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Published February 13, 2012, 10:04 AM

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Bovine TB credit passes

By: Agweek Wire Reports, Agweek

Bovine TB credit passes

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota House agriculture committee Feb. 9 approved restoring a property tax credit for northwestern Minnesota farmers in an area affected by bovine tuberculosis. Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, says 22 farmers cannot raise cattle in the area, even after the federal government declared Minnesota to be TB free. Those and other farmers have been receiving a tax credit after their cattle herds were destroyed to prevent the spread of TB. Once Washington declared the emergency over, other farmers could return to cattle production. However, State Veterinarian Bill Hartmann told the committee that the state Department of Natural Resources continues to monitor deer in the area for TB, and to make sure deer do not transmit the disease to cattle, the 22 farmers cannot repopulate their herds. Rep. Rick Hanson, DFL-South St. Paul, opposes extending the tax break. “You are asking for general fund dollars for private business,” he says. But Fabian says the farmers have the same problems they have had for the years that they received tax credits: government not allowing them to raise cattle on their land. Rep. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, says that the successful effort to contain TB helped the entire state, so the farmers deserve state aid. Hartmann says the farmers may be able to raise cattle again in a year if no deer in the area are found with TB.

Advocates want tougher penalty for animal cruelty

BISMARCK, N.D. — Animal advocates plan to start an initiative campaign to toughen North Dakota’s penalties against animal cruelty. Under current law, the most severe penalty for animal abuse is a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. The proposed ballot measure would make cruelty to dogs, cats and horses a potential felony. Violations would have a maximum punishment of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The proposal would give judges authority to order a mental evaluation in cruelty cases. People convicted of abuse could be barred from owning pets for five years. Animal advocates tried to push a similar proposal through the Legislature last year. It was rejected. The Animal Legal Defense Fund says North Dakota has one of the nation’s most lenient punishments for animal cruelty.

Senate panel approves watershed districts bill

PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Feb. 7 gave unanimous support to a bill that would create certain watershed districts in the James River valley to deal with continued water problems caused by increased moisture in the state over the past few years. Senate Bill 169 was passed by a vote of 9-0 in the Senate committee. If it gets approval by the full Legislature, SB 169 will establish the James River Watershed District, which “may include any conservation district, or any watershed district that is formed under any conservation district, located in (South Dakota’s) Aurora, Beadle, Bon Homme, Brown, Clark, Davison, Day, Douglas, Edmunds, Faulk, Hand, Hanson, Hutchinson, Hyde, Jerauld, Kingsbury, Marshall, McCook, McPherson, Miner, Sanborn, Spink and Yankton counties,” according to the language of the bill. The watershed district, if formed, would have taxing authority to raise funds to pay for projects that will help deal with the water problems. It would be made up of a board of managers who would come from conservation or watershed districts which vote to be included in the regional watershed district. The bill was amended in the Senate committee to also establish a Regional Watershed Advisory Task Force that would advise the watershed district on “matters relating to drainage, erosion, flood control, reclamation, environmental protection, and improvement of lands, soils, waters, and all other authorized purposes,” according to the amendment. The bill will move to the Senate floor for consideration at a later date.

Briefly . . .

Truck crash: The Montana Highway Patrol says a truck carrying a load of beehives from Minnesota to California crashed in south-central Montana, spilling the hives and wrecking the truck. The driver was not injured. Trooper Jerry Perman says the crash happened at about 10 p.m. Feb. 6 on Interstate 94 just east of Pompeys Pillar, Mont. Perman says the trucker told him he reached down to get a bag of chips off the floor and when he looked up there was a deer in the road. He swerved and went into the median. Perman hadn’t decided Feb. 6 if he would cite the driver. The wrecking company asked that a beekeeper be called to the scene. Perman says he didn’t think stinging bees would be a problem, given the freezing weather.

Indiana winter wheat: A Purdue University agronomist says Indiana’s winter wheat crop is healthy and on track despite wet weather at planting time last fall. Those wet fields have slightly reduced the state’s wheat acreage, though. Agronomist Herb Ohm says the wet fall delayed planting, but the mild winter has meant no substantial winter kill to the crop. Ohm says the state also hasn’t had many heavy rains that would have led to ponding in the fields. Overall, he says the wheat is in “excellent condition.” Indiana farmers have planted about 430,000 acres of winter wheat for 2012. A year ago, nearly 460,000 acres were planted.