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BRIEFS $2 billion sought in farm disaster aid

WASHINGTON -- Farm-state lawmakers are seeking more than $2 billion in election-year disaster aid to supplement the higher crop subsidies provided by the new farm bill.

The disaster assistance, which was stripped from the final version of the farm bill, would cover weather-related crop losses in 2001. Lawmakers may seek additional money for losses this year from a drought that continues over parts of the Great Plains.

The aid could be added to a supplemental spending bill that the Senate Appropriations Committee will take up as early as next week. The Senate Agriculture Committee also is considering writing a disaster bill of its own.

The new farm bill increased subsidy rates for crops such as wheat and corn and created a new program to provide supplemental payments when commodity prices fall below certain levels. The bill is expected to cost about $190 billion over 10 years.

Antibody company to spend $210 million in Minnesota

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WASHINGTON -- Protein Design Labs Inc. expects to spend $10 million to improve a Minnesota manufacturing plant and $200 million to build a new plant in that state, according to the company's quarterly report.

The biotechnology company will spend about $10 million on improvements to its Plymouth facility. It plans initial commercial supplies of leukemia antibody Zamyl and perhaps other products at the facility.

Protein Design also said it bought 29 acres of land in Brooklyn Park in March and is negotiating to build a new manufacturing plant on the property. If the project goes forward, Protein Design expects to spend about $200 million over three years, according to the report filed Monday with federal regulators.

Fremont, Calif.-based Protein Design develops human and humanized antibodies to prevent and treat viral diseases, cancers and cardiovascular conditions.

A special name for Kmart e-commerce

DETROIT -- At a time when the bankrupt Kmart Corp. is fighting hard to win back customers, its long-struggling BlueLight.com e-commerce arm is about to change its name to Kmart.com.

Despite the bad press about its owner's executive salaries, inventory problems and technology miscues, BlueLight officials say consumer tests show greater acceptance of the Kmart name.

Richard Blunck, BlueLight's CEO, says the site will become Kmart.com by fall. The Internet dial-in service used by about 100,000 people will retain the BlueLight.com name.

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"People know the Kmart name," Blunck said, "but are less sure of the BlueLight name when it comes to online shopping. We believe this will draw more people to our site with less confusion."

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