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Published October 29, 2012, 10:29 AM

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A South Dakota dairy resumes selling raw milk, CFIA restores Alberta meat plant's operating license, and a Minnesota hog farmer is fined $14,000 for improper disposal of manure.

By: Agweek Wire Reports, Agweek

Western SD dairy resumes selling raw milk

•BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. — A Belle Fourche, S.D., dairy that was ordered to stop sales after bacteria was found in a sample has been given the OK to sell its unpasteurized milk again. The state Agriculture Department ordered Black Hills Milk to halt sales after a bacteria that can cause food poisoning was found in the sample. Dairy owner Dawn Habeck says the dairy was retested Oct. 18 and given the go-ahead to resume sales Oct. 22. Habeck says the brief shutdown cost the dairy about $3,000. She also wonders if sales will suffer, though she says the dairy has been inundated with support from customers. She estimates the dairy has about 2,000 customers.

ND, SD milk production up from 2011

•Milk production in North Dakota during July, August and September totaled 85 million pounds, up 2 percent from the third quarter of 2011. South Dakota milk production in July through September was up 6 percent from the same period last year. The Agriculture Department says the average number of milk cows in North Dakota during the three months was 18,000. That was unchanged from the second quarter of this year but down 1,000 cows over the year. USDA says milk production in South Dakota for the third quarter totaled 487 million pounds, down from 1 percent from the second quarter total of 494 million. The average number of milk cows during the third quarter was 92,000. That’s up 2,000 cows from last year and but down 1,000 from last quarter.

CFIA restores operating license for XL Foods plant

•OTTAWA — Canada’s food-safety watchdog has restored the operating license for a southern Alberta meat-packing plant at the center of a massive recall of tainted beef and it will reopen Oct. 29. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it has lifted its suspension of the license for the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alberta. “We are confident that all issues have been fully addressed,” says CFIA spokesman Paul Mayers. The agency says the plant will be allowed to “progressively resume” slaughter and meat-processing operations, but will do so under enhanced surveillance by food-safety officials and increased testing protocols. The CFIA says additional inspectors will stay at the plant to monitor procedures and ensure strengthened food safety controls are being integrated into daily plant practices. The XL Foods plant has been closed since Sept. 27, the epicenter of an extensive beef recall fuelled by E. coli contamination that has rocked the industry as well as the agency, which is overseen by the federal government. The plant’s operations are being taken over by JBS USA, an American subsidiary of a Brazilian-owned enterprise. The agreement provides the company an exclusive option to buy the Canadian and U.S. operations of XL Foods. JBS has ordered an independent audit of the plant to review the facility and food safety procedures. It is conducting intensive training with current employees to make sure they are aware of JBS standards.

Drought prompts ND ranchers to sell off sheep

•NEWELL, S.D. — South Dakota cattle ranchers are being forced to sell off sheep because of a lack of feed, and most are getting lower prices than in 2011. St. Onge (S.D.) Livestock sheep yard manager Barney Barnes says prices were much higher last year. Barnes says that in 2011, some sheep were selling for $2.40 a pound. This year, the price has dropped to 85 cents to $1.10. The likely reason is the market is flooded with sheep already at the slaughterhouses.

City says SD beef plant can ramp up production

•ABERDEEN, S.D. — The Northern Beef Packers plant in Aberdeen is being allowed to slaughter more cattle after passing a city inspection. The long-delayed plant earlier received permission to slaughter up to five cattle to test equipment. The city allowed the plant to ramp up to slaughtering 200 cattle on Oct. 25 and 26. Plant officials have not said how many cattle they are actually slaughtering. Construction on the $109 million plant began in 2007. Numerous problems including financial issues, flooding and lawsuits have repeatedly pushed back the opening date. The plant eventually is to process 1,500 cattle per day from the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.

ABC News wants ‘pink slime’ lawsuit in fed court

•NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. — Lawyers for ABC News are asking to have a defamation lawsuit against the company filed by a South Dakota beef processing plant transferred from circuit court to federal court. Beef Products Inc. sued ABC News Inc. for defamation over its coverage of a meat product that critics dub “pink slime.” The company alleges that the network created an inaccurate impression that the product is unsafe. BPI is seeking $1.2 billion in damages. The lawsuit was originally filed in circuit court in South Dakota’s Union County in September. Lawyers for the broadcasting company want the suit moved to federal district court in South Dakota because it says the parties involved are from different states.

Minn. hog farmer to pay $14,000 manure penalty

•ROCHESTER, Minn. — A southeast Minnesota hog farmer has agreed to pay a $14,000 penalty for discharging manure into waters that flow into the Zumbro River. Craig Benedix owns a 3,000-head swine facility near Mantorville, northwest of Rochester. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says he pumped manure from a storage pit to an adjacent field of standing corn last October. The manure then flowed from the field into nearby waterways. Officials investigated after a citizen complained that a local creek was discolored, foaming and smelled like manure. Benedix told investigators he pumped out the pit because the manure had reached the floor slats of the swine barn above. The MPCA says the discharge violated state laws and the conditions of Benedix’s feedlot permit, including failing to prevent, report and clean up the discharge.

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