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Published November 25, 2013, 09:54 AM

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The presidential turkey comes from Minnesota, a local fund raises money for West River ranchers and the Rancher Relief Fund accepts applications.

By: Agweek staff and wire reports, Agweek

Presidential turkey comes from Minn.

• BADGER, Minn. — A fourth-generation Minnesota turkey farmer will provide the bird that’s expected to be granted clemency by President Barack Obama this week at the White House. John Burkel and his family have been raising a select flock of turkeys at their farm in far northwestern Minnesota for the special pardon ceremony in Washington Nov. 27. The Burkels have cut the flock of presidential potentials from 80 down to three. Only two toms flew out of Grand Forks Nov. 23 with the Burkels for the trip to the White House. The family will be joined by the high school senior class from their hometown of Badger — all 16 of them. John Burkel is chairman of the National Turkey Federation board, which has given him the opportunity to provide the lucky turkey.

Local fund raises $30,000 for West River ranchers

• HURON, S.D. — A local fund drive to assist West River ranch families overcome thousands of livestock deaths in an early October blizzard has raised a little more than $30,000 so far. Overall, the fund stands at nearly $1 million. Contributions have come from almost every state, England, Canada and Australia. A 45-day period for ranchers to apply for the funds ends on Dec. 31. Announced in early November, the Huron effort was coordinated by the Agriculture Committee of the Huron Chamber & Visitors Bureau. Those who still want to donate should make their checks payable to the Black Hills Community Foundation, and drop them off or mail them to the chamber office in Huron.

Rancher Relief Fund accepting applications

• Rapid City, S.D. — The Rancher Relief Fund is now accepting applications for assistance from livestock producers impacted by the blizzard. Representatives of the Rancher Relief Fund founding livestock organizations identified dual priorities for fund distribution — assist those who were hardest hit first and provide financial assistance to as many producers as possible. Based on these priorities, funds will be distributed through the South Dakota Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters, which is comprised of a number of disaster relief organizations. Assistance application forms are available online at An application deadline of Dec. 31 has been set in order to assess the number of applications and the severity of their needs. The South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund was established by the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and South Dakota Sheepgrowers Association at the Black Hills Area Community Foundation to provide support and relief assistance for livestock producers impacted by winter storm Atlas Oct. 4 to 7. Immediate release of funds to applicants before the deadline may occur with the most severe cases. A second funding round might be made available to applicants who have signed up before the Dec. 31 deadline, depending on continued contributions to the Rancher Relief Fund and the number of qualified applications received. Recommendations for families who may need assistance will also be accepted and nomination forms are posted at www.RanchersRelief. org.

Tyson to drop Okla. hog supplier after abuse video

• SPRINGDALE, Ark. — An animal rights group says it videotaped workers at a central Oklahoma farm abusing hogs raised for Tyson Foods, and the meat company said it would immediately end its contract with the supplier. Mercy For Animals distributed images of farm workers striking pigs and slamming piglets onto a concrete floor. In one portion of the tape, a worker is shown throwing a bowling ball at a pig, striking it in the head. The animal rights group and Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods identified the farm as West Coast Farms in Henryetta, Okla. Phone calls to the farm went unanswered. Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson says the company owns the livestock and had contracted with West Coast Farms to raise the animals. “We’re extremely disappointed by the mistreatment shown in the video and will not tolerate this kind of animal mishandling,” Mickelson wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “We are immediately terminating our contract with this farmer and will take possession of the animals remaining on the farm.”

Briefly . . .

• Barn fire: Authorities are investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed a pole barn east of Pierre, S.D., and killed some pigs. Pierre Rural Fire Department Assistant Chief Sean Kruger says the fire was reported about 3:45 a.m. Nov. 20 and that the 7,800-square-foot barn was engulfed by the time firefighters arrived. The barn contained farm equipment, feed and pigs. Kruger says some of the pigs died. A damage estimate was not immediately available.

• Correction: In the Nov. 18 issue of Agweek, a headline reported that U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said farm bill savings should be kept separate from overall budget savings. It is, in fact, Speaker of the House John Boehner who favors the separation of the two.