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PRAIRIE FARM, WI

Fundraiser raises $25,000 for family hit by farm tragedy

About 600 people turned out for a weekend fundraiser to help a Barron County family hit by a farm tragedy.

Fifty-one-year-old Dan Briel and his 14-year-old son, David, died on March 24 when they were buried by silage inside a silo.

WEAU-TV reports that about $25,000 was generated during a May 6 fundraiser for the family at Prairie Farm High school.

ST. PAUL, MN

Governor threatens to veto bill to repeal wild rice standard

Gov. Mark Dayton has warned lawmakers he'll veto a bill to nullify the state's wild rice water quality standard if it reaches his desk without changes.

The governor said in a letter Thursday he recognizes it's not technically or economically feasible for the mining industry or municipalities to comply with the existing standard, which limits discharges of sulfates into waters where wild rice grows to 10 milligrams per liter.

But he says the bill as written is an "extreme approach that removes important protections for wild rice, conflicts with federal law and guarantees ongoing litigation."

The bill has cleared a conference committee and is headed back to the House and Senate for final votes. It's supported by mining backers and wastewater plant operators, but opposed by tribal and environmental groups.

NEW VIENNA, IA

Dairy farmer agrees to pay more than $24K for fish kill

A dairy farmer has agreed to pay more than $24,000 in restitution and a penalty for manure runoff that Iowa authorities say killed more than 60,000 fish.

The fish kill was reported Oct. 9 after carcasses were spotted in two creeks in Dyersville. Officials searched the area upstream and determined that the fish kill was caused by manure from the dairy farm, which sits about 3 miles (5 kilometers) east of New Vienna.

An Iowa Natural Resources Department settlement signed last week says farm owner John Hoefler and the department agreed that he would pay a $2,000 penalty and restitution and investigative costs of more than $22,400 and take steps to ensure the spill doesn't recur.

Among the dead fish were minnows, white suckers and creek chubs.

WICHITA, KS

Half of Kansas wheat crop in poor condition

The latest update from the National Agricultural Statistics Service shows half of the Kansas winter wheat crop is in poor to very poor condition.

The agency reported Monday that just 36 percent of the state's wheat crop is in fair shape with 14 percent rated as good. Its report also shows plant development is running well behind normal for this late in the season.

Just 19 percent of the wheat has headed. That is significantly behind the 57 percent at this time last year and behind the 41 percent for the five-year average.

UNADILLA, NE

Nebraska man faces charges for starving livestock again

A man who's spent time in prison for neglecting his livestock has been charged in a new case after pig and goat carcasses were found on his southeast Nebraska property.

The Lincoln Journal-Star reports that 67-year-old John Maahs is facing 10 felony animal cruelty and neglect charges after dead animals were found on his Otoe County farm.

He was convicted of the same charges in 2011 after deputies found about 1,000 dead hogs on the property.

Chief Deputy Mike Holland called finding more than 40 dead pigs and 15 dead goats a "disgusting scene." He says police found live hogs feeding on dead hogs.

Maahs didn't return a request for comment. He's scheduled to appear in court May 21.

He is facing 20 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

RALEIGH, N.C.  

Deal ends environmental racism complaint against hog farms

North Carolina officials are resolving a formal complaint of environmental racism by promising tougher oversight of industrial swine operations blamed for polluting the air and water.

The state Department of Environmental Quality and a coalition of environmental groups said Thursday they've resolved a four-year-old complaint about health problems affecting minority communities near large-scale hog operations.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year told the state agency it was concerned that minorities might have suffered outsized effects as concentrated animal feeding operations multiplied near their eastern North Carolina homes.

State environmental officials say they'll now launch an air quality study in Duplin County and expand existing water monitoring efforts in Sampson and Duplin counties.

The agreement ends civil rights complaints filed against the state environmental agency in 2014 and 2016.

JEFFERSON CITY, MO

Missouri Legislature passes bill to legalize industrial hemp

The Missouri Legislature has passed a bill to legalize industrial hemp.

The measure to create a hemp-growing pilot program passed the House 133-6 on May 3. The Senate passed the bill 29-3 Wednesday.

Hemp, which can be used as raw material for manufacturing, comes from the same plant as marijuana. But it contains very low levels of the psychoactive chemical known as THC.

The bill would require people to get a permit from the Department of Agriculture to grow hemp.

Backers argue that growing industrial hemp could help farmers and businesses in the state. But it's been met with skepticism for years by some lawmakers.

Hemp bill is HB 2034.

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