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Board backs 16 projects for ND outdoors grants

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — An advisory board for North Dakota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund has recommended 16 grant applications totaling $5.2 million to state officials for approval.

The Bismarck Tribune reports the board forwarded proposals to the Industrial Commission last week that include preserving wetlands and creating a fitness loop around Patterson Lake. The proposed projects total $19.3 million.

Board chairman Wade Moser says the commission will consider the recommendations in January. The board selected the projects from a pool of 23 applications.

Moser says the largest recommendation is $1.2 million for the state to provide wetland preservation incentives to landowners. He says landowners have been calling the state Agriculture Department as funding has dwindled for the program.

The fund provides money for conservation projects and outdoor recreation areas. Grants come from oil and gas gross production tax revenues.

Barn fire kills 7,500 turkeys near Worthington, MN

WORTHINGTON, Minn. (AP) — A fire in a poultry barn near Worthington, Minn., has killed about 7,500 three-week-old turkeys.

Firefighters arrived at the Meyer Turkey Farm on Dec. 16 to find the barn fully engulfed with flames coming through the roof.

Round Lake Fire Chief Mike Smith tells the Worthington Daily Globe that officials suspect the fire was caused by an electrical problem because the homeowners said they could smell burning wiring.

No people were injured. There was no immediate estimate on the value or the barn or the young turkeys.

Eastern ND residents complain about rail crossing

VALLEY CITY, N.D. (AP) — Some eastern North Dakota residents who live near a railroad crossing are complaining about the length of time that a county road has been blocked.

KOVC-AM reports that the Barnes County Sheriff’s Office has received complaints from residents about how long County Road 27 near the grain elevator in Peak has been obstructed.

Sheriff Randy McClaflin says his office has recently issued citations to BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific in relation to the situation. He says the citations have gone nowhere and he is now considering presenting the matter to the state’s Public Service Commission to get their opinion.

The rail crossing in along County Road 27, about two miles north of the Peak exit on Interstate 94 near a grain elevator.

ND officials eager to expand trade with Cuba

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Officials from North Dakota are applauding the Obama administration’s move to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.

North Dakota has long viewed the communist island nation as a market for crops such as dry peas, lentils and potatoes, which are grown in abundance in the state and are big parts of the Cuban diet. Some North Dakota commodities have been sold there in recent years through a humanitarian exemption to the U.S. trade embargo.

Former Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson visited Cuba eight times before becoming president of the National Farmers Union. Johnson says normalized trade with Cuba will open new markets for U.S. farmers.

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp visited Cuba in February and says she found Cuban officials interested in exports of not only U.S. commodities but also American farm equipment.

Cargill encouraged by economic progress with Cuba

MINNETOKA, Minn. (AP) — One of the nation’s largest food and commodity companies is encouraged by President Barack Obama’s move toward normalizing relations with Cuba.

Among those eager for access to a Cuban market cut off by an economic embargo are U.S. farmers. Minnesota-based Cargill has been working to change that.

Corporate Affairs Vice President Devry Boughner-Vorwer says it’s a first step toward re-establishing free trade between the two countries.

Congress will still have to act to lift economic sanctions against Cuba.

Trade sanctions were eased about 15 years ago. Minnesota Public Radio News says state farmers sold Cuba about $27 million in corn, soybeans and other products in 2012. Agriculture officials say those sales declined by a quarter in 2013.

USDA releases 2013 Annual Summary for Pesticide Data Program

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has posted data from the 2013 Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary. The PDP summary confirms that overall pesticide chemical residues found on the foods tested are at levels below the tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and do not pose a safety concern. This information, along with an explanatory guide for consumers, can be found at

The 2013 PDP Annual Summary shows that over 99 percent of the products sampled through PDP had residues below the EPA tolerances. Residues exceeding the tolerance were detected in 0.23 percent of the samples tested. The PDP pesticide residue results are reported to FDA and EPA through monthly reports. In instances where a PDP finding is extraordinary and may pose a safety risk, FDA and EPA are immediately notified. EPA has determined the extremely low levels of those residues are not a food safety risk, and the presence of such residues does not pose a safety concern.

Freeman nonprofit explores $15M arts, earth center

FREEMAN, S.D. (AP) – A southwest South Dakota nonprofit is moving forward with plans for a $15 million arts and earth center.

The Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan reports Freeman Education and Research, or FEAR, is considering possible sites for the project. The combined arts center and greenhouse would aim to stimulate economic development using agriculture, arts and heritage. The for-profit greenhouse would help support the nonprofit arts center and would provide energy for the center.

Board chairman John Koch says organizers are conducting a financial feasibility study with a $150,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He says the FEAR board may seek additional federal funding and has applied for other grants.

Koch says site selection will likely be finalized by the spring.

SD November milk production up 7 percent over 2013

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says South Dakota increased its milk production in November.

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service says milk production in the state totaled 176 million pounds last month, a 7 percent increase over November 2013.

The average number of milk cows in November was 97,000, up 2,000 during the same period last year. Milk production per cow averaged 1,810 pounds.

Informational meetings for farmers: Lawsuits related to China’s rejection of GMO corn

Dakota Marketing Coalition will host a series of meetings in South Dakota to inform farmers about lawsuits related to China’s rejection of Syngenta’s corn hybrid Agrisure Viptera (MIR-162). John Brown of Agricultural Investigation and Research Corporation (AIRcorp) will speak at these meetings. Brown said that every farmer is covered under current class action lawsuits related to this issue. However, he said there are benefits to seeking individual representation, and he will explain those benefits in the meetings. Brown said he conducts individual economic loss studies for farmers which can be used as the basis for a lawsuit.

All corn, soybean, and wheat farmers are invited to attend. The meetings will be held at the following locations:

• Jan. 5: Huron, noon (lunch included), at The Plains

• Jan. 6: Aberdeen, 1 p.m., at The Eagles Club

• Jan. 6: Aberdeen, 6 p.m., at The Eagles Club

For more information, email John Brown at