Midwest briefs: Iowa corn detasselers sprayed with poisons

Wisconsin State Farmer


Pulp mill would use wheat straw, not trees, to make paper 

A proposed $184 million pulp mill in southeast Washington plans to take straw, a waste product from wheat and alfalfa farms, and convert it into pulp for paper and packaging products. 

Columbia Pulp says construction is expected to begin in August after the company secured financing for the manufacturing facility in Dayton. 

The mill is unusual in that it will convert straw from wheat and alfalfa — rather than trees — to make paper and other products. The straw will come from wheat and alfalfa farmers in the surrounding area. 

Company officials say converting straw that is typically burned as waste will reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as the demand for trees in pulp production. 

A state agency helped facilitate a tax-exempt loan that will allow the project to obtain lower interest rates. The Washington Economic Development Finance Authority says no state money or taxpayer dollars are being used. 


Corn detasselers sprayed with crop poisons in Iowa field 

Officials say several workers were sickened after being sprayed with fungicide and insecticide from a crop duster while they were detasseling corn in a central Iowa field. 

The Des Moines Register reports none of the approximately two dozen workers was severely sickened Friday in the field near Collins. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating. 

Maxwell Fire Chief Tony Ness says the workers complained mostly of nausea and headaches. It took about three hours for all the affected workers to go through a decontamination trailer. 

Iowa Department of Public Health toxicologist Stuart Schmitz says short-term exposure to the chemicals usually leave no long-term effects. 

The agriculture department can take up to two months to complete an investigation and longer to issue a report. 


Indiana fish farm's new owner plans restarting production 

The new owner of an eastern Indiana fish farm says it plans to restart production there next year. 

The (Muncie) Star Press reports Maynard, Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies bought the Bell Aquaculture facility near the Delaware County town of Albany for $14 million. 

AquaBounty spokesman Dave Conley says the last Bell-raised fish were harvested before the sale closed. He says AquaBounty plans to use the facility to produce its genetically engineered salmon, for which it received federal approval in 2015. 

Conley says its salmon grow to market size faster than conventional Atlantic salmon with 25 percent less food. 

AquaBounty expects to start production next spring, with its first harvest in 2019. It estimates growing 2.6 million pounds of fish a year. 


Iowa officials hope pork plant will keep town vibrant 

 Eagle Grove City Administrator George McGuire said the planned Prestage hog processing plant in Wright County is an example of how an industry can breathe new life into rural areas. 

"We're re-inventing ourselves," he told the Globe Gazette. "Out with the old, in with the new." 

The $250 million plant is being built about 5 miles south of Eagle Grove. 

McGuire acknowledged there's a certain faction of the community that does not know what to expect when the plant, which is expected to employ about 1,000 people, begins operation in about 18 months. 

That's a big deal for the people in a town of about 3,600 residents and in a county with a population of about 13,200. 

Construction is expected to be complete in November 2018. 


Iowa AgriTech Accelerator Names Sixth Startup for 2017 Class

The Iowa AgriTech Accelerator announced Iowa City-based Farrpro as the sixth startup for the program’s Class of 2017.

Farrpro rounds out this year’s class and brings with it a new type of heater for farrowing facilities that creates a micro-climate for piglets with the aims of reducing energy costs.

In June, The Accelerator named WISRAN, PyurSolutions, Rabbit Tractors, Phenomics Labs and Hintech as the first five startups to participate in the program.

The Accelerator also announced the program’s Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs) - KNL Works Strategy Advisor Kerty Levy, c.Results Founder Charise Flynn and former interim director of The Accelerator, Tej Dhawan, as this year’s EIRs.

EIRs for The Accelerator will provide strategic and tactical mentoring to each member of the 2017 class and will spend dedicated in office time mentoring the startups throughout the 100-day incubator period.   

The companies selected for this year’s class will receive intensive mentoring and $40,000 in seed funding, engagement with regional ag innovators that will complement office time for holistic education, outreach, networking and presentation opportunities, as well as a graduation ceremony held during the World Food Prize on Oct. 20.