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News from Around the Farm World - Dec. 12, 2012
Auction of Charlestown family farm tops $1 million
CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (AP) — Interested buyers from five states visited the 207-acre Spriestersbach farm near Charlestown to see a rare piece of real estate that stayed with one family for nearly two centuries.

When an online auction ended Dec. 4, the gem had sold for more than $1 million. Clark County businessman Dan Cristiani got the largest chunk after bidding $775,000 on the property between High Jackson Road and State Road 62.

An elated Cristiani said he was familiar with the property, having owned farmland nearby. “I never knew it would come up for sale. ... It’s beautiful,” he told The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky.
The auction of one of the oldest remaining family farms in southern Indiana was watched closely by farm and preservation advocates. Late owner Louis Spriestersbach had left the land to a nonprofit, charitable family corporation that will donate the proceeds of the sale to youth agricultural scholarships and educational programs.
A former teacher and lifelong farmer who died in 2008 at 90, Spriestersbach also arranged for the Indiana and Clark County Farm Bureaus to administer the funds. He also asked that an agricultural conservation easement be placed on 193 acres that include pasture, cropland and an array of sturdy buildings, most notably a Federal-style farmhouse and stone spring house.
The George Rogers Clark Land Trust, a nonprofit land-protection group, helped draft the conservation easement for the largest parcel and will enforce the terms. Future owners can’t subdivide the property for homes or commercial development, and it must be used for ag purposes.

No restrictions were placed on two adjoining tracts along Indiana 62, which went for a combined $237,000.

Officials report Dec. 5 fire at Iowa egg facility

STUART, Iowa (AP) — Authorities in central Iowa say several fire departments were called in to help battle a blaze at an egg production facility.

The Adair County Sheriff’s Department confirmed the Dec. 5 afternoon fire at Rose Acre Farms in Stuart. Chief Operating Officer Tony Wesner said all company staff were accounted for and the fire was contained to just one building, and no chickens were inside the building.

Rose Acre Farms has 16 facilities in six states. Stuart is located about 40 miles west of Des Moines.

Thieves increasingly targeting hay bales across country
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (AP) — In this year of near-record drought, hay is becoming a precious commodity. Now, it is being targeted by thieves.

KMOX Radio reported thieves are targeting big bundles of hay left in fields prior to being harvested. Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst said thieves are hauling it away and selling it.
The price for fresh hay to feed livestock is on the rise with winter approaching. Hurst said that makes unguarded bales tempting targets. He said farm states across the country are seeing the trend, so much so that some farmers are now putting global positioning trackers inside hay bales.

Nashville buys 600-acre farm to preserve as park
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville officials are buying 600 acres along the Stones River to preserve as open space.
City finance chief Rich Riebling told The Tennessean the farm will cost $8.2 million and nonprofit groups are working to raise $1 million by Dec. 20 to help defray the expense. The land on the city’s east side is known as the Stones River Farm. Metro government has wanted it for years and so have various commercial developers.

Ag chair says she’s open to more food stamp cuts

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — The Democratic chair of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee said she is willing to consider higher cuts to the food stamp program in an effort to include a massive five-year farm bill in negotiations on the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said cuts to the food stamp program beyond the $4 billion over 10 years included in a Senate-passed farm bill “are something I am willing to talk about.” A farm bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee would include $16 billion in cuts over the same amount of time.

Both amounts are relatively small in relation to the program’s total estimated cost – almost $800 billion over the next decade – but Stabenow’s willingness to move on an issue long sacred to Democrats shows progress in negotiations as farm-state leaders scramble to get the bill done before the end of the year.

Stabenow and House Agriculture Chair Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) met last week in hopes of reconciling their two versions of the bill.
The farm bill could be part of a deal to avert the combination of tax increases and automatic spending cuts due in January, dubbed the “fiscal cliff” because the combination could plunge the economy into another recession, since it saves money.

A farm bill passed by the Senate in June would save a total of $23 billion over 10 years, while a version approved by the House Agriculture Committee in July would save $35 billion over the same period. Those total savings include the cuts to food stamps and also from farm subsidies.

Stabenow said in an interview with The Associated Press Dec. 5 she is also open to increasing the savings from $23 billion, saying it “depends on the policy.” While willing to compromise, she said there is “no way” she will agree to the level of food stamp cuts in the House bill.