National briefs: Dairy cow carcasses pile up in CA

Wisconsin State Farmer
National briefs


Upstate NY dairy farmer co-op to buy Kraft Heinz plant 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer say a New York dairy farmer cooperative has reached an agreement to buy a Kraft Heinz plant in the state's Southern Tier, a move that will keep 125 jobs at the facility. 

The New York Democrats announced Friday that Upstate Niagara plans to invest $10 million in new machinery and equipment for the cheese plant in Campbell, 70 miles southeast of Rochester. 

Cuomo and Schumer say the plant was in danger of closing until efforts began to find a buyer. Those efforts started in November 2015 as state and federal officials worked with Kraft Heinz to keep it from also shutting other upstate plants that employ hundreds of people. 

Upstate Niagara has more than 350 farms across the upstate region.


Man fined for poisoning bald eagles on New York farm 

A Pennsylvania man has been fined $3,500 for killing two bald eagles by directing his employees to pour a toxic pesticide over sheep carcasses on his western New York farm. 

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Rochester says 68-year-old William Wentling, of Rothville, Pennsylvania, mailed a container of the pesticide Furadan to his farm in Addison, New York, and directed workers to pour it on carcasses to kill birds of prey. 

Prosecutors say two bald eagles, two red-tailed hawks and a rough-legged hawk died after feeding on the poisoned sheep in March 2015. One of the eagles was a female who had been incubating eggs. 

Authorities say the poison was used because hawks had been killing lambs on the farm in the Steuben County town of Tuscarora. 


Dairy cow carcasses pile up following California heat wave 

Central California's largest rendering plant is overwhelmed by the number of cows that died during a June heat wave, so officials are allowing dairy farmers to bury or compost hundreds of carcasses. 

The unusual run of heat last month - including nine straight days of triple-digit temperatures - and a mechanical malfunction at Baker Commodities have contributed to the overload at the plant, the Fresno Bee reported on June 30. 

Because of the excess carcasses, Baker stopped picking up from farms, leaving farmers without a place to send their dead animals. 

To handle the problem, Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties had to take the unusual step of giving dairies permission to bury or compost the animals on site under a strict set of temporary rules outlined by state water and agricultural agencies. The three counties declared a state of emergency, clearing the way for the disposal methods. 

Baker normally processes about 1 million pounds of animal flesh a day, said Wayne Fox, division manager of environmental health at Fresno County Department of Public Health. 

The company had ratcheted up its capacity to 1.5 million pounds per day before a daylong machinery malfunction significantly slowed the rendering process, said Fresno County Board of Supervisors Chairman Brian Pacheco, who is a dairy farmer. 

Once the animals decompose to a certain point, they can't be rendered, Pacheco said. 

It is too soon for county officials to know how many animals died in this heat wave. 


Man charged with 1st-degree murder in teenage girl's death 

A man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his teenage girlfriend, whose remains were found a year ago on a former llama farm in Pennsylvania where he once worked. 

Twenty-six-year-old Sky McDonough was also arraigned jUNE 30 in Pike County on charges of kidnapping, evidence tampering and other counts in the April 2016 death of 17-year-old Leanna Walker. 

Police said the girl left home with McDonough, and they camped in several locations, including the Milford Township llama farm. McDonough was arrested on other charges. Walker's burned remains were found a month later at the farm. 

State police said the victim's Facebook account has conversations indicating that she said he had threatened her. 

McDonough told reporters "I didn't kill her. I don't know what happened to her." 


Fire at commercial egg farm kills more than 100,000 chickens 

Authorities say more than 100,000 chickens died in a fire that destroyed a barn at a Pennsylvania commercial egg farm in Pennsylvania. 

The blaze at Hillandale Farms in Tyrone Township was reported around 5:45 a.m. Saturday. Tyrone is about 29 miles (46 kilometers) southwest of Harrisburg. 

A Heidlersburg Fire Company captain said flames were visible above the roof of the 600-foot (183-meter) barn by the time fire crews arrived. 

Crews concentrated on keeping the blaze from spreading to other buildings. Three firefighters were treated at the scene, two for dehydration and one for a laceration. 

The fire chief said adjacent chicken houses were undamaged and the animals unharmed. The burned building was destroyed. 

Officials said the cause of the fire is still under investigation. It's believed to have been accidental.