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News from Around the Farm World - July 17, 2013
Meat groups sue USDA over meat labeling rule
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Eight meat and livestock groups have sued the USDA to block a new meat labeling rule. The rule approved in May requires meat labels to detail where animals grown for meat were born, raised and slaughtered. The USDA also decided to prohibit processors from mixing meat from animals from different countries.

The American Meat Institute and seven other groups say segregating the meat isn’t part of the law Congress passed. They say it would be costly and offers no food safety or public health benefit.

The groups say about 4-7 percent of beef and pork consumed in the United States comes from other countries. In some areas, including Texas and New Mexico, as much as half of the livestock used for meat could be imported.

Iowa man gets prison for fraudulent schemes
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A northeastern Iowa man who pled guilty to two fraudulent schemes has been given nearly four years in prison.

Prosecutors say 47-year-old Michael Recker of Arlington was sentenced to 46 months last week in federal court in Cedar Rapids. He’d been convicted of conspiring to fabricate grain elevator scale tickets, one count of bankruptcy fraud and one count of interfering with Internal Revenue laws.

Prosecutors said Recker admitted that in 2008 and 2009 he bribed an elevator worker to create the false tickets. Recker also admitted selling a combine at auction for about $50,000 before filing for bankruptcy. He admitted he didn’t disclose to the bankruptcy court that money was still owed him by the auction company.
Recker must make restitution of more than $26,000 to the elevator.

Melon growers face new FDA rules after outbreak
WASHINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Southwestern Indiana’s melon growers are facing new federal regulations following last year’s salmonella outbreak that killed three people who ate Indiana-grown cantaloupes.

Workshops recently educated melon farmers and their workers about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new expectations for protecting consumers from food-borne pathogens. The FDA will be inspecting packing sheds and possibly field conditions as well as part of that effort.
Purdue University extension educator Scott Monroe told the Washington Times-Herald the State Department of Health has hired two farm food safety consultants to assist in the farm produce education campaign.

Cruelty charge dismissed against owner of horses

COHOCTAH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A judge has agreed to dismiss an animal cruelty charge involving a dozen horses that was brought against a 71-year-old Michigan woman.

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus of Howell and WHMI-FM reported the decision in the case against the horses’ owner Velva Wainscott came Thursday. Officials said the horses were found last year without food or fresh water at Wainscott’s farm in Cohoctah Township, about 55 miles northwest of Detroit.

Wainscott, who had been awaiting trial, denied neglecting the horses. She said she’s pleased with the decision to dismiss the charge. In March, a ruling allowed Wainscott to retain ownership of the horses.

‘Produce police’ aim to keep Indiana farmers’ markets local

CARMEL, Ind. (AP) — Indiana farmers markets are taking steps to root out resellers to keep their events local and ensure the produce being sold is actually grown in the state.

The Indianapolis Star reported the Carmel Farmers’ Market is one of the strongest enforcers of “Hoosier-grown” rules. A team of investigators visits every farm vendor when they join the market and again when new products are brought in to ensure the goods being sold are as advertised.

The team has evicted some sellers after finding they bought their goods instead of growing them. Market organizers say they bank on offering locally produced items and that having some vendors skirt that rule jeopardizes their branding.

Court tosses farmer’s terrorism threat conviction against FSA

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Court of Appeals has overturned the threat of terrorism conviction of a northwestern Iowa farmer, saying there isn’t enough evidence to show he would imminently act on his threat to “blow away” a county Farm Service Agency (FSA) director.

The case involves 60-year-old Arend Deboer, a Little Rock farmer who placed an angry call to the Rock Rapids branch of the FSA in September 2011. While the court concluded in its ruling July 10 that his comments were intimidating, there isn’t enough proof to show they were about to occur. Iowa law requires a threat to be imminent to be considered terrorism.

The court threw out the conviction. A second charge of harassment goes back to a Lyon County judge to see if there is sufficient evidence to uphold it.

TSU to host small-acreage farm demonstration day

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee State University is putting on a small farm demonstration day this month.

The program is designed for small-acreage farmers and Dr. Latif Lighari says it will demonstrate technology and have information on topics in which they are interested. It also will be a good chance to build connections with other farmers and local agencies and resources.

The July 18 event will last all day on TSU’s main campus in Nashville. There is no charge to attend. Cosponsors include the USDA, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, University of Tennessee extension and Tennessee Farm Bureau.
Information is online at /extension/smallfarmexpo.aspx