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High-speed elevator could cut load timeCOLLINS – A grain cooperative’s new high-speed grain elevator here has passed its first test, filling a 110-car train with wheat in just 13 hours.

“For the first one, that’s not bad,” Bruce Clark, general manager of Mountain View Co-op, said Thursday. “Once we’re familiar with what were doing, our goal is to cut loading time to under nine hours.”

The elevator, which is 140 feet high, can hold 800,000 bushels of grain, enough to fill 216 railroad grain cars. It cost $6 million to build and is visible for miles.

Thursday’s first test of the high-speed elevator required the skills of just three Mountain View Co-op employees, about one-quarter of the crew it takes at standard elevators.

“The big difference is what used to take up to two days will now take under 10 hours,” Clark said.

Mountain View Co-op will sell its elevators at Dutton, Power and Brady and eventually operate solely from the Collins facility, Clark said.

Similar high-speed elevators are springing up across Montana as a result of a roughly $400-per-car railroad discount for elevators that can load 110 cars in 15 hours or less. That translates to an extra 8 to 10 cents per bushel for farmers who sell their grain at the elevator.

The economic effects grain-shuttle-loading elevators will have in Montana is a hotly discussed topic, though.

Some fear older elevators capable of loading just 52-car trains in rural communities will shut down because of pricing pressures.Grazing fees set for BLM landWASHINGTON – The grazing fee for the 2002 grazing year on western public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management will be $1.43 per animal unit month. The formula used for calculating the fee was established by Congress in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act and continues under a Presidential Executive Order issued in 1986.

An AUM is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse or five sheep or goats for a month.

BLM Director Kathleen Clarke said, “The $1.43 per AUM grazing fee applies to land in the west administered by the BLM and to national forests and national grasslands administered by the Forest Service. Under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, by which the BLM fulfills its multiple use mandate, grazing is recognized and appropriate use of the public lands.”

The annually adjusted grazing fee, effective March 1, 2002 through Feb. 28, 2003, is computed by using a 1966 base value of $1.23 per AUM for livestock grazing on public lands in western states. The figure is then adjusted according to three factors – current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices and the cost of livestock production. Based on the formula, the 2002 fee is an increase of eight cents from the 2002 level.MSU campus farm offers unique experienceBOZEMAN – Just a stone’s throw from the MSU campus is a place that perfectly complements classroom learning: The Livestock Teaching & Research Center. There, just a half-mile west of campus, students practice the skills that earn them jobs, and researchers apply their theories to crops, steers and heifers.

The 520-acre center, once called the Towne Farm (after one of the original property owners, not its urban location), consists of a nutrition center, feed mill, stock pens, and research labs, as well as horticultural plots, a horseshoeing school and the Miller Livestock Pavilion.

The center is home to the rodeo team’s practice stock, ag students’ horses, Steer-a-Year steers, and six rumen-cannulated cows that are regulars at the Gallatin County Winter Fair, where their accessible innards are a hit with the crowds.

Since 1999, Kim Anderson has managed the center, cruising its dirt roads in an old tan pick-up overseeing projects ranging from feed trials with cull heifers to nitrate testing in crops. The farm employs several student laborers and a handful of permanent employees. Both graduate and undergraduate students make use of the facilities.

Research projects are always in progress, said Anderson, including Jim Berardinelli’s efforts to shorten cows’ post-partum intervals; John Paterson’s enzyme-enhanced backgrounding pellet; Jan Bowman’s innovative feeds; and Dennis Cash’s hay barley field tests, among many others.

Berardinelli and Ray Ansotegui teach a pregnancy and artificial insemination class at the farm, where students are often, literally, elbow-deep in their work. The two professors continuously study methods to improve estrus synchronization programs for beef cows.

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