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Published December 03, 2012, 09:46 AM

Latest news

N-Flex gets grant for North Dakota fertilizer plants, Minnesota man pleads guilty to crop damage charges, and South Dakota land sells for $13,000 per acre.

By: Agweek wire reports, Agweek

BPI wants ‘pink slime’ lawsuit back in state court

•SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Lawyers for a South Dakota beef processing company suing ABC News for defamation have asked a federal judge to remand the lawsuit back to state court. Beef Products Inc. sued ABC News Inc. for defamation over its coverage of a meat product that critics dub “pink slime.” The company is seeking $1.2 billion in damages. ABC argues that two of the companies listed in the lawsuit, BPI Technology Inc. and Freezing Machines Inc., are not true parties and the case should be thrown out. But in a motion filed Nov. 28, BPI lawyers outline how all three companies have a stake in making the product called lean, finely textured beef.

Minn. man pleads guilty to crop damage charges

•WILLMAR, Minn. — Bronson Cody Evenson, 20, of Willmar, Minn., pleaded guilty Nov. 26 to a felony charge of first-degree criminal damage for driving his pickup through multiple crop fields near Willmar and Pennock, Minn., causing thousands of dollars in lost crop yields. As part of a plea agreement in Kandiyohi County District Court, two additional felony property damage charges and a misdemeanor charge for driving after suspension will be dismissed and Evenson will pay restitution on all charges. He will be sentenced Jan. 8. According to an affidavit of restitution, two of the property owners claim $11,699.99 in damage to their crops. The total estimated damage, including the property of a third person, is at least $13,000 in lost yields. The charges were filed after the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office received reports July 28 and 29 from farmers that someone had driven a vehicle through their fields. Evenson admitted to a detective that he and a friend had driven through the fields after leaving a party near Pennock.

ND regulators say grain elevator broke

•BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota regulators are asking a judge for permission to take control of the Falkirk (N.D.) Farmers Elevator Co. Public Service Commission documents say Falkirk owes more than $270,000 to at least seven people. Falkirk was based in Washburn, N.D., and operated grain elevators at Falkirk and Hazen in North Dakota. The commission voted Nov. 28 to ask a judge to rule that the elevator can’t pay its bills. If that happens, the commission will sell off the company’s assets so its creditors can be paid. The two elevators were closed in April, and they’ve already been sold to other companies. But they still have pinto beans in storage. Falkirk’s cooperative members voted last summer to liquidate the business and sell the company’s tractors, trucks and office equipment.

FDA halts operations at peanut butter plant

•WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration has halted operations of the country’s largest organic peanut butter processor, cracking down on salmonella poisoning for the first time with a new enforcement authority the agency gained in a 2011 food safety law. FDA officials found salmonella all over Sunland Inc.’s New Mexico processing plant after 41 people in 20 states, most of them children, were sickened by peanut butter manufactured at the plant and sold at Trader Joe’s. The suspension will prevent the company from distributing any food. The food safety law gave the FDA authority to suspend a company’s registration when food manufactured or held there has a “reasonable probability” of causing serious health problems or death. Sunland sold hundreds of products to many of the nation’s largest grocery chains.

SD farmland sells for $13,000 per acre

•ABERDEEN, S.D. — Some Brown County farmland in South Dakota has sold for $13,000 per acre, breaking a county record by thousands of dollars. Auctioneer Jim Thorpe says he knew the 158-acre tract in Cambria Township for sale Nov. 28 would test the upper limits of the market, but he had no idea it’d set a record. The two quarter-sections of land sold by L.R. Corp. are about two miles north of Tacoma Park. Another 158-acre tract in Henry Township five miles east and one mile north of Bath sold for $11,500 an acre.

Firm gets $1 million ND grant for fertilizer plants

•BISMARCK, N.D. — A $1 million North Dakota state grant has been pledged to a New York company seeking to convert wasted natural gas into much-needed farm fertilizer by using portable plants that can be moved from well to well throughout North Dakota’s oil patch. The state Industrial Commission recently approved the grant to N-Flex LLC, under conditions that include financing commitments from investors. Company founder Neil Cohn says that Easton, Md.-based Beowulf Energy LLC acquired rights to N-Flex and will provide capital and engineering for the project. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Cohn says he will “be part of the Beowulf team.” The state grant would cover about a quarter of the cost of the $4 million pilot program to build a plant that could be moved between oils wells in western North Dakota, Cohn says. A plant will be operational within 18 months, he says. According to N-Flex, a single oil well aimed at North Dakota’s rich Bakken or Three Forks formations could produce enough natural gas to convert to more than 3 tons of anhydrous ammonia daily — enough to fertilize 33,000 acres of wheat or 16,000 acres of corn.

Briefly . . .

•Pine beetle seminar: The South Dakota Department of Agriculture is hosting a free seminar about treating mountain pine beetles in the Black Hills. The session will be held at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6, at the Hudson Hall in Spearfish. The goal of the seminar is to help landowners understand the various options for finding and treating infested trees.