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Published December 23, 2013, 09:52 AM

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CHS announces plans for fertilizer hub in North Dakota, the Oglala Sioux back away from a bison reserve pan and the October blizzard cost South Dakota's Pennington County about $454,000.

By: Agweek staff and wire reports, Agweek

CHS announces plans for fertilizer hub in ND

• ST. PAUL — CHS Inc. plans to build a 26,000-ton fertilizer hub in Lakota, N.D. Operating as part of the Lake Region Grain unit of the company’s Country Operations division, the new facility will exclusively handle dry fertilizer product and benefit from shuttle train access off the Burlington Northern rail line. Construction is expected to begin May 1 and the plant will be ready to fill with product by mid-January 2015. “This additional fertilizer capacity will help us ensure a seamless supply for our current patrons and, at the same time, enable us to expand our territory and bring quality inputs to new growers,” says Mark Greicar, general manager, Lake Region Grain. “The CHS commitment to producers includes initiatives to reinvest back into our communities,” says John McEnroe, executive vice president, CHS Country Operations. “It’s a very tangible way CHS is helping its members grow.” Lake Region Grain is a division of CHS Inc.

Oglala Sioux back away from bison reserve plan

• RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council has backed away from a plan to force cattle ranchers from their leased lands for a 100,000-acre bison reserve in the South Unit of Badlands National Park in southwest South Dakota. Ranchers had criticized a June ordinance that revoked grazing leases on 10 parcels within and near the boundaries of the South Unit. The council rescinded the ordinance recently at the urging of councilman James Cross. Cross says people in the district he represents were strongly against the ordinance, and he criticized a committee that brought the plan to the council for not going to the districts to gather input. The tribe and the National Park Service are working on making the South Unit of Badlands National Park into the nation’s first tribal national park. The Stronghold Buffalo Unit was part of that plan. Ranchers in the area say they will oppose any move to force them out because they have nowhere else to go. “This is round one and we’re going to be at it again,” rancher Sandra Buffington says.

October blizzard cost SD’s Pennington County about $454,000

• RAPID CITY, S.D. — Pennington County, S.D., auditors have crunched the numbers and concluded that a major October blizzard cost the county about $454,000. They told commissioners Dec. 17 it’s the most accurate number since they started collecting information shortly after the storm. If the Federal Emergency Management Association reimburses the county 75 percent of that cost and the state contributes 10 percent, the remaining balance would be around $68,000. That would come from the emergency disaster fund. The commission will vote on whether costs such as tool rentals will be included in the county’s final report to FEMA at the next meeting on Jan. 7.

Federal ag disaster money headed to 46 ND counties

• BISMARCK, N.D. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared an ag disaster in 31 North Dakota counties for major crop losses. Gov. Jack Dalrymple says farmers there and in another 15 counties are also eligible for supplemental disaster help and other federal programs. Heavy snowpack, flooding, frost and freeze damage kept farmers from planting more than 4 million acres this year. The agricultural disaster is for the counties of Benson, Bottineau, Burke, Burleigh, Cavalier, Divide, Emmons, Grand Forks, Grant, Kidder, Logan, McHenry, McIntosh, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Mountrail, Nelson, Oliver, Pembina, Pierce, Ramsey, Renville, Rolette, Sioux, Stutsman, Towner, Traill, Walsh, Ward and Wells. The declaration also makes help available to farmers and ranchers in 15 contiguous counties: Adams, Barnes, Cass, Dickey, Dunn, Eddy, Foster, Griggs, Hettinger, LaMoure, McKenzie, Sheridan, Stark, Steele and Williams.

Briefly ...

• Trade mission: South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard plans to travel to China again this spring and is inviting South Dakota business leaders to join him. His third trade mission to the country will include visits to Beijing and Shanghai. The governor’s office says preference will be given to companies in value-added agriculture, advanced manufacturing, biosciences, professional business services and energy. Businesses will be reimbursed after the trade mission for up to 30 percent of the travel, hotel and visa expenses for one company representative. The trip is tentatively set for May 6 to 15. The application deadline is Jan. 17.

• Morrell plant: South Dakota state officials say they’re pleased with improvements made to wastewater treatment at the John Morrell meat processing plant in Sioux Falls. The plant has spent $10 million on upgrades after being cited for numerous wastewater violations in recent years. State environmental specialist John Miller inspected the plant and the upgrades in late September. The upgrades were part of a settlement after Sioux Falls’ largest employer was cited for being out of compliance with dozens of environmental rules for the treated wastewater it discharges into the Big Sioux River. Kelli Buscher with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources says recent violations have been limited.

• N.D. beans: North Dakota’s dry edible bean crop is estimated at 7.1 million hundredweight, down more than a third from last year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the significant drop was because of a 37 percent decline in planted and harvested acres from 2012 and a 3 percent drop in yield. Production nationally is estimated at 24.1 million hundredweight, down 25 percent over the year. North Dakota leads the nation in the production of dry edible beans.