Two important local ag stories in 2017

Erin Ballard
Farm Forum

There have been many important, national agriculture-related news stories over the course of 2017. U.S. beef will be allowed in China. The “waters of the U.S.” rule was rescinded. Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration rules meant to protect producers were withdrawn. Millions of acres of soybeans were damaged by dicamba drift across the country.

However, there have been two important agriculture-related news stories local to northeastern South Dakota this year. Here’s a quick recap of these two local stories.

North Central Farmers Elevator/Wheat Growers vote to merge

A proposed merger between North Central Farmers Elevator and Wheat Growers agriculture cooperatives was approved in September.

Members of both cooperatives had to approve the merger after the boards of directors decided it would be beneficial and scheduled a vote. The two once-fierce competitors will join forces on Feb. 1.

Leaders of the co-ops said before the vote that the merger would save $12.7 million a year, which adds up to $50.8 million in four years.

A merger was also proposed in 2015, but it was rejected by North Central members.

Marshall County oil leak

A 210,000-gallon oil leak in TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline was discovered in a Marshall County field on the morning of Nov. 16, near the town of Amherst.

TransCanada officials discovered the leak due to a decrease of pressure in the pipeline, said Todd Landmark, Marshall County emergency management director. The entire 2,687-mile pipeline — which moves oil from eastern Alberta, Canada, to Oklahoma and Illinois — was shut down before officials were able to pinpoint and repair the leaking area.

An initial report said the leak could have been the result of a rupture caused by mechanical damage during construction in 2008. An investigation is ongoing.

The leak is one of the 20 largest onshore oil or petroleum spills since 2010.