Ag Business Briefs

Farm Forum

Overall index down in rural Midwest banker survey

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The overall index for a monthly economic survey of bankers in 10 Midwestern and Plains states has fallen from May but remains in positive territory, suggesting slower growth in the near future.

The Rural Mainstreet Index fell to 53.6 in June from 55.6 in May.

The survey indexes range from 0 to 100. Any score above 50 suggests growth in the months ahead.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey. He says June’s results indicate that areas highly dependent on agriculture and energy are experiencing slower growth than a year ago.

Almost half of bankers surveyed reported that higher beef and pork prices have increased overall economic activity in their area.

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

South Dakota high court paves way for Wal-Mart

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The city of Sioux Falls can annex land which is slated for a Wal-Mart supercenter, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled on June 19.

A group of residents near the site called Save Our Neighborhood had challenged the annexation, arguing it was illegal because the city didn’t first get the approval of Lincoln County.

A circuit court judge had ruled that Sioux Falls officials didn’t do anything wrong, and Supreme Court justices agreed. The owner of the property brought it to the city to annex in early 2013.

The Sioux Falls City Council rezoned about 40 acres of land from agricultural use to commercial for a Wal-Mart supercenter. Save Our Neighborhood collected signatures to have voters decide on the rezoning. In April, residents voted to support the rezoning for the store.

None of the residents who challenged the annexation immediately returned requests for comment.

City Council member Kermit Staggers said the council always believed its actions were legal.

Estate planning and farm transitions workshop slated

“Sustaining the Legacy,” an estate planning and farm transitions workshop will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. July 9 and again on July 30 at the Langford Legion Hall.

Put on by the Langford Area Community Foundation and in partnership with the SDSU Extension and the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, the estate planning workshop is for farmers and ranchers in the region and is free of charge. A light supper will also be served. Topics covered include communication, wills, probate, retirement planning, trusts, life insurance and the South Dakota long-term care partnership.

For more information about attending either session or to RSVP, call 605-493-6437.

— Staff reports

Panel says man should have been appointed lawyer

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — An appeals court says a federal judge made a mistake by not appointing counsel for a Blanchard horse farmer who repeatedly demanded and rejected lawyers in a case that centered on North Dakota’s fence law.

La Verne Koenig was convicted in 2009 for failing to maintain a legal fence and allowing his horses to run at large. He received a suspended sentence and was ordered to pay $5,400 in restitution.

Koenig appealed and asked for a new lawyer. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson determined that Koenig waived his right to a court-appointed attorney for the appeal because he refused to cooperate with his lawyers during the trial.

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 vote that Koenig should have been provided representation.

Farm worker killed in N.D. grain bin collapse

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A farm worker from South Africa has been killed in a grain bin accident in McLean County.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that 27-year-old Corneilius Johannes Du Plessis was killed on June 16 when corn collapsed inside a bin in which he was working.

McLean County Coroner Ben Gehring says Du Plessis died at the scene.

Authorities say the state medical examiner’s office in Bismarck will perform an autopsy.

Panama flour millers visit North Dakota

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Managers from three Panama flour mills are visiting North Dakota to learn more about this year’s spring wheat and durum crops.

The officials hoped to become more familiar with the U.S. wheat system from farm to mill during their visit June 19 and 20.

Panama imports almost 90 percent of its wheat from the U.S. — buying about 4.5 million bushels annually. The North Dakota Wheat Commission says it’s an important market for the state’s farmers because spring wheat and durum make up nearly half of the wheat sent to the Central American country.

The mill officials met with Wheat Commission officials and North Dakota State University researchers in Fargo and also toured the Northern Crops Institute and a local grain elevator.

The Dakotas can get funding for honey bees

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The United States Department of Agriculture says North Dakota and South Dakota are two of five states eligible to receive a combined $8 million to help protect declining honey bee populations.

The Conservation Reserve Program incentives will also be offered to farmers and ranchers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan who establish new habitats for honey bees. The USDA announced the funding on June 20.

The program allows for managing or replacing existing vegetation, known as “covers”, with lower cost, high nutrition seed mixes that can support plants that benefit pollinators like the honey bee.

The honey bee population in the country has been declining for decades. The USDA says there were 6 million honey bee colonies in 1947. There are an estimated 2.5 million today.

Farms After 5 Tour – July 15

Spend an evening touring Valley Side Farms and Boadwine Dairy on July 15. Valley Side Farm is a working farm, and also makes handmade artisan cheese. Here you will learn more about their 7th generation family farm, and how they process and make their cheese. For the second stop of the evening, participants will be traveling to Boadwine Dairy. This farm has been in the family since 1874. Learn more about how milk gets from the cow to you! This tour will run from approximately 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information and sign up, visit

Mom’s Day Out on the Farm – July 23

Are you a mom that wants to know more about the food you are feeding your family? Enjoy a fun day out touring local farms! Learn more about dairy, beef, and egg production in South Dakota. Participants will visit Dakota Layers, Ollerich Feedyards, and Prairie Gold Dairy near Flandreau on June 23. At each farm attendees will receive a tour and the opportunity talk with the farmers that work the farms daily. This is your opportunity to get up-close and personal with South Dakota agriculture. The tour will run from approximately 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information and sign up, visit

NDSU Central Grasslands Center to hold research tour

North Dakota State University’s Central Grasslands Research Extension Center near Streeter will hold its 2014 range and agronomy tour July 7.

The program will begin at 9 a.m. with coffee and rolls. The first stop on the tour will focus on forage agronomy research. Topics will include dormancy and winter kill in alfalfa, and annual forage variety testing and production systems.

The second stop will focus on rangeland research, including cattle gains and pasture changes in response to grazing, and managing rangeland for beef cattle performance.

The tour will conclude with a free roast beef lunch at noon. Anyone interested in other research projects can arrange for individual tours after lunch.

For more information, contact Bryan Neville, the center’s director, at (701) 424-3606 or

The center is northwest of Streeter.

Live feed of the Governor’s Agricultural Summit June 27

PIERRE – A live web feed of the Governor’s Agricultural Summit on Friday, June 27, in Deadwood will be available starting at 8 a.m. MDT at The fifth annual Summit will be held June 26 and 27 at the Lodge in Deadwood.

“The Governor’s Ag Summit is a great time for farmers, ranchers, ag industry leaders and legislators to come together and discuss the future of our number one industry,” said S.D. Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch.

Friday morning will begin with a “State of Ag Address” from S.D. Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch. U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Michael Scuse will give an update on the 2014 Farm Bill and Gov. Daugaard will present the 2014 Ag Ambassador Award.

For more information about the Summit, visit or contact Kea Warne at

Investments being made in rural health care in N.D.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Investments are being made across rural North Dakota to increase and improve access to health care.

The Bismarck Tribune reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture alone has invested more than $178 million in 42 projects since 2009.

The investments have gone to hospitals in areas where the facilities are the only medical care available for miles around.

Hospitals in the western part of the state have seen their number of patients soar thanks to the boom in oil country. Some hospitals there have sought grants, loans and even donations from oil corporations to address the demand.

Tioga Medical Center, for example, received an $8 million loan to build a new 15,000-square-foot clinic slated to be finished in 2015. The hospital’s patients quadrupled since 2010.

Help available for producers hit by tornadoes

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Federal assistance is available to northeast Nebraska producers who lost livestock in the June tornadoes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering $100,000 to producers to help them properly dispose of animal carcasses. Producers have until July 18 to apply.

The USDA can also provide technical assistance in safely disposing the carcasses.

The assistance is available through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Producers in Stanton, Wayne, Dixon, Thurston, Cuming and Cedar counties may be eligible. Other counties may be added if other storms hit before the July 18 deadline.

Alternative plan should get water project moving

MINOT, N.D. (AP) — An environmental study on a pipeline that would bring Missouri River water to northwestern North Dakota recommends an alternative that would move the project forward.

The Northwest Area Water Project, or NAWS, is designed to bring water to a 10-county area, including Minot.

A federal judge had ordered the project to be put on hold in 2010 until the environmental study was completed, in order to address complaints by Manitoba over the transfer of aquatic species from the Missouri River to the Sours River basin, which extends into Canada.

The Minot Daily News reports that the environmental study recommends a $207 million project that would pre-treat the water before piping it to the Minot water treatment plant.

North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven calls the recommendation a “big step forward.”