‘Great Grain Robbery’ Law Reveals Big U.S. Sales

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A 1973 U.S. law requiring grain traders to promptly report export sales recently shed light on a mammoth corn sale believed to be destined for China.

The U.S. Agriculture Department announced on Mar. 25 the sale of 1.25 million tonnes of corn worth $350 million to an unknown destination, which traders believe is China.

The law requires exporters to report large sales – generally over 100,000 tonnes – within 24 hours and they are made public the next morning.

For days, traders had heard rumours of a large corn sale to China. Corn futures rose 11 per cent after the talk first surfaced.

The U.S. enacted the reporting law in 1973 after the Soviet Union secretly bought a massive amount of U.S. wheat that sent prices soaring. The purchase became known as the “Great Grain Robbery” because the Soviets outfoxed the grain markets.

In July and August 1972, the Soviet trading agency, Exportkhleb, working through six exporters to cloak the size of its dealings, bought 400 million bushels of U.S. wheat worth $700 million – a massive sale for the time – and used U.S. export subsidies to help pay for it.

The purchase depleted already-low U.S. wheat supplies and sent prices soaring when its scope was revealed.

Sheep code of practice updated

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The code of practice for the care and handling of sheep is being updated through the National Farm Animal Care Council’s (NFACC) code of practice development process, the Canadian Sheep Federation (CSF) has announced.

“Renewing the codes of practice provides a good opportunity to ensure the codes are based on the most current scientific literature,” said Andrew Gordanier, chair of the Canadian Sheep Federation in a release. “As production systems and management evolves, reviewing the Codes of Practice helps ensure they remain relevant and well-used by producers. This assures stakeholders and the public that Canadian sheep and lambs continue to be produced under sound management and welfare practices that promote the well-being of the animal.”

The existing sheep Code was created in 1995. The revised edition is expected to be complete in 2013. For more information on the Codes of Practice and NFACC’s Code development process visit www.nfacc.ca.

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