Latest newsA Minnesota farmer was killed in a tractor rollover, South Korea still plans to purchase Northwest wheat, and the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus may threaten U.S. pork prices.
Source of listeria contamination still uncertain
• WATERLOO, Wis. — The president of an award-winning cheese company in Wisconsin says the source of contamination that led to the death of a Minnesota man and sickened four others is still uncertain. Federal officials are investigating. George Crave says production and distribution of the three recalled cheeses linked to the illnesses has ceased. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and state agriculture officials have inspected Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Co. near Waterloo. All five people sickened by listeria were diagnosed between May 20 and June 17. The FDA says they range in age from 31 to 67 years old. The products involved, Les Frères cheese, Petit Frère cheese, and Petit Frère with Truffles, have previously won awards from the American Cheese Society.
Bond set for 3 more suspects in ND slaying
• WILLISTON, N.D. — Bond has been set for three more suspects in the fatal shooting of a hobby rancher whose body was found in a garbage dump on a Williston, N.D., property. Six people are charged in the death of Jack Sjol, 58, whose body was found May 14, three weeks after his family reported him missing. Five of the suspects are local residents, while the sixth is from Washington State. “We don’t understand why Jack would have any connection with these people,” says daughter-in-law Christy Sjol. Bond earlier was set at $1 million for Ryan Stensaker, who has been charged with murder in the shooting of Sjol. He could enter a plea Aug. 5, according to court documents. Northwest District Judge Josh Rustad on July 9 set bond at $1 million for Jeremy Weyrauch, 31, of Williston, and at $25,000 each for Issac Steen, 31, of Williston, and Amber Jensen, 29, of Williston. Weyrauch is charged with conspiracy to commit murder, along with Ronald Gibbons, 27, who is jailed in Washington State on a separate domestic violence charge. Court documents did not list his hometown. Issac Steen and his sister Teresa Steen, 33, of Williston, are charged with facilitation of murder. Steen turned herself in July 9, according to authorities. Jensen is charged with hindering law enforcement. Authorities say Stensaker, Weyrauch and Gibbons conspired to kill Sjol, that the Steens allowed Sjol’s body to remain in a garbage dump on their property, and that Jensen withheld information from investigators. Authorities have not discussed a possible motive in the slaying. Stensaker also faces firearm and drug charges, while Weyrauch faces drug and bail-jumping charges in Williams County. Jensen’s criminal history includes felony theft of property and narcotics-related convictions.
Farmer killed in Minn. tractor rollover
• EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. — Brad Nelson, 55, of East Grand Forks, Minn., was killed July 9 in a tractor rollover. Nelson’s family says he was cultivating headlands of his bean crop when the tractor rolled over. A neighbor found him pinned in his flipped tractor in a ditch near his homestead around 7:30 p.m. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate. “The man’s body was taken to (the University of North Dakota) for an autopsy, and so at this point, it’s unclear the exact cause of why he went into the ditch,” says Sgt. Phil Juve of the sheriff’s office. Nelson’s family says they are devastated that they have lost a son, husband and father. Relatives describe Nelson as a farmer who loved to hunt and fish. He was one of six children and is survived by his wife, daughter and son. The family says a funeral service will be scheduled at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in East Grand Forks.
South Korea to resume buying Northwest wheat
• PORTLAND, Ore. — An Oregon Wheat Commission spokesman says South Korean flour mills will resume buying soft white wheat from the Pacific Northwest and will not restrict purchases of wheat grown in Oregon. Japan, Korea and Taiwan suspended imports of western white wheat from the Pacific Northwest after genetically modified wheat was discovered growing in an eastern Oregon field in May. Korea will continue testing wheat shipments for the presence of transgenic material, but will not limit purchases of Oregon-grown wheat, says Blake Rowe, Wheat Commission chief executive. Taiwan resumed purchases earlier. Korea and Japan use wheat from Oregon, Washington and Idaho to make noodles, sponge cakes and crackers. They are opposed to importing genetically modified food.
Pig virus migrates to US, threatens pork prices
• DENVER — Pork prices may be on the rise in the next few months because of a new virus that has migrated to the U.S, killing piglets in 200 facilities and 15 states. Nick Striegel, assistant state veterinarian for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, says the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, also known as PED, was thought to exist only in Europe and China, but Colorado and 14 other states began reporting the virus in April, and officials confirmed its presence in May. The virus causes severe diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration in pigs, and can be fatal. Striegel says the disease is not harmful to humans, and there is no evidence it affects pork products. The virus has been confirmed in about 200 hog facilities in 14 other states including Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota, according to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. Lisa Becton, director of swine health information and research for the National Pork Board, an industry trade group, says the impact on the availability of pork and meat prices is difficult to estimate. Becton says the disease can spread quickly and has killed entire populations of pigs under 7 days old.
Briefly . . .
• Deadline extension: The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency has extended its July 15 acreage reporting deadline to Aug. 2. Only the FSA reporting deadline has been extended. The acreage reporting requirement for crop insurance has not changed and remains July 15.