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Published October 22, 2012, 10:53 AM

Latest news

Sugar beet harvest moves quickly, Tyson will audit treatment of animals, and NDSU's commodity trading lab opens.

By: Agweek staff and wire reports , Agweek

Sugar beet harvest speeds along

•FARGO, N.D. — Sugar beet harvest was stopped by rain at 77 percent complete for American Crystal Sugar Co., as of Oct. 19, says Cory Kritzberger, the company’s agricultural director. Farmers in the northern Drayton, N.D., factory district were 60 percent harvested, while those in the Moorhead, Minn., district were 100 percent harvested. “We’re hoping by (Oct. 22) we can get going again, if it quits raining and we can get some wind and sun,” Kritzberger says. The Moorhead-based co-op as a whole was coming in at 26.5 to 27 tons per acre, and sugar content was good at 19 percent. Beets going into storage are excellent quality, with low tares. The company has harvested an estimated 8.8 million tons. Farmers were allowed to increase harvest from an initial 73 percent, now up to 83 percent of preferred share acres. They had been allowed to plant 83 to 88 percent. Kritzberger says a frost-damaged canopy of beet tops means vulnerability. “Future frosts are going to be hard to manage,” he says. Meanwhile, Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative in Wahpeton, N.D., finished harvest on Oct. 18, and allowed growers to harvest every acre they planted. Yield averaged 26.5 tons per acre, and sugar averaged 19.07 tons. Slice could go into early May, putting the crop in the top three, historically. “It was a clean harvest,” says Tom Knudsen, Minn-Dak vice president for agriculture. “Let’s do it again next year.” He notes the region desperately needs rain, and that 2 inches had fallen since harvest — right on cue.

Ark.-based Tyson to audit treatment of animals

•LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The nation’s largest meat company, Tyson Foods Inc., says it’s launching an animal treatment audit of suppliers’ farms. The news comes as animal welfare activists have been pressuring Tyson to move away from cramped cages for pregnant pigs. But the company says its latest move is not in response to actions from the Humane Society of the United States or other organizations. Tyson president and CEO Donnie Smith says the company knows consumers want assurances that their food is being produced responsibly. Tyson says auditors will check on such things as animal access to food and water, as well as proper human-animal interaction and worker training. Tyson is supplied by more than 12,000 independent livestock and poultry farmers.

Locked-out American Crystal workers demonstrate outside businesses

•GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Locked-out workers took their dispute with American Crystal Sugar Co. to a new level Oct. 15, demonstrating outside businesses in Grand Forks and Fargo, N.D., that sell the company’s products, urging the public to participate in a boycott. In Grand Forks, demonstrations were held at the Hugo’s supermarket on 32nd Avenue South. A similar demonstration was held in front of a Hornbacher’s store in Fargo. The lockout of Crystal has lasted more than a year. The company has plants in East Grand Forks, Crookston and Moorhead in Minnesota and Drayton and Hillsboro in North Dakota. Brian Ingulsrud, American Crystal’s vice president of administration, says the company is focusing on its replacement workers, and believes its offer to union workers was a fair one.

Minn. farmer fined $585 in raw milk case

•GAYLORD, Minn. — A Minnesota dairy farmer has been fined $585 for selling unpasteurized milk under a plea deal that ended his long-running legal battle with the state. Michael O. Hartmann, 59, of rural Gibbon, pleaded guilty Oct. 15 to just two misdemeanor counts out of an original nine that alleged he continued to sell unpasteurized milk and other dairy and meat products contaminated with E. coli and other pathogens despite an embargo and other state efforts to stop him. Hartmann was fined $585, placed on six months unsupervised probation and ordered to comply with all state licensing and labeling laws within 60 days. Charges and warrants for Hartmann’s wife, Diane, his brother Roger, and a woman who allegedly helped distribute his products were dismissed. Assistant Sibley County Attorney Don Lannoye says his office didn’t charge Hartmann with felonies because he didn’t believe Hartmann intentionally harmed anyone.

Custom harvester from Kan. charged with felony in ND

•HAZELTON, N.D. — A custom combiner from Kansas faces a felony charge in North Dakota for allegedly stealing a load of corn from an Emmons County farmer whose fields he was harvesting. Kevin Clark, 48, faces a theft of property charge that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison upon conviction. His attorney, Sidney Gross, says he is not prepared to comment. Clark is accused of selling about 1,400 bushels of corn worth about $9,500 that belonged to the farmer who hired him. Clark owns American Quality Harvesting and Trucking, also known as Clark Farms, in Hesston, Kan.

NDSU Commodity Trading Laboratory opens

•FARGO, N.D. — A new era of education has begun in the North Dakota State University Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics. The much-anticipated Commodity Trading Laboratory is completed. The trading facility features the latest and best in technology, where students and researchers can analyze commodity markets and learn the fast-paced activity of risk management and trading. “It will provide a very positive environment for teaching students with interests in commodity marketing, and is the first of its kind that specializes in agricultural commodities,” says William Wilson, university distinguished professor. “NDSU has a long tradition of training future leaders in this industry and the CTL will allow this to continue and grow. It will ultimately provide better training and exposure to marketing technology that is now the standard in these industries. It has a multitude of uses and has the potential to be used in other programs, including portfolio and finance courses in the College of Business.”