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Published April 21, 2014, 09:57 AM

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SD farm loses 600 hogs to smoke inhalation, Titan Machinery downsizes and Hoeven urges halt of livestock emissions regulations

By: Agweek Wire reports, Agweek

SD farm loses 600 hogs to smoke inhalation

• SALEM, S.D. — A Hutterite colony lost about 600 hogs to smoke inhalation from a fire that started April 12 in a hog barn on the Golden View Hutterite Colony. McCook County (S.D.) emergency manager Brad Stiefvater says embers from a nearby burn pit likely were sucked into a vent and started the fire in the ceiling of the building. Salem and Spencer fire departments responded to the fire about 5:30 p.m. Stiefvater says firefighters had to cut open the roof to get at the fire, which burned some rafters and insulation. Not all the hogs in the 40-by-140-foot barn died, Stiefvater says. But more hogs could die later as some of the animals could develop infections or other complications from smoke inhalation. The fire departments were on scene for about three hours to manage hot spots in the insulation and rafters of the building’s ceiling. Stiefvater says the colony plans to repair the building. In the meantime, the surviving hogs have been moved to another building. “The building sustained damage, but the building damage certainly wouldn’t equal the loss of the hogs,” he says.

Titan Machinery downsizes

• WEST FARGO, N.D. — Titan Machinery has closed eight of its construction stores and is eliminating 128 positions, including seven at its headquarters in West Fargo, N.D. Slow construction recovery was identified as the reason for the company’s downsizing. CEO David Meyer says the realignment is necessary to ensure the future of the company. “In the fourth quarter, our parts and service business performed well, while our equipment sales and margins continued to experience challenges due to industry headwinds across our segments,” Meyer says. Stores being shuttered include locations in Rosemount, Minn., Bozeman and Helena, Mont., Cheyenne, Wyo., Clear Lake, Iowa, and Flagstaff, Ariz. The company also will reduce staff at other dealerships and seven support staff at its Shared Resources Center in West Fargo. The closing of the Rosemount store will result in the elimination of five positions. The Rosemount store’s operations will be absorbed by Titan’s Shakopee, Minn., construction store. Titan Machinery was established in 1980 in West Fargo. The company owns and operates a network of full-service agricultural and construction equipment stores in the U.S.

Hoeven urges halt of emissions regulations

• WASHINGTON — Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., has asked three federal agencies to halt regulations on livestock emissions. In a letter also signed by 15 other Republican senators, Hoeven pressed the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency not to impose policies that he says could cost cattle producers thousands of dollars. The letter is in response to President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which asks the agencies to develop a plan to reduce dairy sector methane greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020. The mandates could cost medium-sized dairy farms up to $22,000 and medium-sized cattle farms up to $27,000. An appropriations bill is preventing the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions associated with livestock production, but it expires Oct. 1. Officials at the agencies are expected to come up with a plan in the following weeks.

USDA considers PED outbreak reports

• CHICAGO — The U.S. is considering rules that would require outbreaks of a deadly pig virus to be reported to the government in an effort to improve tracking of the disease, which has already spread to 30 states, an industry group says. Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has killed millions of baby pigs since it was first detected in the U.S. one year ago. PEDv has crimped hog supplies in the U.S. and sent prices to record highs. It remains unclear how the virus entered the country, and farmers have struggled to find ways to contain it. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has discussed the option of mandatory reporting with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, says Tom Burkgren, executive director of the association. PEDv, which is nearly always fatal in piglets, has been difficult to track in part because veterinarians are not required to alert government officials of its presence. USDA is “currently evaluating additional options for addressing this virus,” a spokeswoman says. Mandatory reporting is already used for viruses such as African swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease. The USDA can quarantine animals with African swine fever and restrict the movement of infected animals.

DOC to investigate Mexican sugar imports

• The U.S. Department of Commerce announced would initiate an investigation to determine if the Mexican government has subsidized Mexico’s sugar production and whether that sugar is being dumped into the U.S. market. A group of U.S. sugar producers filed antidumping and countervailing duty petitions against Mexico’s sugar industry on March 28, and applauded the DOC’s decision. The Mexican sugar industry — 20 percent of which is owned and operated by the Mexican government — has rapidly increased exports to the U.S. in recent years, rising from 9 percent of the U.S. market in 2012 to nearly 18 percent in 2013. And, according to recently updated U.S. Department of Agriculture data, Mexico is accelerating its rate of exportation in 2014. As of March 31, Mexico had already sent to America 1.15 million tons of sugar, putting it on pace to ship 2.3 million tons for the year. That is compared with last year’s all-time record of 2.1 million tons. Unless the pace slows, imports of sugar from Mexico will be 500,000 tons more than U.S. government officials had expected this year. U.S. producers say the growth in Mexico’s exports to the U.S. is being fueled by substantial subsidies and by dumping margins of 45 percent or more. They also say Mexico is directly responsible for sinking U.S. sugar prices, which have fallen 50 percent since late 2011 and are back to the lows of the 1980s. Earlier this month, USDA announced an acreage decline of 4 percent for the U.S. sugar beet crop currently being planted. That marks the fourth consecutive year that U.S. sugar farmers have reduced plantings. The International Trade Commission is responsible for determining whether or not domestic producers are injured by dumped and subsidized imports. It is expected to make a preliminary determination in May.

Briefly . . .

• Ag speaker: Greg Peterson, known for his music videos that involve agriculture, will speak at 7 p.m. April 22 in Sheppard Arena on the North Dakota State University campus in Fargo. Peterson is the spokesman for Peterson Farm Brothers, a trio who makes parody music videos. He’ll speak in Fargo about “activist websites, celebrity opinions and Internet misinformation.” The event, open to the public, will be hosted by North Dakota Farm Bureau’s NDSU Collegiate group. Collegiate Farm Bureau consists of college students interested in agriculture, policy development and current events affecting North Dakota. There are collegiate groups at Dickinson State University and NDSU.