Ag Business Briefs

Farm Forum

N.D. commission to review proposed drilling rule

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The North Dakota Industrial Commission is slated to review a proposal that’s designed to reduce the impact of oil drilling in the state.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem last month submitted the proposed list of 18 places for special protection. The so-called special places list includes private and public land, including the Little Missouri River National Grasslands and Lake Sakakawea.

Stenehjem, Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring reviewed the proposal on Jan. 22.

Stenehjem’s proposal has been criticized by some Republican lawmakers and oil and farm groups.

He says the Industrial Commission already has restrictions in place to minimize impacts from oil drilling but decisions need a formal requirement for public comment.

Listeria found in milk from Brookings dairy

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – Raw milk from a Brookings dairy has tested positive for listeria.

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture says it showed up in a sampling of bottled raw milk from Jerseydale Farms near Brookings.

The agency says unpasteurized milk bought recently from the operation might contain harmful bacteria that can lead to listeria infection, so it should be discarded or returned.

The South Dakota Department of Health says listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

State rules require permits for dairies selling raw milk directly to consumers. Inspections are required at least every year. And dairies must also submit samples monthly for bacteria and residue testing.

Ex-Neb. beauty queen’s

lawsuit over bull dismissed

GERING, Neb. (AP) – A former Nebraska beauty queen’s lawsuit over injuries she suffered when a bull charged at her at a 2010 county fair has been dismissed.

Scottsbluff radio station KNEB reports Scotts Bluff County District Judge Leo Dobrovolny ruled Jan. 21 that defendants in the case were not served within the required six months after the lawsuit was filed in August 2012.

Jessica Littlejohn and her father filed the suit against entities including the Scotts Bluff County Agricultural Society, the Scotts Bluff County Fair Board and the County Scholarship Fair Pageant. Scotts Bluff County was dismissed from the case last March.

A bull broke loose as Littlejohn and pageant contestants were being introduced to a crowd. The lawsuit claimed the county entities were negligent for not securing the bull.

Weather imperils Neb.

winter wheat, board says

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – The lack of snow cover and high winds have imperiled much of Nebraska’s winter wheat crop.

The Nebraska Wheat Board said in a report on Jan. 22 that wind erosion in 30 to 40 percent of the northern Panhandle has exposed plant crowns, subjecting them to possible winter kill.

The board says the crop looks fair in the southern Panhandle and that wind erosion is moderately severe.

The southwest corner has had little moisture since fall. The board says that without snowmelt or rain, farmers expect 25 to 35 percent winter kill in the area.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says farmers planted 1.5 million Nebraska acres of wheat for harvest this year.

NCGA thanks members of Congress for ethanol


WASHINGTON – The following is a statement from National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre on Senate and House letters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, stressing the importance of preserving the Renewable Fuel Standard:

“We thank the senators and representatives who have stood up for American agriculture and the importance of domestic, renewable ethanol. Slashing the amount of ethanol in our nation’s fuel supply at this time is a big mistake, sure to drive up gas prices for all consumers and harm the rural economy by driving the price of corn below the cost of production. It’s great to see a bipartisan group of lawmakers stand up for legislation that was passed by members of both parties and that has helped support jobs and the rural economy while making our air cleaner.

“We especially appreciate the leadership of Sens. Richard Durbin, Charles Grassley, Al Franken and John Thune, and Reps. Kristi Noem and Cheri Bustos, for encouraging their colleagues to sign these letters.”

Cargill to pay $2.2M in

discrimination settlement

Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. will pay $2.2 million as part of settlement with the federal government over discrimination allegations involving three of its U.S. meat processing plants.

The money will be used to pay back wages and interest to nearly 3,000 applicants who were rejected for jobs at facilities in Springdale, Ark.; Fort Morgan, Colo.; and Beardstown, Ill., between 2005 and 2009.

U.S. Department of Labor officials say the company’s hiring process discriminated based on sex, race and ethnicity.

Cargill says it did not discriminate against applicants and that the government’s allegations are unfounded. The company says it chose to settle the case to avoid the cost and distraction of litigation.

The Wichita, Kan., company is owned by Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc.

House and Senate

Committees talk climate

Recently, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee heard from the EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and other administration officials regarding the President’s Climate Action Plan released in June. The President’s Climate Action Plan is comprised of three pillars: reducing carbon pollution in the U.S., preparing for the impacts of climate change and leading international efforts on climate change. Federal Agencies are directed to use existing statutes to address the plan. As part of the Action Plan, EPA released a proposed regulation last fall to reduce carbon pollution from future power plants. This hearing and action in the House Commerce committee last week on legislation intended to limit EPA’s proposed regulation mark the start of a year that is expected to be focused on climate change. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released several climate mitigation and adaptation plans and is expected to announce regional Climate Hubs very shortly. Information on USDA’s actions on climate change can be found here:

Wheat geneticist

honored by Wolf


University of California, Davis wheat geneticist Jorge Dubcovsky will be honored with the 2014 Wolf Prize in Agriculture for his work in wheat genomics. The prize is awarded annually by the Wolf Foundation to outstanding scientists and artists in the fields of agriculture, chemistry, physics, mathematics, medicine and the arts. In a statement by the Wolf foundation, Dubcovsky was selected for the award for his work “to dramatically improving the nutritional value of wheat, and the impact of the discoveries was increased when they were made available to the scientific community.” During his tenure at University of California, Davis, Dubcovsky has conducted research on wheat genomics and deploying those genes in wheat cultivars. His improved wheat varieties help with disease resistance, protein content, flowering and frost tolerance.

New Hampshire House of Representatives denies GMO labeling bill

The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to deny a bill that would have required foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMO) to be labeled throughout the state. Critics of the bill, which was voted down 185-162 on Wednesday, said the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not mandated the labeling because it determined the foods are safe. New Hampshire is the latest state to discuss legislation to label foods containing GMO’s following high profile ballot initiatives in other states, such as California and Washington.

NAWG annual meeting

NAWG will be holding their annual meeting during Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas from Feb. 25 – March 1. Commodity Classic is an annual convention and trade show of the wheat, corn, soybeans and sorghum industries. Stop by the National Association of Wheat Growers booth to learn the latest in the world of wheat and enter for a chance to win a Go-Pro camera and other prizes. For information on the upcoming NAWG annual meeting and Commodity Classic visit

S.D. attorney to speak on natural resources law at annual convention

Natural resources attorney and Aberdeen native David Ganje has been invited to speak at the annual convention of the American Association of Professional Landmen in Montreal Canada in June. Ganje will speak on the subject of mineral rights law. Established in 1956, the American Association of Professional Landmen is a professional organization of 17,000 landmen and land-related professionals engaged in energy and mineral resources sales through professional development and service. AAPL serves as the voice of the landman profession and fosters industry cooperation through proactive legislative advocacy. Ganje, with offices in Rapid City, practices in the areas of natural resources and commercial law in North and South Dakota.

Grants for rural businesses available in Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Rural businesses in Nebraska can apply for grants to help them grow.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office is overseeing the grants that can be used in several ways.

Last year, four grants worth a total of $170,000 were awarded in Nebraska as part of the program. And a separate $99,000 grant was awarded under a similar program that’s designed to help Native Americans.

Grants are only available to businesses in areas with less than 50,000 population. Applications are due by Feb. 24. More details are available online at

S.D. lawmaker working to

help ranchers hurt by storm

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A state senator from western South Dakota says he is trying to find ways to provide financial help for ranchers who lost cattle in the early autumn blizzard.

Sen. Larry Rhoden of Union Center says he started looking at possible legislation that could provide loan guarantees and other help to ranchers who suffered heavy losses. But he says after talking with officials in the state Department of Agriculture, he is now working to determine whether existing programs can be used to help those ranchers.

Rhoden says many western South Dakota ranchers need help to recover from devastating losses.

The October storm brought first rain and then up to 4 feet of snow to western South Dakota, killing nearly 22,000 cattle, 1,400 sheep, 300 horses and 40 bison.

Tracks reopened after

derailment west of Minot

ROSS, N.D. (AP) — BNSF Railway has reopened its main east-west tracks following a derailment about 60 miles west of Minot.

Eleven cars of a loaded 109-car grain train jumped the tracks at Ross on Thursday afternoon. Crews worked through the night to clear the mess so the tracks could reopen on Friday.

The derailment happened at the Dakota Quality Grain Elevator. BNSF says strong winds might have been to blame. No one was hurt.