Midwest briefs: Former Bachelor star to face trial

Wisconsin State Farmer


Land O'Lakes, Inc. reports results for second quarter 2017 

Land O'Lakes, Inc. reported quarterly net sales of $3.7 billion and net earnings of $113 million in the second quarter ending June 30, 2017 compared to net sales of $3.5 billion and net earnings of $134 million for same period in the prior year. Year-to-date net sales totaled $7.3 billion with net earnings of $223 million compared to net sales of $7.1 billion and net earnings of $238 million for same period in the prior year. Year-to-date results include an unrealized hedging loss of $4 million as compared to an unrealized hedging gain of $26 million for the same period in 2016.  

"As a company focused on growth, I am pleased with the first half of the year. We are up in volume in most of our key categories," stated Chris Policinski, Land O'Lakes, Inc. president and CEO. "We continue to be in a position to deliver strong full-year performance." 

Earnings from Operations, excluding the impact of unrealized hedging gains and losses, were $262 million for the six months ended June 30, 2017, up 8 percent from 2016 levels. Results were driven by strong performance in the Crop Inputs and Animal Nutrition segments, partly offset by lower performance in Dairy Foods and investments in Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN.

Earnings in Crop Inputs were driven by higher volumes in both seed and crop protection products. The Animal Nutrition segment delivered higher margins and improved product mix, which more than offset a decline in livestock volumes.

Dairy Foods benefited from higher margins on retail branded products, but overall margins were lower due to declines in global milk powder markets which impacted pricing. 

The company continued its investment in facilities and growth in strategic markets. Purina Animal Nutrition opened a new facility in Caledonia, New York, to replace the plant destroyed by fire in November 2014. During the first quarter, Land O'Lakes announced the acquisition of Vermont Creamery to accelerate growth in its important Dairy Foods business with trusted brands and innovative products.

The company also announced its increasing commitment to achieve meaningful goals in and to shape the future of environmental sustainability in an announcement with Walmart. 


Former Bachelor star to face trial in fatal collision

"The Bachelor" star Chris Soules will face a Jan. 18 jury trial on a felony hit-and-run charge in a fatal collision with a tractor on a rural road.

Judge Kellyann Lekar scheduled the trial in a Tuesday order, noting that it should take between four and five days. Soules, 35, had initially been scheduled to go on trial in July, but his attorneys filed a motion requesting more time to prepare.  

Prosecutors have accused Soules of leaving the scene of an April crash after he collided into the back of a tractor, killing Kenneth Moser, 66, of Aurora. If he's convicted, the charge could carry a 10-year prison sentence.  

Soules has pleaded not guilty. His attorneys contend that tests done hours after the crash showed Souels was not legally drunk or using drugs, and have filed a motion to keep any alcohol-related evidence out of the trial.  


Laura Ingalls Wilder butter statue coming to Iowa State Fair 

The Iowa State Fair will this year celebrate "Little House on the Prairie" with a butter sculpture of author Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

The Des Moines Register reports that the dairy likeness of Wilder will be displayed next to the butter cow, which is an annual feature at the fair. 

Wilder wrote the "Little House" series about 19th Century homesteaders in the Midwest, and the books formed the basis for the long-running television show. She spent part of her childhood in Burr Oak, Iowa. 

A butter replica of the Solheim Cup golf trophy will also be displayed at the Aug. 10-20 event. Previous butter sculptures include Elvis Presley and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. 

The Iowa State Fair attracts more than a million visitors every year. 


Brown County soybean crop damage being investigated 

Some Brown County farmers are complaining to the state that their soybean crops have been damaged by a drifting herbicide. 

South Dakota State University Extension specialist Gared Shaffer says the herbicide in question kills broad-leafed weeds but also can damage or kill legumes. 

State Agriculture Department Agronomy Services Manager Tom Gere says the agency is investigating the crop damage, and whether chemicals have been applied incorrectly. The probe could take several more weeks. 

The American News reports that even if there is evidence that dicamba herbicide drift damaged someone's crop, the state can do little to help the producer. 

Crop insurance also wouldn't cover the damage. Farmer liability insurance might if the cause of the damage can be pinpointed. 


Cargill enters into agreement to acquire Southern States Coop animal feed business 

Cargill has reached an agreement to acquire the animal feed business of Richmond, Va.,-based Southern States Cooperative, Inc., a move that will help the company better serve its customers in the eastern United States.

The transaction is expected to close within 90 days, subject to customary approvals. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

This acquisition is an important part of Cargill Feed and Nutrition's growth strategy and its commitment to the U.S. animal feed industry, strengthening its distribution, and go-to-market capabilities in the important Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the U.S.   

Under the agreement, Cargill will purchase the assets of Southern States Cooperative's animal feed business, including seven feed mills and an important portfolio of products, brands and customer and supplier relationships.  

The other segments of Southern States Cooperative's business – retail, farm supply, energy, and agronomy – are not part of this transaction.