Red River Farm Network News


Burgum Budget Released — Additional spending cuts can be found in North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum’s budget proposal. The recommendation calls for $4.6 billion in spending for the 2017-2019 biennium. That’s nearly $160 million less than what was proposed by Governor Jack Dalrymple in December. Savings include a $31 million cut in higher education and an additional $19 million cut to state agencies. The proposed reductions would result in the elimination of 633 full-time jobs. The budget takes a more conservative approach to oil, projecting $337 million less in oil tax revenue. The Burgum plan assumes oil will average $48 per barrel. That compares to $52-to-$53 per barrel in Dalrymple’s budget plan.

RRFN: Reporting Agriculture's Business — This Friday, President-elect Donald Trump and Vice-President-elect Mike Pence will be sworn in. President Barack Obama will share that stage on Inauguration Day. The U.S. may be deeply divided on major issues, but this peaceful transition of power remains the envy of people around the world. The Red River Farm Network will continue to report on the agriculture stories coming from Capitol Hill. The only remaining cabinet position to be announced is the agriculture secretary job and RRFN is following that ongoing story. Today, RRFN is at a crop insurance meeting, a market outlook seminar, the precision agriculture summit and the North Dakota Grain Dealers Association annual meeting. In the week ahead, we will report from the Wide World of Weeds Workshop, the Precision Planting Winter Conference, a North Dakota Corn Growers Association farm bill meeting, a small grains update, Bean Day and the U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc. convention.  You'll hear these stories on your local RRFN radio affiliate. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter for news and event updates and photos. The RRFN team, Carah, Mike, Randy, Jay and Don, are also on Twitter.  

A Record Soybean CropU.S. soybean production totaled a record 4.3 billion bushels in 2016, down one percent from the November estimate, but ten percent more than a year-ago. According to Thursday's USDA report, the average yield was put at a record 52.1 bushels per acre. Harvested acreage is up one percent from last year to a record 85.7 million acres.

A Drop in Soybean Ending StocksDiversified Services risk management analyst Rich Morrison says the USDA soybean stocks estimate confirmed the thoughts of many fund managers. “The government did drop the ending stocks of soybeans 60 million bushels," says Morrison. "Most of that came from a cut in production. That further solidified some of the fund ideas that this market should have continued strength in it.” South America’s crop will be the immediate focus for traders followed by acreage estimates in the U.S. “We will get a baseline set of numbers in late January or early February where USDA will put acreage numbers out. We get planting attentions at the end of March, but other than that, we’re watching South American weather here on out.” Morrison will be featured in a series of winter meetings in North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota in late January and early February.

USDA Report: Corn Outlook — USDA says U.S. farmers produced 15.1 billion bushels of corn in 2016. That total is down one percent from the November estimate, but an increase 11 percent from one year ago. The average yield is 174.6 bushels per acre, which is down seven-tenths of a bushel from the November estimate. Harvested acreage is at 86.7 million down slightly from the November forecast, but an increase of seven percent from a year-ago. 

Still Lots of Wheat in the World — USDA raised its estimate of world wheat ending stocks to 252.1 million tons in Thursday’s WASDE report. Increases are expected in spite of the lowest winter wheat seeding’s in a century. USDA chief economist Rob Johannson says the USDA wheat acreage surprised the trade. “At 32.4 million acres, down 3.8 million acres from last year, and that’s the lowest on record since 1909. It raises some questions going forward.”

A Decline in Winter Wheat Acres: What Does That Mean? — The trade expected a drop in winter wheat acres in Thursday's USDA report, but not a decline to 32.38 million. That figure is ten percent less than last year. Martinson Ag Risk Management market analyst Randy Martinson says acreage is down throughout wheat country. “Kansas acres dropped by 13 percent from last year. Oklahoma was down ten percent. Texas was down ten percent and Colorado was off six percent, Montana was down 16 percent. North Dakota, which isn't a big state for winter wheat, saw a 50 percent decline in acres and South Dakota saw a 24 percent decrease. In all, we are looking at a lower crop rated as far as winter wheat and a lot less acres than anticipated.” Martinson will continue to monitor wheat conditions in the south. If drier weather conditions persist, the southern states could see a crop with not only fewer acres, but lower yielding and the potential for better quality. “If it starts to bring up their quality of wheat, it could take away our premiums."

Trump Team Responds — When asked why President-elect Donald Trump hasn’t announced his choice for agriculture secretary, Trump spokesperson Sean Spicer told the Red River Farm Network that Trump understands the importance of agriculture. “He wants to make sure that he met with a candidate that understood how to implement his agenda to achieve those goals. He’s met with several people you’ve seen throughout the last couple months who are very highly talented. I would expect an announcement on that sometime soon.” Inauguration Day is Friday.

Another Day, Same Story — Another day closer to Inauguration Day and it's the same story. The agriculture secretary nomination has not been announced. Edgeley, North Dakota farmer Mike Brandenburg, who is a state representative and a member of Trump's agriculture advisory committee, downplays the importance of that delay. “He realized rural America has elected Donald Trump. The support is there for it, so don’t take the ag secretary and use it as a second-tier positon. It’s not. It’s an important position.” Brandenburg says it doesn’t concern members of the ag advisory committee that a selection may not be announced before Inauguration Day. “Sonny Perdue from Georgia, Sid Miller from Texas, Kip Tom from Indiana who have all been interviewed. If they are looking for balance, Annette Sweeney from Iowa is another one that we would support. Those are the people I’d say. There are plenty of good people to do the job.”

A Strategic Plan for the Farm BillFollowing the delegate meeting, the American Farm Bureau Federation board of directors met to put together its strategic action plan for the year ahead. Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap says that plan includes a focus on the new Farm Bill, "but, also reform; regulatory reform, immigration reform as it deals with ag labor and tax reform.” Paap says the new administration can bring a new approach to regulations. “It has to be transparent with all stakeholders involved.” RRFN's coverage of the AFBF convention is sponsored, in part, by Minnesota Farm Bureau.

A National View of Farm Policy — As a general farm organization, the American Farm Bureau Federation represents all commodities and all parts of the country. North Dakota Farm Bureau executive director Jeff Missling says that diversity is a factor in all policy decisions. “We can’t have our blinders on. We need to be wide open. There are different crops grown in the south than the Midwest and we have to work that out amongst ourselves.” Missling says regulatory issues are finally getting attention, which is appreciated. “We’re excited about the future, both at the state and federal level with new faces. We have hope we can make strides with over burdensome regulations.” 

High Court to Review WOTUS Jurisdiction — The U.S. Supreme Court will determine whether the Waters of the United States rule should be handled in federal district court or the appellate courts. National Pork Producers Council spokesman Dave Warner sees WOTUS as an unworkable rule. "If it stands, it gives the EPA very, very broad authority over all kinds of land and water and land near water, including dry gullies in the middle of a corn field."  North Dakota Stockmen’s Association President Warren Zenker is excited to see the U.S. Supreme Court decision. "It shows us that the court actually has a continued interest in private property rights and that's a huge thing. We look forward to the arguments that will be made this spring."

Supreme Court Won't Review Wetlands Case — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear 16 cases during this term, but that list does not include a South Dakota wetlands case. A Miner County farm couple have challenged USDA’s wetlands designation on their property. The landowners were upset with the process that uses comparable lands for the wetlands designation.  

Corn Matters — Hear the Minnesota Corn Growers Association's Corn Matters program. Find out more on corn trade.

Action Sought on Sugar AgreementThe American Sugar Alliance is urging action on the failed suspension agreement between the United States and Mexico. American Sugar Alliance spokesman Phillip Hayes says Mexico continues to dump subsidized sugar in the U.S. “It’s not working. We know that. The U.S. government knows that.  The Mexican government knows that. The U.S. government has been trying to renegotiate with the Mexican government. Right now, the ball is in Mexico’s court. Time is running out. If they are going to do something, they need to do something quickly.” Hayes also the sugar industry believes in trade, but it should be fair trade.

Burgum Meets with Ranchers — North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum met with farmers and ranchers on Wednesday to better understand their concerns on the impacts of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. More than 50 farmers, ranchers and rural residents shared their experience of trespassing, vandalized machinery, hay bales stolen, livestock missing or killed and roads blocked by protestors. The event was hosted by ranchers Julie and Chad Ellingson.

ND Legislative ReportGet an update on work in the North Dakota Legislature. The North Dakota Legislative Report is sponsored by North Dakota Farm Bureau, North Dakota Soybean Growers Association, North Dakota Corn Growers Association and North Dakota Farmers Union. 

Working on Legislative Priorities — North Dakota State Senator Tom Campbell says lawmakers hit the ground running in Bismarck. The budget will be the biggest challenge during this session. Campbell also says there will be some discussion on making tiling rules more standard from county-to-county. “There’s another bill, the Public Service Commission wants to do less regulation in commodities and other things. I don’t know a lot about it yet. Right now, it’s in infancy. We want to make sure people are being treated fair. That’s one we need to watch.”

MN Farm Bureau Legislative Minute — Here's the latest from the Minnesota Farm Bureau. In this report, MFBF Director of Public Policy, Amber Hanson, shares an update on the state legislative session.

An Opportunity for More Funding — Governor Mark Dayton's budget proposal includes more funding for the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute. AURI Executive Director Shannon Schlect shared a testimony in the joint-session of the House Ag and Policy Finance committee and the Senate Ag Policy and Finance committees. Schlect explained AURI how the funds would be used. “There’s a request for $690,000 to move forward with upgrades and upgrade equipment. Our initial conversations have been very positive so we can continue to provide a strong level of service to Minnesota.”

AURI Update — In the weekly update from the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute. Learn more about the New Uses Ag Innovation Forum.

Buffer Timeline Could Change — Minnesota House Agriculture Policy Committee Chairman Paul Anderson is seeing significant agriculture policy issues on the agenda this session, including buffers. “We’re hearing that the implementation rule on buffers is to be in effect on public waters by November, but we don’t think it’s possible. Now, with the new super weed, Palmer amaranth,  we think we need to pull back a bit. I introduced a bill that would push back these effective dates on buffers by two years.” Anderson says taxes are also a challenge. “We’re hearing land prices are starting to fall. We hope to pass a bill coming out of the tax committee that would have the state pay a credit of up to 40 percent on local school capital referendums. That would help some of the folks that have those high property taxes. Hopefully, we can make some progress this year.”

Revisiting SD's Buffer Bill — South Dakota Corn Growers Association legislative director Teddi Mueller says the association is paying close attention to many issues this session, including the Governor’s buffer strip bill. SDCGA didn’t support the buffer strip bill last year, because Mueller says it messed with the taxing infrastructure. This bill coming forward now is described as being more straight-forward. “It’s a little bit more of an incentive for them to highly consider the right things for the right reasons so it’s a bill that we are 100 percent behind. We commend the Governor for coming forward with a solution, because things got so ugly last year. He dove in and figured out a solution and they are delivering that during this session.”  

Seeking Support for State Funding for Diagnostic Lab — A big focus for ag groups during the South Dakota legislative session is the proposed funding for the new Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Lab in Brookings. South Dakota Farmers Union legislative specialist Matt Sibley says it’s been challenging to come to a consensus on how to pay for the lab. “Originally, the project was in the $70 million range. We have taken care of a little bit of that and they’ve adjusted it. The amount of money we’re looking at is in the $45 million range. Ultimately, South Dakota Farmers Union thinks we should ask the state for more money, at least 60 percent of the overall funding.” Sibley says considering the current state of the ag economy, it doesn’t make sense to place that funding burden on agriculture.

MN Beef Update — Hear from the Minnesota Beef Council and the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association in their weekly MN Beef Update. Learn more about state legislative priorities.

Dealing with Snow — It has been a snow-filled winter across Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Dennis Todey, director, USDA Midwest Climate Hub, says those farmers with winter grains are benefitting from the snow cover, but those with livestock are likely tired of the snow events. Todey has a positive outlook for the next few weeks. “It doesn’t look like we have major cold outbreaks coming in the next few weeks. It looks like most of that stays in Canada. The downside is that we are still in the middle of winter. With the extensive snow pack, it’s still going to be somewhat cold. Those places that have lighter snow pack, we may be able to eat away at that smaller snow pack.”

Accelerating Efforts to Protect the Monarch Butterfly — The monarch butterfly is the new national priority species for the Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The two agencies cooperate on a program called Working Lands for Wildlife. Conservation methods are being advocated to protect the monarch butterfly population.

ND Wheat Link — Hear the North Dakota Wheat Commission's Wheat Link. Learn more about the Best of the Best events in North Dakota.

Sunflower Oil Demand is Strong — Export demand for sunflower oil continues to be strong. National Sunflower Association executive director John Sandbakken says the strong dollar has had a minor impact of sunflower demand. “That’s across the board with all commodities. Not as much of an impact as I thought it would be, but it does impact. Some of those buyers are a little more cost conscious.” Sandbakken says the domestic market continues to grow. “After our conversion from NuSun over to high oleic, more customers are coming on board. About 40 percent of the 2016 crop was high oleic. In 2017, I anticipate we’ll be close to 60 percent level of the crop as high oleic."      

Canola Minute — Here's the latest Canola Minute from the Northern Canola Growers Association. Hear more about the upcoming annual meeting, scheduled in conjunction with the Northeast North Dakota Oilseed Research update meeting in Langdon.

Dry Bean Scene — The Dry Bean Scene is on the air, with information about harvest in the Northarvest region. This broadcast airs each Friday at 12:37 PM. 

Changes Ahead — There’s a strong sense the regulatory environment will change with the new administration in Washington D.C. Biopesticide Industry Alliance executive director Keith Jones says organization will focus on strengthening relationships with leaders of agencies like the EPA and USDA. “To some degree, the EPA has traditionally somewhat fast tracked the biological products. We expect that to continue. There’s definitely support within the agency. They want to see more biological products because of the reduced risk and environmental benefits. It’s quicker to register a biological product than a traditional chemical or pesticide. We expect to see more of that in the future.” BPIA will have a grower meeting on biologicals in Reno, Nevada the week of February 27. 

Managing Soil Health — The Northern Prairies Ag Innovation Alliance, formerly known as the Manitoba-North Dakota Zero-Tillage Farmers Association, wrapped up its annual workshop and trade show in Minot this past week. President and Velva, North Dakota farmer Paul Thomas said building soil health was a key focus. “There are always changes you can make. For example, how can I improve my soil health even more? Whether that’s diversity of crops growing together, growing multiple broad-leaf crops together at the same or cover crops." Thomas says no-till and strip till farmers are learning how to raise corn in western North Dakota and the Canadian Prairies. “A challenge that some of us are seeing is getting the corn up and out of the ground in a no-till situation. I no-till and grow corn. I haven’t adopted a strip-till program, like other farmers. I’ve been able to manage through crop rotation and planting pulse crops.”

The Buzz on Pollinators — Protecting pollinators is an important piece of the crop growing puzzle. That’s why Bayer CropScience has developed a program called Feed a Bee. Project Manager Becky Langer believes farmers can boost pollinator health. “They can become partners by planting more than 10 acres of pollinator forage on their land. This really ties into the national pollinator strategy where we have been challenged to use our lands more wisely. Even if you’re growing crops like potatoes that don’t require bees for pollination, you still have pieces of land you can use in a diversified, smart way that helps our ecosystem, which includes the pollinators.” Vince Restucci, Director of Procurement and Business Technology, R.D. Offutt Company, says the company is joining the effort to develop pollinator habitat. “To date, we’ve planted about 1,200 acres of pollinator habitat for bees and monarch butterflies. Our commitment is to add another 250 acres this year through the Feed a Bee Program.”  

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More States Approved for Use of Enlist Duo — The EPA has approved the use of Enlist Duo in 34 states. North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota were registered previously, but 19 new states have been approved. Dow is “fully prepared” to launch Enlist corn and soybeans when import approvals are granted in China and the European Union.

ND Soybean Minute — Hear the latest North Dakota Soybean Minute from the North Dakota Soybean Council and the soybean checkoff. Check out future leadership opportunities.

CHS Reports Earnings for Q1 — CHS Inc. has reported a net income of $209.2 million for the first quarter of the 2017 fiscal year. Earnings declined 22 percent from the same period of fiscal 2016. CHS says the decrease was primarily attributed to lower pretax earnings in the company’s Energy and Food segments. The CHS Ag segment generated income of $109.2 million, which is an increase of 58 percent in the same period one year ago. 

Vilsack Leaves USDAAgriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack served longer than any other member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, but he won’t be part of the final week for the administration. Vilsack stepped down Friday after sending an e-mail to USDA employees. In the message, Vilsack praises the 90,000 people that work in the Agriculture Department. Vilsack is expected to take over as president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, but has not confirmed that report. Michael Scuse, who has been the acting deputy secretary will be the acting secretary for the final days of the Obama administration.  

Thaler Recognized — During the South Dakota Pork Congress, South Dakota State University Extension swine specialist Bob Thaler was honored with the Friend of the Industry Award. Thaler has been part of the SDSU faculty for 28 years.

Ertl Honored for State Fair Efforts — During the Minnesota State Agricultural Society Annual Meeting, former Minnesota FFA Executive Secretary Jim Ertl was given honorary life membership. Ertl retired this past year.

This Week's Trivia — With Inauguration Day coming up, we have presidential trivia today. Who was President Jimmy Carter's vice president? Send your answer to don@rrfn.com. Please include your name and business.