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Talks Under Way on Japanese Restrictions on Beef Imports

May 3, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Last-minute talks are under way over U.S. demands for an end to Japanese curbs on beef imports, with American officials set for another effort to bring the dispute before an international panel if the discussions fail.

The United States plans to try to bring the dispute before the council of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in Geneva on Wednesday unless there is a break in the negotiations before then.

Japanese Agriculture Minister Takashi Sato has been in Washington since last Wednesday for talks with U.S. Trade Representative Clayton K. Yeutter.

Japan blocked formation of a GATT panel when the United States sought to bring the dispute before that body on April 8. A repeat of that move most likely would spur pressure for retaliation within the administration.

At issue are how long it should take to lower import curbs, how much beef should be imported in any interim period, what changes will be made in Japan’s purchasing and distribution system, which currently is controlled by that country’s livestock industry, and a surcharge that Tokyo wants to impose in exchange for future market opening.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - A $6.88 million campaign to boost ice cream eating by Americans is being launched by the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board.

Financed through fees paid by the nation’s dairy farmers, the advertisements already are under way and are scheduled to run on the airwaves and in publications through the summer.

″Ice Cream. The treat that treats you good,″ is the slogan for the 14- week campaign designed to boost consumption of ice cream beyond its current level of 18 pounds a year for the typical American.

″Consumers don’t give ice cream credit for being a wholesome dairy product,″ said Joseph Westwater, chief executive office of the National Dairy Board. ″For the advertising campaign, we developed a strategy which reinforces the positive elements of ice cream, including the element of dairy wholesomeness.″

Television spots feature ″appetizing food visuals, such as a luscious scoop of vanilla ice cream emerging from a pool of pure milk,″ according to a statement released by the board.

There’s another side to the story.

″One of the worst things you can do for your health is eat more saturated fat,″ said nutritionist Bonnie Liebman of the Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest. ″And ice cream is loaded with it.″

Saturated fat converts into cholesterol in the blood, contributing to heart problems when arteries become clogged.

Ms. Liebman said two-thirds of a cup of standard ice cream includes 9.3 grams, or two teaspoons, of fat, 64 percent of which is saturated fat. A similar serving of rich ice cream contains 15.8 grams, or three and a half teaspoons.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Many farm banks are awash in deposits and actively looking for borrowers, according to an analysis prepared by the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service.

Thirty-five percent of banks considered vulnerable to failure are in the agricultural category, down from 41 percent last year, the outlook report said. The proportion of vulnerable banks based in farm counties has dropped from 28 percent to 26 percent, it added.

″As a result, agricultural bank failures are forecast to be down somewhat in 1988,″ the report said. ″This reflects the improvement in the financial condition of the farm sector, although there still is a substantial number of weak farm banks.″

Out of 202 bank failures nationwide last year, 75 were classified as agricultural and 98 as rural. Agricultural banks are ones with an above- average number of farm loans. Rural banks are those located in non- metropolitan counties.

Twelve agricultural banks failed through the first three months of this year and 18 rural banks out of a total of 54 failures nationwide, the report said.

It said bank failures are increasingly concentrated in the energy-producing states of the Southwest and have become less common in the Corn Belt and Northern Plains states since the worst of the doldrums in the farm economy in the early 1980s.

Severe debt problems for farmers began to subside in 1985, the analysis said. However, conditions for the nation’s 4,700 agricultural banks lagged behind the non-banking economy, a normal occurrence.

Aggressive searching for potential borrowers now is seen among some banks that have plenty of deposits, according to the report.

In some areas hard hit by bank failures, however, farmers still may have a tough time obtaining loans, it said. Some healthy banks in such areas may restrict cash to be prepared for sudden withdrawals or to cultivate a reassuring image.

Banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. are unlikely to impose such restrictions, the analysis said. But it also cautioned that some banks - those allowed to remain open but having little equity left to lose - ″have strong incentives to gamble for recovery by making high-risk, potentially high-return loans.″

″The weak banks are protected from depositors’ fears by federal deposit insurance and do not pay more for the insurance coverage when they increase their risk exposure,″ it said.

That means getting loans may be easier for high-risk farm borrowers who go to weak banks, the outlook report said.

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