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Grain talks resume with federal mediator

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Pacific Northwest grain terminal companies and the longshore union have resumed contract talks in hopes of averting a lockout.

A federal mediator joined the sides Tuesday and another session is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association had given longshoremen until Dec. 8 to accept its final offer, but the deadline passed without a lockout.

The association includes the owners of terminals in Portland, Vancouver, Wash., and the Puget Sound. The contract with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union expired Sept. 30.

Other Northwest terminals — based in the Washington cities of Longview and Kalama — operate under separate agreements with the ILWU.

A quarter of all U.S. grain exports move through Northwest grain terminals. A work stoppage would affect farmers from as far away as the Midwest.