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Published November 26, 2012, 10:13 AM

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XL Foods is shipping beef again after E. coli closure; judge in South Dakota beef lawsuit recuses himself; and North Dakota officials ask the public to be on the lookout for feral swine.

By: Agweek staff and wire reports , Agweek

Alberta plant shipping beef for first time since E. coli closure

•EDMONTON, Alberta — The plant at the center of an extensive beef recall has resumed shipping products for the first time since an E. coli outbreak forced its closure in September. The union representing workers at XL Foods Inc. in Brooks, Alberta, says the shipments include a full range of products, including ground beef and steaks. “They are shipping product to retailers,” says Doug O’Halloran, of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. “The people they were supplying before, I think they are loyal, their customers are going to come back. That is a good sign.” The union says the beef has been packaged under the banner of JBS, which took over management of the plant from XL Foods last month. He says employees at the plant are upbeat about the shipments and hopeful about the plant’s future. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it will ask U.S. officials for permission to export beef from the plant to the U.S. Last month, the CFIA gave the plant permission to resume slaughtering cattle after being shut down for more than a month. On Nov. 4, the agency discovered new cleanliness problems at the plant and ordered corrective action. O’Halloran says after all the testing and scrutiny in the past weeks, consumers shouldn’t worry about the safety of beef from the plant.

Judge in beef products lawsuit recuses himself

•SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A federal judge overseeing a $1.2 billion defamation lawsuit filed by a South Dakota beef processing company against ABC News has recused himself from the case. Judge Lawrence L. Piersol will be replaced by Chief Judge Karen Schreier. Dakota Dunes, S.D.-based Beef Products Inc. sued ABC News Inc. in September for defamation over its coverage of a meat product called lean, finely textured beef that critics dub “pink slime.” The meat processor claims the network damaged the company by misleading consumers into believing the product is unhealthy and unsafe. It’s seeking $1.2 billion in damages.

SD beef jerky plant to expand; 75 new jobs possible

•ALPENA, S.D. — A newly announced package of funding for a $9.1 million Alpena, S.D., wastewater treatment project will support an expansion at a beef jerky plant that could eventually bring 75 new full-time jobs to the small town. The South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development has announced that the town of Alpena will receive a $515,000 Community Development Block Grant to make improvements to its wastewater treatment plant. Along with the CDBG grant, the town of Alpena will receive a Department of Energy and Natural Resources low-interest federal loan for approximately $1.5 million. The Alpena wastewater treatment facility has been operating at capacity and is in need of upgrades to accommodate any future growth for the greater Alpena area. The increased capacity of the upgraded wastewater system also will allow for the expansion of Link Snacks Inc. (LSI), makers of Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, the largest employer in Jerauld County. LSI will invest $7.1 million in costs associated with improvements to the pre-treatment facility. Total cost estimates for the entire wastewater treatment project are estimated at $9.1 million. Simultaneously, and in addition to the wastewater treatment facility upgrade, LSI is undergoing an expansion project at its Alpena-based production facility. The overall expansion is slated to create approximately 57 project-based pre-development and construction jobs. This expansion will allow LSI to create 75 new full-time jobs in its production facility by the end of 2017. Moreover, the expansion will preserve the approximately 800 existing full-time jobs currently at the LSI facility.

Defunct ND oilseed plant to be sold

•NORTHWOOD, N.D. —A defunct oilseed processing plant will be sold at public auction at 10 a.m. Nov. 27, in Northwood, N.D. The former Northwood Mills opened in 2007 and closed two years later. Company officials pointed to weak demand for canola oil and higher-than-expected prices for oilseeds. A bank later foreclosed on the property. Interest among potential buyers is strong, according to Allison Guyton, operations manager for Maas Companies, the Rochester, Minn.-based auction company that’s handling the sale. Northwood is about 35 miles southwest of Grand Forks, N.D. Information: www.maascompanies.com.

ND officials ask public to be on the lookout for feral swine

•BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota animal health and wildlife officials are urging anyone who observes feral swine (wild pigs) or suspects their presence to report the animals immediately. “We are asking farmers, ranchers, hunters, hikers, campers and others to report any sightings of feral swine,” says Susan Keller, the state veterinarian. “Feral swine threaten domestic pigs and other livestock because they can carry diseases such as brucellosis, tuberculosis, pseudorabies and swine fever. They can also destroy crops and property.” Sightings of feral swine should be reported to the state veterinarian’s office at 701-328-2655 or the North Dakota Game and Fish Department at 701-328-6300. Keller says wild pigs have occasionally been reported in the state in the past and have recently been reported in neighboring states. “Aside from their potential to transmit diseases, their rooting and wallowing behaviors lead to soil erosion and degradation of water quality,” says Jeb Williams, NDG&F assistant chief of wildlife. “They compete with native wildlife species for food, destroy wildlife habitat, reduce species diversity, and are effective predators of ground nesting birds and small and young mammals.” Keller says it is illegal to possess live feral swine and to hunt or trap the animals. Landowners can destroy wild pigs threatening their property, but must immediately report the animals to the state veterinarian’s office. The law also requires landowners to follow instructions regarding the handling, preservation and disposal of the carcasses.

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