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MICHIGAN

Joint partnership to build new cheese and whey facility

Glanbia plc, Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. (DFA) Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) and Foremost Farms USA announced that they are in advanced discussions to create a stand-alone joint venture to build and operate a new cheese and whey production facility in Michigan. Upon completion, the plant is projected to process 8 million pounds of milk per day. Half of the joint venture will be owned by Glanbia and the  balance will be owned by DFA, MMPA and Foremost Farms.

As part of the proposed joint venture DFA, MMPA and Foremost Farms would supply all milk required by the plant while Glanbia will have full responsibility for all commercial, technical and operational aspects of the business. If the project proceeds as planned, commissioning of the new facility is expected to take place in the second half of 2019.

ST. PAUL, MN

MN poultry farmers warily watch bird flu outbreaks

Poultry farmers in Minnesota are cautiously watching the spread of bird flu in Europe and Asia. The World Health Organization is on "high alert" because the virus has been found in 40 countries around the world since last fall and is spreading quickly.

Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, said the spring waterfowl migration will increase the risk of the virus coming to Minnesota. Outbreaks in 2015 devastated more than 100 Minnesota farms and cost the state economy over $500 million.

Glen Taylor owner of Rembrandt Foods, one of the nation's largest egg producers, said it's unclear how the virus made its way into the company's barns in 2015. He said Minnesota is much better prepared than it was two years ago, adding that the poultry industry hopes its defenses don't have to be tested.

DUBUQUE, IA

Expert says super weed should not be ignored

An invasive weed that can grow up to 7 feet tall has been found in nearly half of Iowa's counties, and experts say farmers need to act quickly if the plant is found in their fields.

Bob Hartzler is a professor of weed science at Iowa State University said the species known as Palmer amaranth shouldn't be ignored and has the potential to drive farmers out of business.

"One of the problems is that one plant (of Palmer amaranth) produces hundreds of thousands of seeds," he said. "By just allowing a small number of these plants to survive, it could become a big problem for the foreseeable future."

The weed prominently appeared in the region's cotton fields in the 2000s. It was categorized as a "super weed" because of its ability to quickly grow and its resistance to many herbicides. In 2013, the weed was spotted in five Iowa counties. As of October, it had been seen in nearly half of Iowa's 99 counties.

LANSING, MI

GreenStone returns $33M to members

Members of GreenStone Farm Credit Services will return $33 million to members in 2017. The patronage payments are a result of the cooperative showing a profit in 2016. The board of directors approved the record cash patronage, which represents about one-quarter of its 2016 earnings.

President and CEO Dave Armstrong says the payout is the 12th consecutive year that members have received a patronage refund.

"It is our mission to support rural communities and agriculture, and one of the best ways we can do so is by reinvesting in our members, their businesses and our communities through patronage," Armstrong said. "With this current agricultural economic cycle, we know a patronage refund is welcomed additional income for our members."

GROVE HIEGHTS, MN

CHS accepting scholarship applications

CHS Foundation now accepting high school scholarship applications. In 2017, the CHS Foundation will award nearly 300 scholarships to students studying agriculture or STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) fields of study with an interest in agriculture or energy industry careers. One hundred high school students will be awarded $1,000 scholarships as they enter their freshman year of college in Fall 2017.

High school scholarship applications must be submitted by March 31, 2017. An independent external review committee will select recipients based on essays, transcripts and reference letters. For additional information and to apply, visit http://www.chsinc.com/stewardship/leadership-development/scholarships.

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