks of wheat, rice and coarse grains have been dwindling, according to data from USDA.

Prices on the Rise
Regardless of the accuracy of analysts’ estimates, the story of Chinese grain supplies is being told in the prices being paid by the Chinese population. Wheat prices have climbed as much as 32 percent since the summer, while corn prices have doubled and rice prices are up by 13 percent. Over the same period, prices for oils and fats prices have increased about 17 percent.

The recent leap in food prices stands in sharp contrast to the relatively stable prices for rice and flour products over the past decade. As a result, the increasingly affluent Chinese middle class is demanding the government stop the escalation of food costs.

Most observers agree China will become a net importer of grain in the future, but the timing is in dispute. American and European analysts are looking for imports of corn and wheat to appear in the 2003-04 crop year. However, Chinese analysts don’t see the same sense of urgency.

Steady Soybean Consumption
Despite the current trade row between the U.S. and China, analysts generally feel China will continue to book U.S. soybeans, though at a slower pace than in October and November.

Also slowing demand for imported soybeans is the arrival of the Chinese soybean crop, which is grown in Northeastern China and is currently being shipped to the crushers in the south.

China’s crushers need 2.4 to 2.5 million tonnes of soybeans a month, which suggests there will be more sales of U.S. soybeans before the South American crop arrives in late March. In the spring, China is expected to start buying South American soybeans, which are traditionally US$10.00/tonne cheaper than American supplies.

Hungry for Canola
China has already booked 300,000 tonnes of Canadian canola and may be looking for another 300,000 tonnes this winter. Although this is a respectable amount for China to book, it doesn’t come close to the 1.2 million tonnes China has taken on occasion in the past. In addition, China has taken over 100,000 tonnes of canola oil.

BOLd[Lower Chinese Corn Exports Forecast]
There’s little doubt that China’s corn exports will be curtailed in 2003-04 compared to the previous year due to falling stocks. Some are speculating that the final number could come in well below USDA’s latest forecast for this year of 334.6 million bushels (8.5 million tonnes).

While exports will definitely slow down, trade views are mixed on whether China will need to import corn. A Chinese trader with the China National Cereals Oils and Foodstuffs Import & Export Corp said last Friday he felt the withdrawing of China from the corn export market reflected the withdrawal of subsidies exporters received from the government. He indicated that China was expected to shift subsidies paid to exporters for storing corn to direct support to grain producers. This would encourage domestic to meet domestic demand.

Huang also said he felt the shift in subsidies would keep China from having to import any sizable quantities of corn until 2008. He added that by 2013, China may be importing as much as 30 million tonnes of corn annually.

In Conclusion
No one in the grain and oilseed business can deny that China is a market mover of great importance. Mere rumours of activity are enough to send futures spiking higher or spiralling lower. Many observers now feel that China will soon become a more active day-to-day player in the global grain markets in order to meet the needs of its population. And that has Dan Basse predicting that global grain markets will return to the volatile situation in the 1980s when China was a big buyer of global grain and oilseed crops.

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