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Published September 10, 2012, 11:50 AM

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Japanese company building grain elevator in ND, Crystal union members picket board members, Mediation service available for disaster assistance

Japanese company building grain elevator in ND

BUCYRUS, N.D. — A Japanese conglomerate is building a new grain elevator in southwest North Dakota, giving the company easier access to the wheat Japan already imports from the upper Great Plains. Jim Peterson, marketing director for the North Dakota Wheat Commission, says Japan buys about 24 million bushels of the state’s hard red spring wheat annually. “Japan has a huge amount at stake in North Dakota production,” Peterson says. United Grain Corp., an exporter of wheat, corn and soybeans and a part of Mitsui & Co. Inc., is building an $18 million grain elevator near Bucyrus, about 60 miles south of Dickinson. It will be capable of storing 1 million bushels of grain, and Tony Flagg, United Grain President, expects to be able to load 25 to 30 shuttle trains annually. Mitsui also is building new elevators at Conrad and Culbertson in Montana, Flagg says. The company already runs a grain elevator west of Billings, Mont., and United Grain operates an export facility in Vancouver, Wash. The new elevator will give North Dakota farmers another option for selling their grain and could improve the prices they receive, Flagg says.

Crystal union members picket board members

CROOKSTON, Minn. — As the American Crystal Sugar lockout drags into its 13th month, union members are taking the fight to the doorstep of the company’s directors. Locked-out workers demonstrated in front of the homes of Crystal directors last week, in a bid to drive home the lockout’s human toll. “We can’t let board members live in ivory towers when it’s under their control,” says Todd Anderson, an AFL-CIO leader who is helping coordinate the demonstrations. “In the morning and in the evening, they should have to look a locked-out worker in the face.” Workers are gathering in groups of two to six in multiple locations to begin and end the work day, Anderson says. He adds that the demonstrations are not meant to overwhelm neighborhoods with protests or picket lines. “It’s more of a vigil,” he says. He says the demonstrations will continue indefinitely. Workers were outside five homes in Crookston, Ada and East Grand Forks in Minnesota and Drayton and Minto in North Dakota.

Mediation service available for disaster assistance

BISMARCK, N.D. — North?Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says the North Dakota Mediation Service can help eligible North Dakota farmers and ranchers deal with the necessary paperwork for newly announced, federal disaster assistance. Producers can contact their local FSA office to learn more about these loans and their eligibility and can call NDMS at 800-642-4752 for additional assistance. Producers have eight months to apply for an FSA emergency loan. Goehring says the Farm and Ranch Disaster Relief Loan Program through the Bank of North Dakota is again available for farmers and ranchers in drought emergency areas.

NBA addresses commitment to bison genetics

WESTMINSTER, COLO. — New informational materials available from the National Bison Association set the record straight regarding the presence of cattle genetics in bison herds in the United States. A new fact sheet titled “What’s all the Bull About Crossing Bison and Beef?” explains the commitment that today’s ranchers have to the integrity of bison genetics and also provides information regarding events that occurred as bison teetered on the brink of extinction in the late 1800s. As explained in the new fact sheet, DNA tests on more than 30,000 bison conducted by Texas A&M University in recent years have found evidence of cattle genetics in roughly 6 percent of the animals tested. The traces of cattle genetics in some bison are largely the result of a brief experiment conducted by five ranchers who helped gather up the remnants of the once-vast bison herds in the late 1800s, according to the fact sheet. “Some of those ranchers experimented briefly with crossing bison with cattle in the hope of creating a hearty crossbreed. They discovered instead that the crossbred animals were highly infertile, had problems calving and generally performed poorly,” the fact sheet notes. Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association, says the new educational materials were developed to clear up confusion for bison consumers. “Mother Nature spent thousands of years perfecting this animal to be an integral part of the environment and the diet of the people of North America. Our association’s code of ethics explicitly prohibits members from crossbreeding bison with other species because we know that bison should be bison.”

USDA designates 7 ND counties as disaster areas

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated seven counties in North Dakota as primary natural disaster areas because of damages and losses caused by the recent drought. The counties are Barnes, Grand Forks, Nelson, Trail, Cass, Griggs and Steele. “Our hearts go out to those North Dakota farmers and ranchers affected by the recent natural disasters,” says U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling North Dakota producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.” Farmers and ranchers in some counties in North Dakota also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties includes Benson, LaMoure, Richland, Eddy, Ramsey, Stutsman, Foster, Ransom and Walsh. Farmers and ranchers in Clay, Marshall, Norman and Polk counties in Minnesota also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

— Agweek Wire Reports