By ROB GILLIES
TORONTO (AP) — Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. said suitor BHP Billiton is calling its customers “to sow seeds of doubt and confusion about the future” of the Canadian company.
Australia’s BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, launched a hostile $130-a-share takeover on Aug. 18 after Potash directors rejected its offer. The Canadian company said it’s in talks with several other companies instead.
Potash Corp’s sales president, Stephen Dowdle, said in a letter to customers filed with regulators this week that they recently learned that Chris Ryder, director of Potash marketing for BHP Billiton, has begun calling Potash customers. Dowdle called it “inappropriate and highly unethical.”
Potash, the world’s largest fertilizer company, has rejected BHP hostile $38.5 billion takeover offer as wholly inadequate.
Dowdle said they can only assume that BHP’s “purpose is to sow seeds of doubt and confusion about the future of PotashCorp by raising questions about our ability to do business across the nutrient spectrum as well as the future and makeup of our sales organization.” Continue reading
Even as the broader economy falters amid signs of a weakening recovery, the nation’s agriculture sector is going strong, bolstered in part by a surge in exports, according to federal estimates of farm trade and income released on Tuesday.
The estimates confirm what economists have been saying for months: agriculture, which was generally not hit as hard by the recession as many other segments of the economy, remains a small bright spot going forward.
“We’re just having a robust rebound in the agricultural sector and promises of more growth,” Jason R. Henderson, vice president and economist at the Omaha branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, said in a recent interview.
The estimates show that American farmers will ship $107.5 billion in agricultural products abroad in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. That is the second-highest amount ever, behind the record $115.3 billion in exports logged in 2008, when commodity prices soared as the global demand for agricultural products was helped by fast-growing economies in the developing world. Continue reading
By Jane Black
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 31, 2010; 11:35 AM
In 1995, Jason Schayot set the world record for spitting a watermelon seed when he shot his tiny black bullet a whopping 75 feet, 2 inches, almost a quarter of a football field. It’s a record that would be hard to beat. But Schayot might not have much competition anyway. Within a generation, most Americans won’t even know that watermelons have seeds, let alone how to spit them.
According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, only 16 percent of watermelons sold in grocery stores have seeds, down from 42 percent in 2003. In California and the mid-South, home to the country’s biggest watermelon farms, the latest figures are 8 and 13 percent, respectively. The numbers seem destined to tumble. Recently developed hybrids do not need seeded melons for pollination – more on that later – which liberates farmers from growing melons with spit-worthy seeds.
The iconic, black-studded watermelon wedge appears destined to become a slice of vanished Americana. If that sounds alarmist, try to remember the last time you had to spit out a grape seed.
The sea change is all in the service of convenience. Continue reading
One thing is for sure. Kupa’a Farm’s coffee is turning out to be “not your average cup of joe.” Instead, it rises like cream to the top of Hawaii’s best.
Last month, the small Kula farm placed second overall in the Statewide Cupping Competition, behind No. 1 Rusty’s Hawaiian out of Ka’u. This means both farms beat out all of the Kona coffee district’s entrants.
This is HUGE news for Maui! While it was reported in small piece in this newspaper a while back, it’s big enough to merit more details. In fact, it’s reminiscent of the historic Judgement of Paris wine tasting in 1976.
Remember the movie “Bottle Shock”? It was about a Paris wine competition in which judges set the world on its ear by ranking a Northern California wine over top French varietals in a blind tasting.
Well, Kupa’a, meaning “firm” or “solid” in Hawaiian, is like a fine wine. Laced with subtle nuances and complexities that are appealing to connoisseurs, it’s gathering steam and putting Maui on the world coffee map.
“The expert panel of cuppers said, “It’s a well-balanced coffee with great complexity. The cup has a delightful, bright fruitiness with hints of blackberry, strawberry, apple and lemon and it is accented with a wonderful sweetness and viscous body with tones of black tea.” Continue reading
The trickle of local milk in Hawaii that grew last year to a small flow could be on the verge of significant expansion again.
An industry veteran plans to establish a dairy on the Big Island, which if successful would become the third major milk producer in the state and the first established after a string of shutdowns over the last decade.
Mauna Kea Moo LLC recently received preliminary approval from the state Board of Land and Natural Resources to lease 1,395 acres of state land in Hamakua for a dairy operation.
The company is headed by Kees Kea, former manager of the largest dairy in the state, Island Dairy.
Kea, who grew up on a family dairy farm in the Netherlands and owned a dairy in Oregon before joining Island Dairy in 2003, said he intends to produce cheese and yogurt as well as milk with perhaps 150 to 200 cows.
If successful, Mauna Kea Moo would be smaller than the state’s two largest dairies, which have roughly 600 to 800 milking cows each, but it would still significantly increase the supply of local milk and satisfy what people familiar with the industry say is tremendous consumer demand. Continue reading
ULUPALAKUA – Ulupalakua Cares, a celebration of agriculture and open space hosted by Maui’s Winery and Ulupalakua Ranch Store, will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 5.
This free community event will have local music, walking tours by environmental leaders and informational exhibits by local conservation groups, set against a backdrop of the winery’s historic grounds and the ranch’s pastoral beauty.
Ukulele virtuoso Derick Sebastian and singer/musician Joshua Kahula will play from noon to 3 p.m. Polihua, a Lanai band, will play from 3 to 4, both at the winery.
Across the road at the ranch store, Bradda Francis Koahou will play slack key from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
At 12:30 p.m., a talk titled “A Voyage Back in Time: The Natural Treasures of Ulupalakua Ranch” will be given by Art Medeiros, a research scientist with the Pacific Island Ecosystem Research Center of the U.S. Geological Survey and the head of the Auwahi reforestation project, on Ulupalakua Ranch land.
The 150-year-old trees of Maui’s Winery will be showcased on a “Walking Tour of Trees” led by Ernest Rezents, professor emeritus of agriculture at Maui Community College. He will give a talk on “How to Determine the Value of a Tree.” The walk and talk will be from 2 to 2:30 p.m. Continue reading
KAHULUI – Maui Nui Botanical Gardens will host a kalo (taro) workshop Sept. 4 to 6 led by Hawaiian cultural practitioner and mahi’ai (farmer) Jerry Konanui as part of its new education program, “Ulu Ka Hoi” (to grow interest).
This three-day event will educate local farmers and practitioners on the varieties of kalo available, techniques to identify these varieties, proper cultivation methods and cultural applications. Participants also will have the opportunity to learn innovative wood- and stone-sculpting methods using modern equipment.
Space is limited and daily fees apply. Call 249-2798 to reserve a place. Continue reading
By DAVE WILKINS
Farmers aren’t the only ones uncertain about the future of the sugar beet industry in the wake of a federal judge’s decision to ban the planting of Roundup Ready varieties.
The uncertainty extends to the rural communities where sugar beets are grown.
“If (seed companies) don’t have enough beet seed for everyone here, it will devastate this area. That’s our cash crop,” Randy Jones, mayor of Paul, Idaho, said in an interview.
Hundreds of people work at the Amalgamated Sugar Co. beet processing plant in Paul, a farm town of 1,000 people. The plant processes beets grown all over Southern Idaho, from the Treasure Valley to the Blackfoot area.
But a ruling by a federal judge in California on Aug. 13 makes Roundup Ready sugar beets a regulated crop again, meaning that it can’t be grown commercially.
Beet growers have grown Roundup Ready varieties almost exclusively the past two years because it provides superior weed control and thus higher yields. Now growers are faced with the prospect of converting back to conventional varieties, and it’s not clear how much of that is available.
Jones worries that a serious seed shortage could affect the local sugar factory and his town’s economic future. Continue reading
KAHULUI – A public opinion survey of state transportation issues revealed a yearning for an interisland ferry, with 83 percent of those polled by SMS on behalf of the state Department of Transportation saying a marine transportation system should be part of the state’s overall infrastructure, although pro-ferry sentiment was much weaker on Kauai.
An interisland ferry has been part of the state’s long-range transportation planning since the first plan in 1961. That plan, now called the Hawaii Statewide Transportation Plan, is undergoing its sixth revision. Continue reading
Meat lovers are invited to “graze” at Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island on Sept. 10.
Locally raised lamb, mutton, goat, pork and beef will be prepared at 30 food stations manned by premier Hawaii chefs. They will serve up dishes using a variety of meat cuts — everything from beef tongue to oxtail.
Also on display will be educational exhibits relating to agriculture and sustainability. Continue reading