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Published July 23, 2012, 11:37 AM

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Opening of S.D. beef processing plant put on hold, Reward increases for information on cattle deaths

By: Agweek Wire Reports, Agweek

Opening of S.D. beef processing plant put on hold

•ABERDEEN, S.D. — The long-awaited opening of a $110 million beef processing plant in northeastern South Dakota has been delayed. Northern Beef Packers officials had hoped to open the Aberdeen plant on July 14. Laure Swanson, a spokeswoman for the company, tells the Aberdeen American News that a new opening date has not been set. The project kicked off in 2006, but financial issues, lawsuits, local opposition, delinquent property taxes, flooding, an economic downturn and millions of dollars in liens have repeatedly pushed back the plant’s opening. The 420,000-square-foot facility on Aberdeen’s south side will initially process about 200 cattle a day, eventually ramping up to 1,500 head per day from North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. The plant is expected to employ 560 people.

Reward increases for information on cattle deaths

•FARGO, N.D. — The reward fund for a cattle shooting near Hankinson, N.D., in May has grown to $4,100. The fund was started after 13 cows and a calf were gunned down in David Kluge’s pasture near the North Dakota and South Dakota border. The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association says it recently received $500 donations from Ransom Angus of Rutland, N.D., Sundance Farm Distributing of Hankinson, Wade and Lynn Moser of Bismarck, N.D., and Leona Bush of Bismarck. Richard Clise of Camano Island, Wash., was the first person to contribute to the fund. He gave $1,000. A $10,000 reward is being offered in a separate Oliver County case where nine head of cattle were shot. The owners of those animals put up $9,000. The stockmen’s group offers a standing $1,000 reward in cases of livestock criminals.

First station in the nation offers E15 in Kansas

•LAWRENCE, Kan. — The nation’s first E15 (15 percent ethanol/85 percent gasoline) gallons are being sold at the Zarco 66 “Oasis” station in Lawrence, Kan. Plans to offer E15 at the nation’s second retail station, the Zarco 66, in Ottawa, Kan., are nearly complete. On June 8, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave final approval for the sale and use of E15 ethanol blends in light-duty vehicles made since 2001. This represents nearly two-thirds of all vehicles on the road and nearly three-fourths of all miles driven. Given present market conditions, E15 will sell for less than E10 and gasoline not containing ethanol. More broadly, a recent study from the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development found the use of 13.9 billion gallons of ethanol in 2011 lowered average gasoline prices by $1.09 per gallon nationally and by $1.69 per gallon in Midwestern states such as Kansas. “Alternatives to gasoline are critically important to our nation’s energy future and Americans deserve to have a choice of cost-competitive fuel at the pump,” says Scott Zaremba, owner of Zarco 66 stations. “With the help of the Kansas Corn Commission, East Kansas Agri-Energy, and the Renewable Fuels Association, we are pleased to be the first to offer consumers real choice at the pump in the form of E15 ethanol fuel.”

S.D. governor activates state Drought Task Force

•PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard activated the state Drought Task Force on July 17 to monitor worsening drought conditions across much of South Dakota. The task force will have its first meeting July 23 in Pierre. The group will coordinate the exchange of drought information among government agencies and agriculture, fire and water-supply organizations. The task force will also monitor the effect of drought on economic sectors of the state.“We have been closely tracking weather patterns, and the Drought Task Force will give us a forum to exchange facts and data so our citizens can count on having the most up-to-date information as they respond to the drought,” Daugaard says. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows all of South Dakota at least abnormally dry, with some areas in moderate drought and some in severe drought.

Federal judge says accused 4-H entrant can compete

•WHITE LAKE, S.D. — A 16-year-old White Lake, S.D., girl will be allowed to participate in 4-H while a federal lawsuit involving an alleged cheating scandal at last year’s South Dakota State Fair is settled. The lawsuit was filed against the state 4-H office by Greg Kroupa, of White Lake, on behalf of his daughter, Bayley, after she was banned from competition in October for allegedly showing a swine at the South Dakota State Fair that had been previously entered in a competition at the Missouri State Fair — a violation of the 4-H code of ethics. The Kroupas deny the claim. The girl’s father claims the ban could potentially mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money from national competitions, court documents say.

Judge Karen Schreier, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota, ordered 4-H not to interfere with Bayley’s participation in any of the club’s activities until “further order of the court.” But Schreier dismissed some of Kroupa’s claims for monetary relief against 4-H and two of its officials. A hearing on the motions was held June 8 in Sioux Falls, S.D., and both parties were allowed to submit supplemental briefs on the matters. The lawsuit relates to a swine named Moe that Bayley showed at the 2011 South Dakota State Fair. Moe received reserve grand honors and was named champion for his breed at the FFA show held at the end of the fair. Bayley received emails, text messages and Facebook messages from other 4-H members accusing her of not caring for Moe during the project season, court documents say. She told her parents, who informed 4-H officials of the situation, the documents add. The family claims they had no other contact with 4-H officials until they received a letter informing them Bayley was banned from 4-H. Dates for future hearings have not yet been scheduled.