- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Jennie-O turkey farm in Minnesota hit by deadly bird flu

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A ninth Minnesota turkey farm has been hit by a form of bird flu that’s deadly to poultry, this time in a large Jennie-O-Turkey Store operation that has 310,000 turkeys, federal authorities and company officials said Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said tests confirmed it was the same highly pathogenic H5N2 strain of avian influenza that infected eight other farms in Minnesota, the country’s top turkey-producing state. Those farms have lost about 373,000 turkeys to the outbreaks between the disease itself and birds that were killed to prevent the disease from spreading.

Minnesota Board of Animal health spokeswoman Bethany Hahn said the Meeker County operation has 12 barns on the site. Just one barn was infected, and she said the USDA is working with the producer on what to do with the turkeys in the other barns.

Jennie-O, a division of Hormel Foods Corp., said on its website that it’s the first company-owned facility to test positive for the virus. Three previous confirmed cases connected to Jennie-O were flocks that were being raised by independent contractors. Those were in Kandiyohi, Stearns and Lac qui Parle counties.

Officials say the risk to the public is low and there’s no danger to the food supply.

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Vikings stadium construction half done

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Construction of the Minnesota Vikings stadium has reached the halfway point.

Officials from the team, general contractor Mortenson and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, the public agency in charge of the venue, provided a media update and tour of the site on Wednesday.

About 80 percent of the concrete has been poured, and the project remains on budget and on time for an opening in mid-July 2016. Workers have begun installing the glass, and the transparent roof panels will start being placed in June.

Including an additional $73.9 million pledged for amenities and aesthetics around the building by Vikings owners since construction began, the cost of the stadium will be about $1.06 billion. The public share is 47 percent.

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Dayton offers prospect of more reimbursement for buffers

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - In an effort to ease concerns about his plan to create 50-foot buffer zones along Minnesota waterways, Gov. Mark Dayton started lining up more money this week to reimburse farmers.

The governor set aside $20 million in his proposed bonding bill unveiled Tuesday to buy up swaths of cropland from farmers. He also tasked his cabinet to seek out hundreds of millions of dollars through a federal program that pays farmers in 10- to 15-year contracts for instituting buffers, his office said.

Though some opponents of the governor’s proposal say the prospect of additional financial assistance for farmers is a positive step, others aren’t thrilled with the thought of permanent easements along the lakes, rivers and streams Dayton is seeking to protect from runoff. And reimbursing farmers for land lost to buffers is one of several gripes among a crowd of critics who call Dayton’s plan an ill-conceived, “one-size-fits-all” approach.

“It’s certainly a step in the right direction,” said Sen. Dan Sparks, a top Democratic voice on agriculture who has previously called the governor’s plan “unworkable.”

First revealed in January, environmental and sporting groups have pegged Dayton’s plan as the best way to prevent harmful pesticides and other runoff from damaging the water and also to provide more habitat for wildlife. But it got a frosty reception at public meetings in southern Minnesota farming communities last week.

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Man charged with murder in wife’s 1997 disappearance

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Prosecutors on Wednesday charged a former White Bear Township man with murder in the disappearance of his wife nearly 18 years ago.

Norman Bachman, 53, was charged in Ramsey County with unintentional second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter in the disappearance of Toni Bachman. Her body has not been found.

“Hopefully, we’ll get an end to the disappearance and our final closure,” Toni Bachman’s brother, Timothy Reineccius, told the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1HRw4u9http://strib.mn/1HRw4u9 ).

Norman Bachman was arrested Tuesday and denied any involvement in his wife’s disappearance, according to the charges. He also provided information to police that contradicted information his three sons provided in multiple interviews over several years.

Bail was set at $250,000, and Bachman remained in jail. His next court appearance is set for April 15. Online court records did not list a defense attorney who could comment on the charges.

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