Minnesota elevator made illegal seed sale

FARGO, N.D. - AgriPro Wheat, a division of Syngenta Seeds, says the federal district court recently entered a $49,000 judgment against LB Grain Inc. of Lake Bronson, Minn., for the unauthorized sale of AgriPro Wheat's Jagalene winter wheat variet...

FARGO, N.D. - AgriPro Wheat, a division of Syngenta Seeds, says the federal district court recently entered a $49,000 judgment against LB Grain Inc. of Lake Bronson, Minn., for the unauthorized sale of AgriPro Wheat's Jagalene winter wheat variety to local farmers.

The illegal sale that occurred in September violated the U.S. Plant Variety Protection Act, which allows patentlike protection to the developer of crop varieties. AgriPro Wheat is the developer of the Jagalene variety. Through AgriPro's investigation, it was discovered that an LB Grain dealer-representative knowingly had sold uncertified seed of Jagalene winter wheat to area farmers.

The judgment was calculated using the overall bushels sold, loss of seed royalties and AgriPro Wheat's legal fees. The federal PVPA law mandates that protected varieties can only be sold as a class of certified seed by authorized seed growers and dealers.

The PVPA states that the developer of wheat varieties has control over who can produce and certify their varieties. "Brown-bagging," a term referring to the sale of wheat seed without certification tags or certificates, is strictly prohibited. LB Grain was not licensed or authorized to sell the Jagalene variety in this uncertified manner.

Manitoba farmers will get money back from failed slaughterhouse


WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Farmers who invested in the dream of a cooperative beef slaughterhouse will get their cash back this week. Bob Munroe, chairman of the failed Ranchers Choice Co-op, says it's not a bankruptcy, it's a voluntary dissolution. He says the assets of the company will cover its debts, meaning investors will start getting their money back Feb. 19.

The board voted unanimously earlier last month to begin dismantling the co-op. More than 3,300 cattle producers bought memberships in the company while the province gave $4.5 million in cash and $6 million in operating loans.

The drive to get a slaughterhouse began in 2003, after the American border was closed to Canadian cows in the wake of the mad cow crisis. But the effort to build a slaughterhouse in the province was derailed when the co-op wasn't able to raise millions of dollars in private capital.

Munroe says the co-op hopes to cover its liabilities through the disposal of the slaughtering equipment it purchased in 2004. "We have $2.4 million worth of packinghouse material in a warehouse in Dauphin," he says. "This is a shame because if this plant couldn't go up, I can't imagine we'll ever get another chance in Manitoba."

Japan to suspend beef imports from Nebraska plant

TOKYO - Japan will suspend beef imports from a Nebraska processing plant after finding meat in a shipment that may violate a regulation imposed over mad cow concerns, the government says. The Ministries of Health and Agriculture says inspectors at the port of Yokohama found two boxes of rib meat in a shipment sent by U.S. agricultural giant Tyson Food Inc. from its plant in Lexington, Nebraska, that were not recorded in the accompanying shipping documents.

The shipment's importer could not confirm that the meat met a government requirement that all beef destined for Japan be from animals age 20 months or younger, the ministries say in a Feb. 16 statement. Young animals are believed less likely to be infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy. U.S. officials have told Japan the boxes were erroneously included in the shipment, the statement says. It says the ministries decided to suspend shipments from the processing plant until Japan gets more information from U.S. authorities and the exporter. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the suspension is necessary to ensure food safety.

Briefly . . .


-- Renewable energy in N.D.: North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven and Republican legislative leaders are touting renewable energy legislation they say will enhance North Dakota's status as one of the nation's top energy suppliers. "Here in North Dakota, we want to double our production of energy for this nation by 2025," says Hoeven, who appeared at a Feb. 15 news conference flanked by a dozen GOP lawmakers. "This is the kind of program that can get us to this goal." Democrats says Republicans are trying to steal credit for measures they have long supported. Sen. Joel Heitkamp, D-Hankinson, says that he and other Democrats also have been working hard on renewable energy legislation. Several measures have sponsors from both parties, he says, adding that he believes a bipartisan effort is needed for a renewable energy package. "If they want to steal our bills, put their names on them, fine, but let's get it done," Heitkamp says. "They remind me a lot of those second-stringers on the sidelines who at the end of the game are sitting there saying, 'We won the game.'"

-- Porker of the Month: Citizens Against Government Waste has named House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., Porker of the Month for his hostility toward agriculture policy reform. CAGW says it selected Peterson for his support corporate welfare and for his opposition farm policy reform and free trade to protect special interests in his home district.

-- Ritchie Bros. deal: Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Inc. has signed a letter of intent to buy Rouleau, Saskatchewan-based Clarke Auctioneers Ltd., which sells ag equipment. Financial terms of the deal, announced Feb. 15, were not disclosed. Ritchie says the acquisition will expand the Vancouver, British Columbia, company's presence in the used agricultural equipment and land markets in Saskatchewan.

-- Chirac on subsidies: French President Jacques Chirac is urging the U.S. to scrap "scandalous" subsidies for cotton farmers, which he says undercut poor producers in Africa. The French leader, whose speech closed an African leaders' summit in Cannes, France, also says efforts to liberalize world trade must not come at the expense of poor, developing nations with less diplomatic clout. He is urging the U.S. to scrap its subsidies "in the name of morality."

- Agweek Wire Reports

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