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REGIONAL NEWS: Briefly ...

-- Farm bill input: South Dakota's incoming agriculture secretary, William Even, says he wants the state to have a voice in the 2007 farm bill. Congress is working on the new farm bill, and Even says South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds' administration ...

-- Farm bill input: South Dakota's incoming agriculture secretary, William Even, says he wants the state to have a voice in the 2007 farm bill. Congress is working on the new farm bill, and Even says South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds' administration wants to make sure South Dakota is heard. Even, currently the director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, says South Dakota's energy efforts, such as ethanol, biodiesel and wind, could play a role in the bill's formation. Even takes over as state ag secretary March 26, replacing Larry Gabriel, who is retiring from the job after nearly seven years.

-- Farmers market conference: The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will help sponsor a Dynamic Farmers Markets conference from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 29 at T-Maxwell's Restaurant in Staples, Minn. The conference is designed to give farmers market managers and vendors valuable information to help their market prosper. Information: Marilyn

Nysetvold Johnson at (763) 434-0400.

-- Youth ag grants: Dakotas SARE Youth Sustainable Agriculture Grants are available for 2007 to young people in North Dakota and South Dakota, state coordinator Frank Kutka says. USDA's North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program provides funding for the youth grant program. As many as eight grants are available for 2007. There will be a competition for these grants of up to $250 per project. Two forms and a brief narrative about the proposal are due April 21. Awards will be announced May 1. Final reports about projects will be due in December. Information: Kutka at (701) 483-2348 ext. 113 or e-mail frank.kutka @ndsu.edu .

-- FSA closures: Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., is pushing the Senate to block the closure of South Dakota Farm Service Agency offices until the Department of Agriculture studies the potential cost savings from doing so. Legislation introduced by Thune would require such a study and also force the department to implement the study's recommendations at Farm Service Agency headquarters and state agency offices before county offices can be closed. South Dakota's Farm Service Agency director has filed a request to close offices in several counties and consolidate their duties in other offices. Six county offices could be closed, and two more may be consolidated, according to Thune.


-- Flax Web site: Producers, consumers, chefs and bakers wlll find everything they want to know about flax at www.-

ameriflax.com . "The strong interest in flaxseed recently is due to the general public and livestock producers discovering the health benefits of consuming and feeding flax," says Kaye Effertz, marketing director of the Mandan, N.D.-based AmeriFlax. "Flaxseed is an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid, a heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid. Its high fiber and cancer-fighting lignans also make it a great addition to our Western diets."

-- Webcast for pork producers: A free webcast titled "Rising to the Challenge of Rising Corn Prices: Proactive Options for the Pork Industry" will be presented by the Minnesota Pork Board and University of Minnesota Extension from 1 to 4 p.m. March 28. The webcast can be viewed from your computer or at one of a dozen host sites around the state. Pre-registration is not required, although individuals who attend at a host site are asked to contact the site coordinator to assure adequate seating. Information: Mark Whitney at (888) 241-3214 or www.extension.umn.edu/swine and click on "Challenge of Rising Corn Prices."

-- Grant recipients: Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has awarded $6.2 million in grants to more than two dozen small businesses and community groups to develop innovative uses for woody biomass, including renewable energy and new products, from national forests. Woody biomass utilization grantees include Baker Timber Products of Rapid City, S.D., $250,000; North Slope Sustainable Wood L.L.C. of Missoula, Mont., $248,950; and John Jump Trucking of Kalispell, Mont., $249,000.

-- Ethanol pollution fees: Ethanol plants in South Dakota will begin paying higher pollution fees this summer. There is a $25-a-ton limit on state fees that ethanol plants must pay for releasing hazardous pollutants into the air. A law going on the books July 1 will increase the ceiling on those payments to $40 a ton. Officials say plants are willing to pay more because the extra money will be used to hire a couple of state employees who can speed up the air-quality permit process for the ethanol industry. South Dakota has 12 ethanol plants in operation, three under construction, three in the planning stages and five more plants that may be expanded. About 550 million gallons of ethanol were produced in South Dakota last year.

-- River rises: The Wild Rice River has flooded farmland near Mantador, N.D., the National Weather Service says. The river broke from its banks March 20. At least five roads have been closed in Richland County, Minn., and overland flooding was expected to continue in the county for the several days, the weather service says.

-- Ethanol plant OK'd: Final approval came March 19 for an ethanol plant in Belle Fourche, S.D. City Council approval of a permit for the plant was unanimous. Pro-Eco Energy hopes to have the plant in operation by year's end. The plant eventually will be able to produce 100 million gallons of the fuel additive annually. It will be South Dakota's first ethanol plant west of the Missouri River.

-- Canadian trade proposal: The North Dakota Stockmen's Association opposes expansion of Canadian beef trade until the U.S. receives assurances from its trading partners that it will not be penalized with trade sanctions if a problem occurs in a foreign-born import and until an orderly market transition plan is put in place to protect the domestic market from a sudden supply shock. That is the essence of the comments the cattlemen's trade organization issued to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service about its proposed rule that would expand allowable trade to include live animals 30 months and older from Canada. NDSA Executive Vice President Wade Moser also is calling for all Canadian cattle to be permanently identified with a universal, hot-iron brand that designates them as Canadian cattle when the border does open.


-- Meeting rescheduled: A cost control meeting for cattle producers has been re-scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. March 27 in Mitchell, S.D. Presenters include Matt Diersen of South Dakota State University in Brookings and Cole Gustafson of North Dakota State University in Fargo. There also will be a recorded presentation by Harlan Hughes (NDSU, retired). Topics will include cost control at the farm and herd levels, the changing energy environment and price outlook. There is no charge for the workshop. Information: Diersen at (605) 688-4864.

- Agweek Staff and Wire Reports

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