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Published December 16, 2013, 09:55 AM

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A bill would end corn ethanol mandate, a Canadian court strikes down a board lawsuit and SD officials approve $7.2 million corn palace project.

By: Agweek staff and wire reports, Agweek

Bill would axe corn ethanol mandate

• WASHINGTON — A group of U.S. Senators introduced a bill on Dec. 12 to eliminate the corn ethanol mandate but leave other elements of biofuels policy intact, arguing that current law raises the cost of food and animal feed and damages the environment. The bill, introduced by Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and eight cosponsors, faces an uphill battle as many lawmakers from agricultural states support the Renewable Fuel Standard that dictates rising volumes of ethanol made from grains, including corn, be blended into motor fuel. The bill supports development of advanced biofuels, including those made from soybean oil, grasses and trees, Feinstein says. But it would eliminate the mandate for corn-based ethanol, which currently represents the vast majority of biofuels produced in the U.S. She says the corn mandate diverts a large proportion of the U.S. corn crop toward making fuel, raising animal feed and food prices. The ethanol industry suffered a blow last month when the Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the RFS, proposed the first cut in the use of biofuels since the law was expanded in 2007.

Canadian court strikes down board lawsuit

• OTTOWA — The Canadian court has struck down most of the claims in a lawsuit by supporters of the old Canadian Wheat Board, but the case is still moving forward. The boards supporters are seeking $17 billion for damages they claim were caused when the federal government ended the board’s monopoly on western wheat and barley sales. Justice Daniele Tremblay-Lamer struck out several claims, including those for expropriation, unlawful interference with economic relations and breach of trust. Tremblay-Lamer writes in the decision that the loss of the single marketing desk is not enough to claim loss of a property interest by board supporters. She also notes that the government has not replaced the wheat board as the marketer of grains and producers are still able to sell their grain to the same customers as before. But Tremblay-Lamer says claims by board supporters that there was mismanagement of revenues from 2011 to 2012 will continue to be heard.

SD officials approve $7.2 million Corn Palace project

• MITCHELL, S.D. — South Dakota’s State Historic Preservation Office has given its blessing to a $7.2 million plan to upgrade the Corn Palace tourist attraction in Mitchell. The plan to renovate and expand the Corn Palace will not “damage, destroy or encroach upon historic properties,” according to a letter sent to city officials. The Corn Palace is part of Mitchell’s Historic Commercial District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That prompted the state office’s review of the plan that was approved by the City Council in July, and by the Mitchell Historic Preservation Commission in November. The Corn Palace bills itself as the world’s only palace dedicated to the grain plant. New murals using about 275,000 ears of corn of various sizes and colors decorate the exterior and interior of the facility each year. About 200,000 tourists visit the attraction annually. The plan to renovate and expand the Corn Palace involves two phases. In the first phase, changes will be made to the exterior of the Corn Palace, including new domes that will light up and change color. The plan also includes larger murals with improved lighting and large windows that open to a walk-out balcony above the marquee. The existing City Hall attached to the north side of the Corn Palace will be vacated and renovated to include exhibits and a theater in the second phase of the plan. A new City Hall will be built in southern downtown Mitchell.

124 cows, calves fall through ice in ND

• MANDAN, N.D. — A Morton County, N.D., rancher lost 44 cows and 80 calves when they fell through ice on the Cannonball River. Dick Ressler says he realized he was short some animals when he was rounding them up recently. The animals were found drowned where the Cannonball meets the Missouri River, after an aerial and ground search. Morton County Emergency Manager Tom Doering says one theory is that the cattle were chased onto the ice by coyotes, but he and Ressler say the mystery likely will never be solved. Kist Livestock in Mandan has set up a fund to help Ressler with the financial loss.

Cargill to build $18.6 million grain elevator

• EMERY, S.D. — Cargill will begin construction of a 5.2 million-bushel grain elevator and storage facility this month south of Emery in southeast South Dakota. The project is expected to be completed by the 2014 harvest, the company says. The $18.6 million facility will serve as an independent unloading location for farmer customers that will be separate from the main elevator in Emery. Among other features, the new operation will include a new grain drying system, three large wet grain storage bins, overhead truck load-out bins, dual truck scales and a large capacity receiving leg that will double the current Emery unload speed. The majority of the grain drying will now be done at the new site. The project includes a truck staging area, which will reduce traffic congestion on highways, especially at harvest, the company says. General Manager Doug Fjelland says the local team of employees was a key driver of the investment by Cargill. “They have a great safety record and have a strong commitment to helping our farmer customers thrive through competitive pricing, risk management solutions, agronomy expertise and superior customer service.” This investment also ensures regional farmers will continue to tap into competitive global grain markets, according to Cargill.

Rancher relief fund seeking names

• The North Dakota Stockmen’s Foundation is accepting applications and nominations for assistance through its Stockmen’s Aid for Atlas Disaster Relief Fund, which helps livestock producers in the state hurt by the early October blizzard, known as “Atlas.” Application forms are available online at or by calling the NDSF at 701-223-2522. Nomination forms, which also can be downloaded or requsested, are intended for those who want to submit the names of friends or neighbors who need assistance. To be considered, application and nomination forms must be submitted to the NDSF by Jan. 31.

— Agweek Staff and Wire Reports