Red River Farm Network News


Rhoads Hired as MBC Industry Relations Director — The Minnesota Beef Council has hired Royalee Rhoads as the director of industry relations. Most recently, Rhoads worked in the retail sector. Rhoads is also active in the Minnesota State Cattlewomen and American National Cattlewomen.

Brazilian Trucking Blockade Continues to Cause Problems — Despite a police crackdown, protesting Brazilian truckers renewed roadblocks Monday morning in Brazil. Reports say 46 highways were blocked Monday morning across six states as truckers protest against rising diesel fuel prices, high tolls and falling freight rates. News reports out of Brazil say the blockades have stopped the flow of soybeans and soybean meal to the ports and are forcing crushing plants to suspend operation.

Vilsack Urges Farmers to Support TPA and TPPSpeaking at Commodity Classic, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urged farmers to show the same passion for Trade Promotion Authority that they did for the 2014 farm bill. “I’m asking you to help us convince this country that it’s in our economic and national security interests to get these trade agreements through," pleaded Vilsack, "Why do I ask? I spoke with a Senator the other day; he said I’ll give you two numbers, 1,200 and two. The 1,200 represents the number of calls my office has received this week opposed to Trade Promotion Authority and TPP. The number two is the number of calls I’ve received in support.” RRFN's Commodity Classic coverage is sponsored by the North Dakota Soybean Council.

New Deadline — USDA has given a one-month extension for producers to update yield history and reallocate base acres. The Farm Service Agency was working through implementation challenges, particularly with software issues in some states. The new deadline is March 31. That's also the enrollment deadline for the PLC or ARC programs.

Don't Reopen the Farm BillWhile there is some consternation with some parts of the farm program, there is no interest in reopening the farm bill. “The farm bill ended up being a good, comprehensive bill; there’s a lot of dynamics to it," said Bill Gordon, who is a delegate for the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association on the American Soybean Association board, "Conservation groups don’t want to reopen it. Ag groups don’t want to reopen it either." 

Rejecting Cuts in Farm Bill Spending — A coalition of nearly 400 organizations have sent a letter to the chairman and ranking member of both chambers of Congress, asking them to reject any calls for additional budget cuts to the farm bill. The groups underscore their opposition to reopening any title of the farm bill during the budget resolution process.

Senate Ag Committee Holds Farm Bill Oversight Hearing — The Senate Ag Committee held its first hearing on the oversight of the implementation on the 2014 Farm Bill. Ranking member Debbie Stabenow reminded committee members that agriculture has already taken deep cuts in the farm bill. “The farm bill is food policy, conservation and energy policy, and it’s all about jobs. I’m proud we did that while actually cutting $23 billion dollars, eliminating duplication and consolidating more than 100 programs. I say that because we voluntarily cut our budget more than sequestration. We have a five year bill with amazing long-term stability. Our farmers, ranchers, families and communities need that.”

Crop Insurance Shouldn't Be Tied to Conservation ComplianceNorth Dakota Soybean Growers Association President Jason Mewes says conservation, water and rail service are his group’s priority issues. “We have a resolution in to state again that ASA does not support the tie-in of crop insurance to conservation compliance. Some say it’s in the farm bill and is like water under the bridge. We disagree. This isn’t the last farm bill we’re ever going to have. We believe ASA should have this position. We’re hoping the next time around we can get that taken out.”

Conservation Compliance Rules Causing HeartburnThe last farm bill tied conservation compliance to crop insurance and Milnor, North Dakota farmer Ed Erickson says that is still causing heartburn. “It made us squirm a little bit. We’ll have to work our way through it.” Erickson, who is North Dakota's representative on the American Soybean Association board, said North Dakota has been in a unique position on the issue of conservation compliance. “We got behind the eight-ball as far as drainage and tiling over the years because we were fairly dry for a number of years. Now, since 1993, we’ve been fairly wet. We started trying to do some draining and tiling so that’s why it’s so important for us. We got into the game late and we’re trying to catch up.”

Defending Crop InsuranceMinnesota Association of Wheat Growers past president Jay Nord says all of agriculture will have to defend the farm bill and crop insurance. Nord says the immediate concern is a bill introduced in the Senate to limit crop insurance premium subsidies to $50,000. “It’s a high subsidy level for some producers, but it’s not for the producer, it’s on the acre. If they’re farming more acres, why should they be treated differently than anybody else? The other problem is, if you start to knock out some of those, it’s like any insurance policy, you change the pool and maybe the rates will go up. Will it be a true savings in the end for the government or will it make it harder for farmers to be able to afford to buy the crop insurance?”

Crop Insurance Worries — North Dakota Corn Growers Association Vice president Randy Melvin serves on the National Corn Growers Association’s public policy action team. One concern for that group is the APH exclusion for crop insurance. “There’s a lot that still needs to get figured out. RMA is trying to figure out they are going to reevaluate the rates and when you’re going to have yield exclusions. Some areas have been hit really hard by weather the last few years. I think some counties have five to seven years they’ll be able to exclude. It’s a curious proposal that might be rewarding more volatile producers.” Melvin says another issue is cover crops, which do not comply with current Risk Management Agency policy. There is also concern about the profitability of crop insurance companies.

Wetlands Determinations Remains a Problem — Wetlands determinations are a big issue for South Dakota soybean growers. Kevin Scott, who farms at Valley Springs, east of Sioux Falls, calls it a critical issue. “We’ve had such a backlog in the Prairie Pothole region and we need to address those issues. There are some incredible timeframes that people are dealing with on their 1026 determinations. The appeals process is not working very well for them. It seems like a big delay tactic by NRCS. It’s very costly. They’re assuming that we are not going to have enough money to fight back long enough so they’re going to win through default. It amounts to a land-taking in a lot of areas and we need to address that.” Scott is a director for the South Dakota Soybean Growers Association, the American Soybean Association and the United States Soybean Export Council.

Take the Message to the TopFormer Iowa Congressman Tom Latham was elected in 1994. At that time, Latham said agriculture was well represented in Congress, many with a working knowledge of production agriculture. At the Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum, Latham emphasized the importance of going to Washington and taking the message to the top. “Don’t just go there once and think they heard the message because a lot of time, you're talking to a 23-year old staffer that has no idea what you're talking about and as soon as you leave the office, forget about what you said. You have to keep it in the forefront. Let them know how important production agriculture is and the challenges we face. I think it’s going to be very difficult and challenging in the next ten years and the biggest problem we’re going to have is in Congress.”

Under Pressure to Build Demand — In this time of low commodity prices, National Corn Growers Association CEO Chris Novak and other farm leaders are under pressure to build demand domestically and internationally. “I was talking to a young farmer who said his cost of production was over $4. Right now, prices are a little under $4. You can’t stay in business growing a crop if you’re not covering those costs. That’s the challenge of where we’re at today, ensuring that we have future opportunities in agriculture for young people to stay in this business and continue to produce our food.” Novak says that’s why the risk management tools in the new farm bill are so important.

ND is the West Coast for Soybeans — Ninety percent of North Dakota soybeans leave the state. Seventy-two percent of those beans go to Asia. China dominates this business.  North Dakota Soybean Council marketing director Stephanie Sinner emphasizes North Dakota is the closest supplier to Southeast Asia. “We are the West Coast of soybeans. We’re they’re first stop. We’re their first supplier. We do a lot in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. For anybody in the region that’s looking to import, we’re the number one stop.”

Get Something on the Books for SoybeansUniversity of Minnesota grain marketing specialist Ed Usset was part of an early riser grain marketing panel Thursday morning at Commodity Classic. Usset said history shows corn and soybean prices return to December highs in the spring 70 percent of the time, but growers need to take advantage of it. “There are a lot of soybeans around, a lot of prospects for planted acres. Get something done in soybeans. Don’t just sit on your hands and wait for new-crop to come and have nothing on the books.”

Farmers Could See $6.15 SoybeansSoybean growers face significant price risk this year. Speaking at a BASF event in Phoenix Wednesday, Water Street Solutions senior market analyst Arlan Suderman said if farmers plant 88 million acres of beans this year, prices could average as low as $6.15 a bushel. “If we were to have a weather problem, we could have $12 beans, but the odds of that are much smaller than the odds of lower prices. I’m concerned because the job of the marketplace in times of surplus is to take prices lower in order to stimulate demand and discourage production.” Suderman says there are several ways to manage that price risk: crop insurance, option strategies, futures strategies or cash sale strategies.

Price Guarantees — Based on Friday’s futures market, the Risk Management Agency is expected to set the price guarantee for corn at $4.15 per bushel, down ten percent from last year. The price guarantee for soybeans is expected to be $9.73 a bushel, down 14 percent from last year. RMA uses the average price in February to set the price guarantees.

Less Second-Crop Corn Expected in Brazil — Soybean and Corn Advisor president Michael Cordonnier says the crops in Brazil are looking pretty good, even with a few drought areas. “I have the Brazil crop at 93 million tons. That is a new record. It might vary a little bit going forward, but not very much. They’re deep into harvest. I think we’re set for a low-90 million ton range for soybeans.” With the delayed planting and harvest season, there is concern about getting the second crop corn planted. “The ideal planting window closed February 20. In Mato Grosso, they’ll plant until about March 10. More than half of the crop will be planted after the ideal window. I still think the area is going to be down five to ten percent. I think the farmers are going to forgo some of that corn because it’s going to get late, prices aren’t that good and they don’t want to run the risk of getting very poor yields.”

Trucker Blockade Stopping Harvest — Brazil’s trucker blockade is beginning slow or stop harvest in Mato Grosso as diesel fuel supplies dwindle. The executive director of the state’s soybean growers association, Aprosoja, says about one fifth of the state’s farmers have already run out of fuel and the rest have only about a three or four day supply.  About half of the soybeans in Mato Grosso have been harvested, compared to 60 percent a year ago.

Tight Margins Are the Norm — Margins are tighter today than what agriculture has seen for the recent past. Depending on total costs, Pro Farmer editorial director Chip Flory says many farmers are dealing with negative margins. “They look at the estimate from USDA on net farm income being down 30-some percent and everybody’s getting all tense. This is back to normal for farming. The last four or five years have been outside of the norm. Tight margins are the norm.” Flory says a continued downward adjustment has to happen in farmland values and rental rates. While land prices have moderated, rental rates have not. "It probably won't change a lot for 2015; it'll pull back a little bit in 2016 and even more in 2017 as we get everything realigned and get our cost of production closer to what the market is offering for revenue." 

No Storms in the ForecastNational Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist David Hintz isn’t seeing any big storm systems coming to the Northern Plains as we move into March. “This big Arctic high that’s sitting over the top of us keeping us cold is also pushing a lot of storm systems further to the south. You can see that in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama, all those southern states that are getting all the ice and snow. This high pressure tends to make us stay cold as well. We’re looking at temperatures staying below normal for this time of year heading into the first or even second week of March.”

Adapt to Your SituationA panel discussion showcasing ideas to break through yield barriers attracted a huge, standing-room-only crowd Thursday morning at Commodity Classic. Aneta, North Dakota farmer Fred Lukens said one advantage to farming in North Dakota is the wide variety of crops he can grow. “Our rotation is winter wheat, barley, corn, soybeans and edible beans. We’re growing black beans for our edible beans this year. The biggest acres on our farm are barley. You have to adapt to your situation. Corn isn’t our big money crop; barley is our big money crop.”

Demand Increasing for Malting BarleyCargill's North American merchandising manager thinks malting barley acres will increase this year. Lorelle Selinger says yields were good in 2014, but quality was a problem. At Wild Oats Grainworld last week in Winnipeg, Selinger said malting barley demand is expected to rise significantly over the next five years. “The US remains the primary importer of beer. China remains the primary consumer. One of the big stories in North America is the craft production. In 1990, there were about 400 registered craft brewers. This year, we’ll hit over 4,000. Why that’s important for barley is that the average craft beer will use 90 to 100 percent malt content. The average commercial beer will only have 40 or 50 percent.”

Agri-Trend Sees Durum and Barley Acres Increase in Canada This YearAt Wild Oats Grainworld Conference last week, Agri-Trend CEO Robert Saik gave his company’s crop projections for Canada this year. “We see wheat down six percent to 17.9 million acres. We see durum up 15 percent, which is going to bring it above the three and ten year averages, to 5.5 million acres. Canola is basically flat at 20.4 million acres. Barley will see a pop, increasing 22 percent to 7.2 million acres. Soybeans are unchanged at 5.6 million acres. Corn for grain is down slightly at 3 million acres. Flaxseed is up 13 percent to 1.8 million acres.”

SCN: Number 1 Production Issue for Soybean Producers — The number one production issue for North Dakota Soybean Council’s director of research programs, Kendall Nichols, is soybean cyst nematode. The NDSC plans to continue paying for soil samples in an effort to track the spread of SCN. “Go to your county agent, get sacks and send them in," said Nichols, "SCN is coming to your area, unfortunately. It’s moving north and west. It moves on soil. It can move on equipment.” The NDSC got more than 600 soil samples from growers last year. Nichols recommends a combination of rotation, resistant varieties and nematicides to manage SCN.

ND Soybean Minute — Hear the latest North Dakota Soybean Minute from the North Dakota Soybean Council and the soybean checkoff. You'll hear a preview of the Northern Soybean Expo.

ND Among the Leading Soybean States — North Dakota Soybean Council CEO Diana Beitelsbacher says the state is now the fourth largest soybean state in the US, in terms of acres. Beitelsbacher expects another increase this year. “With corn prices being somewhat down, I think we’re going to see a lot more soybeans planted, probably another record.” The NDSC is seeking a candidate to fill a vacancy on the United Soybean Board. “Jay Meyers from Colfax holds that position now and he is planning to run again, but, we are also encouraging any soybean producers interested in that opportunity to contact us. We have three director representatives from North Dakota. To get a fourth, we have to maintain three consecutive years of producing 200 million bushels or more. This year we hit that with 202.5 million bushels. If we can retain that for another two years, we’ll earn a fourth seat at the table.”

Wheat Yield Contest Created — National Wheat Foundation chairman Dusty Tallman announced a new national wheat yield contest Thursday at Commodity Classic. “The goal of the contest is to increase grower productivity and to ensure an ample supply to all of our millers and bakers and everybody that consumes wheat in the United States. Some objectives are to drive innovation, enable knowledge transfer between growers, urge experimentation with new technologies and to identify top wheat producers in each state.” There will be regional winners for each class of wheat, with irrigated and non-irrigated divisions. It’s hoped the contest will be ready to roll out by next fall. BASF is partnering on this wheat yield contest.

BASF Reveals Risk Management ToolsAt Commodity Classic, BASF announced a program to help farmers manage their production risk. Neil Bentley is BASF’s Director of marketing for US crop protection business. “A grower is going to make the best decisions together with our innovation specialists about what they’re going to put on the acre and how that’s going to help them out preform average yields, how that’s going to help them move into the season successfully," explained Neil Bentley, BASF director of marketing, US crop protection business, "We have risk management tools that we enroll the farmer in, so if there are unforeseen circumstances, we have tools that would provide potential rebates against those costs.”

Canola Minute — Here's the latest Canola Minute from the Northern Canola Growers Association. The Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives event is the focus in this update.

ASA Reveals Stance on GMO LabelingAmerican Soybean Association President Wade Cowan unveiled ASA’s new stance on GMO labeling at Commodity Classic Thursday. “It’s a losing argument when you say consumers don’t have the right to know what’s in their food. What they want to know is if they have the opportunity to buy food that’s free of GMO’s. We should turn this message positive where we say yes you have the right to know what’s GMO free, but the most efficient way is to have a USDA certification that says it has no GMO in it.”

GMO Labeling: A Chance for a Positive Message — Speaking to farmers at Commodity Classic, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he thinks the GMO labeling issue may be an opportunity to send a positive message. “The problem with the discussion about labeling is it’s neither about nutrition nor about risk because there is no health safety risk with GMO’s. That’s established." Vilsack went on to say the farmers who are trying to grow more with less chemicals and meeting the food security needs of the world are putting people "in a difficult position by saying you’re opposed to me as a consumer having the right to know.” Vilsack thinks the GMO information some consumers want could be included in a bar code that could be scanned with a smartphone; that way the label would not lead to confusion or fear.

Food Movement Builds on FearConsumers are hoping to connect with their food sources, but too often are going to the wrong place places for information. Bayer CropScience President and CEO Jim Blome says a movement is underway that builds on fear. “At the heart of that movement are several beliefs including big is bad, only local is sustainable and back then is better than innovation and technology. The same people that will wait an entire day in line to get the latest iPhone would rather have their food grown on a farm with a team of mules.”

Farmers Need to Step Up and Tell Their StoryMore than ever, today’s consumer wants to know where there food comes from. Bayer CropScience marketing vice president David Hollinrake is encouraging farmers to be transparent and tell their story. “Sitting on the sidelines is probably something all of us are more comfortable with, but, if we don’t join the discussion, if we don’t engage in the dialogue, if we don’t participate, then we’re not going to change the perceptions that exist today.” Bayer CropScience hosted its annual Ag Issues Forum this past week in Phoenix.

MN Soybean Update — Here's the latest Minnesota Soybean Update from the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. In this update, you'll learn trade opportunities.

MDA Reviewing Neonicotinoid Use — The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is evaluating the science and best management practices of neonicotinoid use. Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Matt Wohlman says the special registration review started last year. “We’re taking a look at all of the scientific evidence that’s out there. We’ll be conducting that literature review for the next six months to a year. At that point, we will come out with our conclusion from the special registration review.” Wohlman is hopeful the review will provide answers about the safety and environmental concerns about neonicotinoid use.

OIG Report Not Reflective of ND System, Says Goehring — The Environmental Protection Agency will now oversee North Dakota's pesticide inspection program. The move came after a recommendation from the Office of Inspector General. North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is upset, saying the OIG recommendations for the pesticide inspection program don’t reflect the state’s close working relationship with EPA. “We’ve been working with them on how to store and query pesticide enforcement information and drive compliance with a mix of compliance, assistance and enforcement rather than going back to the old ‘gotcha’ game. We’ve worked with them extensively, along with some of the ag community, to address the issue on drift reduction technology so we can make this a more reasonable approach.”

Managing Water — At one time, tile drainage dealt with moving excess water off fields, but technology and science is changing the drainage to water management. North Dakota State University Extension agronomist and field drainage specialist Hans Kandel says today’s drainage systems are much more than simply removing water. “In the long-term, we need to manage water in the soil profile in order to maximize yields. Sometimes we have excess water in the beginning of the season and shortness at the end. Controlled drainage can help.” Kandel says you only remove the water you don’t need for crop production.

Root Maggot Numbers See Big IncreaseNorth Dakota State University Extension sugarbeet entomologist Mark Boetel reminds beet growers to plan for sugarbeet root maggot this season. Boetel says fly populations have been increasing year over year. “We are very concerned. We have 40 trapping stations and numbers are on the rise. Between 2011 and 2014, we’ve seen a near doubling on a per trap basis.”

Canada Reaches Out to Trade Partners After BSE CaseCanadian officials confirmed that a case of BSE was found in a cow there earlier this month. Despite the confirmation, Ag Minister Gerry Ritz says Canada’s cattle herd and beef products pose no danger to other countries. “This is out 20th case out of tens of millions of animals. We retain our controlled-risk status. I’ve had our chief veterinary officer calling directly to the chief veterinary officers in the US, Mexico and Japan to make sure that they are comfortable with the way that we are moving forward.” Ritz says the recent case was caught on the farm.

MN Beef Update — Hear from the Minnesota Beef Council, the Minnesota Cattlemen's Association and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association in their weekly MN Beef Update. The Beef Quality Assurance program gets attention in this week's report.

R-CALF Cites BSE Case to Defend COOL — R-Calf USA is using the latest BSE case in Canada as a reason to stand behind country of origin labeling. Given the new evidence that BSE is still circulating in Canada’s animal feed system, R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard says it is more likely that Canada’s testing program has failed to detect other BSE infected cattle that have entered Canada’s food system. Bullard adds that Congress and the public should ignore Canada’s posturing against COOL.

Looking for Truck DriversWith herd rebuilding and fairly strong prices, demand for cattle feeding and care equipment is strong. Common Sense Manufacturing owner Kelly Melius says delivering the equipment is the problem. “It’s a good problem to have, but I do feel bad because there are times that the guys have to wait a little longer than they’d like to get certain products.” Melius says that delay is because he can’t find truck drivers. “I think some guys are afraid of DOT, the scales and the regulations and, some of them went up to the oil fields." Common Sense Manufacturing is based at Faulkton, South Dakota, and makes a variety of equipment for cattle producers.

National Pork Industry Forum Begins ThursdayThe National Pork Industry Forum will be held late this week in San Antonio. National Pork Board Chairman Dale Norton says the meeting will highlight the new strategic plan. An update on an industry auditing program will also be given at Forum. The Red River Farm Network will report from this meeting with the coverage sponsored by the Minnesota Pork Board.

Bill Introduced to Cut Corn Ethanol MandateLegislation has been introduced in the Senate that would eliminate the corn ethanol mandate as an option to fulfill the Renewable Fuels Standard. Chester, South Dakota farmer Keith Alverson is a member of the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Board and says lawmakers fail to understand the facts about corn-based ethanol. “One of the things that always comes up is lifecycle CO2 emissions from corn-based ethanol. They make the claim that we aren’t cleaner than oil. However, according to Argonne National Labs in a study that was funded by the Department of Energy, the lifecycle analysis of corn ethanol is 34 percent lower than gasoline as far as CO2 emissions. The idea that we’re driving food prices up is simply false.”

E15 SupportMinnesota Corn Growers Association President Bruce Peterson sees a need to enhance the E15 infrastructure nationwide. "We are making progress and we need to continue to do that," said Peterson, "Hopefully, we can gain more of the large chains to make the switch."

Senators Disappointed With Keystone Veto — As promised, President Barack Obama vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline legislation. The bill’s co-author, North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, called the veto bad news for Americans and good news for OPEC. North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp said Keystone is a critical piece of infrastructure. South Dakota’s congressional delegation expressed their disappointment with the President’s veto of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Senator Mike Rounds said the President has chosen to appease the far-left wing of his political base instead of doing what is best for the American people. Senator John Thune said he is disappointed, but not surprised by the veto.

Developing a Strategic Plan for the Soybean Industry — Emerado, North Dakota farmer Jared Hagert serves as the vice chair of the United Soybean Board and is leading the development of USB’s strategic plan. This plan will be officially launched in fiscal year 2017 and will offer the marching orders for the soybean industry. "I challenged them to start with a blank piece of paper and look at what will impact our industry over the next ten years." Industry stakeholders offered input during Commodity Classic. Ultimately, a draft will be ready for a vote at the July USB meeting.

Morken Earns ASA Lifetime Achievement AwardAt the American Soybean Association’s awards banquet at Commodity Classic Friday night, the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association was recognized as one of 16 states that met membership goals. A total of 179 members were added in the past year, 73 by Casselton farmer Harvey Morken, who received the ASA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. “When I see that we have around 5,000 soybean farmers in our state and we’re just over 850 members, I think really? Where is everyone?" responded Morken, "I feel the work the Soybean Growers Association does is important, by being a member, I’m support them to go do the work for me.” By passing the 850 member mark, North Dakota now has a second ASA director, Monte Peterson. It also gives the state five delegates for the ASA resolutions process.

Records Broken for Commodity ClassicKulm, North Dakota farmer Bart Schott was the co-chair of this year’s Commodity Classic. “This is the biggest trade show ever. It’s doubled since 2011 because we have a lot more of the implement dealers coming to this trade show." Next year, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers will partner with Commodity Classic, again increasing the size of the trade show. Commodity Classic will be held in New Orleans in 2016.

Corn Matters — Hear the Minnesota Corn Growers Association's Corn Matters program. This week's program recapped the recent Cow-Calf Days.

RRFN Invites You to Ag Outlook Seminar in Devils LakeThe Red River Farm Network is organizing an agriculture outlook seminar Monday, March 9, in Devils Lake, North Dakota. The program will feature a roundtable discussion with Frayne Olson of North Dakota State University Extension; Jason Fewell of Lake Region State College and Reed Ihry of Ihry Insurance. From the price outlook to farm program and crop insurance decisions, this panel will help growers prepare for spring. This seminar will be held in conjunction with the High Plains Equipment Open House. A live broadcast and lunch will follow the 11 AM seminar.

IRS Extends Tax Deadline Because of Incorrect Forms — The IRS will extend the tax filing deadline for farmers who were sent incorrect forms for the new health care law to April 15. Last month, the IRS admitted to sending out 800,000 incorrect forms. South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem pressured IRS for the change, saying the health care law has already caused “more than enough headaches.”

MN Crop Values Fall — The National Ag Statistics Minnesota office says the value of Minnesota’s field crops fell 18 percent in 2014 to $9.25 billion. The value of Minnesota’s corn production was down 23 percent from 2013 to $4.3 billion. Soybean production value fell 13 percent at $3.1 billion even though production was up ten percent. NASS says the value of production increased for oats, oil and non-oil sunflowers and winter wheat. Alfalfa, other hay, forage and barley values were all lower on the year.

Projected MN Budget Surplus Grows — Minnesota’s budget surplus is now being projected to be at $1.9 billion. That’s up from $832 million in November. These numbers will allow lawmakers to focus on spending measures, including expenditures for rural roads, agricultural research and property tax reform. 

MN Farm Bureau Minute — Here's the latest from the Minnesota Farm Bureau. Public Policy Director Doug Busselman highlights the bills moving through the legislature.

ND Legislature Making Progress — Due to Crossover, the North Dakota Legislature is in recess until Wednesday. Late this week, key agriculture issues will be heard. Exemptions to the anti-corporate farm law will be addressed in the House Agriculture Committee Thursday. A bill increasing the North Dakota beef checkoff will be heard in the Senate Agriculture Committee Friday. The Ag Department Appropriation bill will also go before a House Appropriations Committee Friday. Governor Jack Dalrymple says he will continue to work with the legislature to achieve his priorities including strong support for education, property tax reforms, additional tax relief, and enhancements for pipeline integrity and rail safety. 

ND Legislative Report — RRFN's ND Legislative Report airs each Friday at 12:35pm. The report is sponsored by the North Dakota Corn Growers Association, North Dakota Soybean Growers Association, North Dakota Farm Bureau and North Dakota Farmers Union. This is your weekly update on the latest news coming from the North Dakota Legislature.

Improving Wildlife Habitat — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that $20 million is being made available to improve wildlife habitat and enhance public access for recreational opportunities on privately held farm, ranch and forest land. Eligible governments can apply for funds for proposed projects that can span up to three years. Amounts range from $75,000 to $1 million per year.

CSP Signup Extended — USDA is extending the signup period for the 2015 edition of the Conservation Stewardship Program. Farmers and ranchers now have two more weeks, until March 13, to complete the initial application form.

Mycogen Partners With Growth EnergyMycogen Seeds is the newest premier associate member of Growth Energy. Dow AgroSciences marketing director Damon Palmer says this is a way to support ethanol, which supports farmers. “This partnership is focused on continuing to provide value to our customers. We view this support of Growth Energy as a way to do that beyond just the products and services we provide. It’s very important for agriculture to stick together. This is a great collaboration outside of our seed space that we hope can provide value to our customers.”

RFA Adds Websites and App — The Renewable Fuels Association says it has purchased the www.E85prices.com website and eleven more websites along with a new mobile app. RFA says the websites and mobile app will strengthen RFA’s online presence and its ability to provide timely information on the availability and pricing of E85 and other ethanol flex fuels.

Elgin-ND Available — Elgin-ND hard red spring wheat is available for general distribution to growers for the second year after its release by the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station. Elgin-ND’s average yield since 2008 was higher than Barlow, Glenn and SY Soren, and it also outperformed the high-yielding varieties Prosper and Faller in western North Dakota. North Dakota State University spring wheat breeder Mohamed Margoum says Elgin-ND is the first NDSU hard red spring wheat cultivar that combines high yield and good quality. This variety also has a good disease-resistance package.

CHS Gets Non-GMO Status on Soy Products — CHS Inc. says it has received non-GMO verified status for a line of its soy ingredients. The line of CHS products that have earned non-GMO verification include: CHS soybean salad oil, CHS crude soybean oil, CHS soybean meal, Honeysoy brand soy flour and Honeysoy brand soy flakes.

Climate Corp Launches New App — Monsanto and the Climate Corporation have announced the addition of a free mobile app that can be used by farmers and crop scouts to help make daily decisions with field-level weather information. The Climate Basic mobile app helps farmers identify historical and predictive rainfall and crop growth stage, take notes, add photos and share scouting records with their agronomist.

Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Advances — Monsanto is moving toward the commercialization of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans. USDA deregulated this technology in January. With regulatory approvals, this system will be available to growers in 2016. In the meantime, Monsanto plans to expand its educational efforts about this technology.

Black Gold Expands to NC — Black Gold Farms has purchased Camden, North Carolina based George Wood Farms, including all associated potato production and packing operations. Black Gold CEO Eric Halvorson says the acquisition complements Black Gold’s chip potato acreage and is also an excellent fit for year round red potato production.

Mosaic Looking for Phosphate Producers — Mosaic’s Chief Executive Jim Prokopanko says the company is interested in buying Brazilian phosphate producers if they come up for sale. Prokopanko says his company would be interested in a couple of good Brazilian companies if they come up for sale.

High Volume UAN Applications Protected by New Product — Verdesian Life Sciences has launched NutriSphere-N HV. This new polymer formulation protects high volume applications of UAN. This formulation is being made commercially available this month and is targeted to growers who apply more than 35 gallons of UAN per acre.

Land O'Lakes Reports Record Sales — Land O’Lakes Inc. is reporting annual net earnings of $266 million on record sales of $15 billion for 2014. Land O’Lakes says net earnings were down 13 percent from a year earlier. Cash dividends returned to member was a record $184 million, up 25 percent from the previous year. For the fourth quarter which ended December 31, Land O’Lakes reported net earnings of $38.3 million on quarterly revenue of $3.5 billion.

Cargill Completes Expansion in South Africa — Cargill says it has completed its $12.5 million expansion in its South African feed mill. The expansion included new equipment, technology and resources to increase the plant’s efficiency and quality. The plant makes poultry, cattle, hog and pet food vitamin and mineral premix and base mix.

March 31 Deadline for Farm Mom of the Year Nominations — Monsanto is accepting nominations for Farm Mom of the Year. Nominations are open now through March 31.

Lardy Expands DutiesNorth Dakota State University Animal Sciences Department Head Dr. Greg Lardy has added to his duties. Lardy will serve as part-time Associate Vice President for Agricultural Affairs for the university. The three-year appointment is effective March 1.

MWRPC Elects New Members — The Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council has elected new members. Rhonda Larson of East Grand Forks, Tim Sedlacek of Warren and Scott Swenson of Elbow Lake will serve a three year term.

New Members for MDPC — The Minnesota Dairy Promotion Council has elected new members. Those include Peter Ripka of Ogilvie, Ken Herbranson from Clitherall, Ron Rinkel of Hillman, Corrine Lieser from Belgrade, Kathleen Skiba from North Branch, Charles Krause from Buffalo, Paul Fritsche from New Ulm, Keith Knutson from Pine Island, Dave Schwartz from Slayton, Christine Sukalski from Leroy and Carolyn Freese of Lanesboro. Each will serve a two year term.

MTRPC Holds Election — Lynette Gessell of Little Falls, Kim Halverson from Morristown, Leon Klaphake from Melrose, Wayne Knudsen from New London and Dana Nelson of  Kensington have all been elected to a seat on the Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council. Each will serve for three years.

New Directors on SDCUC — Laron Krause of Clear Lake and Jeremiah Freidel of Dimock join the board of directors of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council this month. Krause represents Brookings, Codington, Deuel, Hamlin and Kingsbury counties. Freidel represents Bon Homme, Davison, Douglas, Hanson, Hutchinson and McCook counties. Both will serve a three-year term.

Klosterman to Serve as NDCGA President — The North Dakota Corn Growers Association has elected new officers who will take over in July. Carson Klosterman from Wyndmere will succeed Kim Swenson as president.

Hammer Named to National Council — North Dakota State University Extension equine specialist Carrie Hammer has been named to the Scientific Advisory Council for the Horses and Humans Research Foundation. Hammer also is an associate professor and director of the NDSU's Equine Science program.

Ward Named Interim Executive VP — Following the resignation of Craig Huffhines, Jack Ward has been named the interim executive vice president of the American Hereford Association. Ward has been AHA's chief operating officer and director of breed improvement since 2003.

Last Week's Trivia — In the 1993 movie, Tombstone, Doc Holiday is quoted as saying "I'll be your huckleberry." Mandy Kvale of Farm Credit Services of Mandan was the first in with the right answer and is our weekly trivia winner. Todd Good of AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Erin Nash of Woodruff Sweitzer, Larry Cure of New Mexico FSA, and Scott Roemhildt of Minnesota DNR earn runner-up honors. The 'first 20' list rounds out with Barry Medd of First State Bank, Kevin Stiles of Midwest Dairy Association, David Voller of BASF, Jeanine Halvorson of Agweek, Bob Volk of North Central Farmers Elevator, Nick Revier of SES VanderHave, Rene Scheurer of Betaseed, Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, farmer Jim Diepolder, Kevin Koppendrayer of AgStar Financial Services, Brian Rund of Nufarm, Douglas Brown of AGP Grain Marketing, Mark Bernard of Agro-Economics, Peggy Pearson of Rice River Holsteins and Chris Motteberg of American Crystal Sugar Company.

This Week's Trivia — There are numerous swine breeds, including Durocs, Yorkshire and Berkshire. One US breed is typically black with a white belt around its middle, including the front legs. It is thought to be the oldest American breed of hogs. What is this breed name for this belted pig? E-mail your answer to don@rrfn.com. Please include your name and business.