COL Cattle producers can get low-interest loans

DES MOINES -- A state official said cattle producers can borrow money at low interest rates to invest in the Iowa Quality Beef Supply Network.

The cooperative, formed by the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, is holding an investment and capital drive through Sept. 30, to raise funds for renovating and operating a beef slaughtering plant in Tama in eastern Iowa.

State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald said $10 million has been set aside for cattle producers to use in an investment program. Individual beef producers may borrow up to $250,000 for five years to buy producer shares in the beef cooperative. The plant is scheduled to open between November and February. It is expected to employ 400 people and slaughter nearly 300,000 cattle annually.

MDA certifies risk management people

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has certified 14 farm risk management consultants. The consultants can provide farmers with counseling tailored to their specific needs.


The professionals have been trained through a risk management program designed by the MDA and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Farm Business Management program.

The new certified consultants are Joe Carlson, American State Bank, Olivia; Greg Dvergsten, Northland Community College, Thief River Falls; Ron Dvergsten, Northland Community College, East Grand Forks; Douglas Fjerstad, Northland Community College, Fosston; Terry Hansen, Hansen Crop Insurance, New Richland; Rudy Hasbargen, Northland Community College, Fergus Falls; Greg Kalinoski, Northland Community College, Red Lake Falls; Jerry Kalinoski, Alexandria Technical College, Alexandria; Dennis Kelly, AgStar Financial Services, Mankato; Eric Madsen, AgStar Financial Services, Mankato; Eric Madsen, AgStar Financial Services, Mankato; Dennis Olsen, Northland Community College, Hawley; Patrick O'Rourke, O'Rourke Agency, Wells; Alan Roesler, Farm Business Management, Blue Earth; and Paul Wilson, F&M; State Bank of Clarkfield, Clarkfield.

Canada bars U.S. potato imports

PORTLAND, Maine -- The Canadian government says it is restricting U.S. potato imports to prevent the spread of a virus it says has been found in samples from Maine and eight other states.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency began barring seed potatoes from all nine states beginning Aug. 20. It will also restrict the import of other potatoes to protect against the mop-top virus.

The Canadian agency said it has discovered mop-top virus in samples of potatoes imported from California, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia and Washington. The U.S. Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is working to verify the Canadian test results, spokeswoman Meghan Thomas said.

Former Cargill Pork manager sentenced

ST. LOUIS -- A former Cargill Pork Inc. farm manager was sentenced to five months in prison on federal charges that he knowingly allowed the illegal dumping of hog waste into a tributary of the Missouri River.


U.S. District Judge Jean Hamilton also ordered Duane W. Connor, 40, now living in Iowa, to spend five months in house arrest after his prison term.

Connor pleaded guilty in May to a felony count of violating the federal Clean Water Act while managing the Cargill Pork hog farm near Martinsburg, where authorities said the July 2000 illegal dumping spoiled part of the Loutre River and killed more than 53,000 fish.

Martinsburg is about 75 miles northwest of St. Louis.

In February, Cargill Pork -- a division of Minnetonka, Minn.-based Cargill Inc. -- agreed to pay a $1 million fine and $51,779 in restitution for also violating the Clean Water Act and making a false statement. Over a five-day period in July 2000, the government said, Cargill Pork illegally dumped through valves and holding ponds at its 17,000-pig farm an unspecified amount of hog waste that contaminated about five miles of the Loutre in east-central Missouri.

Buffett's firm buys equipment maker

MILFORD, Ind. -- Farm equipment maker CTB International Corp. has signed a $180 million agreement to be purchased by Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the investment firm of billionaire Warren Buffett.

Under terms of the deal, CTB shareholders will receive $12.75 in cash for each of their shares, CTB said in a statement. Berkshire Hathaway, based in Omaha, Neb., will also assume $40 million in CTB debt.

Victor A. Mancinelli, CTB's president and chief executive officer, said the merger will give Milford-based CTB greater access to capital to support its long-term growth strategy.


CTB's net earnings in 2001 were more than $14 million, said Michael Fisch, president of American Securities Capital Partners, which owns 42 percent of the company's shares. CTB makes equipment for the poultry, hog, egg production and grain industries. It has more than 1,300 employees.

Critical habitat proposal considered

OMAHA -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing designating portions of 186 streams in Nebraska, Minnesota and three other states as critical habitat for a once-common Midwestern minnow.

The Topeka shiner was placed on the endangered species list in 1998.

The service said streams listed in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and South Dakota are only those currently occupied by the Topeka shiner. Those streams are considered to have the physical and biological features essential to the conservation of the tiny species.

The agency said a critical habitat designation will help focus federal, state, tribal and private management efforts but does not create a preserve or refuge for the fish.

Wheat sales spark controversy

Federal agriculture officials will review controversial sales of government wheat that drained more than $1 million from Eastern Washington grain companies and farmer cooperatives.


Acting on a request by Rep. George Nethercutt, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of the Inspector General said the review could expand into an investigation by month's end.

"I think it's imperative this happens," Nethercutt said last week. "I've been out in farm country, and when this comes up, we're getting a lot of nods of the head that this is the right thing to do." Earlier this summer, the USDA sold 10 million of the 90 million bushels of wheat it has stored as a hedge against massive crop failures. This particular sale was used to finance other grain purchases for African drought relief.

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