Court Costs Sought

From Tobacco Firms

The Justice Department asked the judge who presided over a nine-month civil racketeering trial of cigarette makers to order them to pay some costs of trying the case.

Justice Department lawyers, in a filing yesterday, asked U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler in Washington to require Altria Group Inc.'s Philip Morris USA and other tobacco companies to reimburse the government for court transcripts, witness payments and other fees.

The government spent about $135 million from 1999, when the suit was filed, through 2004, according to figures the department released at the start of the trial. The figure includes costs not eligible for reimbursement under the rules.

Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller would not specify the amount the government seeks to have reimbursed.

Altria spokesman John Sorrells declined to comment on the government's request, saying he had not read it.

Mo. Farmers Eligible

For Drought Relief

Farmers throughout Missouri are eligible for low-interest federal loans because drought has devastated state crops this summer, the Agriculture Department said.

The Midwest is suffering through its worst drought since 1988. The lack of rain has withered corn and soybean crops, and sent grain barges aground in the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

The Agriculture Department declared 112 Missouri counties as primary disaster areas. Farmers in the state's other two counties -- Atchison and Holt -- are also eligible for the loans because the counties are contiguous to the primary disaster area.

The department also said farmers in the Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky and Tennessee counties that border Missouri are eligible for federal disaster loans.

-- From News Services