Latest newsSouth Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard expects an eventual buyer for the troubled Northern Beef Packers plant, an Iowa company is dropping plans to slaughter horses, and a Minnesota farmer who pleaded guilty to selling raw milk has been accused of violating terms of his parole.
By: Agweek Staff and Wire Reports,
SDPUC credit-sale rule change moves ahead
• The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission on Aug. 12 unanimously approved a rule change on credit-sale contracts. The rule says if farmers failed to sign a credit- sale contract agreement within two business days of receiving it in the mail, the agreement becomes an automatically effective contract. If approved by a South Dakota Legislative Rules Committee at a 9 a.m. hearing in Pierre on Aug. 20, the proposed PUC rule could go into effect 20 days after that hearing, meaning it could be in effect for the high-volume row crop harvest season. The PUC promulgated a new rule at the request of grain elevators who say farmers need to be able to make binding contracts orally over a telephone, without having to come into an elevator for a signature. The issue came up in the wake of the Anderson Seed Inc. insolvency in February 2012, which left farmers unpaid millions of dollars owed for delivered grain.
SD governor expects Aberdeen beef plant to be bought
• PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard says he expects a financially troubled South Dakota beef packing plant to eventually be bought and operated by a new owner. Northern Beef Packers in Aberdeen filed for bankruptcy protection last month and has asked a judge to allow it to hire an investment banking firm to pursue a sale. Daugaard says he thinks another packing company will buy the Aberdeen plant because it’s already been built and has secured the permits needed to operate. “After it’s sold to a new owner, it presumably will be up and running,” he says. Land for the $109 million plant was first secured in 2006, but the company wasn’t able to slaughter its first animal until late 2012. After struggling to reach anywhere near its production target of 1,500 head a day, it laid off most of its employees last month and halted production. The governor says the packing plant is needed to provide good jobs and give South Dakota farmers and ranchers a place where they can get their cattle processed.
New United Pulse facility dedicated in ND
• MINOT, N.D. — Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., joined United Pulse Trading Aug. 8 in dedicating the new $30 million pulse processing facility in Minot, N.D. As governor, Hoeven worked with North Dakota’s Department of Commerce, local officials and executives from United Pulse Trading’s parent company to bring the company to North Dakota, one of the primary pulse producing states in the nation. This collaboration was part of Hoeven’s efforts to expand agribusiness throughout the state as part of North Dakota’s strategic plan for economic growth. The United Pulse Trading facility, whose construction began in late 2012, is an expansion of United Pulse’s operations in Williston and will process pulse products such as peas, lentils and chickpeas, with products exported worldwide. The facility is expected to employ 45 people and eventually expand its capacity to produce pulse flours, proteins, fibers and starches.
Iowa plant drops horse slaughter plan
•ALBUQURQUE, N.M. — An Iowa company is dropping plans to slaughter horses in the wake of a federal judge’s ruling that temporarily banned the practice as animal welfare groups challenge it in court, a company executive says. Responsible Transportation, which owns a slaughterhouse in Sigourney, Iowa, can’t afford to wait for more deliberations in court and will instead turn its focus to cattle processing, the company’s president, Keaton Walker, says. A federal judge issued a restraining order earlier this month in a lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States and other groups against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The case has sparked an emotional national debate about how best to deal with the tens of thousands of wild, unwanted and abandoned horses across the country. Responsible Transportation was one of two companies that had secured federal permits for horse slaughter. Valley Meat Co. of Roswell, N.M., has been at the forefront of the fight, pushing for permission to convert its cattle plant into a horse slaughterhouse. The USDA in June gave the company the go-ahead to begin slaughtering horses.
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• Energae hearing: A hearing that asks a judge to put Energae LP of Clear Lake, Iowa, into receivership has been postponed until Aug. 27, at 9 a.m., at Cerro Gordo County District Court in Mason City, Iowa. Lawyers for plaintiffs Robert Hylden and Darren Sheldon of Fargo, N.D., say they agreed to the postponement from the Aug. 13 original date, to give the company’s lawyers more time to prepare. Hylden and Sheldon say they’ve put tens of thousands of dollars into the company or its affiliates. Darrell Duane Smith of Forest City, Iowa, who made presentations in North Dakota on Energae’s behalf in 2012, and has promoted renewable energy tax credits for the company, was permanently stripped of insurance and securities licenses in Iowa. Hylden and Sheldon are both originally from the Park River, N.D., area.
• Expenses up: Production expenses rose about 20 percent for farmers in the Great Plains last year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says production expenses in the region totaled $88.8 billion in 2012, up from $73.8 billion in 2011. The region includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Farm production expenses nationally rose about 10 percent over the year, to $351.8 billion.
• Raw milk: A Minnesota farmer who pleaded guilty to selling raw milk is accused of violating terms of his parole. A prosecutor in Sibley County has asked a district court judge to order the arrest of Michael Hartmann. A state patrol trooper stopped the rural Gibbon farmer recently in Anoka County and discovered that he was transporting unpasteurized milk for sale. Under state law, raw milk can only be sold on the farm where it’s produced. Defense attorney Zenas Baer says Hartmann has a constitutional right to sell the milk. In 2010, state officials said Hartmann’s unpasteurized products sickened more than a dozen people. A hearing date hasn’t been set yet on the request to jail Hartmann.