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Published October 21, 2013, 11:13 AM

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Senators oppose GIPSA, synfuels plant may add urea and semi kills cattle in rollover.

Senators send ag leaders letter opposing GIPSA provision

• WASHINGTON — Eight senators including several from the Midwest on Oct. 17 sent a letter to Senate agriculture leaders opposing a provision in the House farm bill that would repeal a provision of the 2008 farm bill. That provision gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration additional authority to regulate livestock and poultry markets under the Packers and Stockyards Act. The House and the Senate are about to begin a conference on the House and Senate farm bills to come up with a single farm bill agreement. Repealing the provision “would leave small producers vulnerable against concentrated market forces,” the senators wrote to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, organized the letter, which was also signed by Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Al Franken, D-Minn., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., and John Rockefeller, D-W.Va. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which has campaigned vigorously for stricter regulation of livestock and poultry markets, posted the letter on its website. The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union also oppose the House repeal provision. To learn more about farm bill progress, now that the shutdown has ended, see page 17.

ND synfuels plant might add urea to mix

• BISMARCK, N.D. — The Dakota Gasification Co. has submitted an application to state regulators for a proposed urea fertilizer production facility at its Great Plains Synfuels Plant in western North Dakota. It would be the 10th coproduct for the plant that makes natural gas from coal. Officials say urea production requires anhydrous ammonia and carbon dioxide, both of which are produced at the synfuels plant. Dakota Gasification is a subsidiary of Bismarck-based Basin Electric Power Cooperative. The company says it hopes to complete the urea plant in early 2017, with a goal of producing about 1,100 tons of the fertilizer daily.

Semi rollover kills 25 cattle in southwest SD

• OELRICHS, S.D. — Authorities say about 25 cattle died when a semitrailer rolled in South Dakota’s Fall River County. The accident happened Oct. 10 near Oelrichs, in far southwest South Dakota. The driver of the cattle truck, Wilford Kurtz of Miles City, Mont., was taken to a hospital with non life threatening injuries. The truck rolled onto its right side as it approached a railroad crossing through a construction zone. Emergency responders who arrived on scene spotted an oncoming train in the distance, but were able to notify the railroad in time to stop the train. About 70 cattle survived the crash and were rounded up by members of the Oelrichs Fire Department and Fall River County Sheriff’s Office.

Suspect in Williston, N.D., rancher slaying released

• WILLISTON, N.D. — One of several people arrested in the slaying of a Williston-area hobby rancher in North Dakota has been released from jail and all charges against him dropped. According to jail staff and court documents, Jeremy Weyrauch was released from the Williams County Jail Oct. 11. He was arrested earlier this year on a count of conspiracy to commit murder in the May shooting death of 58-year-old Jack Sjol. Sjol’s body was found in a garbage dump on May 14, three weeks after his family reported him missing. Authorities say he had bullet wounds to his head, face and upper left arm. Prosecutors refused to discuss the case Oct. 14 and Weyrauch’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

Anxiety as stimulus hike in food stamps set to end

• CONCORD, N.H. — Millions of Americans will see a drop in their food stamps benefit next month as a temporary increase expires. Food stamps — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — go to 47 million Americans a month. Almost half of them are children and teenagers. The federal stimulus pumped $45.2 billion into SNAP starting in 2009. That increased the monthly benefit of $588 a month to $668 for an average household of four. In November, that same family will start getting $632 a month. That’s about a 5 percent cut.

Northern Beef worker claims company didn’t give notice

n•in Aberdeen, S.D., has filed a class-action lawsuit against the plant that has filed for bankruptcy. Jorge Alvarado claims he and others weren’t given proper notice before losing their jobs. Northern Beef laid off 108 workers on April 24 and roughly another 260 on July 26. Alvarado was laid off in July and filed the lawsuit against the beef plant individually and as a representative “for all similarly situated individuals” who were laid off within 90 days of July 19. According to court paperwork, Alvarado claims the workers weren’t given proper notice under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. A judge would have to certify the lawsuit as a class-action case before moving forward.

Briefly . . .

• Horse deaths: Sentencing for a man charged in the starvation deaths of more than 100 horses in Burleigh and Morton counties in North Dakota has been moved to December. William Kiefer pleaded guilty Aug. 2 to nine counts of Class A misdemeanor overworking, mistreating or abandoning animals. His sentencing had been scheduled for this month but has been moved to Dec. 5 to allow more time for completion of a presentence investigation and psychiatric evaluation.

• Embezzling charges: A woman accused of embezzling from the Gregory (S.D.) Farmers Elevator in southeast South Dakota has been scheduled for trial in February. Melissa Vosika, 29, is accused of stealing more than $17,000 from the elevator while she was the business manager. She has pleaded not guilty. She faces seven counts of embezzlement, one count of attempted embezzlement and three counts of altering corporate records. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine for each of the charges. She also faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each of three forgery counts filed against her if convicted.

— Agweek Staff and Wire Reports

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