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LANSING, MI

Blueberry growers to vote on creating research program

Blueberry growers in Michigan will decide whether to establish a research and education program to support their industry.

A referendum has been scheduled for Jan. 9-20. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will oversee it.

Public hearings on the matter were conducted in Holland and South Haven last month.

A committee of seven blueberry producers appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder would oversee the program. It would be funded by assessments on blueberries grown in the state.

The proposal calls for a maximum assessment of up to three-tenths of a cent per pound of blueberries sold.

To be adopted, the program must receive support from more than 50 percent of votes cast, representing more than 50 percent of the total bushels voted.

SCOTLAND, SD

Derailed train carrying ethanol

Federal authorities say a broken rail caused a September 2015 trail derailment and fire in South Dakota that resulted in more than $1 million in damages.

The Yankton Press and Dakotan reports that the Federal Railroad Administration investigation discovered the damaged rail on an approach to a bridge between Scotland and Lesterville.

The BNSF train was transporting a shipment of ethanol from Glacial Lake Energy Company's ethanol plant in Mina to a supply company in Deer Park, Texas.

Seven ethanol tanker cars derailed and two of them spilled nearly 50,000 gallons of fuel. A bridge was destroyed and burned in the accident. No injuries were reported.

The report says that while both crew members were likely fatigued at the time of the derailment, they were not at fault.

PIERRE, SD

Turkey industry recovers after avian flu

The South Dakota turkey industry is up and running again after avian flu led to the deaths of 640,000 turkeys last year.

The flu killed about 50 million turkeys and chickens nationwide, many of them on farms in Minnesota and Iowa, the Capital Journal (http://bit.ly/2gm6Alm) reported.

South Dakota state veterinarian, Dr. Dustin Oedekoven, cites a U.S. Department of Agriculture report saying the flu outbreak was "the most expensive and largest animal disease incident in U.S. history."

Oedekoven said turkey farms now have more protection and protocols against such an outbreak, such as limiting human visitors to barns.

An outbreak in February 2016 in Indiana didn't spread to the South Dakota flocks, which is mainly due to the new plan in place, Oedekoven said.

"The new protocols and response efforts that were revised after the 2015 outbreak were used in this early 2016 case in Indiana," Oedekoven told the Capital Journal. "As a result, I think we were spared having a great outbreak there."

South Dakota raises less than 2 percent of the nation's turkeys, with production limited to Hutterites, a tightly knit religious and ethnic minority.

The USDA estimates the number of turkeys raised this year at 243 million, up 4 percent over 2015.

HUGOTON, KS

Ethanol plant sold as company deals with bankruptcy 

A Kansas energy company has sold its Hugoton cellulosic ethanol plant for $48.5 million as it deals with bankruptcy.

The Wichita Eagle reports that Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas is a unit of the Spanish alternative energy company Abengoa. It sold the plant, which produces ethanol from cellulose, to Synata Bio.

The Kansas unit is selling off several assets through bankruptcy court, including a traditional grain ethanol plant in Colwich.

The U.S. Energy Department gave the Kansas company a more than $130 million loan guarantee in 2011 to help with the constriction of the plant.

OWOSSO, MI

Cargill moves forward on plans for $19M Michigan plant 

Agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. is moving forward on plans for a new $19 million animal feed plant in Michigan.

The Argus-Press of Owosso reports a groundbreaking took place last week on the project in the site in the Shiawassee County community of Owosso. The 75,000-square-foot custom feed manufacturing facility is expected to prompt hiring of eight employees to start.

The Michigan Strategic Fund earlier this year approved a nearly $2.8 million tax capture for the City of Owosso Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to make infrastructure improvements, including a new public roadway and a new water main service line.

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