Ag briefs: MN large hog feedlot moves forward

Wisconsin State Farmer
Midwest briefs


Wisconsin milk production up in November 

Milk production in Wisconsin during November 2017 totaled 2.45 billion pounds, up 1 percent from the previous November, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report.

The average number of milk cows during November, at 1.28 million head, was the same as last month but 1,000 fewer than last year.

Monthly production per cow averaged 1.915 pounds, up 20 pounds from last November.


Appeals court clears way for large hog farm in SE Minnesota 

A plan to build a large hog feedlot in southeastern Minnesota can move forward, the state Court of Appeals ruled on Dec. 18. The decision by a three-judge panel affirmed a vote by the Goodhue County Board in February to approve the proposed 4,700-hog operation near Zumbrota. 

Opponents of the Circle K Family Farms project, including the Land Stewardship Project and Zumbrota Township residents, have been fighting it over concerns about odors and what they contend are high levels of toxic hydrogen sulfide at other hog farms in southern Minnesota owned by Jeff Kohlnhofer and his brothers Mike and Yon. 

But the appeals court noted that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, after an extensive review, "concluded that the project did not pose a risk of potential significant environmental effects." 


Farms awarded $20M for manure management

New York has awarded $20 million for water quality projects on 56 farms across the state. The funding is intended to allow large livestock farms to comply with new regulations for managing manure to protect ground water and nearby waterways.

The regulations apply to CAFOs, most of which are dairy farms with 300 or more cows. New York has more than 500 such farms.

The manure management funding is part of the $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017.


Unions hope to organize pot farm workers

The United Farm Workers, Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers are looking to unionize the tens of thousands of potential workers involved in the legal weed game, from planters to rollers to sellers. The move could provide a boost to organized labor's lagging membership — if infighting doesn't get in the way.

The United Farm Workers, co-founded by iconic labor leader Cesar Chavez, says organizing an industry rooted in agriculture is a natural fit, and growers could label their products with the union's logo as a marketing strategy.

"If you're a cannabis worker, the UFW wants to talk with you," national vice president Armando Elenes said.

But United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents grocery store employees, meat packers and retail workers, registered its intent to organize cannabis workers across the country.


South Dakota processing plant receives forbearance on rent 

South Dakota's only facility that processes pulse crops won't be required to pay rent for an undetermined amount of time as it faces financial challenges. 

The South Dakota Pulse Processors plant, which began operating about a year ago in Harrold, has received forbearance from the Pierre Economic Development Corporation on its $14,000 monthly lease payment, the Pierre Capital Journal reported . The plant also laid off one of its seven workers. 

"We have agreed to defer (their monthly lease payments) until they can kind of get their ducks in a row," said Jim Protexter, chief operating officer of PEDCO. "They are asking for some forbearance to get things figured out." 

Investors supported the plant as a way to offer South Dakota farmers a local processing facility for high-protein field peas, lentils and other pulse crops. Before the plant began operations in January, local farmers had to haul such crops to processing plants in North Dakota and Nebraska. 


Iowa City man charged after rescue of hundreds of birds

An Iowa City man has been charged with a serious misdemeanor related to the recent rescue of more than 200 birds from a farmstead in rural Solon.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported Tuesday that authorities have charged 70-year-old Francis J. Prohaska with one count of livestock neglect.

The charge stemmed from a Dec. 9 search of a property owned by Prohaska. Deputies found a number of dead birds and rescued about 200 others, including ducks, geese, chickens and pigeons.

Iowa City Animal Services is seeking donations to cover the cost of caring for the birds and people who want to adopt the birds.


Iowa man gets 33 months for faking farm loan documents

A man who faked grain contracts so he could obtain farm loans from Farm Credit Services of America has been sent to prison.

Prosecutors say 53-year-old Michael Royster, of Clear Lake, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $1.1 million in restitution. He'd pleaded guilty.

Prosecutors say Royster faked the contracts in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. The documents were aimed a misleading loan officers into thinking cooperatives or other buyers were storing more of his and his son's corn and soybeans that they actually were.


New type of wheat could transform daily fiber intake 

A new type of wheat which could offer millions of people a way to boost their fiber intake without having to change their diets is being harvested for the first time in the United States. 

The wheat is high-amylose wheat and contains more than ten times the amount of resistant starch compared to regular wheat. Largely lacking in Western diets, resistant starch is known to improve digestive health, protect against the genetic damage that precedes bowel cancer and help combat Type 2 diabetes. 

Farmers in Minnesota and Washington have become the first to harvest the wheat which will be processed into flour and incorporated into a range of food products, including bread. 

The development of the wheat was led in Australia by scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in collaboration with Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients. CSIRO is Australia’s preeminent national research agency. 

Working with French company Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, CSIRO bred the new wheat variety - increasing amylose content from around 20 or 30 percent to 85 percent. 

US-based Bay State Milling Company is bringing the new wheat into the US market. They recently contracted farmers to grow around 1,000 acres of the wheat, which they will market as HealthSense™ high fiber wheat flour. 

Though it’s unclear when the wheat might be available in grocery stores to the average consumer, the flour will be made available to bakers and food manufacturers to trial early next year.