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NEWS 7.7.22: Beef Packer Lawsuit, Manure Spill, Political Update, and More


A national food distributor has filed a lawsuit against the four major beef packers, accusing the companies of hurting ranchers and consumers by fixing prices and manipulating markets. Texas-based Sysco alleges Cargill, JBS, National Beef and Tyson violated antitrust laws.

Earlier this week Smithfield Foods settled a pork price-fixing lawsuit for $42 million.

A northwest Iowa facility that captures biogas from cow manure began leaking when it was first filled in January, but the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says its operators ignored indications of the leak and filled it anyway.

According to a report by the Iowa Capital Dispatch, an estimated 376,000 gallons of manure mixed with water leaked from a manure digester near Rock Valley. The digester is one of three in that part of the state built by Colorado-based Gevo which processes the methane it captures from dairy farm manure into renewable natural gas to power low-emissions vehicles in California.

The farm’s owner was fined $10,000 because he has ultimate responsibility over the facility’s operation.

Gevo reported the leak to the DNR on Feb. 7. It’s unclear how much of the water flowed into the creek. There was no apparent fish kill, but tests of the water showed elevated levels of bacteria and ammonia.

The facility is located at Winding Meadows Dairy, which has about 2,400 cows. The digester is a large, mostly underground container that captures the gas released by microorganisms as they feed on the manure. The gas is compressed and transported through a few miles of pipe to another facility, where it is refined and injected into an interstate natural gas pipeline.

South Dakota Democratic lawmaker Jamie Smith has selected fellow House member Jennifer Keintz for his running mate as lieutenant governor. Smith is trying to unseat Gov. Kristi Noem in the November election. Smith made the announcement ahead of the Democratic Party’s state convention. The convention starts Friday. The party convention will select the nominee for lieutenant governor, but no one else has announced their candidacy. Keintz has held a seat in the House for one term, representing a mostly rural district in the northeast corner of South Dakota. She is also a real estate broker.

Nebraska Republican state Sen. Mike Flood will officially join the U.S. House on Tuesday when he’s sworn in to fill the seat of disgraced former U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Flood, a former speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, will take his oath of office at the U.S. Capitol. Flood defeated Democrat Patty Pansing Brooks in a special election to represent the state’s 1st Congressional District, which includes Lincoln and dozens of smaller communities. Fortenberry, a Republican, resigned in March shortly after a California jury found him guilty of charges that he lied to federal investigators about $30,000 in illegal campaign contributions from a Nigerian billionaire. Flood will hold the seat until at least January. He'll face Pansing Brooks again in November.

Scientists have begun a new search for mysterious dark matter in a former Black Hills area gold mine a mile underground. Dark matter makes up most of the mass of the universe but scientists don't know what it is. The hope is that the experiment will block most of the radiation that is constantly flying through the universe, allowing only dark matter particles to slip through and light up a pool of liquid xenon held in a titanium tank. Scientists announced Thursday that the five-year, $60 million experiment in Lead, South Dakota finally got underway two months ago after a delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.