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Published October 07, 2013, 11:02 AM

Latest news

Cattle were stolen in Henning, Minn., Dakota Plains Cooperative join CHS inc., and farmers clean up waterways with cover crops.

$50,000 in cattle believed stolen in Otter Tail County, Minn.

• HENNING, Minn. — Twenty-three head of Black Angus cows and 32 Black Angus calves, valued at about $50,000, are missing from a farm near Henning, Minn. The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Department says the owner noticed the missing cattle when he was moving the herd and conducted a head count. Authorities believe the cattle were stolen sometime in the past two weeks. They were taken from a property at Rocky Ridge Road southeast of Henning. An investigation is ongoing.

Dakota Plains Cooperative votes to join CHS Inc.

• ST. PAUL — Members of Dakota Plains Cooperative, a full-service agribusiness headquartered in Valley City, N.D., voted to approve a merger with CHS Inc., an energy, grains and foods company and the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative. The proposal passed with a 92 percent approval and will become effective Jan. 1, pending appropriate due diligence by both organizations and final approval by the CHS board of directors. “We are pleased the members could see the same vision and opportunities the board saw in merging with CHS,” says Greg Svenningson, Dakota Plains Cooperative board president. “We are excited to partner with the nation’s leading cooperative.” John McEnroe, executive vice president of CHS Country Operations, says, “This is a good match for both cooperatives. We are always interested in investments that align with the CHS commitment to helping our farmer-owners grow their businesses.” Patrons of Dakota Plains Cooperative should expect a smooth transition, including continuity of staffing at its locations. Ken Astrup will continue to lead the co-op as general manager. Dakota Plains Cooperative offers farmers and ranchers a full line of agronomy, seed, feed, and energy services and products from 15 locations in central and southeast North Dakota. CHS is a leading global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the U.S.

Report: farmers help clean up rivers and lakes with cover crops

• WASHINGTON — Cover crops are one simple farming technique that can save money, produce better crops, clean rivers and estuaries, and address climate change. Yet, a new report from National Wildlife Federation, Counting Cover Crops, finds that less than 2 percent of cropland in the highly farmed Mississippi River Basin is planted to cover crops. A second NWF report, Clean Water Grows, provides six examples of water quality groups working with farmers to clean up rivers and streams using cover crops. Yet, the potential of cover crops in the Midwest is still largely untapped. The good news is that cover crop use is on the rise. Clean Water Grows profiles hard-working groups and individuals in Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa and Maryland who are working cooperatively to increase cover crops in their watersheds.

Small number of schools drop out of lunch program

• WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says 524 schools — out of about 100,000 — have dropped out of the federally subsidized national school lunch program since the government introduced new standards for healthier foods last year. The new standards have met with grumbling from school nutrition officials who say they are difficult and expensive to follow, conservatives who say the government shouldn’t be dictating what kids eat and — unsurprisingly — from some children who say the less-greasy food doesn’t taste as good. But USDA says the vast majority of schools are serving healthier food, with some success. Data released Sept. 30 by USDA shows that 80 percent of schools say they have already met the requirements, which went into place at the beginning of the 2012 school year. About one-half percent have dropped out of the program. In an effort to stem high childhood obesity levels, the new guidelines set limits on calories and salt, and they phase in more whole grains in federally subsidized meals served in schools’ main lunch line. Schools must offer at least one vegetable or fruit per meal and comply with a variety of other specific nutrition requirements. The rules aim to introduce more nutrients to growing kids and also to make old favorites healthier — pizza with low-fat cheese and whole-wheat crust, for example, or baked instead of fried potatoes. If schools do not follow the rules, or if they drop out, they are not eligible for the federal dollars that reimburse them for free and low-cost meals served to low-income students. That means wealthier schools with fewer needy students are more likely to be able to operate outside of the program.

Briefly . . .

• Farm bill: The House has passed a rule that would put the farm and nutrition programs back together in one bill. The vote was 226-191. The measure is part of a larger rule that would have enabled Republican leaders to act on debt and funding bills before the fiscal year ended Oct. 30. The deadline passed, however, with no agreement on the overall federal budget, leading to a federal government shutdown.

n Hay bales: The South Dakota Department of Transportation is reminding landowners that they now need permits to remove hay bales from highway ditches. Oct. 1 was the deadline for removing the bales. Any person wishing to claim ownership of illegal bales must now obtain a permit from the department. The permits are issued on a first-come first-served basis. Permits are available at DOT offices in Aberdeen, Belle Fourche, Custer, Huron, Mitchell, Mobridge, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Watertown, Winner and Yankton. The DOT will remove or authorize the removal of any hay bales remaining in the public right of way after Oct. 31. In North Dakota, farmers and ranchers have about a month to remove hay bales from roadside ditches. The state Transportation Department says the deadline to remove bales from highway rights of way is Nov. 1. Officials say the bales need to be removed for snow management and safety. Any that remain after Nov. 1 will be removed by the state.

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