No illnesses from hazelnuts

The Oregon Department of Agriculture says it has had no reports of any illnesses associated with last month's recall of hazelnuts after salmonella was found at a Willamette Valley processing facility.

Spokesman Bruce Pokarney said Tuesday, Jan. 19, that about 45,000 pounds of nuts have been recovered by the recall, less than half the 110,000 pounds of potentially contaminated nuts that left Willamette Filbert Growers' shelling plant in Newberg for sale in Oregon and California.

He says the rest were apparently consumed or thrown away, with no reports of anyone contracting the disease that can cause fever, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

Oregon is the nation's leading grower of hazelnuts, producing about 83 million pounds a year.

-- The Associated Press

Lawmakers back Siskiyou rail line

ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) -- Members of Oregon's congressional delegation continue to support a shippers' proposal to restore rail service along the Siskiyou Line despite a competing plan from a public California agency.

Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Rep. Peter DeFazio said they will continue to encourage the federal Surface Transportation Board to grant a request by Roseburg Forest Products and Timber Products Co. of Yreka, Calif., to have West Texas and Lubbock Railway operate the 218-mile Siskiyou Summit line between Dillard and Black Butte, Calif.

"We're supporting the shippers in their application," DeFazio said. "These other people have not filed any of the necessary paperwork to have standing before the board."

The request came after Roseburg-based Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad, which leases the line from Union Pacific, curtailed southbound service between Ashland and Weed and cut northbound service from five days a week to two.

More bighorn sheep killed

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) -- State wildlife officials have killed another 18 sick bighorn sheep in an effort to contain a pneumonia outbreak in a herd in the Bonner area.

A total of 37 wild sheep have been euthanized. FWP spokeswoman Vivica Crowser says another 17 sick bighorns were likely to be killed before the herd would be clear of infected animals.

Crowser says about 100 sheep in the herd haven't had contact with the sick animals.

Meatpacking plant to close

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Sioux City officials say the John Morrell & Co. meatpacking plant, one of the city's largest employers, will close this spring.

The plant has about 1,500 workers.

Sioux City Economic Development Director Marty Dougherty said Mayor Mike Hobart received the news on Tuesday, Jan. 19, from plant manager Dan Pacquin, who said the plant would close April 20.

Smithfield Foods Inc., based in Smithfield, Va., is the corporate parent of John Morrell. Smithfield Foods is the nation's largest pork producer.

Florida wants disaster declared

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Gov. Charlie Crist has asked the federal government to declare all of Florida an agriculture disaster area due to 13 straight days of freezing weather.

Crist made the request Jan. 15 in a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Such a declaration would make growers eligible for low-interest loans. It's also a first step toward possible financial aid from Congress.

"No sector of agriculture appears to have been spared," Crist wrote.

That includes citrus and other fruit such as strawberries, mangos and blueberries; corn, tomatoes and other vegetables; sugarcane, oats, nursery crops and tropical fish.

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