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Pilgrim’s Pride to close Luverne plant by year’s end

LUVERNE, Minn. (AP) — Pilgrim’s Pride is closing a poultry processing plant in Luverne, Minn., idling 200 workers.

The company says it plans to shift production to nearby facilities and will close the plant Dec. 29. Pilgrim’s Pride took over the plant in 2016 when it acquired GNP Co., including Gold’n Plump and Just Bare chicken lines, for $350 million.

The company says it will make an effort to relocate affected employees to other facilities.

Minnesota records 1st West Nile case in a horse since 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Board of Animal Health has confirmed the first case of West Nile virus in a Minnesota horse in more than a year.

The board says it was diagnosed in a 33-year-old American quarter horse in the northwestern town of Euclid in Polk County. The mare had poor coordination and weak hind legs when seen by a veterinarian Oct. 9, but showed significant improvement with treatment within a week.

The horse had been vaccinated against the mosquito-borne disease. Dr. Courtney Wheeler of the board’s equine program says the vaccine may not completely prevent the disease, but it’s effective and veterinarians are encouraged to recommend it.

The last previous confirmed case of West Nile in a Minnesota horse had been in August 2016.

Minnesota has documented 23 human cases this year.

Kansas to auction off 40 surplus bison from Maxwell Refuge

CANTON, Kan. (AP) — The state of Kansas will auction off 40 surplus bison at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge in mid-November.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism says the auction will be held Nov. 15 at the 2,500-acre (1000-hectare) refuge about 6 miles (10 kilometers) north of Canton.

The department says the bison will be more than a year old and tested for brucellosis and tuberculosis.

The auction will involve 10 2-year-old bulls, four cows, eight yearling heifers, eight yearling bulls, five heifer calves and five bull calves.

Nebraska’s Ibach

confirmed by US Senate for USDA post

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The U.S. Senate has confirmed Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach for undersecretary of marketing and regulatory programs in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Senate unanimously confirmed Ibach on Oct. 27.

Ibach has been director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture for 12 years. He was nominated for the USDA post by President Donald Trump earlier this year.

Ibach’s new role will have him overseeing programs including Agricultural Marketing Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration.

He is a lifelong rancher and farmer and has been active in the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

Farmer dies after being run over by plow in Minnesota

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. (AP) — Authorities say a farmer died in central Minnesota after he was run over by the plow his tractor was pulling.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office says deputies found the man’s body in a farm field on Oct. 29, in the morning.

The victim had been run over and dragged by a chisel plow. The tractor pulling the plow then got stuck in a ditch.

WCCO-TV reports the man had been working in the field on Oct. 28 and did not return that night. His name was not immediately released.

The accident is under investigation.

Application deadline set for North Dakota hemp program

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s Agriculture Department is seeking participants for the third year of the state’s industrial hemp research program.

The goal of the program is to determine whether hemp can be a successful crop in North Dakota, and which varieties work best in the state’s climate.

Producers planted more than 70 acres (28 hectares) of hemp in 2016 and more than 3,000 acres this year.

Hemp fiber and oil can be used in numerous products, but production has been limited because federal drug law doesn’t differentiate between hemp and its cousin marijuana.

Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says growers’ proposals for next year’s program are due at 5 p.m. on Dec. 29. Proposals will be ranked by a committee appointed by Goehring, who will make the final choices.