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Published November 19, 2012, 10:37 AM

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North Dakota's ag commissioner is concerned about the effect of new Canadian regulations, North Dakota's newly elected senator has been offered a seat on the ag committee, and SunOpta in Crookston, Minn., lays off workers after losing a big customer.

By: Agweek staff and wire reports , Agweek

Goehring says new Canadian rules could hamper ND exports

•BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is urging the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to reconsider proposed new regulations he says will adversely and unnecessarily affect North Dakota growers, exporters and government agencies. “I hope the direction of CFIA’s new requirements does not become a non-tariff trade barrier that limits North Dakota’s market access and could increase the price and delay on-time delivery of the commodities to Canadian processors and consumers,” Goehring said in a letter to the CFIA’s Plant Health and Biosecurity Directorate. Goehring said he is especially concerned by the number of phytosanitary certificates that would be required. These certificates track the inspection of agricultural commodities and certify compliance with the plant health standards of importing countries. “The necessary phytosanitary certificates will cost an exporter several hundred dollars per shipment of grain, which would be delayed days to weeks because of the required testing,” he said. Goehring said if these certificates are required, it will ultimately limit or stop farmers from directly shipping these commodities from the field or their bins to Canada, and exporters also will look for other markets because of the increased financial burden. “The regulations will drastically increase the workload of agencies that issue phytosanitary certificates,” he said. “The North Dakota Department of Agriculture issues about 2,500 certificates each year. If the new CFIA rules go into effect, that number of certificates could potentially increase to more than 27,400.”

House ag committee recruitments could be challenging

•WASHINGTON — House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., will need to find replacements for at least four and possibly five key allies on the House Agriculture Committee when Congress returns in January. He probably will have to add more members from urban districts and from areas outside the Plains and southern states, where commodity agriculture is dominant in the economy. Peterson already had a vacancy on the committee because Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., has resigned. Rep. Tim Holden, D-Pa., was defeated in his primary, and Reps. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, Larry Kissell, D-N.C., and Joe Baca, D-Calif., lost to Republicans in the election. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., has claimed victory in his race, but the margin is so small that the final outcome is uncertain. These members have been reliable votes for traditional farm programs, but Peterson will have fewer Democrats from traditional commodity-growing and meat-producing areas as candidates to replace them. Democrats from the Northeast and urban areas who joined the committee after the defeats of rural Democrats in the 2010 election often have been more interested in anti-hunger programs and in farm programs that benefit fruits and vegetables and organic and local agriculture. The Democrats appear to have picked up at least seven seats in the House on Election Day, but whether that means Democrats will gain more seats on committees has not yet been determined.

Heitkamp offered seat on Senate ag committee

•North Dakota Democratic Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp has been offered a seat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, she said. Heitkamp also said she hopes Congress will pass a farm bill during the lame duck session, but that if it doesn’t, writing the next farm bill will be “job one” for her in Washington. The theme of her campaign was “three Fs”: farm bill, fracking and finances. Heitkamp named campaign manager Tessa Gold as her chief of staff in the Senate. Gold was chief of staff to former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., before Sandlin’s defeat in 2010. She previously worked for former Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., former Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and former Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo. A native of Jamestown, N.D., Gould served as associate development director for the University of South Dakota Foundation before managing Heitkamp’s campaign.

ND sunflower company opening roasting plant in Texas

•HORACE, N.D. — A North Dakota-based sunflower business is beginning production this month at a sunflower roasting facility in Lubbock, Texas. The SunGold Foods plant will produce in-shell sunflower seeds to be sold as snack food. The National Sunflower Association says the plant will open with 40 full-time employees, with room to more than double capacity. SunGold Foods is based in Horace. It is a subsidiary of Fargo-based Red River Commodities Inc., which also has a bird food plant in Lubbock.

Briefly...

Drought disaster: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has designated Burke and Divide counties in North Dakota as primary natural disaster areas as a result of drought. They become the 26th and 27th primary disaster counties in the state. Aid is available to farmers and ranchers in 21 counties that are contiguous counties.

Steer deaths: Twenty-one steers were killed when a semitrailer bound from Canada to South Dakota crashed during a freezing rain storm in North Dakota. The Highway Patrol says the semi rolled on its side in a ditch Nov. 9 off an icy highway near the south-central town of Dawson. Fifty-three steers survived. The 24-year-old driver of the semitrailer was not hurt.

SunOpta layoffs: SunOpta Grains and Food Inc. in Crookston, Minn., laid off some employees last week because of the loss of a significant customer, a company official confirms. Brandie Streiff, human resources business partner for the company (locally known as Dahlgren) confirmed the company had lost a “chunk of business” that influenced the amount of production work required, but that the company is working to replace the customer. Streiff declined to verify a news report that about a dozen of the company’s employees had been laid off, but she verified that the plant employs more than 100 employees.

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