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Published January 27, 2014, 09:52 AM

Latest news

Neighbors warned ND horses were starving, listeria found in SD bottled raw milk, elevator fire closes interstate in Minn., industrial beet grower meetings scheduled, Peterson blames Grassley for farm bill heartburn, and South Korea steps up measures to contain bird flu.

By: Agweek Staff and Wire Reports,

Neighbors warned ND horses were starving

• KATHRYN, N.D. — Court documents filed against a Kathryn, N.D., woman accused of starving eight horses to death say neighbors warned law enforcement four months before that there was no food for the animals on the woman’s property. Ginger Helland, 29, was charged Jan. 9 in Barnes County District Court with animal neglect and mistreating animals, both Class A misdemeanors, and with unlawful disposition of dead animals, an infraction. Helland and her husband, Karl, were also charged in Barnes County Court on two separate occasions — Sept. 17 and Nov. 12, of letting their livestock run at large, a Class B misdemeanor. According to court documents filed with the charges, Barnes County deputies were first called out on Aug. 31 after receiving complaints about Helland’s livestock at the Ricky and Larinda Velure farm.

Listeria found in SD bottled raw milk

• PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota Department of Agriculture is reporting listeria in a sampling of bottled raw milk from Jerseydale Farms near Brookings, S.D. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture advises consumers that raw milk recently purchased from this business may contain harmful bacteria that can lead to listeria infection. Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and individuals with weakened immune systems. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. A person with listeriosis may have fever, muscle aches and sometimes nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance or convulsions can occur. The contaminated bottled raw milk was sold in the Brookings County area.

Elevator fire closes interstate in Minn.

• BARNESVILLE, Minn. — A fire at a Barnesville, Minn., grain elevator closed Interstate 94 on Jan. 19. Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist says a fire at the Agassiz Valley Grain elevator at the intersection near I-94 and Highway 9 was reported around 9:30 a.m. The fire was near a large propane tank and authorities were concerned the tank could explode. I-94 was closed in each direction until emergency crews put out the fire around 1 p.m. Bergquist says I-94 was re-opened then and most emergency responders departed the scene. The Barnesville Fire Department stayed on the scene to monitor the situation. Bergquist says the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Industrial beet grower meetings scheduled

• Farmers are invited to attend informational meetings on industrial beet production and processing at five locations across central North Dakota the week of Jan. 27. Industrial beets, also called energy beets, are sugar beets bred for the biofuels market and industrial purposes. The beets are used to create ethanol and high-value chemicals. The meetings will update farmers on industrial beet processing development efforts in the state and answer grower questions about industrial beet production and the economics of industrial beets. Meeting locations, times and dates are: 1 to 3 p.m., Jan. 29, North Dakota State University Extension Service office, Towner County; Carrington — 9 to 11 a.m., Jan. 29, Carrington Research Extension Center; Jamestown — 1 to 3 p.m., Jan. 28, Farmers Union headquarters; Langdon — 9 to 11 a.m., Jan. 30, Langdon Research Extension Center; and Valley City — 9 to 11 a.m., Jan. 28, Eagles Club. Grower meetings planned for later this winter will provide more details on beet agronomics and production economics, plus gauge farmers’ willingness to grow the crop.

Peterson blames Grassley for farm bill heartburn

• COMSTOCK, Minn. — Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, announced at a meeting in Comstock, Minn., on Jan. 23, that the farm bill had hit another snag late in the day. Payment limits are the current hang-up in passing the farm bill, Peterson said. “The biggest problem is the ‘actively engaged’ language,” Peterson told Agweek, blaming the issue on language that Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is insisting on. “It says that unless you put 1,000 hours on a tractor you can’t get any payments from the government. Nobody does that anymore. What farmer puts 1,000 hours in on a tractor? They hire people to do that. Under his rules you couldn’t get a payment.” “First, there is nothing in the bill that says you have to actually sit on a tractor to reach the 1.000 hours of active farming,” says Beth Levine, communications director for Grassley. “Second, landowners are not subject to the 1,000 hours. There is also an exemption for one additional farm manager (plus a spouse).” Peterson, speaking at a meeting of the Richland Wilkin Joint Powers Authority, said he had hoped something might break that day. “I just had an email that said they found another way to hang it up — not my staff but the other guys,” Peterson said, shaking his head. “We’re ‘this close’ to getting a farm bill done. The way it looks to me we will get it done either the week of Jan. 27 or the week after that. Finally, after three years.”

South Korea steps up measures to contain bird flu

• South Korea is stepping up efforts to prevent the spread of bird flu ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, after migratory birds were found to be infected with the same strain of the virus that hit poultry farms recently. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs says it suspects a flock of migratory birds found dead brought the latest outbreak of the H5N8 strain of bird flu. Asia’s fourth-largest economy has had four outbreaks of bird flu viruses in the past 10 years. The most recent, in 2011, led to a cull of more than 3 million poultry. The government has issued a movement control order for livestock and related transport in North and South Jeolla provinces in the southwest part of the country, and raised its bird flu warning level to “alert” from “caution.” The first case of H5N8 bird flu was discovered at a duck farm in the county of Gochang, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Seoul. Another two farms were hit in the nearby county of Buan, some 240 km from Seoul.