Bovine TB found in another Mich. herd

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Officials say a small beef cattle herd in northern Michigan has been infected with bovine tuberculosis.

The state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said the herd was in Alpena County, which is part of an area in the northern Lower Peninsula where the fatal disease is commonly found in whitetail deer. Contact with deer is believed to be a common means of transmitting the illness to cattle.

The infection was detected through routine testing. It was the 74th cattle herd found to have the illness since 1998.

An investigation is planned to identify and test other herds that had an association with the infected one.

Trucker pleads guilty to theft

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 37-year-old California trucker working for a Kansas freight brokerage pleaded guilty to stealing a load of meat valued at more than $160,000.

Federal prosecutors said Gegham Avetisyan, of Valley Village, California, pleaded guilty Monday to wire fraud.

Prosecutors said Avetisyan contracted with a business in Olathe, Kan., to deliver the meat to three places in California. He faxed documents to the company using the name Robert Ivanov.

Avetisyan picked up the meat at a packing plant in Omaha but didn’t deliver it.

He faces a sentence of up to 20 years and a fine up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 12.

Iowa farm sues over bird flu disinfection

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa egg farm that killed millions of chickens because of a 2015 bird flu outbreak is suing companies hired by the federal government to disinfect barns.

Sunrise Farms said the chlorine dioxide gas and heat treatments used to kill the virus destroyed barn equipment, electrical wiring, production equipment and water lines. The company also says the structural integrity of its barns was diminished.

Max Barnett, the CEO of Sunrise Farms’ parent company, South Dakota-based Sonstegard Foods, said he couldn’t comment on a pending court case.

The farm is near the northwest Iowa town of Harris, about 225 miles northwest of Des Moines. It includes a feed mill, 25 layer barns, two manure barns and a processing plant. The barns housed 4 million egg-laying hens, and two other buildings had 500,000 young hens being raised to become layers.

The farm confirmed on April 19, 2015, that its birds had the deadly strain of H5N2 bird flu. Officials from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service division arrived within days and took over the cleanup and disinfection process, hiring several companies to complete euthanizing birds and disinfecting barns to prevent the spread of the virus.

Bill would let vets report animal abuse

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Veterinarians in Florida may soon be able to report suspected animal abuse they witness at work.

The Florida Senate passed a criminal justice bill, HB 7125, that would allow vets to report suspected criminal violations, like animal abuse, to authorities as long as the animal doesn’t live on agricultural land. Clients who own the animal on agricultural land would need to be given notice before the vet can call the authorities.

Currently, state law prohibits vets from discussing a patient’s condition without a subpoena and notice to the client. While federal law says health care providers may disclose information to authorities regarding child abuse or neglect, that doesn’t apply to animals.

The law now penalizes vets who share medical records by referring them for disciplinary action by the state’s licencing board. If the bill passes, the Board of Veterinary Medicine would no longer have the authority to discipline a licensee, said Patrick Fargason, the spokesman for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Of vets surveyed nationally, 87 percent said they’ve encountered at least one case of animal abuse at work, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

N.M.’s new panel to regulate horse racing

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has appointed a new panel of regulators to oversee the state’s horseracing industry.

She made the announcement April 25 as a legal battle simmers over a final decision regarding New Mexico’s sixth and final license for a racetrack and casino.

The Democratic governor said she expects the new commission to be fair and equitable.

The panel includes former commissioners Beverly Bourguet and David “Hossie” Sanchez as well as current and former horse owners and breeders John Buffington, Freda McSwane and Billy G. Smith.

The previous commission repeatedly put off a vote on the racino license after concerns were raised about a feasibility study that examined the economics behind proposals submitted by the five applicants. That prompted a challenge that’s still pending in district court.

China suspends permits of Can. pork exporters

TORONTO (AP) — Canada’s agriculture minister says China has suspended the permits of two Canadian pork exporters.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the suspensions were related to administrative issues that arose from routine customs inspections. She said all other approved Canadian pork processing facilities remain eligible to export to China.

Canadian pork producer Olymel LP said its plant is one of those affected. The other producer was not identified.

The development fueled speculation that the suspensions could be retaliation for Canada’s arrest of a top executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei.

China was infuriated by the Dec. 1 arrest of Huawei’s CFO on a U.S. extradition warrant and has since arrested two Canadian citizens.

China has already suspended Canadian canola exports.

Minn. farm shutters over deer disease

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A central Minnesota farm where deer were found infected with a fatal brain disease has closed under an agreement that paid the owner to euthanize his herd.

The Star Tribune reported that the Minnesota Board of Animal Health announced April 17 that captive deer were killed on a Crow Wing County farm to try to prevent chronic wasting disease from spreading to wild deer. The board didn’t disclose how much Trophy Woods Ranch was paid or how many deer were euthanized.

The board said all carcasses from the farm will be tested for the disease.

The USDA negotiated and funded the deal. The agency and the state board will implement a management plan at the shuttered farm since the prions that cause the disease remain in the soil.

GOP legislators propose Wis. dairy hub

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Two Republican legislators want to spend nearly $8 million annually to create dairy research programs at three University of Wisconsin System schools.

Sen. Howard Marklein and Rep. Travis Tranel are sponsoring a bill that would give the University of Wisconsin System $7.9 million fund annually to create and fund the UW Dairy Innovation Hub at UW-Madison, UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls.

UW-Madison’s segment would include a dairy management academy and provide support for research-related farms and labs. The UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls segments also would provide support for research. The bill would authorize each campus to hire staff. Regents would have to submit an annual report on the hub’s accomplishments to the Legislature.

Aquaponics developer to plead guilty to fraud

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Court records show a South Dakota businessman accused of defrauding investors in a scheme to build an $11 million fish farm will plead guilty to wire and mail fraud.

A trial for Tobias Ritesman was set to begin this weekApril 22-26, but he’s entered a petition in federal court which says he intends to plead guilty to all 18 counts against him.

Ritesman and his agents began soliciting money from investors in 2016 for Global Aquaponics in Brookings, an indoor seafood farm that would also grow organic vegetables. The Argus Leader reports that according to the guilty petition, Ritesman used the funds from investors for his own purposes rather than on the aquaponics development.

A second defendant in the case, Brookings businessman Timothy Burns, is still scheduled for trial next week.

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