Agribusiness: GTC closure shocks Johnstown, area farmers

JOHNSTOWN — Golden Technologies Co. announced in late February that it would close April 20.

The news sent a shock wave through Johnstown, which reaps the greatest tax benefits from the company. Local farmers, too, will feel the effects of the closure. Some supply corn to GTC, and some purchase biomaize, a byproduct that is used for cattle feed.

Ron Klein Jr., who partners with his father in a farming operation near Johnstown, said, “The day they announced the GTC closing, corn prices dropped 10 cents per hundred.”

The corn used to grind into high-fructose corn syrup is purchased largely out of state and hauled in, said Jim Croissant, who runs a 4,000-head cattle operation between Johnstown and Loveland. For Croissant, the largest change would be finding another product to replace the biomaize he purchases daily from GTC.

“I feed about eight ton of biomaize per day to my cattle,” he said. The biomaize is a byproduct of the corn after it has been milled and the starch is removed. What remains is a high-protein content feed for cattle.

Croissant said GTC produces and sells roughly 300 to 350 ton of biomaize per day and sells it to about 30 surrounding farmers, feedlots and dairy operations.

If biomaize is not available, Croissant said he’ll have to replace it with a ground corn, soybean, meal and urea mixture.

Croissant said that local corn farmers who sold to GTC would find an immediate market with farmers who no longer have access to the biomaize.

Suit filed against dairy

SEVERANCE — Severance is growing, and so is a local dairy. At their convergence is a lawsuit.

Residents living near the expanding dairy filed a lawsuit Jan. 14 against Jacob Hirsch and the Weld County Commissioners.

The commissioners in December approved Hirsch’s special-use permit contingent upon upgrades. They determined the land use for the dairy was in accordance with surrounding land uses. The expansion would increase Hirsch’s herd from 1,000 head to 2,000, and the upgrades would cost approximately $100,000.

Residents accused the commissioners of going beyond their jurisdiction by approving the special-use permit. Neighbors complain of odor, flies and dust.

Livestock definition may broaden

DENVER — The standard definition of livestock will broaden to include llama and ostrich in the sales-and-use-tax exemption if Senate Bill 92 passes in the Colorado Legislature.

The legislation has been introduced by Sen. Don Ament, R-Iliff; Rep. David Owen, R-Greeley; and Rep. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs.

Currently, llama and ostrich breeders are levied sales and use taxes from which Senate Bill 92 would exempt them.

Under the bill, “livestock” would mean cattle, horses, mules, burros, sheep, lambs, poultry, ostrich, llama, alpaca and goats, regardless of the use. In addition, the bill states that any other animal raised primarily for food, fiber or hide production is also considered “livestock” in terms of this legislation.

Ag donations net tax break

DENVER — House Bill 1231 seems a bit biblical in its appearance. Proposed by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Fort Morgan, it would mean a change in state income-tax policy to encourage donations of food to qualified nonprofit organizations that provide food to needy individuals free of charge.

For farmers, this would mean an income-tax credit for the gleaning of agricultural crops they donated to a qualified nonprofit organization. The organization, in turn, would feed needy persons in Colorado free of charge.

Agricultural land-protection forum

FORT COLLINS — When the Agricultural Land Forum met Feb. 21 at the Fort Collins Lincoln Center, “The response was overwhelming,´ said K-Lynn Cameron, Larimer County Open Lands Manager.

The forum was geared for land owners to share and learn about ways of preserving the land and preserving the family finances.

Among the 175 people in attendance were Realtors and attorneys as well as strong representation of agricultural land owners.

Speakers included Will Shafroth, director of Great Outdoors Colorado; Bob Wagner, northeast director of the American Farmland Trust; and Pat O’ Connell, a member of the Trust for Public Lands National Advisory Board. They spoke about agricultural land-conservation activities in the state, the purpose of a land trust, and financial techniques for acquiring conservation easements respectively.