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Horse breeders get $483-K gift from feds

They didn't all ride into town on some of the 900,000 horses in Canada, but 150 members of Equine Canada were camped out in Winnipeg this week for the 19,000-member association's annual meetings.

They received a nice kicker from Ottawa when newly minted Conservative Provencher MP Ted Falk announced Equine Canada will receive $483,000 over three years from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to help breeders be more competitive in the international market.

Michael Arbour, chief financial officer of Equine Canada, said at one time, Canadians would have to travel outside the country to find the horse they were looking for.

"We want to focus on improving the export sale of Canadian horses," Arbour said. "There are breeding farms across the country and incoming missions from many countries."

A group of potential buyers from South Africa is expected in the coming weeks, and while it's not a large business in Canada -- exports totalled about $4.5 million in 2012 -- he said there is plenty of interest in expanding the export market.

Gary Gushuliak, a longtime Manitoba breeder and member of Equine Canada's industry committee, said Manitoba breeders have recently received interest from buyers as far away as China.

There are 1,700 members of the Manitoba Horse Council. Most of them are active in some form of horse competition, and president Geri Sweet said the council is trying to encourage more recreational horse owners to join the official voice of the industry.

 

Ebook publishers scrap discount ban

OTTAWA -- Four major publishers of electronic books have signed an agreement with the Competition Bureau that is expected to lower prices for consumers by 20 per cent or more.

The publishers have agreed to scrap clauses in their distribution contracts that keep ebook retailers from offering discounts.

The agreement follows an 18-month investigation into the ebook industry by the federal agency.

The bureau says the previous practice of banning discounts effectively reduced competition.

The deal covers Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster, which publish many of the bestselling ebooks.

The bureau says a similar move in the United States produced discounts of 20 per cent or more for consumers.

"This agreement should benefit Canadian consumers by lowering the price of ebooks in Canada," John Pecman, the federal commissioner of competition, said in a statement.

"Businesses operating in the digital economy must realize that anti-competitive activity will not be tolerated, whether it occurs in the physical world or the digital one."

Booknet Canada reported last year ebooks made up about 15 per cent of sales.

-- staff / The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 8, 2014 B7

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