Friday News, January 30
Farmers Learn About Lawsuit Against Syngenta For Drop In Corn Prices
(Le Mars) -- Former Iowa Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge organized a town hall meeting which more than 30 Iowa corn growers attended last evening at the Le Mars Public Library. The farmers were there to learn more about the scenerio when they and others across the nation were impacted by the disruption in the global corn market in 2013 and 2014. Traveling with Judge is Michael Watt, an attorney who specializes in large agricultural case litigation. Watt explains the purpose for last evening's meeting.
The market for U.S. corn dropped sharply after corn shipments from the United States were rejected by China because they contained Syngenta seed that had not been approved for import. Watt says any corn farmer can sign on as a plaintiff in the case, not just those that planted Syngenta seed.
Despite the fact U-S corn growers had produced a large supply of corn, which could be argued is the reason for the price of corn to drop, Watt believes farmers have a good position with this case.
Watt presents evidence that the price of corn had dropped after the article was published, and China refused to accept any more U-S corn.
Many Iowans and others in the agriculture industry, including Cargill, have filed lawsuits against Syngenta due to the damage their product has done to the market. At last evening's meeting, many of the attending farmers signed up to get additional information about the pending lawsuit.
Remsen Man Convicted For Discharging Pollutant Into Floyd River
(Sioux City) -- A Remsen man who was employed by a pork processing plant and oversaw the facility’s wastewater treatment lagoons pled guilty in federal court in Sioux City to knowingly discharging a pollutant thereby resulting in a fish kill.
Michael J. Wolf, age, 57 from Remsen, Iowa, was convicted of one count of discharging pollutant in a water of the United States.
At the plea hearing, Wolf admitted in or about August, 2012, Sioux-Preme Packing Corporation contracted with a company to remove and replace debris from the SPC wastewater treatment lagoons, and that beginning on October 23, 2012 and continuing to October 24, 2012, he discharged the contents of the treatment lagoons (which included pollutants such as biological material and agricultural waste) through a valve, pipe and pump building into a tributary of the West Branch of the Floyd River. Wolf admitted that between October 23 and 24th, 2012, he intentionally and unlawfully discharged approximately 845,000 gallons of untested wastewater and pollutant into the tributary over an 11.5 hour period.
On October 27, 2012, the IDNR Spencer Field Office received reports of cloudy water and stressed fish downstream of the Sioux Preme Company facility and began investigating. Two days later, IDNR investigators observed dead fish and discolored water downstream of the facility.
On November 2, 2012, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau finished conducting their fish kill assessment. Based on observations by fisheries staff from the confluence of the unnamed tributary and West Branch of the Floyd River, and extending downstream 11.13 miles, fish of various species were killed and more were otherwise negatively affected by the criminal discharge. .
Sentencing before United States District Court Judge Donald E. O’Brien will be set after a pre-sentence report is prepared. Wolf remains free on bond previously set pending sentencing. Wolf faces up to three years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $50,000 per day of violation, $100 in special assessment, and up to one year of supervised release following any imprisonment.
Le Mars Chamber Schedules Ag Luncheon
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce will sponsor its Twenty-first Annual Agri-Business Luncheon on Wednesday, March 18, at the Le Mars ConventionCenter, upper level.
Beginning at 9:30 a.m. Plymouth County Farm Bureau will sponsor the Chamber
Coffee at the Convention Center.
The morning program, beginning at 10:30, will feature a speaker from the new C-F Industries Port Neal Nitrogen Complex.
The meal will be served by Timmy’s Catering. The presentation of the “Outstanding Service to Agriculture” award will be presented.
The featured speaker at noon will be David Kruse, President of CommStock Investments, and Agri-Vantage, commodity brokerage, crop insurance and risk management firms.
Tickets are only $10. To get your tickets or for more information, contact Sue Butcher at the Chamber office, 546-8821.
State Senate Debate Over School Start Date
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Senate panel has advanced a bill that would let school districts in Iowa decide whether to start classes earlier in August.
Members of an education subcommittee voted Thursday in favor of advancing the bill, which would remove authority from the state education department to issue waivers that allow school districts to start early. The department recently released new guidelines for the waivers, which in the past were issued automatically.
The bill will be sent to a full committee for consideration. A similar House bill was recently sent to another full committee for review.
Organizations in support of both bills say school districts should have control on deciding their calendars. Tourism officials say early school start dates hurt businesses that rely on summer attendance, including the Iowa State Fair.
Shelby Fire Chief Resigns Following Volunteer Crew Is Fired
SHELBY, Iowa (AP) - The fire chief in western Iowa's Shelby has resigned following the dismissal of the town's volunteer firefighters.
Fire Chief Eric Wendt stepped down Wednesday just days after the City Council's suspension of all firefighters at the Shelby Volunteer Fire Department. The city of about 640 is now relying on service in Minden and Avoca for emergency response.
Wendt tells the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil he resigned for personal reasons, not because of the firings. He says since he was the only one serving the department, he didn't want to be held liable should anything go wrong.
The council decided Monday that the department's fundraising proceeds should be under council control, something the volunteers didn't want.
Wendt says the council now oversees the department and is accepting volunteer applications.
Gehlen And Spalding Officials To Speak At National Catholic Education Conference
(Le Mars) -- During the chamber coffee held at Gehlen Catholic school Thursday morning, Gehlen officials announced school representatives from Gehlen and Spalding Catholic will make a presentation later this spring in Orlando, Florida at the National Catholic Education Association Conference. Gehlen's Development Director Lisa Niebuhr explains.
Five people from Gehlen and Spalding will represent the schools at the spring conference. Niebuhr says the success of the Gehlen-Spalding unification is due to the practicing motto: "together we are stronger."
Niebuhr says there are a number of reasons the unification of Gehlen and Spalding has been successful. She says the diocese helped, as well as the foundation of faith.
Gehlen Catholic will have a delegation of five people attend the National Catholic Education Association Conference to be held at Orlando, Florida in April. Elementary principal Lorie Nussbaum, Gehlen school board president Brian Kolbeck, and Junior High and Senior High principal Jeff Alesch will be making a presentation about the unification of Gehlen and Spalding at the conference.