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Published April 29, 2013, 10:55 AM

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Bill makes animal cruelty a felony in ND; Manure pit spills 1 million gallons in southeast Minn; New bill would require labels on genetically engineered food

By: Agweek Wire Reports, Agweek

Bill makes animal cruelty a felony in ND

• BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s Legislature has made cruelty to animals a felony. North Dakota’s House endorsed the measure 80-12 on April 24. The Senate passed the bill earlier. It now heads to Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his signature. In cases of abuse, neglect and abandonment, a first offense would be a misdemeanor and a third within 10 years would be a felony. So-called usual and customary practices used in livestock production, animal racing, rodeos, hunting and fishing are exempt from North Dakota’s animal mistreatment laws. Animal rights groups have said South Dakota and North Dakota were the only states without felony penalties for animal mistreatment. The original bill was crafted by North Dakotans for Responsible Animal Care, which consisted of local humane societies, agriculture organizations, veterinarians and a zoo that worked on the legislation in the past two years. “We are very pleased that SB 2211 was approved,” says North Dakota Farmers Union President Woody Barth. “North Dakota Farmers Union has been a key player in getting this bill passed. Our organization worked with the coalition to make sure well-written legislation would go after the bad actors who intentionally harm animals, while making sure to protect agriculture.”

Manure pit spills 1 million gallons in southeast Minn.

• CANTON, Minn. — An above-ground storage pit has spilled about 1 million gallons of manure in southeast Minnesota, with some flowing into a trout stream. A wall of the 2.2-million-gallon pit near Canton failed April 21. A spokeswoman for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says the farmer, neighbors and state workers have since emptied the remaining manure. A dirt berm also was put around the break in the wall. MPCA officials took water samples from nearby creeks and didn’t see any dead fish. A Department of Natural Resources survey also didn’t find dead fish. The pit was built in 2011. The MPCA is investigating whether charges should be filed against the owner.

New bill would require labels on genetically engineered food

• Federal legislation that would require food labels to identify genetically engineered ingredients was introduced April 24. The bill, introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to require food manufacturers to clearly label genetically engineered (GE) foods. Creve Coeur, Mo.-based biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. contributed $8 million toward defeating simliar state-level legislation in California, making it the biggest contributor against the effort. The bill introduced April 24 was co-sponsored by 21 lawmakers, most of them Democrats, but advocacy groups say the issue has been gaining bipartisan support. Lawmakers in 25 states are considering similar legislation. “Now is the time for FDA to reverse its two-decade old policy against labeling,” says Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for the Center for Food Safety, an advocacy group that’s among 100 organizations supporting the measure. “FDA has the authority to mandate GE labeling, yet they refuse to act.” An estimated 60 percent of food in the typical American grocery store contains a genetically modified ingredient, mostly in the form of soy or corn.

Briefly...

• Cattle deaths: A North Dakota man has pleaded not guilty to starving about 100 cattle to death. Forty-four-year-old James Schnabel is charged in McIntosh County with four misdemeanor counts of mistreating animals. He could face up to four years in jail if convicted. Forum News Service reports that court documents indicate Schnabel told authorities stray dogs chased some cattle into a shed in January, leading to trampling and suffocation deaths. A veterinarian concluded almost all of the dead cattle died of starvation.

• Pulse crops: A group planning to build a pulse crop processing plant in Harrold, S.D., is just $30,000 shy of raising its targeted $2 million. South Dakota Pulse Processors planned to raise $1.5 million to $2 million by May 1 to build the plant in Harrold. The project surpassed the $1.5 million mark in late February. Mat Chaudhry, an entrepreneur and food industry executive, is slated to lead the company. He will start as general manager and CEO on June 1. The project will create up to 20 jobs.

• S.D. milk: Milk production in South Dakota during January, February and March was up 0.6 percent from the first quarter of 2012. The Agriculture Department says production during the first quarter of 2013 in the state totaled 495 million pounds.

• N.D. milk: Milk production in North Dakota during January, February and March was up 2 percent from the first quarter of 2012. The Agriculture Department says production during the first quarter of 2013 in the state totaled 88 million pounds.

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