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 Agriculture News


     RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Congressional delegation members from the Dakotas say the U.S. Department of Agriculture has agreed to expedite implementation of a farm bill provision that will help ranchers in the Dakotas hurt by an early October blizzard.
     The farm bill passed by Congress last week restarts a livestock disaster program that had expired. Federal lawmakers from the Dakotas have been pressing USDA to expedite implementation of the provision.  Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kristi Noem say USDA has agreed and will begin accepting applications in mid-April.
     Western South Dakota ranchers lost an estimated 43,000 cattle and other livestock in the Oct. 4-5 blizzard. North Dakota losses have not officially been tabulated but are believed to be more than 1,000 animals.

     FARGO, N.D. (AP) - The federal government is setting aside $35 million over three years to help landowners conserve wetlands and grasslands in the five-state Prairie Pothole Region.
     The money is part of an incentive program built into the farm bill that President Obama signed into law earlier this month. It includes conservation grants, carbon credits and technical assistance.
     Wildlife officials say the region of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Montana provides important breeding and nesting habitat for more than 60 percent of the nation's migratory waterfowl.
     Conservation advocates say hundreds of thousands of native prairie acres in the region are lost to cropland conversion each year.  Agriculture Undersecretary Robert Bonnie says the program provides farmers, ranchers and conservation groups with options.


     BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Sen. John Hoeven says BNSF Railway is adding more locomotives and crews in an effort to address delays in Amtrak service and agriculture product shipping in North Dakota. This is according to Sen. John Hoeven, who was among North Dakota officials who met with agriculture officials and BSNF executives Tuesday in Washington. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer also attended the meeting.
     Increased crude oil and freight shipments largely have been blamed for causing rail delays. BNSF says rail service is being hampered by bad weather.  Hoeven says BNSF intends to bring 125 locomotives and 250 people to North Dakota within the next two weeks. He says that's part of a short-term solution.
     Hoeven says the long-term solution is the railroad's plan to invest $5 billion in its railroad this year, including $900 million to expand capacity where crude oil shipments are surging.

     NAPOLEON, N.D. (AP) - A grain bin accident has killed a southeastern North Dakota farmer.  Logan County Chief Deputy Sheriff and Coroner Steve Engelhardt says 39-year-old Charles Sperle died in the yard of his farm near Napoleon on Monday afternoon when corn broke loose from a grain bin he was unloading and covered him.
     Engelhardt tells The Bismarck Tribune that at one point there were about 20 people working with shovels to try to rescue Sperle but that the corn "was coming out like a waterfall."
     (Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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