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Published June 17, 2013, 09:51 AM

Latest news

A North Dakota man pleads guilty to money laundering, Tuberculosis has been identified in a North Dakota beef cow, and a South Dakota farmer has been awarded $1 million in damages after being the victim of cattle fraud.

SD state lawmaker objects to hog barn permits

• BIG STONE CITY, S.D. — A South Dakota lawmaker who lives a mile from the site of a planned hog barn in Grant County has questioned the state’s permitting process. Rep. Kathy Tyler, D-Big Stone City, asked Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard for a study of the regulations and complaint process of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The department approved a water pollution control permit in April for the proposed 6,500-sow hog facility. Tyler contends the agency’s process is outdated and too focused on the interests of business. The governor’s office responded with a letter of its own, defending the department’s permitting process and saying a study of the agency was not needed. Tyler contends, among other issues, that permit applications to the county and state by Teton Family Farms LLC contained inaccurate information about contracts with area landowners for the disposal of animal waste on fields. Applications containing false information should be rejected outright, she says. Kent Woodmansey, who oversees permits for large animal feeding operations for the department, says it is common for mistakes to be made in permit applications and that applications are not approved until problems are corrected. The proposed hog facility has faced opposition from Tyler and others concerned about possible pollution. A group called Grant County Concerned Citizens and Tyler’s husband, Timothy Tyler, have appealed to state court the county’s approval of the hog barn proposal in January. A hearing is scheduled for June 25.

ND man pleads guilty to money laundering in grain bin scheme

• A Langdon, N.D., man pleaded guilty June 10 in federal court in Fargo, N.D., to charges alleging he advertised himself as a licensed grain bin dealer, then used the money farmers gave him to build his own home. Lance Bryce Schill, 32, entered a guilty plea to a single count of felony money laundering. Court documents filed in federal court April 30 say that starting in November 2009, Schill opened a business called Schill Construction, a company that erected Westeel brand grain bins. Schill took out ads in a local newspaper and on radio stations, claiming he was an authorized Westeel dealer. Court documents say Schill asked for advance payments from farmers to buy materials for the grain bins that he would install before the harvest season, as a down payment. When farmers started asking about the bins, Schill told them he had ordered the materials, which were being held in Fargo, and that he was busy with other jobs. In the meantime, court documents say, Schill was using the money to build his home in Langdon and had never been a licensed Westeel dealer in the first place. The fraud continued until December 2010. Court documents say Schill also transferred $25,000 in funds from Strata Corp. for concrete for his personal use to U.S. Bank, the basis of the money laundering charge. Under the terms of the deal, Schill is expected to be sentenced to forfeit $20,000 in addition to the restitution to be determined at his sentencing. Schill’s sentencing is set for Aug. 29.

Tuberculosis identified in ND beef cow

• BISMARCK, N.D. — Laboratory testing has identified tuberculosis in a beef cow in south-central North Dakota. Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Melvin Leland, president of the State Board of Animal Health, emphasized that the incident poses no immediate health risk to the general public, since the cow has been removed from the herd and destroyed. They say the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and the BOAH will complete all necessary testing to ensure the safety of the state’s livestock industry. State veterinarian Susan Keller says the animal was identified as a result of a trace-out investigation in Texas. An investigation is ongoing in North Dakota. North Dakota has been recognized as “TB-free” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture since 1976.

Minn. couple charged in dead horses case

• FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — Bill and Penny Fick, the owners of six horses found dead in rural Vergas, Minn., in February, have each been charged with 21 counts of animal mistreatment in Otter Tail County District Court. Penny Fick’s son, Billy Tomkins, was previously charged in the case. Bill Karl Fick, 47, and Penny Lynn Fick, 38, were each charged with one felony count, one gross misdemeanor count and 19 misdemeanor counts of mistreatment of animals. During a search of the property in February, the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office and state Humane Society found six dead horses. Authorities say 11 horses were found alive, but in poor condition from malnutrition and dehydration. A water tank was allegedly found frozen and no food source was available. The surviving horses, along with two adult llamas and one juvenile llama, were seized and rescued. They were taken to High Tail Horse Ranch and Rescue near Hawley, Minn.

Briefly . . .

• Cattle fraud: A Parkston, S.D., farmer has been awarded more than $1 million against a former Watertown, S.D., cattle seller for misrepresenting the origin of a shipment of cattle to his farm. A jury awarded farmer Curtis Huether $100,000 in damages and $1 million in punitive damages against David Bisson. Huether accused Bisson of misrepresenting the origin of a shipment of cattle to his farm in 2008, which resulted in Huether’s cattle being quarantined for about eight months. The jury also found that an Iowa trucking company committed civil conspiracy in the case.

• Ranch death: A man has died after tangling with a cow on a ranch in southwest North Dakota’s Slope County. Sheriff Pat Lorge says 81-year-old Stanley Pope was pronounced dead at the scene June 10. Lorge says Pope and one of his sons were preparing to transport the cow to the family ranch when the animal threw Pope over a fence and he landed on his head.

• Farm death: A 19-year-old Mott, N.D., man has died in a farming accident. Hettinger County Sheriff Sarah Warner says Mike Wehri was reportedly spraying a field about two miles north of Mott on June 10 when he struck something electrical. The incident caused power outages for Montana Dakota Utilities customers in Mott, Regent and New England in North Dakota. Authorities are still investigating.