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Published February 24, 2014, 09:34 AM

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BNSF's North Dakota track violations topped 700 in the past eight years, South Korea ramps up disinfection after a foot-and-mouth outbreak in North Korea and 4-H members write to encourage South Dakota ranchers.

By: Agweek wire reports, Agweek

BNSF’s ND track violations top 700 in 8 years

&bull:WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal inspectors have issued more than 700 violations to BNSF in the past eight years for defects on its tracks in North Dakota, according to a letter from the Federal Railroad Administration. Those 721 violations came about from 3,822 FRA inspections across the state since 2006, which discovered a total of about 13,141 defects on BNSF’s network. The letter, written by FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo to Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., does not specify the extent of the violations or the severity of any defects. Heitkamp requested more information about inspections around the site of the fiery train crash near Casselton, N.D., on Dec. 30, the fourth derailment in the area in less than a decade. Heitkamp says she is renewing her call for more detailed information on the number of inspections performed around Casselton. The railroad administration previously committed to sending a high-tech inspection device, part of its Automated Track Inspection Program, to survey tracks around Casselton for flaws later this year. The inspection figures are likely in addition to the reviews railroad companies are required by federal law to conduct on their own tracks. On the main freight railroads crossing through North Dakota, that means twice-weekly inspections. BNSF officials say they perform four inspections per week on their tracks in the region. Concern about rail safety issues have intensified in the region as trains have become the main method of shipping crude oil from western North Dakota’s Bakken Formation.

South Korea ramps up disinfection after foot-and-mouth outbreak in North Korea

&bull:South Korea has stepped up disinfection of citizens returning from North Korea after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in pigs in the communist state. Workers in the Kaesong industrial complex jointly run with North Korea, as well as people crossing the border for reunions with family members, will be subject to more rigorous disinfection processes than usual, South Korea’s agriculture ministry says. Pyongyang reported an outbreak of the highly infectious disease to the World Organisation for Animal Health this month. South Korea, which does not import any meat from its neighbor, was forced to cull 10 percent of its cattle and hogs in 2010 and 2011 after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth that cost billions of dollars to contain. Foot-and-mouth usually affects cloven-hoofed animals such as sheep, goats, cattle and pigs. It rarely infects humans.

4-H members encourage SD ranchers

&bull:BROOKINGS, S.D. — 4-H members from across the nation have worked to encourage western South Dakota livestock producers and communities impacted by the October blizzard by sending more than 1,000 encouraging notes and handmade cards. “The impact of the October blizzard is something that will not be forgotten anytime soon by those who endured the storm. Many youth across the nation are hoping to help heal the wounds of those impacted most,” says Tacy Langemeier, South Dakota State University Extension 4-H youth development adviser in Meade County. Within days of the storm, Langemeier noticed that there were many ways for adults to contribute to the relief efforts, but she didn’t see too many ways youth could contribute so she posted a request on a 4-H Facebook page asking youth to send their kind wishes. “I wanted to give 4-Hers and other youth a way to show they care,” Langemeier says. She says the response has been overwhelming with more than 1,100 cards received from youth in 30 U.S. states and four countries. Many of these cards come from entire 4-H clubs or counties. The cards are displayed across western South Dakota for the public to see and share.

Mont. alfalfa seed committee seeks projects

&bull:HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Alfalfa Seed Committee has extended the deadline for projects, applied research and feasibility analyses addressing Montana’s alfalfa seed industry needs and opportunities. Proposals may be submitted until March 14. Proposals should have practical, near-term application involving practices or organizational arrangements that will stimulate an expanded alfalfa seed industry. With $35,000 available for project grants, the committee is currently most interested in research projects about alfalfa seed fertility, including levels of micro-nutrients and macro-nutrients, and timing of fertilizer application. Additionally, the committee is also encouraging studies on increasing the health and production of alfalfa leaf cutter bees. Generally, projects should be focused on research to improve the quality of alfalfa seed; development or improvement of control measures, alfalfa growing culture or other research projects to benefit the industry; development of alfalfa seed industry markets including assessments and promotions; or disseminating current and new research information. Projects will be reviewed and selected by the Montana Alfalfa Seed Committee, which provides direction for research and marketing toward the continued growth of the alfalfa seed industry. The committee is comprised of eight members, serving three-year terms, appointed by the governor. The next public committee meeting will be held April 1 at the Big Horn Resort in Billings.

US proposes rules for farm pesticides

&bull:Farm workers, children and other people working or living near farm fields would have more protection from hazardous pesticides under changes proposed on Feb. 20 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA is proposing revisions to the agency’s 22-year-old Worker Protection Standard that EPA officials say will help protect approximately 2 million U.S. farm workers and their families from exposure to pesticides used to protect crops from weeds, insects and disease. Among the changes proposed, the EPA would require annual training in pesticide protection, instead of once every five years. It would expand mandatory posting of signage warning people of fields newly treated with pesticides, prohibit children under 16 from handling pesticides unless they are part of a family farm and set no-entry buffer areas of 25 to 100 feet around pesticide-treated fields to limit exposure from overspraying and fumes. EPA is seeking public comments on the proposed changes before making a final decision.