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story.lead_photo.caption In this March 25, 2016, file photo, the sun sets over the Badger-Two Medicine area near Browning, Mont. U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says the Trump administration will appeal a federal court ruling that reinstated a lease for oil and gas drilling in the area. (Greg Lindstrom/Flathead Beacon via AP, File)

Argentina snapping up cheap U.S. soy

The world of soybean shipping has turned upside down thanks to the ongoing U.S.-China trade war.

Argentina, the No. 3 global soy grower, is making major purchases of U.S. supplies. A weekly measure of American shipments to the Latin American nation just rose to the highest in at least 35 years, U.S. government data showed Tuesday.

With China shunning U.S. supplies, the Asian country is soaking up oil seeds from everywhere else. Argentina usually processes its beans at home before sending soy meal and oil abroad. Now, enticed by China's voracious appetite and a changed domestic tax structure, the country is shipping more raw soy, with some analysts predicting exports could quadruple.

In order to feed its domestic soy-crushing industry, Argentina is increasingly turning to imports, especially after a drought earlier this year hurt crops. Meanwhile, U.S. oil-seed supplies have gotten relatively cheap. With China out of the market, demand for American beans has turned lackluster at a time when harvests are booming, signaling a surge in inventories and lower prices. That's good news for Argentine buyers.

In the week ended Nov. 8, 249,278 metric tons of U.S. soybeans that are earmarked for Argentina were inspected and weighed for export. That's the highest since the U.S. Department of Agriculture data begins in 1983. For the 2018-2019 season, Argentina-bound soy is close to 1 million tons, compared with none for the previous year.

-- Bloomberg News

U.S. sides with tribes in drilling dispute

BILLINGS, Mont. -- President Donald Trump's administration plans to appeal a federal court ruling that would allow oil and gas drilling on land considered sacred to American Indian tribes in Montana and Canada, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Tuesday.

Zinke said it would be inappropriate to allow drilling in northwestern Montana's Badger-Two Medicine area, site of the creation story for the Blackfoot tribes. He's asked government attorneys to appeal a September ruling that reinstated a nearly 10-square-mile oil and gas lease in the area bordering the Blackfeet Reservation and Glacier National Park.

The lease had been canceled under President Barack Obama at the urging of the tribes and environmentalists before it was reinstated by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon.

"I have tremendous respect for the Blackfeet Nation and strongly believe resource development in these most sacred of lands would be inappropriate," Zinke said in a Tuesday interview with The Associated Press.

An appeal will pit Zinke's agency against an oil and gas company's development plans -- a relatively uncommon position for the pro-energy Trump administration.

Lease owner Solenex LLC of Baton Rouge had urged Zinke to uphold its drilling rights.

-- The Associated Press

Michigan man gives Mayo Clinic $200M

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A corporate strategist from Michigan has given Mayo Clinic its largest gift ever -- $200 million.

The Rochester-based medical center announced Tuesday that its School of Medicine will be named for the philanthropist, Jay Alix, of Birmingham, Mich. He also has been named to the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees.

Alix said his interest in Mayo began in the 1980s when he studied its business model as he was creating what would become AlixPartners, his consulting firm. The Alix Foundation has given Mayo millions of dollars in recent years toward improving its clinical care. The latest record gift is aimed at helping prepare the medical school for the future and make medical education more affordable.

Alix said he is concerned about the rising costs of medical education driving away potential doctors. He also wants to help Mayo prepare the medical school for the future.

"We're going to need a lot more doctors and we'll need those doctors to be the best and the brightest," Alix said.

The cost of medical school at Mayo is about $50,000 per year. The endowment will increase scholarships to lower the cost of attending the medical school.

-- The Associated Press

Pink diamond auctioned for over $50M

GENEVA -- Christie's sold the "Pink Legacy" diamond at auction Tuesday for more than $50 million including fees, saying it's a new world record price per carat for a pink diamond.

Christie's said that renowned jeweler Harry Winston was the buyer. The auction house had expected to fetch $30 million to $50 million for the nearly 19-carat, rectangular-cut stone, the largest fancy vivid pink diamond that it has ever put under the hammer.

It was the standout offering at Christie's fall jewelry auction in Geneva. The standing-room only ballroom broke into applause after the auctioneer struck down a hammer price of $44.5 million. That excludes the standard "buyer's premium" and other fees.

The stone once belonged to the Oppenheimer diamond family, and Christie's says it's among the most chemically pure gems.

-- The Associated Press

Petco shifting to all-natural pet foods

SAN DIEGO -- Pet retailer Petco pledged Tuesday to stop selling all dog and cat food items containing artificial colors, flavors and preservatives by May, throwing out millions in annual sales in the process.

The decision, spearheaded by new Chief Executive Officer Ron Coughlin, is indicative of a broader commitment to pet health, and is meant to push the privately held business back in front of pet owners who treat -- and feed -- their animals as members of the family, the company said.

"As we set our future strategy, nutrition was a big part of it. We looked each other in the eyes and said, 'How do we make sure that we're actually leading and doing the right thing for pets?'" Coughlin said in an interview.

Starting in January, Petco will discontinue dog and cat food and treats containing any one of more than 50 artificial ingredients, including dyes and chemical substances. The list extends to substances that add color or flavor to foods through artificial means, and chemical preservatives that slow food spoilage, deterioration or discoloration.

Brands affected by the decision include well-known names such as Pedigree and Cat Chow, though the pet retailer is working with suppliers to encourage them to switch to natural ingredients. Petco expects to complete its food overhaul by May with the exception of titanium dioxide in Pro Plan and Science Diet Urinary formulas for cats. The company says there is no suitable, artificial-free formula for the health problem, which 10 percent of cats have.

-- The San Diego Union-Tribune

Business on 11/14/2018

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