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Published May 27, 2014, 10:09 AM

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A U.S. official urges a deal to resolve the sugar row with Mexico, the EPA approves an insecticide for a bee parasite and Mexico is now open for U.S. fresh potatoes.

By: Agweek Staff and Wire reports, Agweek

US official urges deal to resolve sugar row with Mexico

• MEXICO CITY — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it would like to head off a protracted trade dispute with Mexico over sugar imports by encouraging a negotiated agreement before any sanctions are imposed. “We are in the process of encouraging ... folks to figure out a way forward that allows a suspension agreement to take place,” U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says. Phillip Hayes, spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, which represents the U.S. sugar industry, tells Agweek his organization has no reaction to Vilsack’s comments. David Berg, president of American Crystal Sugar Co. a Moorhead, Minn.-based sugar beet cooperative, referred questions to Hayes.

EPA approves insecticide for bee parasite

• BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved his request for a Section 18 emergency exemption for Hopguard, enabling North Dakota beekeepers to continue using the pesticide to control varroa mites. “The exemption gives North Dakota beekeepers another tool for protecting their hives and reducing their losses,” Goehring says. “Left uncontrolled, varroa mites cause deep and widespread losses in bee colonies. They are the most serious pest problem facing beekeepers.” The exemption allows application of Hopguard strips at a rate of one strip per five deep combs. The directions specify that the strips must be placed only in brood chambers. A maximum of three applications per year is allowed. Users must follow all applicable directions, restrictions and precautions on the container label, as well as the Section 18 directions. A Section 18 exemption under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act authorizes EPA to allow an unregistered use of a pesticide for a limited time if the agency determines that an emergency condition exists.

Mexico now open for US fresh potatoes

• WASHINGTON — The Mexican government has implemented its final rule to allow U.S. fresh potatoes to enter all of Mexico. This action is part of a bi-lateral agreement that facilitates trade in fresh potatoes between the two countries. The National Potato Council and U.S. Potato Board support the trade agreement, as it will benefit potato growers in Mexico and the U.S., as well as the processing industries and consumers in both countries. Per capita potato consumption in Mexico is lower than in the U.S., so there is room for this market to grow. The USPB will conduct market development programs in Mexico that will be designed to increase consumption of all potatoes in Mexico.

Mich. meat packer recalls ground beef for possible E.coli

• CHICAGO — A Michigan meat processing plant has recalled 1.8 million pounds of ground beef for possible contamination with the E.coli bacteria, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced May 19. USDA says Wolverine Packing Co. in Detroit is recalling the 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products produced between March 31 and April 18 after FSIS was notified of a case of E.coli illness on May 12. FSIS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traced the case to Wolverine Packing. Further investigations identified 11 people in four states sickened by the potentially deadly bacteria. The product in question bears the establishment number “EST.2574B” with a production date code marked “Packing Nos:MM DD 14” between “03 31 14” and “04 18 14.” USDA says some of the recalled products were shipped to distributors for restaurant use in Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio.

ND agricultural commissioner race wide open, according to survey

• BISMARCK , N.D. — The race for North Dakota agricultural commissioner — pitting incumbent Republican Doug Goehring against former state Senate Minority Leader Ryan Taylor — is wide open, according to a statewide poll. Surveying 600 voters, campaign pollster The Mellman Group found Goehring and Taylor tied, each with 36 percent of the vote. Twenty-six percent of those surveyed were undecided. Taylor earned 17 percent of Republican votes, showing strong appeal across party lines. He also leads 40 percent to Goehring’s 29 percent in oil-producing areas, according to a one-page summary of the poll released by the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party. “Everybody has suspected that the agriculture commissioner’s race was going to be one of the most competitive races this year,” says Chad Oban, executive director of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party. “This poll confirms just how competitive it really is.” The Washington, D.C.-based Mellman Group is a polling firm that works primarily with Democratic firms. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent and is higher for subgroups.

Former Agweek staff writer dies

• Kelly Stone, who was once a staff writer for Agweek, has died, according to Paul Bunyan Broadcasting in Minnesota, where she most recently served as news director. She was 52 years old. Stone was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer in 2011. After a brief remission, she learned it returned in 2013. “When I was first diagnosed … I would go out walking, and I would find myself just staring at the ground,” she told Forum News Service in October 2013. “All of the sudden I realized, ‘This is not good. Look up, let’s look at the people who are walking by, the kids that are having fun, laughing … realize that there’s other people out there.’” Stone graduated from Bemidji State University with a degree in mass communications and acquired a career’s worth of reporting as a radio, TV and print journalist for news outlets all across the Midwest. “Initially I thought I was going to be a newspaper reporter but the job openings were just a little more plentiful in radio when I graduated,” she said in 2013. In 2010, Stone began working as the news director at Paul Bunyan Broadcasting. Her last day at work was April 30.

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