Ag Business Briefs

Farm Forum

NFU Board of Directors elects executive committee

WASHINGTON – The National Farmers Union (NFU) Board of Directors has elected members of its 2014 Executive Committee, comprised of the following:


• Secretary: Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union president

• Treasurer: John Hansen, Nebraska Farmers Union president

Other members of the Executive Committee:

• Jim Benham, Indiana Farmers Union president

• Terry Detrick, Oklahoma Farmers Union president

• Alan Merrill, Montana Farmers Union president

• Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union president

• Darin Von Ruden, Wisconsin Farmers Union president

• Mark Watne, North Dakota Farmers Union president

NFU President Roger Johnson and NFU Vice President Donn Teske, elected by delegates at the recent NFU convention, join the above as members of the Executive Committee. Teske is also the president of Kansas Farmers Union.

NFU announces staff changes

WASHINGTON – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson announced on March 18 a number of NFU staff changes:

• Melisa Augusto, previously Director of Communications, will now serve as Director of Membership and Marketing.

• Chandler Goule, previously Vice President of Government Relations, will now serve as Senior Vice President of Programs.

• Brittany Jablonsky succeeds Melisa Augusto as Director of Communications.

• Jeff Knudson has been promoted from Vice President of Operations to Senior Vice President of Operations.

• Maria Miller, previously NFU’s Director of Education, has been appointed Executive Director of the NFU Foundation.

• Mike Stranz has been promoted from Government Relations Representative to Senior Government Relations Representative.

• Ethan Whitmore, previously Membership Database Manager, will now serve as Director of Information Systems.

“NFU is fortunate to have a great team in place working hard on behalf of family farmers and ranchers across the country,” said Johnson.

S.D. woman admits embezzling from grain elevator

GREGORY, S.D. (AP) — The former business manager of the Gregory Farmers Elevator in southeastern South Dakota has pleaded guilty to stealing from the company.

The Daily Republic reports that 30-year-old Melissa Vosika pleaded guilty to attempted embezzlement, altering corporate records and forgery. Prosecutors dropped 11 other counts as part of a plea agreement.

Authorities allege that Vosika stole more than $17,000 from the business between May and September of 2012. She faces up to 25 years in prison and $50,000 in fines when she’s sentenced next month.

Fire damages grain elevator in S.D. town of Howard

HOWARD, S.D. (AP) — No injuries have been reported in a fire that damaged a grain elevator in the southeastern South Dakota town of Howard.

The fire broke out late on March 20 in a wood-frame bin. About three dozen firefighters had the blaze extinguished by the next morning.

Fire Chief Nathan Ruml says two of five buildings on the complex were affected.

There was no immediate word on a cause, or a damage estimate.

S.D. Rancher Relief Fund surpasses $5 million

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A relief fund set up to help South Dakota ranchers in the wake of an early October blizzard has surpassed $5 million.

South Dakota Stockgrowers Association Executive Director Silvia Christen says $4.2 million has been doled out to about 600 ranchers, and a decision will be made in early April on distributing the rest.

The fund was set up by the Stockgrowers, the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association and the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association after the Oct. 4-5 blizzard that killed an estimated 43,000 head of livestock in the state. It has received donations from around the country.

Christen says officials are “blown away” by the outpouring of support.

Survey suggests slight growth for Midwest economy

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An economist says a survey of bankers in 10 Midwest and Plains states suggests the regional economy is experiencing slow to no growth.

The Rural Mainstreet Index rose slightly above growth neutral in March, to 50.1, compared with 48.4 in February.

The survey indexes range from 0 to 100, with 50 representing growth neutral. A score above 50 suggests growth in that factor in the months ahead.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the region will need to see more increases in farm commodity prices to push the agriculture-based economy back into healthy growth territory.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

Steer that caused a fuss in N.D. town to be spared

CASSELTON, N.D. (AP) — A steer that made a break for it while on the way to slaughter in North Dakota has been adopted by a Michigan farm animal sanctuary.

The steer kicked out a gate at a meat processing plant in Casselton on March 6 and wandered around town for a while. It prompted a school and a child care center to keep children inside, before authorities got a veterinarian to tranquilize the animal so it could be captured. No one was hurt and no property was damaged.

WDAY-TV reports that Sasha Farm near Manchester, Mich., has bought the steer named Waldo from farmer Todd Sadeck. Sanctuary spokesman Monte Jackson says Waldo wanted to be free, and now he’ll live out his days in greener pastures.

Yankton Livestock Auction settles USDA complaint

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) – The Yankton Livestock Auction Market has agreed to pay $2,000 as part of a settlement in a federal complaint that argues the South Dakota group had custodial account shortages.

The Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan reports that each market agency selling livestock on commission, such as Yankton Livestock, must maintain a so-called custodial account that benefits livestock consignors.

The provision was established through the federal Packers and Stockyards Act. The 1921 law was designed to prevent conflicts of interest and market manipulation.

A shortage in a custodial account occurs when the total credits exceed the total debits of the custodial account. Operating with a shortage is a federal violation.

Yankton Livestock has neither confirmed nor denied its guilt by agreeing to settle the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s complaint.

South American agriculture and international grain marketing presentation

BROOKINGS — SDSU Extension and the Aberdeen American News/Farm Forum will host two guest presentations at the SDSU Extension Regional Center in Aberdeen April 2 at 7 p.m.

Connie Sieh Groop, writer for the Farm Forum, will show photos and share stories from the South Dakota Ag & Rural Leadership Alumni trip to Argentina and Chile. The group went to South America in December and January to learn about ag production in these two countries. They visited farms, dairies, feedlots, vineyards, fruit and vegetable markets and Linears Livestock Market.

Lisa Elliott, Grain Marketing Specialist at SDSU, will also speak about international grain markets and provide a market outlook.

The Aberdeen Regional Extension Center is located at 13 2nd Ave SE, one block south of the Brown County Courthouse. For more information, contact Laura Edwards at 605-626-2870.