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For the USDA, all that grain on the plain is a very big strain.

Bumper crops grow more certain with each day of perfect farm-belt weather. And the Soviets show no signs of returning to the US market after six months of shopping elsewhere. One possibile solution is to barter some US-government grain stocks in exchange for Venezuelan or Nigerian crude oil.

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With grain elevators filling fast, Agriculture Secretary Block is expected to end a series of meetings with grain traders by announcing new regulations for grain storage. USDA officials are pushing for rule changes to allow storage in sealed ''flexible-membrane bunker systems.''

What's FMBS, you ask? Giant plastic bags. The change could bring a bonanza for the US companies that have been selling the giant bags in Australia.

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