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Published October 08, 2012, 11:44 AM

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AFL-CIO endorses American Crystal boycott, North Dakota livestock producers on the look out for anthrax and South Dakota horse owner offers reward in hair theft.

By: Agweek wire reports, Agweek

AFL-CIO endorses boycott of American Crystal Sugar

•WASHINGTON — The AFL-CIO has endorsed a nationwide consumer boycott of American Crystal Sugar Co. products to protest its 14-month lockout of union workers. The labor federation said the boycott begins Oct. 15, but will be called off if the company returns to bargaining and concludes a contract with about 1,300 workers in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa who have been locked out since August 2011. Richard Trumka, AFLCIO president, said they hope the boycott encourages Crystal Sugar to respect the workers who made it an industry leader. The Moorhead, Minn.-based sugar beet processor has offered a 17 percent pay increase during five years but is seeking concessions on seniority and job security that union workers have rejected. No new talks are scheduled. The company is operating with replacement workers.

ND livestock producers warned of anthrax danger

•BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s top animal health official is warning livestock producers in areas with a history of anthrax to protect their animals from the disease. “A case of anthrax has just been confirmed in Stark County,” says Susan Keller, state veterinarian. “Cattle producers should be sure their animals are current on vaccinations.” The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at North Dakota State University confirmed the diagnosis of anthrax in a beef cow. It is the first confirmed case of anthrax recorded in the state this year. Keller says an effective anthrax vaccine is readily available through licensed veterinarians. “Producers should contact their veterinarians to determine when and if their animals should be vaccinated and that their boosters are up to date,” she says. “They should also monitor their herds for unexpected deaths and report them to their veterinarians. Keller says dry pastures and short grass in some parts of the state are ideal conditions for livestock to ingest anthrax spores and develop the disease. Anthrax has been most frequently reported in northeast, southeast and south central North Dakota, but it has been suspected in almost every part of the state. The state usually records a few anthrax cases every year, but in 2005, the disease killed more than 500 head of cattle, bison, horses, sheep, llamas and farmed deer and elk. “Thanks to efforts by veterinarians and extension agents to encourage producers to vaccinate their animals, we saw a dramatic reduction in livestock deaths the following years,” says Keller. “We need to keep up that vaccination effort to prevent another major outbreak.” The bacteria Bacillus anthracis causes anthrax. Spores of the bacteria lie dormant in the ground and become active under ideal conditions, such as heavy rainfall, flooding and drought. When animals graze or consume forage or water contaminated with spores, they can possibly develop anthrax. Information: www.nd.gov/ndda/disease/anthrax.

No timeline for reopening of XL meat plant

•No timeline is in place for the XL meat plant in Alberta to reopen. The plant has been closed because of E. coli contamination. Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says it hopefully will open within a short amount of time, but says he first needs written confirmation from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that the plant is safe. The Canadian-owned XL plant in southern Alberta has a slaughter capacity of about 5,000 cattle a day and the closure could soon have a major impact on the cattle industry. Alberta Premier Alison Redford says that every day it’s closed makes a difference. More products are added to the recall list almost daily. Members of Parliament held an emergency debate Oct. 3 to address the issue.

SD beef plant may conduct test slaughter soon

•ABERDEEN, S.D. — A long-delayed South Dakota beef-processing plant is ready for a test run, an indication it is making progress toward opening. Aberdeen, S.D., city officials have issued Northern Beef Packers a temporary certificate of occupancy, which will allow the plant to slaughter up to five cattle to test its equipment. Brett Bill, Aberdeen planning and zoning director, says the plant would need a permanent certificate of occupancy and some other permits before it can begin full processing. Land for the $109 million plant was secured in 2006, but problems — financial issues, lawsuits, local opposition, delinquent property taxes, liens, flooding, an economic downturn — have repeatedly pushed back the opening date. The plant initially will process about 200 cattle a day, eventually ramping up to 1,500 head a day from the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. Bill says Aberdeen building inspectors have been at the plant daily for the past month to assist crews with questions about building code requirements. The plant has made substantial progress in construction and equipment installation, which was required to receive the temporary certificate of occupancy, Bill says. Robin Bobzien, Aberdeen’s public works director, says Northern Beef has all the water hookups in place. The plant has not yet completed all the necessary testing for wastewater or received its wastewater permit, but the processing of a few head of cattle does not require that permit, he says. The American News reports that the company has paid all but one of 39 liens filed against it. In the past, Northern Beef has not paid all its contractors.

SD horse owner offers reward in hair theft

•RAPID CITY, S.D. — A South Dakota horse owner is offering a $2,000 reward for information about the theft of mane and tail hair from his 10-year-old palomino mare. T.J. Aisenbrey says his horse, Sundance, had her flaxen mane and tail hair cut for the second time in a month and a half. The report comes as Wyoming officials are investigating an estimated 100 cases of horsehair thefts in several counties. Aisenbrey’s horse is housed in a paddock and barn on the western edge of Rapid City. The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office has no suspects in the case.

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