personal protective gear

Appropriate safety gear can be life-saving.

Every year hundreds of people are injured or die from preventable hazards while working in grain storage and handling.

Columbia Grain International is among companies highlighting grain storage and handling safety this week, which is Stand up for Grain Safety Week.

Put together by the National Grain and feed Association and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the outreach initiative will raise awareness of the many hazards involved in working in the grain handling industry and offer resources and activities each day for mitigating these hazards.

The event was first held in 2017 as a regional initiative for OSHA Region 7, and the Grain Elevator Processing Society’s Great Plains Chapter. Interest in the event has continued to spread. For more information about the event, visit the coalition online at

As part of its activities highlighting safety for the week, Columbia Grain International will be screening the film, “Roberta’s Request,” a documentary that tells the story of a Kansas grain elevator worker, Dwayne Seifried, who died in a grain entrapment accident at the Garden City Co-Op.

Last year, the company showed the film Silo, which depicted a grain engulfment tragedy that hit a small town hard.

“Stand Up for Grain Safety week is a time for us to speak with our employees and patrons about the best safety practices, be it conducting safety equipment inspections, developing rescue plans, or discussing job-specific identified hazards,” said William Spreeman, director of safety for CGI. “We believe it’s critical for every person who works in or around grain facilities to join the effort. Achieving a ‘World Class Safety Culture’ is one of our core corporate values, and paramount to CGI’s mission of cultivating growth.”

CGI works with more than 8,000 farmers across the United States and operates more than 40 grain elevators. The company takes its commitment to safety seriously, and part of that is having Spreeman conduct safety training exercises and workshops throughout the year. Among these are emergency action plans from Safety Made Simple, an agricultural industry safety education program with grain handling courses on topics ranging from grain entrapment and engulfment to safely entering grain storage structures, and how to prevent grain dust explosions.

Drought is worsening

Nebraska and Kansas were in a broad region that got some drought relief thanks to recent precipitation events, but most of that missed North Dakota. The region continues to lie in an expanding footprint of severe and extreme drought.

More than 27 percent of the state is in extreme drought while most of the rest lies in the severe category, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor.

Pastures throughout the four oil producing counties, Dunn, McKenzie, Mountrail and Williams counties, are drying up and creating dangerous fire conditions. Windy days mean red flag warnings about the risk of rangeland fires are likely from the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

National climate forecasters still give the MonDak region a 50-50 chance of receiving normal season precipitation in the 90-day outlook.

If below normal precipitation persists, however, warming spring temperatures will intensify drought conditions quickly. Crops will stop growing and pastures will go dormant, making emergency haying of conservation areas likely.

The conditions would also be ripe for blue green algae blooms, which can lead to cattle deaths, and large wildfires.

2021 brand record published

The 2021 North Dakota Brand Record is now available from the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association in either perfect-bound book or electronic version.

The bound book is 8.5 by 11 inches in size, and green in color, with 688 pages containing information on 19,000 brand renewed during North Dakota’s recent brand renewal period. The bound volume uses the same design and index style as previous editions.

The bound book is $60 if picked up or $66.50 if mailed, and the electronic version on a flash drive is $6 if picked up, or $7.50 if mailed. The additional fees cover shipping and handling cost.

These prices cover the initial book or flash drive, as well as five annual supplements, which will be mailed out as soon after Jan. 1 of each year as possible.

Checks may be mailed to NDSA at 407 S. Second St., Bismarck, ND 58504. The additional $6.50 covers shipping and handling costs.

Specialty crop block grants available

Grant applications are being accepted for 2021, due to one-time funding for COVID-19 stimulus, passed in late 2020.

“Projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops in North Dakota are eligible for these grants,” North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “We encourage organizations, institutions and individuals to submit proposals on their own or in partnerships.”

An information manual with application instructions is available online at

For questions about the program, contact Deanna Gierszewski at (701) 328-2191 or

Submit applications in electronic form by 4 p.m. CDT Wednesday, April 7. A committee will decide which applications are forwarded to USDA for final approval in May.

Projects funded by the grants start Oct. 1, 2021, and must be complete by Sept. 2023.

Spot market bill seeks to improve price transparency, livestock markets

Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., Steve Daines, R-Mont. and Jon Tester, D-Mont. are among a group of senators promoting legislation that would increase the transparency and competition among meat packers.

The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Tester, would require beef packers that process more than 125,000 head of cattle per year to purchase a minimum of 50 percent of weekly volume of beef slaughter from the open or spot market.

Reactions to the spot market or 50-14 bill have been mixed. R-CALF USA and USCA have issued statements supporting the measure, while National Cattlemen’s Beef Association say it’s not the solution the livestock industry needs.

They prefer the Cattle Market Transparency Act introduced earlier in March by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Bills wrestle with livestock hauling, ELD requirements

North Dakota and Montana Republican Senators John Hoeven and Steve Daines are among senators supporting bipartisan legislation that seeks to delay enforcement of Electronic Logging Device regulations, along with reform of ELD and hours of service regulations at the U.S. Department of Transportation. The bill, introduced by Hoeven and Senator Michael Bennet, D.-Colo.

Daines is listed as a co-sponsor, establishes a task force to make recommendations to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which would then be required to issue reforms based on those recommendations within 120 days.

Meanwhile, Montana’s Democratic Sen. Jon Tester has joined Sen. Deb Fischer, R-NE, in proposing the HAULS act, which seeks to increase hours-of-service flexibility for ag and livestock haulers.

Hours of Service requirements by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration limit the time a commercial driver may be on duty to 14 hours, and driving to 11 hours.

Exceptions for certain commodities were granted in 1995, but given the perishability of certain commodities, ag and livestock haulers still face challenges ensuring products reach their destinations.

HAULS would eliminate the seasonality for existing ag and livestock exemptions, and add 150 air miles exemption to the destination as well as the beginning location to ensure ag or livestock haulers can reach their destination safely on rural and minimally maintained roads. It also clarifies the definition of agricultural commodities, including products that are either not processed, or very minimally processed.

The HAULS act has a broad coalition of support fro 102 ag and livestock organizations, including Montana Stockgrowers, Montana Agricultural Business Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

NDSU gets grant to help boost profits on small ranches

North Dakota State University was one of 20 entities receiving funds from an $11.5 million research investment aimed at helping small to medium-sized farms become more profitable.

The grant funding was announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Few groups are as resilient and as determined as American farm families,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is committed to creating a fairer, more equitable system for farms of all sizes to compete and remain profitable. This investment in innovative research will give these family farms the tools they need to be more sustainable, profitable and productive as they face agricultural and economic challenges. When American farmers have a chance to compete, they have a greater chance at succeeding.”

NDSU’s project merges heifer reproductive and management system efficiencies to expand profits on small and medium-sized farms. Their grant amount was $499,991.

Focusing in on these elements can increase the competitiveness of small family-sized operations, so they can compete in local markets and provide more robust access to locally sourced food for their communities.

USDA doesn’t expect to buy or sell sugar

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) announced today that it does not expect to purchase and sell sugar under the Feedstock Flexibility Program for crop year 2020, which runs from Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021. More details online at

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