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Published June 10, 2013, 01:33 PM

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Horse killed, 2 people injured in ND collision, Kan. wheat farmer sues Monsanto and shortfall in ethanol production leads to a reduction in RINS

Horse killed, 2 people injured in ND collision

• LAWTON, N.D. — Two people were injured after a collision between a car and a horse in northeast North Dakota. The accident happened about 5 a.m. June 2 on Highway 1 near Lawton. The Highway Patrol says a 1998 Pontiac Grand Am driven by 29-year-old Jack Nesdahl of East Grand Forks, Minn., struck the horse, which had escaped from its pen and was standing on the highway. Authorities say Nesdahl and 16-year-old John Rodriguez of East Grand Forks were transported to a Park River hospital. Rodriguez was treated and released. Nesdahl was moved to a Grand Forks hospital, where he was treated and released.

Kan. wheat farmer sues Monsanto for gross negligence

• WICHITA, Kan. — A Kansas wheat farmer has filed a civil lawsuit against Monsanto alleging gross negligence and other causes of action after press reports of the discovery of unapproved genetically modified wheat in an 80-acre field in Oregon. The farmer seeks compensation for damages caused by the discovery, which sent wheat export futures prices spiraling downward. The case may be the first of many Monsanto faces over alleged wheat contamination. Susman Godfrey, one of the nation’s leading trial firms, along with co-counsel the Murray Law Firm and Goldman Phipps PLLC, filed the case before the Honorable Monti Belot, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. “Monsanto has failed our nation’s wheat farmers,” says Stephen Susman, Susman Godfrey’s lead attorney on the case. “We believe Monsanto knew of the risks its genetically altered wheat posed and failed to protect farmers and their crops from those risks.” After news broke of the discovery of the unapproved wheat, Japan and South Korea suspended some imports of American wheat, and the European Union, which imports more than 1 million tons of U.S. wheat a year, said it would ensure its “zero tolerance” policy against genetically modified crops was maintained.

Reduced ethanol production met with first RIN drawdown

• A shortfall in ethanol production has led to a drawdown in Renewable Identification Numbers for the first time. U.S. ethanol production in the first half of 2012 averaged about 900,000 barrels per day, or an annualized total of 13.8 billion gallons. Widespread drought across corn-producing regions in the Midwest reduced corn harvests, and as a result ethanol production rates began to decrease. Ethanol production in the second half of 2012 fell to an average of 830,000 barrels per day, or an annualized total of about 12.7 billion gallons. After accounting for ethanol exports, which do not provide RINs for Renewable Fuel Standard compliance, this lower ethanol output in the second half of 2012 led to corn ethanol consumption falling an estimated 600 million gallons short of the 13.2 billion gallons expected for the 2012 RFS target. The available bank of corn ethanol RINs was estimated at 2.1 billion gallons after the drawdown for 2012 RFS compliance purposes, while the total supply of all banked RIN classifications (including biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels) was estimated at 2.7 billion gallons.

Franken presses Vilsack to help alleviate feed shortage in Minn.

• WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, asking him to take immediate action to help alleviate the serious feed and forage shortage facing livestock producers in southern Minnesota. In the June 5 letter, Franken requested that Vilsack waive the current prohibition on planting forage and hay crops on prevented-planting acres. Farmers would then be allowed to help replenish the dwindling supply of feed and forage by planting emergency crops on these barren acres now and harvesting it before Nov. 1. Ten Minnesota ag groups joined the effort with their own letter to Vilsack on June 7.

Rogue GMO label found on Kraft Mac & Cheese in Britain

• The case of the labels warning of genetically modified wheat found on Kraft Mac & Cheese boxes in Britain has been solved. The labels, posted on the product’s own Facebook page and picked up by a food blogger, set off a buzz among consumers overseas and in the United States around the same time that modified wheat was found in a field in Oregon. The problem, it seems, is that Kraft does not use genetically engineered wheat, which is not commercially available, according to a spokeswoman. So the label’s origins perplexed Kraft officials. While the U.S. does not require the labeling of food products containing genetically engineered ingredients, food manufacturers in the European Union must do so, and many big companies reformulate their products using conventional crops to avoid the labeling requirement. Flo Wrightson Cross, a student in north London, was the person who first posted the photo to Facebook, after discovering the GMO label at a Tesco store in Ponders End where she bought the food. Tesco was as baffled by the label as Kraft, indicating that a distributor, Innovative Bites, had slapped on the warning. Innovative Bites did not respond to calls or emails.


• Horse mistreatment: Authorities in Minnesota's Otter Tail County are looking for a couple accused of mistreating horses at their rural property near Vergas. Bill and Penny Fick failed to appear in court on charges of animal mistreatment. Warrants have been issued for their arrests. A third person, 19-year-old Billy Tompkins, is also charged in the case and was arrested May 31. Six horses were found dead at the Ficks property last February and several other horses were found severely malnourished.

• Anthrax cattle death: Anthrax has caused the death of a cow in Minnesota's Pennington County, according to the Minnesota Boards of Animal Health. This is the first documented case of the disease in Minnesota since 2008. The cow was found dead on the farm on June 3 and samples were collected and sent to the North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Fargo. The herd had not been vaccinated for the disease and will remain under quarantine for 30 days. Grazing animals are most likely to become infected with the disease after periods of heavy rain, flooding or excavation. Cases usually occur in areas where animals have previously died of anthrax. Anthrax is not spread by animal-to-animal contact.

— Agweek Staff and Wire Reports