Ag Business Briefs

Farm Forum

Tax break proposed for beer producers using Nebraska crops

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Beer makers could receive a tax break under a bill that would boost the market for Nebraska-grown barley and hops.

Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala introduced a bill Tuesday that would offer a non-refundable tax credit to breweries using Nebraska-grown crops.

The measure would apply to manufacturers if at least 10 percent of the crops used in brewing were grown in Nebraska. Manufacturers could receive up to a 35 percent tax credit if 70 percent or more of their grains were grown in the state.

The bill says beer-related crops include barley, hops or any other grain customarily used in the manufacture of beer.

The state has already lowered taxes for Nebraska wineries that source 75 percent of their products from within the state.

Starter Flock Program aimed at future ND lamb producers

The Starter Flock Program is a program initiated by the North Dakota Lamb and Wool Producers Association and the NDSU Extension Service with the intent to encourage and assist young people to enter the sheep and wool industries and help sustain this important food and fiber industry in America.

Ten lucky winners with be chosen. The Starter Flock recipients will each receive a flock of 10 ewes. These ewes will be purchased by the NDLWPA in late September. A NDLWPA member is selected as a mentor.

Applications are due May 15. Pick up date and New Shepherd Workshop is Saturday, Sept. 19 in Hettinger, N.D.

The application is available at

If you would like to donate to this program, please send a check to NDLWPA, 3711 131st Avenue SE, Tower City, ND 58071.

Central States Fair office relocates for Black Hills Stock Show

RAPID CITY — Beginning Jan. 19 through the duration of the Black Hills Stock Show, the Central States Fair Office will relocate to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center at 444 Mt. Rushmore Rd., Rapid City. The Central States Fair/Black Hills Stock Show Office is located in Room 101.

The phone number remains the same at (605) 355-3861, as well as the mailing address.

“Relocating our office to Rushmore Plaza Civic Center allows our staff to work more closely in the set-up of the Black Hills Stock Show,” says Ron Jeffries, Central States Fair/Black Hills Stock Show General Manager. “Our staff won’t miss a beat in meeting customer needs for event ticket sales and answering questions. We look forward to having everyone join us for the 2015 edition of Black Hills Stock Show beginning Jan. 30.”

Tickets for the Black Hills Stock Show Stockman’s Ball, the original Black Hills Stock Show Ranch Rodeo, and the North American Sheepdog Trials are available online at or at the Black Hills Stock Show office at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Room 101.

A complete schedule of events is available at

Minnesota to get $9M for agricultural water quality program

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota will get $9 million under an initiative announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Jan 14.

The agency has approved 115 proposals nationwide for the first round of funding under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which was part of the 2014 farm bill.

Gov. Mark Dayton says the state will use its grant to establish its Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program as a national demonstration project. Dayton launched the initiative in 2012 along with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The program encourages farmers to adopt voluntary clean water practices. Those who get certified are assured that regulations won’t change on them for 10 years.

Dayton says it’s been popular. It’s been piloted in four watersheds and has already certified 28 agricultural operations encompassing over 10,000 acres of farmland.

Man rescued from bin at North Dakota elevator

KENSAL, N.D. (AP) — Emergency crews from Kensal, Carrington, Jamestown and Stutsman County worked together to save a man who became trapped in a bin of soybeans at the grain elevator in Kensal.

KQDJ radio reports that the incident happened about 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 15. Rescuers used special equipment to extract the man, who was taken to a Carrington hospital.

The man’s identity and condition were not released.

3 projects in North Dakota getting conservation funding

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Three projects in North Dakota are getting funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven says the Red River Retention Authority is getting $12 million for water management and flood protection. The Medora Grazing Association is getting $800,000 for conservation work on national grasslands, and Northern Plains Resource Conservation and Development is getting $700,000 to evaluate cover crops to improve soil health.

The money is part of more than $370 million going to 115 projects across the country and in Puerto Rico.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture to hold hearing on check-off fees

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Area I Potato Research and Promotion Council consists of potato growers in northwest Minnesota. The council is putting forward a referendum to increase the check-off fee it gathers from farmers and will explain its proposal to interested potato growers at a Jan. 23 hearing.

The council has not raised its check-off fee since its inception in 1967. It’s proposing to increase the fee from $.03 per hundredweight to $.05 per hundredweight. If approved, the increase would impact only growers located in Area I.

The hearing is organized by the commodity council and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), and is scheduled Friday, January 23, 2015 at The Crookston Inn from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Through an automatic check-off program, farmers pay a percentage of their sale proceeds to their commodity council. Commodity councils use these funds to pay for promotion, communication and research activities aimed at increasing profitability for growers.

The MDA will mail referendum ballots to Area I Potato members in early March.

Nebraska beef exports set new record, ag director says

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska’s beef exports have reached an all-time high as the state saw a significant increase in overseas sales.

The state’s Department of Agriculture said on Jan. 16 that the approximately $1 billion worth of beef purchased by foreign buyers through November sets a new record.

Ag Director Greg Ibach says markets such as Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea, have increased Nebraska beef purchases over the past six years. The state has conducted trade promotions in each of these countries.

The Omaha World-Herald reports muscle meat exports have more than tripled since 2009. Exports of beef products generally not favored in the United States, such as beef livers and tongues, have grown as well. Nebraska sold $93 million worth of such goods in 2014, compared to $32.3 million in 2009.

Fairmont Foods to close in March; 167 workers to lose jobs

FAIRMONT, Minn. (AP) — Fairmont Foods plans to close in March, putting 167 employees out of work.

The frozen meal maker in south-central Minnesota cites the recent economic climate and says the company is unable to recover and continue operations.

City Administrator Mike Humpal tells the Sentinel of Fairmont he was “shocked as anybody” about the Jan. 15 announcement.

Fairmont Mayor Randy Quiring says company officials told him declining business was to blame. The packaged foods industry has been struggling with sluggish demand.

Minnesota Public Radio News reports the fate of the company’s building is unclear, but Quiring says his main concern is helping the company’s employees find new jobs in the area.

Fairmont Foods began operations more than 25 years ago on the site of a former Armour frozen foods plant that ConAgra closed.