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Published December 30, 2013, 09:40 AM

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ADM subsidiary admits overseas bribery, a co-op looks to build southeast SD agronomy center and SD lawmaker press for a farm bill and help for ranchers.

By: Agweek wire reports, Agweek

ADM subsidiary admits overseas bribery, fined

• SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — An overseas subsidiary of agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. has agreed to pay $17.8 million in fines after pleading guilty to bribing Ukrainian officials, the U.S. Justice Department says. Decatur, Ill.-based ADM was not prosecuted. The company also agreed to return $36.5 million in alleged illegal profits to settle related civil charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. ADM subsidiary Alfred C. Toepfer International Ukraine Ltd. pleaded guilty in federal court in Illinois to conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Justice Department says. “ADM’s subsidiaries sought to gain a tax benefit by bribing government officials, and then attempted to deliberately conceal their conduct by funneling payments through local vendors,” says Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman. “ADM, in turn, failed to implement sufficient policies and procedures to prevent the bribe payments, although ultimately ADM disclosed the conduct, cooperated with the government and instituted extensive remedial efforts.” About $22 million in bribes were made between 2002 and 2008 to receive more than $100 million in refunds on Ukrainian value-added taxes on locally purchased goods, according to the Justice Department and SEC. Purchasers could apply for refunds if those goods were then exported, but the Ukrainian government sometimes delayed those refunds or didn’t make them at all. ADM’s internal controls over bribery were “lackluster,” says Gerald Hodgkins, an associate director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. ADM CEO Patricia Woertz says the company disclosed the bribes to federal officials in 2009. “The conduct that led to this settlement was regrettable, but I believe we handled our response in the right way, and that the steps we took, including self-reporting, underscore our commitment to conducting business ethically and responsibly,” Woertz says. The SEC settlement includes about $33 million in illegal profits, plus interest.

Co-op looks to build southeast SD agronomy center

• ELK POINT, S.D. — Southeast Farmers Co-op in South Dakota is looking at a new agronomy center for bulk fertilizer and chemical storage. The center would be built just off the Akron-Spink exit along Interstate 29. The Union County Planning and Zoning committee recently held an informative meeting about rezoning the land. Union County planning director Dennis Henze says the facility would be easily accessible for the majority of farmers. The multimillion-dollar project was approved for recommendation by the zoning board, and the project will be considered by the county commission. The co-op recently consolidated with Beresford (S.D) Co-op.

SD lawmakers press farm bill, help for ranchers

• WASHINGTON — Negotiating and implementing Congress’ multibillion-dollar farm bill so it helps South Dakota, including ranchers who suffered heavy losses during October’s blizzard, will be the first order of business in 2014, the state’s congressional members say. The House and Senate has each approved a version of the five-year, roughly $500 billion bill, but there are major differences between the two regarding crop subsidies and how much to cut food stamp programs. A new farm bill also would restore emergency protections for livestock producers, a key element for the state. Lawmakers hope to work out a compromise by early next year, which would mark the first time a farm bill has been approved since a 2008 deal. That deal expired in 2012 but was extended until September 2013. “The immediate priority for 2014 is to get it passed,” says Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. “But part of passing it, and with any major bill, is implementing it. We want to make sure it works, the commodity title, the safety net reforms and everything we’re fighting to get in it.” The emergency protections for livestock producers would potentially bring relief to South Dakota ranchers who lost between 15,000 and 30,000 cattle when an early-season blizzard swept through part of the state in October. “Disaster assistance will help a lot,” Thune says. “There’s been a lot of suffering in the state.”

Minimal damage from fire at J.R. Simplot

• GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Firefighters responded to a fire at the J.R. Simplot Co. plant in Grand Forks, N.D., at about 10:20 a.m. Dec 23. The fire was put out in about 20 minutes. Battalion Chief Chad Cutshaw of the Grand Forks Fire Department says no one was injured. On scene after the fire, Cutshaw didn’t have a damage estimate yet, but he guessed it would be minimal. The fire started when a fryer line in the plant caught fire, which then caused grease filters to start on fire, Cutshaw says. At the time, he didn’t have any other information.

Corps says lawsuit against diversion has no merit

• FARGO, N.D. — Attorneys for the federal government are asking a judge to throw out a lawsuit by a group opposed to the current Red River diversion plan in North Dakota and Minnesota. The Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority in September filed a complaint against the nearly $2 billion project, which would move water around Fargo, N.D., and require a staging area south of the metropolitan area in times of high water. The group says it is not trying to stop the project but wants the corps to come up with a cheaper plan that doesn’t flood farmland in Richland County in North Dakota and neighboring Wilkin County in Minnesota. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in its response that other options were studied and the group has failed to make a valid claim.

Briefly . . .

• Rejected shipment: China has rejected about 2,000 metric tons of U.S. dried distillers grains (DDGs), a corn byproduct, and will impose strict checks over an unapproved genetically modified (GMO) strain, traders say. The move follows the rejection of more than half a million metric tons of U.S. corn after authorities detected the presence of MIR 162, a GMO variety developed by Syngenta AG and not approved for import by China’s agriculture ministry.