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Published July 09, 2013, 09:17 AM

Latest news

Senators introduce a bill to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard, a South Dakota state judge has been selected in the Beef Products Inc.'s "pink slime" lawsuit against ABC, and USDA reports a sharp rise in wheat stocks since June 2012.

ND man accused of fraud in dead cattle case

• BISMARCK, N.D. — A McIntosh County, N.D., man charged with starving to death more than 100 cattle now also stands accused of making false statements to insurance agents. Forty-four-year-old James Schnabel earlier this year pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor counts of mistreating animals. He’s scheduled to stand trial in late August. He now also is charged with a misdemeanor count of committing a fraudulent insurance act and a felony count of attempted theft. He’s due in court on the new charges July 22. His attorney did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment. Authorities allege that Schnabel submitted an insurance claim falsely stating that starved cattle had died after being chased by wild dogs.

Milwaukee company buys TJ Technologies of SD

• TJ Technologies Inc. of Watertown, S.D., recently was acquired by Novozymes of Milwaukee for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition is “yet another important step in building Novozymes’ business within ‘bioagriculture,’” says Thomas Vidabaek, Novozymes executive vice president and head of business development. TJ Technologies was founded in 1978 and develops and markets proprietary microbial and micronutrient products for agriculture. It develops “bioyield” enhancers, and promotes its position in seed treatment of corn and other crops. In 2013, it introduced Challenge 2050 Liquid Fertilizer with mycorrhizal fungi to “be used in conventional agriculture systems to produce yield results over and above conventional system standards,” says Tom Johnson, TJ Technologies president. The company says its field trials showed a “consistent, positive yield response with a low product use rate of only one quart per acre,” applied as a supplement to a starter fertilizer program, or with water alone. The product increases root growth and extension response, according to the company. Novozymes says TJ Technologies’ treatments are designed to complement traditional chemicals and pesticides. The world bioagriculture market is about $1.5 billion and is growing by 10 to 15 percent annually, while the traditional input market is $150 billion worldwide.

Senators introduce RFS repeal bill

• DENVER — Before the July 4 recess, U.S. Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Pat Toomey, R-Penn., introduced The Renewable Fuel Standard Repeal Act (S. 1195). The bill would repeal the RFS in its entirety. The bill was co-sponsored by nine other senators. The legislation would eliminate the corn-based ethanol mandate currently required by the RFS, reduce the overall requirements of cellulosic ethanol not filled by other advanced biofuels and rescind the Environmental Protection Agency waivers allowing gasoline blends containing up to 15 percent ethanol. In 2005, Congress established the RFS, effectively requiring refiners to blend increasing volumes of biofuels into the nation’s gasoline supplies. In 2007, Congress expanded the RFS, effectively requiring refiners to blend much larger volumes of biofuels and advanced biofuels into the nation’s gasoline and diesel fuel supplies.

SD state judge appointed in pink slime lawsuit

• ELK POINT, S.D. — A South Dakota circuit court judge has been appointed to oversee a defamation lawsuit over ABC News’ coverage of a meat product that critics dub pink slime. The lawsuit filed by Beef Products Inc. was moved last month from federal court to state court. First Circuit Judge Cheryle Gering will oversee the lawsuit. Dakota Dunes, S.D.-based BPI claims the TV network damaged the company by misleading consumers into believing that its signature product — lean, finely textured beef — is unhealthy and unsafe. It is seeking $1.2 billion in damages. ABC has said it intends to ask the circuit court to dismiss the case.

4 more arrests made in death of Williston, N.D., rancher

• WILLISTON, N.D. — Authorities have made four additional arrests and have issued a warrant for a fifth suspect in connection with the shooting death of Williston, N.D., rancher Jack Sjol. Jeremy Weyrauch, 31, and Ronald Gibbons, 27, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder, Class AA felonies. Weyrauch is being held in the Williams County Jail and Gibbons is being held in Pierce County, Wash. Isaac Steen, 31, was arrested on suspicion of facilitation of murder, a Class C felony. Amber Jensen, 29, was arrested on suspicion of hindering law enforcement, a Class C felony. Both are being held in the Williams County Jail. An arrest warrant has been issued for Teresa Steen, 33, for facilitation of murder. Anyone who knows of her whereabouts is asked to call the Williams County Sheriff’s Office at 701-577-7700. Ryan Stensaker, 33, Williston, was arrested May 16 and charged with Class AA felony murder. Sjol, 58, was last seen April 24 and was missing until his body was found in Williams County three weeks later.

Briefly . . .

• South Dakota hogs: The number of hogs and pigs in South Dakota on June 1 totaled 1.18 million head, up 1 percent from the previous quarter but down 10 percent over the year. The Agriculture Department says in a new report that the breeding hog inventory of 180,000 head was up 3 percent from the previous quarter and unchanged from 2012. Market hogs in the state totaled 1 million head, up 1 percent from the first quarter and down 12 percent from last year.

• Wheat stocks: Wheat stocks are up significantly in the Dakotas over the year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture in its latest report says stocks of all types of wheat in North Dakota on June 1 totaled 84.2 million bushels, up 22 percent from 2012. In South Dakota, they totaled 32.2 million bushels, up 37 percent. Corn and soybean stocks were up in North Dakota but down in South Dakota.