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Published January 07, 2013, 10:42 AM

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Drought holds strong, pesticide rule compliance in North Dakota is high, and North Dakota sees slaughter house proposal.

By: Agweek wire reports, Agweek

Drought retains grip on Upper Midwest

•Drought conditions in the Upper Midwest are virtually unchanged from a week ago. All of South Dakota and Minnesota remain in drought, as does most of North Dakota and half of Montana, according to the weekly report released Jan. 3 by the U.S. Drought Monitor, a partnership of federal and academic scientists. Thirty-one percent of South Dakota, primarily in the south-central part of the state, remains exceptionally dry, the most severe of four drought categories. Another 32 percent of South Dakota, primarily the central and southwest part of the state, remains extremely dry, the second most severe drought category. None of Minnesota is exceptionally dry. A quarter of the state is extremely dry; chunks of north-central and southwest Minnesota fall into this category. Eighty-nine percent of North Dakota is in drought. None of the state is exceptionally or extremely dry. Parts of central and west-central North Dakota are free of drought. Drought exists in 47.4 percent of Montana, primarily in the southern half of the state. None of the state is exceptionally dry. An area in south-central Montana, about 8 percent of the state, is extremely dry.

Compliance with pesticide rules at all-time high in ND

•BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says compliance with state and federal pesticide laws and regulations is at an all-time high in North Dakota.“The pesticide and fertilizer division of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture conducted a record 1,042 inspections of farms and businesses in 2012,” Goehring says. “More than 840 were found to be in compliance. That means 81 percent inspected by NDDA during the year were in compliance with the law.” He credits the high compliance rate in large part to the department’s outreach and compliance assistance program. “Our pesticide team participated in 120 public meetings and compliance assistance opportunities last year, reaching more than 4,400 members of the public to discuss pesticide regulation,” he says. “These meetings included private certification sessions set up with local extension service personnel, grower meetings, small group and one-on-one compliance assistance visits, garden clubs and other settings.” Goehring says the department continues to address pesticide use near surface water, the use of grain fumigants, compliance with labeling requirements, compliance with the Worker Protection Standard and reducing pesticide drift and pesticide use in or near beehives. “We conducted 34 inspections of grain fumigant dealers and users due to the high risk that fumigants can pose to the public,” he says. “We also conducted 27 pesticide use inspections in areas that posed a potential risk to groundwater and surface water, and we conducted 87 producer establishment inspections to verify compliance with container and containment requirements.” Pesticide drift continues to be an issue in North Dakota, although drift complaints were down significantly from past years with only 49 follow-up complaint investigations in 2012, down from 74 in 2011.

Slaughterhouse proposed in ND

•An economic development group wants to open a custom slaughter plant in Pembina or Walsh county in North Dakota. The plant would provide a market for locally raised cattle and hogs, as well as deer and other wild game, according to Julius Wangler, executive director of the Red River Regional Council. A steering committee will meet this month with a consultant who recently completed a feasibility study for a similar plant in Bowdon, N.D. According to preliminary plans, the plant likely would process 10 to 15 animals per week and employ about five people. Northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota have seen a drop in the number of slaughter plants in recent years.

Winter wheat farmers concerned with lack of snow

•SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Some South Dakota farmers are concerned about the lack of snow cover protection for winter wheat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says in its weekly crop weather report that snow cover for winter wheat is rated at 61 percent poor with the remaining 39 percent adequate. Winter wheat condition is rated at 21 percent very poor, 49 percent poor, 27 percent fair and 3 percent good. Alfalfa snow cover is rated at 37 percent poor, 61 percent adequate and 2 percent excellent. USDA says the average snow depth at year’s end across South Dakota is 4 inches. Farmers and ranchers continue to cope with drought reduced feed supplies and stock water supplies as the winter progresses, though livestock is doing well in most areas of the state.

Briefly . . .

Elevator fire: Crews from multiple counties and towns battled flames at a grain elevator in Ada, Minn., the night of Jan. 3. Firefighters began battling the blaze at 7 p.m., according to the Norman County (Minn.) Sheriff’s Department. Minnesota fire crews from Moorhead, Ulen, Twin Valley, Gary, Shelly, Hendrum and Borup, as well as several others assisted. Water tanker trucks were bringing extra water to the scene to assist firefighters. Flames were visible from at least 10 miles away. As of 9 p.m., one of the buildings attached to the elevator appeared to have caved in, and burning, smoldering rubble could be seen. Flames could still be seen coming from the 10-story building, along with thick, heavy smoke.

Estate tax: The bipartisan compromise over the estate tax levels included in the legislation passed to avoid the fiscal cliff will allow for the successful future transition of family farms and businesses from one generation to the next, advocacy groups say. Without the legislation, the tax would have reverted to a $1 million exemption and 55 percent rate. The new compromise raises the maximum rate to 40 percent, but it also indexes the exemption level to inflation, and provides for spousal transfer.

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