Ag briefs: Idaho dairy bookkeeper accused of embezzlement

Wisconsin State Farmer


Dairy: Bookkeeper embezzled over $700,000

A former bookkeeper for an Idaho dairy is accused of stealing more than $700,000 to pay off credit card debt and perform work on her home.

Stephanie Diane Wells, 34, Box Canyon Dairy’s former chief financial officer, is charged with 19 felony counts of grand theft. According to court records, Wells allegedly altered financial records of Box Canyon Dairy between Dec. 2015 and August 2018.

Box Canyon Dairy in Wendell, ID, was formed in 2011 but was in the process of winding down, court officials said.


Corn field waste turned into sustainable products

A company that works to turn corn field waste into sustainable products is planning a central Indiana facility.

Officials announced the plans from a joint venture between Switzerland-based Cormo AG and Naples, Florida-based Sustainable Projects Group Inc. The venture called Cormo USA Inc. plans to invest about $29.5 million to establish its first U.S. production plant in Rushville, Indiana.

Plans call for creating up to 250 new jobs by the end of 2023.

Groundbreaking is expected this summer on the facility to process maize straw from up to 150,000 acres of fields annually into a peat moss substitute for agricultural uses and foam products for material science uses.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. plans to offer Cormo USA up to $3.5 million in conditional tax credits.


Detroit gets first winery in 60 years, in old Stroh's building

A winery that opened last week in an old Stroh's building in Detroit has become the city's first winery in 60 years.

Detroit Vineyards opened its doors Friday in the former Stroh's Ice Cream facility, which still boasts the company's large, green sign.

Winery co-founder by Blake Kownacki tells the Detroit Free Press that it was essential to keep the sign because "it's emblematic for the city" and can now being used to the advantage of the new business.

The winery is open seven days a week and features wines made from Detroit-grown grapes, including white and red wine, rosé, mead and cider.

Part of the old Stroh's building is used as the winery's barrel room.


ASF spreads to North Korea

African Swine Fever (ASF) has apparently spread to North Korea, according to Sources inside the country say the disease has spread to the outskirts of Pyongyang from mid-February and has led to the deaths of many pigs that had been raised by families.

When ASF began to spread, North Korean authorities prohibited the distribution and sale of pork from late February and there are still prohibitions on the sale of pork at markets and raising pigs, the website reported.

Despite the restrictions, North Koreans are still selling pork at markets, the report said.


Hemp could join oranges as a Fla. ag product

Hemp could join oranges, strawberries and tomatoes as a top Florida crop under a bill unanimously passed by the Senate.

The bill passed Tuesday with glowing praise from senators who want to help an agriculture industry that's taken a lot of hits in recent years.

It would create a state program to administer and oversee the growing of hemp for industrial uses to make everything from ropes to building materials to animal feed.

Republican Sen. Rob Bradley said agriculture has been hit by setbacks ranging from citrus diseases to hurricanes over the last two decades. He said he wants Florida to become a national leader in the hemp industry.

Hemp is related to marijuana but has trace amounts of THC. Bradley said smoking it wouldn't make people high but rather give them a headache. A companion House bill is awaiting a floor vote.


Super weed that attacks crops

Minnesota agriculture officials say a super weed that can devastate corn and soybean crops has made new incursions into the state by way of livestock feed.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says cows have eaten remnants of the weed in feed and it has shown up in manure that farmers spread on fields. The Star Tribune reports that it has been confirmed in six Minnesota counties.

The aggressive pigweed species is native to the desert regions of the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, but has spread to more than half the states, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

North Dakota State University officials gearing up to fight the weed say the spread of Palmer amaranth can reduce yields by up to 91 percent for corn and 79 percent for soybeans.


Former aquaponics co. official convicted of fraud

A federal jury has convicted a former executive of a South Dakota company accused of defrauding investors in a scheme to build an $11 million fish farm.

The jury Monday found Timothy Burns guilty of five charges of wire fraud for his role in soliciting investors for Global Aquaponics in Brookings. He will be sentenced later.

Burns was the one-time chief operating officer of Global Aquaponics. The company sought investors to build an indoor fish farm and hydroponics facility.

But the Argus Leader reports construction on the fish farm never started. Investors who put a minimum of $25,000 each in the project lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Businessman Tobias Ritesman earlier pleaded guilty to all 18 counts against him in the alleged scheme. Ritesman also awaits sentencing.