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Published July 29, 2013, 10:25 AM

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Northern Beef Packers has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a trial date is set for two Minn. men accused of animal cruelty, and North Dakota's milk production for third quarter 2013 has already surpassed milk production for third quarter 2012.

By: Agweek Staff and Wire Reports,

Minn. prevented plant acres largely in the southeast

• FARGO, N.D. — Debra Crusoe, state director for the federal Farm Service Agency in Minnesota, says more than 725,000 acres are prevented plant status in the state. Crusoe says no county-by-county information is available, but she perceives that most of those acres are in the 19 southeast counties where farmers also suffered winterkill on alfalfa, triggering disaster declarations. She says more county-by-county figures won’t be known until after farmers report crop acres to the FSA offices. The 19 counties in the southeast are open for emergency grazing and will be open for emergency haying on Aug. 2. Conservation Reserve Program contract holders need to report the harvesting for a payment reduction. Not all CRP practices are eligible. Minnesota farmers are about 80 percent finished with acreage reporting. The original deadline was July 15, but was extended to Aug. 2 because of the late planting season. Crusoe acknowledges that one problem has been slower -than-normal software responses within the FSA. She says those troubles have been coming in waves and seem to be improving because of efforts at headquarters in Washington, D.C. She says it is possible that some counties may need to use registers to schedule crop reporting appointments after the Aug. 2 deadline.

SD beef plant files for bankruptcy protection, lays off workers

• ABERDEEN, S.D. — Northern Beef Packers in Aberdeen, S.D., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy July 19 and laid off 260 people on July 24. Jeffery LaCroix, a meat cutter, says employees from the killing floor and fabrication department were let go. Several employees say Northern Beef Packers has not paid them in more than two weeks. “They kept saying they were going to pay us, but they haven’t,” says Obono Alual, who has worked on the slaughter line. The president of the plant says he is still working for the company but would not offer any further comments. The slaughter plant laid off 108 of its 420 workers in April because of a lack of working capital. Officials had hoped to eventually process 1,500 cattle a day from the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. U.S. Bankruptcy Court documents show that the plant now owned by South Korean investors owes millions of dollars to nearly 300 creditors in the U.S. and South Korea. Northern Beef also owes about $500,000 in back property taxes to Brown County and also has pledged to pay $950,000 to help resurface a road in the area. County commissioners have approved hiring an attorney with expertise in bankruptcy law.

Court petition seeks EPA action on pesticide drift

• SAN FRANCISCO — Activists have filed another petition to force federal regulators to set safety standards that protect children from pesticides that drift from farm fields into nearby communities. Pesticide Action Network, the United Farmworkers of America and other groups filed the petition July 24 in San Francisco federal court. It asks a judge to force the Environmental Protection Agency to answer a petition from 2009, which demanded the agency evaluate children’s exposures to pesticide drift and adopt no-spray buffer zones around homes, schools, parks and daycare centers. Plaintiffs say in the four years since the initial petition was filed, the EPA hasn’t responded or taken action. EPA spokesman Bill Keener says the agency couldn’t comment, because it hasn’t seen the petition yet.

Japanese beetles traced to Minn. nursery

•BISMARCK, N.D. — Infestations of Japanese beetles in four North Dakota cities have been traced to a Minnesota-based nursery. “Japanese beetles have been found in traps in Bismarck, Fargo, West Fargo and Grand Forks,” says North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “All have been traced to shipments from Bailey Nurseries of St. Paul.” Goehring says a North Dakota Department of Agriculture plant protection specialist found more than 60 beetles in traps placed at a West Fargo site, as well as 15 beetles in traps at a Fargo location. Beetles were also found at two Bismarck locations and a Grand Forks site. Goehring says NDDA is working closely with parks and recreation, city foresters and county extension agents to prevent the establishment of Japanese beetles in North Dakota. Native to Japan and first discovered in the U.S. in 1916, the Japanese beetle is now found in almost every state east of the Mississippi River, as well as Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana. The half-inch-long, adult beetles are metallic green with bronze wing covers. During their two-month lifespan, females lay up to 60 eggs. The eggs hatch in two weeks, and the larva feed on plant roots, emerging as adults in mid-June through September. The insects defoliate corn, soybeans, ornamentals, trees and shrubs especially roses and lindens, as well as other plants. Japanese beetle trapping has been ongoing in North Dakota since 1960. The insect was first detected in the state in Burleigh County in 2001. In 2012, the beetles were found in West Fargo and Grand Forks. Goehring says the trapping will continue through September and next season to determine if any beetles have overwintered in the state. Currently, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture monitors about 130 traps, most of them in plant nurseries. Goehring urged homeowners who find Japanese beetles to contact NDDA at 800-242-7535.

Briefly...

• Animal abuse: A trial date is set for two people accused of abusing nearly 70 horses in Minnesota Donald and Terry Harwood are charged with 10 counts of inhumane treatment of an animal. They face 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine if convicted. The trial is set for Aug. 15. The Harwoods are currently out on bond. The Pennington County (Minn.) Sheriff’s Office impounded 69 horses after reports of neglect surfaced.

• Milk production: Milk production in North Dakota totaled 89 million pounds in the second quarter of 2013. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that this is up 1 million pounds from the same quarter last year. Milk production across the U.S. from April to June totaled 52 billion pounds. This is up 0.9 percent from the same quarter last year.

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