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February 18, 2014 | Views on the News | Steven Kilger

Views on the News: Engulfment Tragedies Top Last Week’s Headlines

The Farm Bill implementation starting

There have been a lot of reminders on the dangers of grain engulfment in the news lately, so from everyone here at Feed & Grain, whether you’re a grain handler, feed manufacture or farmer, be safe out there. The top stories for the week of Feb. 10 are …


  1. Napoleon, ND, Farmer Dies in Grain Engulfment Accident
  2. Rose Creek, MN, Farmer Rescued From Grain Bin
  3. President Obama Signs 2014 Farm Bill in East Lansing, MI
  4. CHS Inc. Returns $433 Million to Owners
  5. Record Setting $16 Million Verdict in Carroll County Obtained by Clifford Law Offices


Napoleon, ND, Farmer Dies in Grain Engulfment Accident

Farmer Charles Sperle died in an unusual grain engulfment scenario. Sperle was unloading his full 30, 000-bushel bin with a grain vacuum, when a funnel formed, causing the grain to pour out of the bin opening like a waterfall, covering him in seconds. Though drivers of the trucks being loaded tried to rescue him, Sperle was covered in grain for 20-25 minutes before rescue crews could free him.

Rose Creek, MN, Farmer Rescued From Grain Bin

Craig Nelson was rescued from his drying bin on Feb. 11 after having his legs submerged for 90 minutes. Nelson went into the bin to loosen soybeans after his unloading auger got stuck; luckily, the driver of the trailer being loaded heard his calls for help. Rescue workers drained the bin until Nelson was able to crawl out of the opening at the bottom of the bin. The late harvest and cool, wet weather this past fall has made grain quality an issue, making it more likely for individuals to enter bins when grain clumps. To read more about how improved grain quality can lead to bin safety should check out “Attention to Grain Quality Keeps People Safe” on pg. 18 of your February/March issue of Feed & Grain.

President Obama Signs 2014 Farm Bill in East Lansing, MI

President Barack Obama ended an odyssey when he signed the 2014 Farm Bill on Feb. 7. What should have been the 2012 or 2013 Farm Bill was held up for over two years while legislators fought over food stamps and subsidies. The Farm Bill will not only give certainty in the uncertain realm of agriculture, but reduces the national deficit by $23 billion. It also gets rid of direct payment subsidies, while giving more farm insurance options to a wider selection of crops. It also sets programs that aid conservation, disaster relief and job creation.  The USDA has already started setting up how to implement new and returning programs, with planting choices needing to made in the South and livestock disaster aid long overdue in some areas.

CHS Inc. Returns $433 Million to Owners

CHS Inc. will share its financial success with farmers, ranchers and cooperatives when it gives out an estimated $433 million cash distribution, the second largest in company history. The return to owners is based on CHS’s net income of $992.4 million for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2013, also the company’s second largest. The distribution will go to the 1,100 member cooperatives and more than 50,000 individual members of CHS Inc. More than $3.5 billion in cash has been given back to CHS’ agricultural producer and member cooperative owners, a billion of it over the past two years.

Record Setting $16 Million Verdict in Carroll County Obtained by Clifford Law Offices

A $16 million verdict was awarded to the families of Wyatt Whitebread and Alejandro Pacas, who died in a grain engulfment incident in July, 2010. Whitebread was only 14 when he was sucked into a sinkhole in the grain that he was standing on, while pushing the grain down to the conveyor. Pacas and another employee jumped into the sinkhole to save him but became entrapped as well. Pacas, who was 19 at the time, was engulfed in the grain along with Whitebread, while the other employee, Will Piper, was buried up to his neck for six hours. Whitebread’s and Pacas’ families were each awarded $8 million and Piper was awarded $875,000.

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