World in brief

Foodgrains bank launches conservation program

WINNIPEG — Canadian Foodgrains Bank has launched a new conservation agriculture program in Africa worth $18.67 million over five years.

It will assist 50,000 farm families in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania from member agencies: Mennonite Central Committee Canada, World Renew and World Relief Canada.

The program was made possible by a $14 million grant from the Government of Canada through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. Funding is being made available on a 3:1 matching basis.

Small-scale farmers who want to grow more food through conservation agriculture will receive training, technical assistance and support through the program.

Conservation agriculture is characterized by the principles of minimizing soil disturbance, permanently covering the soil, and including crop rotations and associations.

Italian man killed by wild boars

ROME, Italy (Reuters) — A 77-year-old Italian man was killed by a group of wild boars Aug. 8 as he tried to defend his dogs from the charging animals near his home in Sicily, local police reported.

Salvatore Rinaudo was walking his dogs in the countryside outside the town of Cefalu, near the Sicilian capital of Palermo, when he was attacked and bitten to death despite his wife’s attempt to save him, police said. She was also injured in the attack by the wild animals, which can weigh up to 150 kilograms.

The Italian agriculture group Coldiretti described the uncontrolled spread of wild boars that destroy harvests, kill farm animals, cause road accidents and increasingly put human lives at risk as a “national emergency”.

Mosaic reports strong quarter

(Reuters) — U.S. fertilizer company Mosaic Co. reported a much higher than expected quarterly profit recently, helped by strong phosphates sales and improved potash prices.

Mosaic’s shares rose 2.8 percent to US$43.96 in New York.

Second-quarter net earnings climbed 57 percent to $390.6 million, or $1.08 per share.

On an adjusted basis, Mosaic, the world’s largest producer of finished phosphate products, earned $1.05 per share, above the average analyst estimate of 89 cents, according to Thomson Reuters.

Net sales rose two percent to $2.5 billion, in line with expectations.

Tanzania creates farm development bank

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (Reuters) — Tanzania plans to invest 800 billion shillings (C$495 million) over the next eight years in a new state-run agriculture bank to boost growth in the sector, which has long been stifled by low productivity and a lack of financing.

President Jakaya Kikwete launched the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank after the government provided 60 billion shillings in seed capital for its establishment.

The bank will target the production of corn, rice, sugarcane, oilseeds, meat, dairy and poultry, as well as horticulture, fish farming and beekeeping, the government said.

U.S. land rentals fall

CHICAGO, Ill. (Reuters) — Cash rents for fertile farmland in the United States fell in the second quarter and are likely to decline again between July and September, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

The report, which covers the northern delta and southern Midwest region, added that incomes for farmers fell in the April to June period.

Low grain prices and a strong U.S. dollar has hurt exports.

Cash rents fell 6.4 percent for quality farmland.

K+S rejects $8.6 billion offer

FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuters) — German salt and fertilizer company K+S AG has claimed support from private or retail investors for its rejection of an C$8.6 billion offer from Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan.

K+S said Aug. 10 it had surveyed private or non-institutional shareholders, who hold about 30 percent of its shares, and said more than 84 percent who replied were in favour of rejection. It also said only about 28 percent had responded to its questionnaire.

Potash Corp. has been pushing to talk with K+S management despite the German company’s initial rejection last month of the Canadian company’s bid worth $59.40 per share.

K+S, whose shares traded up 0.8 percent at $54 (37.43 Euros) on Aug. 10, lacks the protection of a big anchor investor. Nearly all its shares are freely traded on the stock exchange and the results of K+S’s survey provide the first real indication of how investors may respond to Potash Corp.’s approach.

About four percent of the more than 39,000 private shareholders who participated in the survey said they would accept a $59.40 per share offer, K+S said.

British farmers protest dairy prices

LONDON, U.K. (Reuters) — British farmers warn they are facing financial ruin with falls in the price of milk, which is forcing many out of work and spurring others to blockade distribution centres and walk cows through supermarkets.

Farming unions from across the country were meeting in London last week to urge the government to provide more help for an industry that has seen a 25 percent year-on-year drop in the amount farmers are paid for milk.

The National Farmers Union estimates that the majority of dairy farmers are now selling milk below the amount it costs to produce it. “I was earning a pittance,” said Peter Parkes, a farmer who pulled out of dairy produce 18 months ago.

Farmers around the country have been protesting against depressed prices for over a week, with videos online showing them entering supermarkets and clearing the shelves of milk.

AHDB Dairy, the industry body, said the collapse in prices, sparked by lower demand from China and a price war among British supermarkets, had resulted in more than one milk producer going out of business per day in the last year.

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