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Global supply issue forces Rank Hovis to raise prices

first_imgRank Hovis, the miller, has announced a price rise, effective immediately. Flour has risen £34.38p a tonne, equivalent to 55p per 16kg bag.The last increase took place in early October last year and, prior to that, in August. Jon Tanner, Rank Hovis’ sales and marketing director, told British Baker: “The price of domestic and world wheats continues to rise. There are many reasons for the increase, including a poor UK harvest last year, which makes us all the more dependent on a good summer this year.”The root cause is global supply issues. These are exacerbated by wheat export taxes in several countries. Additionally the flow of money in and out of commodities does not help; it is estimated that speculators have added around 15-20% to the price.”He continued: “2008/9 world total wheat production is forecast at 645m tonnes. We need a record harvest; the world will be in trouble if we encounter weather events similar to last year, because, worldwide, we have the lowest stocks on record.”Tanner is due to leave Rank Hovis and the milling industry for another international job at the end of the month. Until a replacement is found, his role will be overseen by Gary Sharkey, head of wheat procurement.Sharkey told British Baker: “The wheat market is a continuously evolving picture due to the spread of harvests around the world and their cropping seasons, which take place every month of the year and change the dynamics. Global warming seems to be making a difference, because it appears to be causing extremes. There have been six years of drought in Australia, but also the worst flooding over here in July 2007 that we have seen for years. Using crops for biofuels is also an issue and must be addressed globally.”=== Wheat facts and figures ===* World wheat prices rose 120% last year* Excessive rain damaged UK and US crops* Drought curbed yields in Canada and Australia* In a good year, the UK can supply 80% of its own breadmaking wheatlast_img read more

The War on Public Lands

first_imgDan Ashe is at war. As Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, he has been on the frontlines for control of America’s public lands. That battle reached a radical new tipping point earlier this year when a mob of armed militants seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon that falls under Ashe’s jurisdiction. Even as an inherent optimist, Ashe had difficulty suppressing his outrage over the occupation.“I was angry. I was angry because Ammon Bundy and his cohorts were walking around the community, going to the Safeway and buying supplies and going to church on Sunday, and I wanted them in jail,” Ashe said in July. “But I tip my hat to the FBI. Their whole strategy was to ignore them. They said, ‘They’re way out there at the refuge, and we know that means a lot to you, but they’re isolated and they can’t really do any damage. We’re just going to ignore them and all the press is going to go away and they’re going to get frustrated.’ And they were right.“It was tragic that LaVoy Finicum was killed, but when you think about the loss of life that could have occurred, it could have ended a lot worse.”On the grand scale, of course, nothing has ended. And Ashe recognizes that all too well. Many Republican lawmakers have joined the armed militants in calling for the transfer of public lands out of federal ownership.Beyond the cascade of death threats to Oregon State Troopers, FBI, and federal officials in retaliation to Finicum’s death (he was shot by State Police when he ran a road block), beyond the blow to employee morale that left half the Malheur NWF workforce desiring to leave, and beyond even William Keebler’s thwarted attempt to blow up a Bureau of Land Management facility near Finicum’s grazing allotment in northwest Arizona, this most explosive manifestation of the public lands takeover effort to date is just another in a series of historic attempts to wrestle away the wild, open spaces initially set aside for the benefit and use of all Americans.caricature_of_ammon_bundyAmmon Bundy led the controversial armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.“This is an ideology and they are waging a campaign. They know what they’re doing,” Ashe said. “It’s closely related to this effort to divest millions of acres from the federal estate. And it’s not about giving it to the states so the states can be better managers of a recreational resource. It’s about converting that land and that resource to capital, to profit. So the [outdoors and conservation] community needs to recognize that. We have to get smarter. We have to have a better strategy than they have. Because right now, they’re winning. They’re doing what the conservation community used to do well—they’re putting together a long ground game, and they are changing the minds of voters on this issue. We have to get back to those basics. We have to be better at it than they are.”It does remain rare to see the fight over America’s public lands played out so vividly on the ground. The political arena has historically served as the battleground for well-funded special interest groups orchestrating attempts to usurp millions of acres of primarily Western lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service,  and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.Those politics have become increasingly evident as the push recently has made its way eastward, with nine state legislatures east of the Mississippi adopting language crafted by the shadowy American Legislative Exchange Council to pass, or attempt to pass, resolutions expressing support for the transfer of public lands out of federal ownership.On a national scale, groups like the American Lands Council, run by Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory and Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder, and the congressional Federal Land Action Group created by U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop and fellow Utah Rep. Chris Stewart, have been chipping away at more than a century of responsible American stewardship with a combination of legislation attempts and erosion of public support by confusing the issue for voters.Echoing the voices of militants in Oregon, Bishop says his group is working to “return these lands back to the rightful owners”—by taking them away from the American people.In July, the Republican National Committee upped the ante by approving a Party Platform that endorses the disposal of federal public lands, saying, “Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing for a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to states. We call upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the transfer of those lands.”If federal lands are transferred to states, they can more readily be sold or used by private and commercial interests.In addition to 10 states in the intermountain West and Alaska, anti-public land state legislators in Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia have jumped on board by crafting resolutions supporting the idea that our public lands should be turned over to the states. The potential transfer of some of the East’s most popular national public lands—the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail—along with vulnerable U.S. wildlife refuges and treasured national forests is growing incrementally closer to reality.Nothing is outside the realm of this movement.Bills still lingering in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced by Republican congressmen from Idaho and Alaska attempt to carve off up to 4 million acres of national forest per state, granting “advisory councils” comprised of county officials and extraction industries control over how our now public lands are managed. Just last summer, Bishop and fellow Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz also attempted to slip amendments into bills that would have defunded law enforcement programs of the U.S. Forest Service (and BLM) and disposed of the popular Vieques National Wildlife Refuge in Puerto Rico. The amendments were ultimately removed.The reality of the Republican platform, combined with the barrage of Republican-sponsored bills or amendments attempting to undercut protections for public lands in recent years, make it difficult not to frame this as a partisan issue. It isn’t, at least not uniformly. Despite the exclusive support of Republican lawmakers, voters from the party of Teddy Roosevelt have traditionally seen eye-to-eye with Democrats in their opposition to public land transfers. Public opinion nationwide has shown overwhelming support for conservation of national parks and public lands through the years, along with high opinions of federal land management agencies.Without a sustained counter-attack, however, folks like Ashe worry that the physical representation of 240 years of American democracy could disappear in a blink. And Republican land managers like Jim Caswell, Director of the BLM for 8 years under George W. Bush and a former National Forest supervisor in Idaho, agree.“I said, ‘It will never happen,’ for a long time, but now I’m not so sure,” Caswell said of the takeover attempts. “We’ve lost our public support. We’ve lost our constituency. People do not go to battle for us anymore.”More likely, that constituency has merely been misplaced as much of the voting public fails to recognize just what’s at stake. The 640 million acres of federally administered lands owned by the people, for the people, are managed for a variety of uses, ranging from livestock grazing and resource extraction to outdoor recreational opportunities like camping, hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, boating, skiing—even gatherings like the Burning Man festival.According to the Outdoor Industry Association, America’s public lands serve as the foundation of a $646 billion annual outdoor recreation economy, with 6.1 million Americans relying on the outdoor industry for employment. More than $80 million in annual tax revenue is spread among communities across the country, including about $1 million in northern Nevada during the weeklong Burning Man. The event’s economic ripple measured between $55-60 million in 2015.But rather than sustain the long-term economic benefits of federal lands, many state governments would rather sell national forests and parks through timber sales, mining, and outright transfer of public land to private and commerical interests. Idaho, for example, has sold off more than 1.7 million acres (41 percent) of the 4.2 million given to it by Congress at statehood. That’s an area roughly equal to the entire George Washington-Jefferson National Forest system liquidated to big corporations and other wealthy private interests.Economic analysis by multiple universities shows that the financial burden placed on states attempting to manage millions more acres of land transferred from federal agencies is likely to result in significant deficits, demanding more selloffs. Rest assured it won’t be a group of disgruntled cowboys buying up that property—or even Wilderness-restricted mountain bikers, for that matter. But like the rest of America, they’ve all got skin in the game.“If we lose our public lands heritage, we’ve lost a lot for a long, long time,” Caswell said. “We have to keep them public. They are worth fighting for.”last_img read more

Irvine: No fear of Baggies axe

first_img Press Association “I don’t think anybody who has been at the last two games can think we are miles away from getting a good result. “We need some goals.” The Baggies are 16th in the table, two points above the relegation zone, having won just one of their last nine games and Irvine knows it is his turn in the spotlight. “I think we have all be under the microscope,” said the 56-year-old, who is without injured captain Chris Brunt for the trip to the KC Stadium. “I have certainly been there at the start of the season when it was very much on me and people were questioning the appointment. “We came through that and everybody thought I was great, but I said at that time that if we lost a few games then they would probably think I was hopeless again. “That’s the way it goes. Is it on me again now? It hasn’t been but it might be at this moment. “Other people have been subjected to attention and criticism then. It was only last week I was defending Arsene Wenger, which was bizarre.” One thing that has not helped the Baggies during their recent poor run is that Saido Berahino seems to have lost his killer touch in front of goal. He has now gone five games without finding the back of the net, but Irvine has backed the 21-year-old to rediscover his predatory instincts. ”We have asked a lot of a young player. He had a very good start to the season, there was a lot of interest in him and a lot of talk about him,” he said. ”There’s been a lot of focus on a young player and he has handled it well overall but I don’t think anyone would have been surprised to see Saido dropping off a little bit, which is what has probably happened. ”I believe he will come back, he’s a good finisher and I really believe the goals will come again.” The Baggies head coach has thanked Peace for his support as he comes under increasing pressure from supporters. Albion have lost their last four games and go to fellow strugglers Hull in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday. Alan Irvine insists he does not fear the West Brom axe after meeting with chairman Jeremy Peace. Irvine is favourite for the sack with some bookies but, after talking with Peace, remains unconcerned. “I spoke to the chairman after training but not about that and he didn’t speak to me about that,” he said. “He was great. I went to see him about a completely different matter. “We spent 15 minutes just chatting over different things and he was great, as he has been all of the time. “I’m really grateful for the support he’s given me. “I understand the way things are in this job. There’s a short-term culture nowadays and, if it’s not Alan Pardew getting stick, as he was six or seven weeks ago, it’s somebody else. “If it’s me at this time, hopefully I will be able to get to the situation Alan is in because it wasn’t that long ago I was at Stoke hearing people calling for his head. “They are such fine margins. We are not too far away from getting good results. last_img read more

Regulator rejects Alliant request for smart meter charge

first_imgDES MOINES — State regulators say gas and electric customers of Alliant Energy will not have to pay a fee if they decide they don’t want to have a new high-tech meter.Iowa Utilities Board spokesman Don Tormey says Alliant proposed replacing old meters with what it calls an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) or smart meter program. They also proposed charging residential customers $15 if they didn’t want to switch to a new meter to pay the cost of manually reading the old meters.“So if customers had both electric and gas service through Alliant, the fee could potentially be 30 dollars a month,” Tormey says. Tormey says the Iowa Utilities Board investigated after getting complaints from customers when the proposed fee was announced. “A lot of those customers where in the areas of Decorah, Cedar Rapids and Fairfield — but there were customers in other areas as well,” Tormey says.The IUB investigated the complaints and held hearings on the issue and ruled against the proposed fee. “They noted that the meter reads were already included in base rates, so there should not be a fee at this time,” Tormey explains. “And then the board went on to explain exactly what they decided on regarding those proposed tariffs by Alliant. So, they’ve rejected the tariffs Alliant filed, they’ve asked them to file revised tariffs.”The smart meters use a wireless signal that gives the company the usage information without having to manually go to each meter. Tormey says the IUB ruling allows customers to keep their old analog meters. “They can keep that as long as the meter is functioning properly,” according to Tormey. “If it breaks down or needs to be replaced, they would have a choice at that time to get a non-transmitting meter — but it would still be a digital meter. And they would be able to opt out of having an AMI meter.”Tormey says the customers who filed a formal complaint will be getting a letter from the IUB explaining the board’s decision. The IUB order does not preclude Alliant from seeking a customer charge or fee for its opt-out tariff as part of future rate cases.last_img read more