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Published March 04, 2013, 09:46 AM

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Record land sales in South Dakota, horse trainer pleads guilty to inhumane treatment charges, and Minnesota farmer faces more charges for selling raw milk.

By: Agweek Staff and Wire Reports , Agweek

Sale sets agricultural land price record in SD county

•ABERDEEN, S.D. — South Dakota’s Spink County has set an agricultural land price record as two tracts of cropland near Mellette sold for $8,200 per acre. About 200 people attended the auction Feb. 21 for land from the estate of Dianne Goldin Craft. Other parcels sold from $4,250 to $7,700 per acre. More than 1,000 total acres were sold at a total price of $7.39 million. Spink County director of equalization Kim Markley says the auction marked the first time land has sold for more than $8,000 an acre in the county. Also in South Dakota, a total of 1,852 acres of land owned by the late Bill Kadoun of Britton brought a total of $10.3 million and smashed previous records in the county for dollars paid per acre. St. Claire Farms of Tulare paid $10,500 per acre for a 156.87-acre tract in Miller Township ($1,647,135) that dwarfed the previous record of $5,000 per-acre for land sold in Veblen Township for 160 acres in 2012. The average per acre cost of the recent sale was $5,733. Marshall County Assessor Shannon Lee says there was a sale for about $7,000 per acre in Hickman Township near Langford in January, but that sale had not yet been recorded at the Courthouse.

Horse trainer pleads guilty to inhumane treatment charges

•ABERDEEN, S.D. — An Aberdeen, S.D., horse trainer will not be allowed to care for any animals for a year after pleading guilty to three misdemeanor counts of inhumane treatment of animals. An attorney for 23-year-old Robert J. Haar, 23, entered the pleas on Haar’s behalf on Feb. 20. The charges against Haar stem from neglecting to properly feed and care for race horses. Two horses starved to death in November. The seven surviving horses were impounded by the Brown County Sheriff’s Office. Haar was sentenced on each count to 360 days in jail with all of the time suspended. He’s prohibited from possessing, training, racing, owning or caring for horses or any other animals for a year while he’s on probation.

Farmer facing additional charges over raw milk

•GAYLORD, Minn. — Prosecutors say Michael Hartmann is once again facing charges of selling raw milk in his long-running legal battle over state regulations. The 59-year-old rural Gibbon, Minn., farmer is charged with selling unpasteurized milk, improper food labeling and selling produce without a license. Hartmann was fined $585 last year and placed on probation after pleading guilty to two misdemeanors in an agreement with prosecutors. State officials searched Hartmann’s farm in 2010 after people allegedly got sick from consuming his milk, cheese and ice cream. The agriculture department began to investigate after the health department established his farm was the source of an E. coli outbreak that required at least eight Minnesota residents to get medical treatment.

Minn. company expands

•Interstate Mills, based in Owatonna, Minn. recently started construction on a $24 million Interstate Mills LLC terminal at Randolph, Minn. The facility will load a shuttle train of 110 cars with a loop capacity to expand to 130 cars. When complete in the fall, it will be the only train shuttle loader in Minnesota east of Interstate 35, according to spokesman Rick Esse. The corn and soybean terminal will be able to dump 60,000 bushels of grain an hour and dry grain at a rate of 10,000 bushels an hour. It will serve producers in western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota, as far west as Le Sueur, Minn. The destination market is primarily the western U.S. and southeast, Esse says. The Randolph terminal will have 5 million bushels of storage. It will have rail access through the short line Progressive Rail Inc., based in Lakeville, Minn., with connections to the Union Pacific Railway.


Food labeling: Minnesota Sen. John Marty introduced a bill Feb. 26 requiring the labeling of genetically engineered food and seed sold in Minnesota. The text of Roseville DFLer’s bill says it’s intended to give Minnesotans greater access to information for making informed consumer choices about what they eat, and let them avoid foods that have not been proven safe through long-term research. Its first stop is the Senate Committee on Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development. California voters last November defeated a ballot proposal to require the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients. Biotechnology giants spent heavily to defeat the proposition. The federal government does not require disclosure of genetically modified foods since they’re not considered significantly different in taste and nutrition compared with their non-engineered counterparts.

Pulse crops: A group planning a plant in the central South Dakota town of Harrold to process crops such as lentils, field peas and chick peas says the facility definitely will be built. South Dakota Pulse Processors board member Brian Minish says the group has surpassed a $1.5 million fundraising goal, and the plant “is a go.” He says the group hopes to eventually reach $2 million in investments. There are about 65 investors right now. Minish says a timeline for plant construction isn’t set, but officials hope to process this year’s crop.

Correction: The start-up year for the Bel Brands USA plant in Brookings, S.D., was incorrect in a Feb. 25 issue of Agweek. The plant is scheduled to start up in July 2014, producing about 70,000 pounds of cheese per day with 275 workers, but ramp up to full production in September 2014.