Although feed grain prices moved marginally higher this week, the long-range forecast for price improvement is bleak. The South American crop likely will be significant ... and USDA reports more than half of the current U.S. corn and soybean crops are in good to excellent shape.
Beef prices also are feeling some pressure as the summer grilling season draws to a close ... and news of a major recall strikes the nation's largest beef packer.
Just as Americans fire-up their barbecues for Labor Day weekend, a major meat supplier is recalling half-a-million pounds of ground beef.
I-B-P, the nation's largest beef processor, announced the voluntary recall on Wednesday, saying 500,000 pounds of beef may be contaminated with the deadly E.coli bacteria.
The tainted meat was processed August 7th at IBP's Dakota City, Nebraska plant. It was then shipped to distributors, wholesalers and grocers in 35 states and the District of Columbia.
It's estimated that more than thirty million motorists will be traveling this weekend. Many unwittingly may be taking MTBE with them.
A recent study of gas stations in three Midwestern states shows the fuel oxygenate methyl tertiary butyl ether is present in many fuel supplies where the additive is NOT required. Oxygenates such as MTBE are required in some cities to help gasoline burn cleaner.
More than 200 samples were collected from Indiana, Michigan and Illinois. Nearly three-fourths of the fuel samples revealed the existence of MTBE. And in 40 percent of the stations, the concentration was what researchers deemed significant -- 500 parts per million. One OUNCE of MTBE can contaminate 240 thousand GALLONS of water. The E-P-A has mandated elimination of MTBE by the end of 2002 because of cancer concerns.
Petroleum industry leaders suggest MTBE is present because of its use as an octane booster in premium gasoline. Researchers also blame residual MTBE in tankers, storage facilities and pipes for the widespread occurrence of the oxygenate.
The Army Corps of Engineers on Friday backed away from a plan to alter the flow of the Missouri River. The change prompted criticism from environmentalists, who accused the Corps of sacrificing conservation for business interests.
Environmentalists, backed by a Fish and Wildlife Service report, say changing the flow of the river is the only way to save several endangered species along the river. But barge and agriculture interests say the change would cost them millions.
The Corps says it's now looking at a half-dozen other options to best satisfy all users of the nation's longest waterway.