Major solar project proposed

RENO, Nev. (AP) -- A large solar energy project is being proposed by Vidler Water Co. on up to 1,000 acres north of Reno.

Project backers say construction could start next year and be phased in over the next 10 to 15 years if approved by county and regional officials, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

The proposed 100-megawatt project would be among the largest in the nation, officials said.

Vidler bought the Fish Springs Ranch in 2000 for its water rights and built a pipeline to the north valleys outside Reno for development. But when the housing market collapsed, so did interest from developers in buying those water rights.

Sugar processing season wraps up

WORLAND, Wyo. (AP) -- Wyoming Sugar in Worland is nearly done processing its 2009 crop of sugar beets.

Wyoming Sugar CEO Cal Jones says all 8,700 acres of contracted sugar beets should be finished Saturday or Sunday.

Jones says Wyoming Sugar growers averaged a record yield of 9,622 pounds of sugar per acre.

Besides handling its own crop, Wyoming Sugar also processed 21,000 tons of beets from the Western Sugar Cooperative in Lovell. A severe freeze hit the Lovell co-op early in its harvest and its plant could not handle all the beets that needed immediate processing to salvage the sugar.

Jones said Wyoming Sugar is now contracting with its sugar beet growers for two-year time periods and is has fully contracted nearly 10,000 acres of beets for the next two seasons.

Angry farmers rally in Australia

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Angry farmers wearing broad-brimmed hats and cracking kangaroo-hide whips rallied outside Parliament Monday, Jan. 4, as one of their colleagues continued a hunger strike to demand compensation for Australian climate change policy.

The protest by 250 farmers and their supporters drew public attention to the plight of sheep farmer Peter Spencer, who they say was on the 43rd day of his hunger strike to protest that he is not allowed to clear vegetation from his 20,000 acre farm.

The 61-year-old has been living since Nov. 23, 2009, on a platform 20 feet up a steel wind-monitoring tower on his alpine farm at Shannon's Flat in New South Wales state, 55 miles south of Canberra, his supporters say.

State laws introduced throughout Australia since 1995 restrict the amount of land that farmers can clear of vegetation that absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Prosecutors seek plea deal

WARRENTON, Mo. (AP) -- Prosecutors say they are actively seeking a plea agreement with a Missouri woman accused of defrauding farmers out of more than $27 million.

A status hearing was Tuesday in Warrenton for 45-year-old Cathy Gieseker of Martinsburg. The Missouri Attorney General's office, which is handling the prosecution, stated attorneys are pursuing a plea agreement.

A trial date has not been set in state court, though attorneys expect the trial to begin in late April if a plea agreement is not reached.

Gieseker has pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud charges connected to the case. Federal authorities said Gieseker used a Ponzi scheme to defraud 180 farmers. She faces sentencing in the federal case on Feb. 25.

Sign up for our Top Stories newsletter

Recommended for you