Debt rating stays high, but outlook darkens
WASHINGTON – Fitch said Monday that it will keep its rating for long-term U.S. debt at the top AAA level, despite a congressional panel’s failure to agree on long-term deficit cuts. But it is lowering its outlook to negative.
The rating agency said it has less confidence in the federal government’s ability to take the necessary steps to rein in the deficit.
Idaho Forest Group buys Lewiston sawmill
Clearwater Paper Corp. has completed the sale of its Lewiston sawmill to Idaho Forest Group of Coeur d’Alene.
The $30 million transaction included the sawmill, planer mill, dry kilns and related assets, along with log and finished goods inventories and timber under contract.
As part of the sale, the two companies have entered into a long-term fiber supply agreement with the goal of delivering consistent supplies of chips and sawdust to Clearwater Paper’s Lewiston pulp mill from Idaho Forest Group mills.
Circus company settles animal cruelty case
VIENNA, Va. – The owner of the Ringling Bros. Circus has agreed to pay a $270,000 fine to settle allegations that it violated federal animal-welfare laws in its handling of elephants, tigers, zebras and other exotic animals.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the civil penalty announced Monday is the largest ever assessed against an animal exhibitor under the Animal Welfare Act.
Vienna-based Feld Entertainment said it does not admit to violating the law and agreed to the settlement as a cost of doing business to resolve its differences with the USDA.
Nestle to investigate child labor claims
VEVEY, Switzerland – The world’s biggest food company, Nestle SA, announced Monday it will work with a nonprofit group to investigate child labor on Ivory Coast cocoa farms that supply its factories, a new approach to a problem that has tarnished the industry for years.
Nestle says it is joining the Fair Labor Association, an international group that evolved out of a U.S. presidential task force in the Clinton White House, to probe cocoa fields that supply its products.
It’s the first time a food company has joined the FLA, which used the same approach with sweatshops when big-name apparel and shoe manufacturers wanted to overcome criticism over child labor in their operations.
Ivory Coast produces 35 percent of the world’s cocoa. Its coffee and cocoa sectors account for 15 percent of GDP. The nation’s cocoa production hit a record 1.48 million tons last year despite a political crisis that almost brought civil war.