ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) -- The Wheat Growers grain and agronomy cooperative in the Dakotas will pay an $812,000 federal fine in connection with the death of an employee at the group's McLaughlin, S.D., facility about two years ago.

Wheat Growers reached the settlement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the December 2009 death of 52-year-old Steven Lee of McLaughlin, who was suffocated by sunflower seeds in a grain silo.

OSHA found nearly two dozen violations of grain handling and confined space standards and initially proposed a $1.6 million fine. Wheat Growers contested the judgment and it was cut in half.

Spokesman Bill Pool says Wheat Growers has instituted training programs, formed rescue teams, and bought and distributed rescue equipment.

Wheat Growers has more than 5,400 members in the eastern Dakotas.

Copyright 2012 The AP.

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