Iowa Public Television


Water Woes in West; Financial Issues Elsewhere

posted on November 9, 2001

Finding better cuts of meat could help enhance domestic sales. That's especially important, because export markets continue to be a challenge because of a robust dollar. A strong dollar means American goods and commodities cost foreign customers more. This week finds buying power sagging on the continent. It also finds at least one American food purveyor dominating its field abroad. And in this country, a step away from the marketplace, government officials are wrestling with a familiar dilemma, how to allocate water in the west.

Events in Klamath (CLAM-ath) Falls, Oregon, earlier this year are now under review. A drought and a low snowpack reduced runoff to a trickle this spring. To protect downstream coho salmon and the endangered sucker fish, federal scientists set water levels in Klamath Lake to previously unheard of depths.


(SLUG: protesters)

The decision to maintain higher minimum stream flows for fish cut off irrigation to the region's farmers, an action that sparked numerous conflicts until federal police were posted to guard the gate.

Now, Interior Secretary Gale Norton is asking for independent analysis of the situation. The National Academy of Sciences will review the methods and information used in the decision to withhold water from irrigation canals.

While many are asking for an explanation, some are hoping the report will force a hard look at the larger issue of limited resources in the West and too many users.

(SLUG: Euros)

Despite a flagging economy and budget shortfalls across the U-S, the dollar remains strong against other major currencies – most notably the Euro. The European Central Bank made an aggressive half-point cut this week in response to a sluggish economy in the European Union. Much like interest rate cuts in the U-S, the results of that action likely will not be felt for some time. The net effect is a weaker Euro which makes U-S goods more expensive in Europe and less competitive worldwide. That is bad news for export intensive sectors such as agriculture.

(SLUG: Moscow McDonald's)

Despite the gloom and doom of the world economic picture, McDonald's is still cashing in. The fast food giant is doing particularly well in Russia where the cut-throat fast food industry is expanding and other restaurants are failing.

This year, McDonald's expects to increase Russian food production by up to 30 percent. And the international burger chain will open 25 new restaurants across Russia.

Another rising opportunity for American farmers may be Taiwan. The island nation's likely entry into the world trade organization means trade barriers will be lowered. That, coupled with the fact the country's meat industry is still reeling from a devastating outbreak of hoof and mouth disease a few years ago, means more purchase of meat from abroad is likely. American pork and poultry producers are especially likely to pick up sales. But on the downside, Taiwanese demand for American grain will likely fall.

Tags: agriculture crops drought economy European Union fish news Russia water weather