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Published September 02, 2014, 09:48 AM

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WTO rules against US in meat label fight, natural gas pipeline will serve CHS and ND bee colonies hit all-time high.

By: Agweek Staff and Wire reports, Agweek

WTO rules against US in meat label fight

• A World Trade Organization panel has ruled against the U.S. in a trade dispute over meat labels with Canada and Mexico, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The newspaper, citing anonymous sources familiar with the findings, says the U.S. lost its case before a panel set up to determine whether its revised labeling rules complied with an earlier WTO ruling. Jeff English, a spokesman for Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, declined to confirm the WTO panel decision and says Canada will only speak about it once it becomes public. All three governments received the compliance panel’s confidential decision earlier this summer, but have not publicly commented on its contents. The U.S. rule, which requires retailers such as grocery stores to list the country of origin on meat, has resulted in fewer Canadian pigs and cattle being exported to the U.S. The WTO ruled in June 2012 the U.S. labeling program, known as COOL, unfairly discriminated against Canada and Mexico because it gave less favorable treatment to beef and pork imported from those countries than to U.S. meat. The WTO said the U.S. must bring its labeling rules into compliance with the ruling by May 23, 2013. The U.S. government made changes, but Canadian officials say they only made the situation worse, and asked the WTO to form the compliance panel.

Natural gas pipeline will serve CHS

• One of the largest natural gas pipelines in North Dakota in the past decade is in the planning and permitting process, according to Tim Rasmussen, spokesman for WBI Energy, a division of MDU Resources Group. Rasmussen says Wind Ridge Pipeline LLC will cost an estimated $120 million and will serve the proposed CHS nitrogen fertilizer plant in Spiritwood, N.D. The pipeline will transfer natural gas from the Northern Border Pipeline near Zeeland, N.D., to the CHS plant for conversion into nitrogen fertilizer. In addition, The Stutsman County Water Resource Board approved a storm water management plan for the proposed CHS nitrogen fertilizer plant Aug. 27. The plan defines the storage ponds and drainage system to control the flow of water off a property after a storm or during snow melt in the spring. According to Bart Gill, project director for CH2M Hill, an engineering firm working for CHS on the project, the storm water management plan is one of the last approvals necessary before the start of construction.

ND bee colonies hit all-time high

• BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says more than half a million bee colonies, another significant record, have been registered in North Dakota this year. “Not only are the number of colonies and beekeepers up, so is compliance,” Goehring says. “In the meantime, we are getting fewer landowner complaints about bee colonies.” Goehring says 221 beekeepers have registered 510,000 colonies in 2014, compared with 205 beekeepers and 482,500 colonies in 2013. More than 12,200 hive locations have been registered, compared with 11,000 last year. Goehring says disease and other threats to bee populations continue to be a concern across the nation. North Dakota has led the nation in honey production for the past decade. In 2013, the state produced more than 33 million pounds of honey, 22 percent of the national total.

ND PSC recommends final payment in insolvency

• BISMARCK, N.D. — The North Dakota Public Service Commission voted Aug. 28 to recommend payment to the last remaining party with a claim against the insolvent Falkirk (N.D.) Farmers Elevator. The PSC voted 3-0 to recommend a judge award about $461,000 to St. Hilaire Seed Co. of Mentor, Minn. If approved, the payment will close the insolvency case, Commissioner Randy Christmann says. Falkirk Farmers Elevator was declared insolvent Oct. 12, 2012, after failing to pay for grain delivered. The elevator had closed in April 2012, and elevator members voted that June to liquidate its locations in Falkirk. Last December, the PSC approved payments to seven parties who had credit-sale contract claims against the insolvent grain company. Under state law, the seven parties with total claims of just under $280,000 were eligible to receive 80 percent reimbursement from an indemnity fund. They received a total payout of $223,054. The PSC had separated the claims against the indemnity fund from St. Hilaire’s claim against the trust assets because issues related to the trust claim were part of a federal court case and were expected to take longer to resolve. St. Hilaire originally filed a $1.7 million claim, but it filed an amended claim of $486,988 on Aug. 19. The PSC is asking McLean County (N.D.) District Court, which must approve the payment, to determine that St. Hilaire’s valid claim is actually $495,795. To arrive at the $461,000 recommended payment for St. Hilaire, the PSC liquidated grain assets valued at $7,000 stored on behalf of Falkirk Farmers Elevator at an unlicensed facility in Cummings, N.D., as well as grain assets valued at $71,507 stored at the Falkirk facility. Those funds, along with a $2,000 outstanding accounts receivable from a grain sale, were deposited into a trust. The PSC on Aug. 28 approved the trustee’s recommendation to use those funds and Falkirk Farmers Elevator’s $380,000 licensing bond, plus interest it had earned, to pay St. Hilaire 93 percent of its claim. The Falkirk grain elevator was purchased in September 2012 by SRS Commodities of Mayville, N.D.

Fargo, ND, gets genotyping center

• ST. LOUIS — The National Corn Growers Association has chosen Fargo, N.D., to host the National Agricultural Genotyping Center. Fargo was competing for the honor with Decatur, Ill. The NAGC will translate scientific discoveries, such as the information from the maize genome project, into solutions for production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, bioenergy and national security. The NAGC partnership brings together Los Alamos National Laboratory and the NCGA.

Briefly . . .

• Supplemental coverage: The U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency has released additional information on eligiblility for the new Supplemental Coverage Option, available for the 2015 crop year. Producers should contact their crop insurance agents or visit www.rma.usda. gov.