Ag and Extension Briefs

Small grain winter workshops offered

The University of Minnesota Extension is offering four Small Grain Winter Workshops in central, western, and southern Minnesota in February to address small grain production.

Row crop farming brings busy spring and fall workloads. There are also pests common to row crops, including herbicide resistant weeds, soybean cyst nematodes, soybean aphid, diseases and corn rootworm. Small grains added to a rotation may offer opportunities to diversity cropping systems in central and southern Minnesota to manage these challenges and lower production costs. This program is designed to help farmers determine if small grains can work on their farm, in their rotation, and if it can be sustainable over time. This program will provide the tools needed to make small grains a successful crop in their operation. This includes information on production agronomics, variety selection, disease identification, fungicide use, fertility, quality, equipment, and economics. Time will be set aside for open forum to discuss related topics and on farm experiences.

Regional workshops include Thursday, Feb. 22 — Slayton, Murray County 4H Building, Event Hall, 12:30-4 p.m. (Contact: Melissa Runck at 507-836-6927).

Presenters will vary by location and include Jochum Wiersma, University of Minnesota Extension small grain specialist and Jared Goplen, University of Minnesota Extension crops educator.

Lunch is included at all sites. No registration is necessary unless lunch is desired in Slayton. Register for lunch in Slayton by visiting

For more information or to receive a brochure contact Jared Goplen at 320-589-1711 x2128 or

US agency, Kauai seed company settle on pesticide violations

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has settled with Syngenta Seeds LLC to resolve federal pesticide violations at the company’s farm on Kauai.

Under the agreement reached Monday, Syngenta will pay a civil penalty of $150,000. The company also will spend $400,000 on 11 worker protection training sessions for agricultural workers in Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

The EPA said Syngenta failed to notify workers in January 2016 and January 2017 to avoid fields in Kekaha that had been recently sprayed with an insecticide containing chlorpyrifos.

The agency also claimed the company failed to “provide both adequate decontamination supplies on-site and prompt transportation to a medical facility for exposed workers.”

The EPA says chlorpyrifos can overstimulate the nervous system causing nausea, dizziness, confusion, and at very high exposures, respiratory paralysis and death.

In January 2016, 19 workers entered a cornfield about 20 hours after the field was sprayed with chlorpyrifos. The wait period to re-enter is 24 hours. Syngenta said a supervisor had workers immediately leave the field after he realized the error. Ten workers were taken to Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital to be examined.

Syngenta spokesman Paul Minehart said “agricultural worker safety is a top priority for Syngenta and safe use training has for many years been an integral part of the way the company does business worldwide.”

Alexis Strauss, the EPA’s acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said the settlement will bring growers much-needed training to protect agricultural workers.

Kansas bill opens doors to poultry operations

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas bill receiving widespread support would allow the expansion of confined chicken growing operations within proximity to residential areas.

The Senate bill was endorsed Monday by two of the state’s largest agriculture industry organizations, Kansas State University faculty and county development groups, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

The proposed legislation would set boundaries on concentration of chicken houses and the number of birds at each site in order to improve recruitment of companies interested in making investments in new production facilities.

“If we’re going to grow the economy, we have to grow agriculture,” said Jackie McClaskey, secretary of the Kansas Department of Agriculture. “This bill is not designed to do anything to weaken our environmental standards. It is not designed to change the role of the state or locals in deciding what kind of business they want to recruit to their community.”

Kansas has a modest poultry footprint while surrounding states have embraced poultry farming, according to agriculture leaders.

“Out of all animal production, it is the one industry that is expanding and will probably continue to expand,” said Scott Beyer, associate professor of animal science at Kansas State University.

The bill follows last year’s community backlash after Tyson Foods’ proposal to build a $320 million poultry production and processing complex near Tonganoxie. Tyson wanted to open a chicken hatchery and feed mill to serve up to 400 chicken-raising houses on farms and ranches within a 50-mile radius. The company pulled out of its incentive-laden deal after public outcry.

Under the proposed legislation, poultry barns in Kansas can’t be closer than a quarter-mile from an occupied home.

Chicken is expected to become the most widely consumed protein by 2020, said Ashley Hutchinson, executive director of Cloud County Economic Development.

“The minute this becomes statute, you will be putting an open sign at our borders,” she said. “Give us the tools we need to bring in agriculture economic development in rural America.”

Cattle infected with bovine TB traced to Michigan farm

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Officials say bovine tuberculosis has been detected in a western Michigan cattle herd.

The state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says two cattle that tested positive at a processing facility were traced to a farm in Ottawa County.

The department has established a three-mile surveillance area around the farm. All cattle in the area must undergo testing within six months.

Officials said the infected animals originated with a herd in Franklin County, Indiana, that tested positive for bovine TB in 2016.

Indiana and Michigan are among six states known to have cattle with the chronic respiratory illness.

Officials say the bovine TB strain in Ottawa County is different from a type that has infected cattle and deer in Michigan’s northeastern Lower Peninsula.

A public meeting concerning the Ottawa County outbreak is scheduled for March 6 in Grandville, Michigan.

Group: Wyoming sage grouse farm received special treatment

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — An environmental group contends an oilman’s desire to breed sage grouse at his northern Wyoming bird farm found preferential treatment with the U.S. Interior Department.

But oilman Diemer True counters that there was nothing inappropriate about his request for support from the Interior Department for his captive breeding experiment.

The Casper Star-Tribune reported that Western Values Project obtained a series of emails between federal officials and True regarding his proposal.

True’s correspondence with the Interior in July coincided with a review of the federal sage grouse management program. The following month, the Interior Department published a report mentioning support for captive breeding.

The True family runs various companies involved in pipelines, exploration and production.

Federal grants available for farm conservation projects

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Federal officials say funding is available to support original approaches and technologies to improve conservation on farmland and private forests in Michigan.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it will award $250,000 in the state this year for conservation innovation grants. It will consider proposals seeking as much as $75,000 each, for projects lasting up to three years.

Individuals, businesses, local governments, nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities and American Indian tribes are eligible to apply. Proposals are due by April 13.

The grants are meant to encourage science-based conservation methods that benefit producers and the environment.

Priorities this year in Michigan include grazing lands, organic agriculture systems, soil health, water quality and water quantity.

Nebraska bighorn sheep undergo yearly health inspections

MCGREW, Neb. (AP) — Several volunteers have spent two days assessing the health of Nebraska’s bighorn sheep population.

The Scottsbluff Star-Herald reported that Nebraska Game and Parks staff members and volunteers created an inspection station Saturday in the Williams Gap Wildlife Management Area southwest of McGrew.

The sheep were captured with nets, blindfolded, placed in slings before getting a ride from a helicopter to the inspection site. The animals underwent a 28-step inspection, which included health checks and sampling, as well as being fitted with tracking collars. The wild sheep were inspected for about 10 minutes before being released back into the wild.

Nebraska Game and Parks staff, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, zoos in Omaha and Lincoln, area veterinarians, Chadron State College and South Dakota State University assisted with the evaluations.

“We have a conglomerate of folks, about 50 people,” said Todd Nordeen, Game and Parks’ big game research and disease program manager, who directed the weekend operations in Williams Gap and Fort Robinson. “We can process them quickly with that much help.”

Nebraska’s herds are at risk of being thinned by pasteurella pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.

“We’re trying to track the progression of the disease pathogen,” Nordeen said. “We’re doing better here in the Wildcat Hills than in the Pine Ridge.”