Red River Farm Network News


50 Years Celebrating Co-op MonthThis year marks the 50th anniversary of the first national co-op month celebration, which was proclaimed by then Agriculture Secretary Orville Freeman in 1964. The North Dakota Farmers Union salutes all cooperatives during this special recognition of Co-op Month.

Retaliation Aimed at Causing Maximum PainCanadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says his government is preparing a list of US products it will retaliate against if the United States fails to drop its country of origin labeling regulations on meat and live animals. Ritz says the list of products is being compiled with the goal of causing the maximum economic pain across the largest number of congressional districts and Canada plans to release the list just prior to the November elections in the US.

CA Egg Ban — On January 1, California will ban shell eggs if they are not produced under the state’s guidelines. Producers in other states will have to change their facilities or lose a significant market. A suit filed by a half dozen states has been dismissed. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says trade retaliation against California is a possible next step, but ending the dispute is the best outcome, even if Congress needs to get involved. Northey says a legislative fix is the best solution; however, Congress chose not to deal with this issue in the 2014 farm bill. 

E15 Lawsuit Thrown Out — A federal appeals court has thrown out a lawsuit seeking to repeal an Environmental Protection Agency regulation requiring labeling of retail pumps that sell E15. The petitioners argued that the E15 labeling rule fails to satisfy the Clean Air Act and that EPA hasn’t done enough research to prove that the labels would adequately prevent customers from using E15 in vehicles that can’t run on the fuel.

Top Lobbyists — The Washington, DC publication, The Hill, is out with its list of the top lobbyists. The wide-ranging list includes many familiar names from the world of agriculture. Among those representing associations, the list includes American Farm Bureau Federation senior director of congressional relations Mary Kay Thatcher, Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, Renewable Fuels Association CEO Bob Dinneen and Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook. Former lawmakers are also on the list, recognized for their influence on Capitol Hill. From that group, The Hill recognized former Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln, former House Agriculture Committee Chair Charlie Stenholm, former Minnesota Congressman Vin Weber and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. 

Enlist Lawsuit — A coalition, including the Center for Food Safety, the Environmental Working Group and Earthjustice, has filed a lawsuit against the EPA over its approval of Enlist Duo herbicide. The activist groups claim EPA did not properly analyze the impact of the active ingredients, 2,4-D, before giving its approval. The lawsuit says EPA’s approval violates the Endangered Species Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. The coalition is asking the courts to set aside EPA’s approval of the Dow AgroSciences product. 

RFS Lawsuit Filed — The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed a lawsuit against EPA over the Renewable Fuels Standard. The watchdog group, known as CREW, has made a Freedom of Information request for records relating to the RFS. The lawsuit claims EPA is delaying the release of the ethanol mandate until after the mid-term elections for political reasons. 

Broadband Grants — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced $190 million in grants and loans to make broadband and other advanced communications infrastructure improvements in rural areas. 25 projects in 19 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands will be funded. Two North Dakota cooperatives, BEK Communications Cooperative and Daktel Communication, will receive a total of nearly $4.5 million in grants. The South Dakota Public Broadcasting will receive an $85,000 grant. 

Xanthion Gets EPA Registration — Xanthion In-furrow fungicide from BASF has received EPA registration for use in corn. This is the first fungicide on the market to combine a chemical fungicide and a biofungicide. The combination has the same active ingredients found in Headline fungicide and Integral biofungicide. 

GMO Free LA — The Los Angeles City Council is considering a proposal to make the city GMO-free. The plan, which is being drafted by the City Attorney’s office, would ban the sale and planting of biotech seeds within city limits. The council member behind this measure admits this would be a symbolic move since there is little production agriculture within the city. 

USDA Launches Climate Website — The US Department of Agriculture has launched a new website that provides a variety of climate data for each region of the country. Climate Hub also links users to the latest research, educational materials and tools for managing climate risks. Public and land grant universities, Cooperative Extension, Agricultural Experiment Stations and state climatologists all contribute to the regional information.

Potato Honors — The Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit brought more than 22,000 people to Anaheim, California. There was also a record 1,090 exhibitors, which included Red River Valley potatoes, Black Gold Farms and the Fresh Solutions Network which includes NoKota Packers. The Northern Plains Potato Growers Association was recognized for its 35th year of exhibiting at the show. Black Gold Farms’ executive vice president Eric Halverson was recognized by Produce Business magazine with the “40 Under Forty” award, which recognizes 40 of America’s top leaders in the produce industry under the age of 40.

Dow Reports Earnings Increase — Dow Chemical Company is reporting $1.3 billion is asset sales so far this year and seeing a 43 percent boost in third quarter profit. Dow posted a profit of $852 million, or 71 cents per share, for the third quarter. That’s up from $594 million, or 49 cents per share, last year. Revenue rose by 4.9 percent to $14.41 billion. Dow hopes to sell lower-margin business lines to raise another $3.2 to $4.7 billion by the end of next year.

Corn Yield Up from Last Year by Hannaford — Central Plains Ag general manager Ben Jacob told RRFN on Wednesday that the corn harvest hadn’t really gotten started yet in the Hannaford, North Dakota area. “We haven’t seen any corn that came off the field. We did see some hand shelled stuff in the mid to low 20s. Some of the guys are looking at yields by hand picking are 130 to 160, so considerably better than last year. The big question is going to be where are we going to have our test weights at.” Jacob thinks some farmers are anxious to get started on their corn while others will let it dry down in the field for a while.

Finished Other Crops and Started on Corn — Emerado, North Dakota farmer Shane Sand says their dry bean, soybean, wheat and sugarbeet harvests are all finished and yields varied. “The wheat crop was pretty good considering how terrible it looked early on. If you were on the right ground, the dry bean crop was pretty good. If you were on the wrong ground, it wasn’t so good. Soybean yields, I thought they would‘ve been better but they were alright. The sugarbeet field was about what we figured going into it. You had your good field and you had your bad fields so in the end, you got an average.” Sand started harvesting corn Tuesday and says moisture varies from 20 to 23.

Soybean Yields Down from Past Years — The soybean harvest is nearly complete near Ipswich, South Dakota. Justin Davis finished combining his beans Tuesday and started on his corn the same day. “We had yields all over the place. The last couple years we’ve been running upper 40s to 50 bushels. It was down significantly this year. The frost in September affected the yield a little bit. Corn yields are surprisingly good. The moisture has come down pretty good. We’re down t0 15 to 18 percent moisture. The text weight is down to 49, but we’ve taken a field out that was up to 52 or 53.”

Planting Date Determines Food Grade Soybean Yields — Food-grade soybean harvest is approaching three-quarters done in the Red River Valley. SunOpta Procurement Manager Mark Halvorson tells RRFN yield depends on when the beans were planted. “It seems like anything that was seeded earlier, mid-May, has done really well. Stuff seeded after that seemed to have trouble the whole year. There was weed issues. The frost really seemed to nip the top end on the later seeded varieties and take some of the yield off. There was some aphid pressure, but not too bad. They seemed to come on later than normal. It was almost too late by the time that they came to do significant damage.”

Harvesting Above Average Corn by Mandan — Mandan, North Dakota farmer Dennis Renner is harvesting a corn crop averaging about 125 bushels per acre. Moisture is coming down. “It’s still wet at 19, 20. We’re running it through the dryer and taking a few points off. We should get it down to 15, 16 and that will be marketable.” Renner’s soybean crop was somewhat disappointing with yields were in the 20 bushel per acre range.

Early Corn Has Heavier Test Weights — The soybean harvest in the southern Red River Valley is for the most part done. Kelly Longtin from Red River Grain Company in Breckenridge says the corn crop is all over the board. “We’ve dumped 52 pound corn up to 58 pound corn. The moisture is coming in from 16 to 25. There’s better corn to the east. The earlier corn is what we we’re seeing the heavier test weights on. The later corn is still up in the air because there’s still stuff that has to mature.” While some grain shippers are concerned about a repeat of last winter’s rail congestion, Longtin thinks the railroads will do a better job of providing cars to move this year’s crops. “I think they’re getting cars to everyone as needed. Freight’s coming down a little bit on the secondary market, so I think the BNSF is starting to pick up the pace on getting grain cars moving.”

Southern Minn Wraps Up Sugarbeet Harvest — Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative has finished its harvest. Vice President of Agriculture Todd Geselius says favorable weather made for a good harvest, but beet yields were not quite as big as expected. “When we started getting in to some of these fields we thought were the mid-to-upper 20s, they turned out to be lower-to-mid 20s. Our tons this year are going to come in right around 22 tons.” Geselius says sugar content is a little low. “We’re going to end up around 15.85 or 15.9.”

Soybean Yields Good, But Not GreatEnvision Co-op agronomy manager Carter Medalen says soybean yields have been good but not great in the Rugby, North Dakota area. “Our best yields look like they were at the front side of the planting season. I know we went through a dry stretch and I think that stole a little bit of that later crop’s thunder. Also, they were a little behind when we got our frost so I think they touched up at the top of the plant and didn’t finish off the pods at the top.” Medalen thinks most farmers will wait to harvest corn until it dries down some more.

Hail and Wet Ground Lower Yields by HillsboroHillsboro, North Dakota farmer Mike Beltz was harvesting his last quarter of soybeans Monday. “Most guys are on their last third or fourth and some guys are done. The twist with us is we had hail that set us back. We had to wait for it to freeze and then dry down.” Beltz says his soybean yields are below average, due to the combination of late planting, saturated ground and hail. For those same reasons, he is not that optimistic about his corn crop. “The question is going to be what it’s going to average for test weight. It’ll be light. It’s a matter of how light.”

Durum Crop at Multi-year Low — Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has raised its forecast for the price of durum by $20 a ton, to $255 to $285. That implies a premium of about $65 a ton over the price of wheat. Last season, the durum premium was $15 a ton. Durum prices are seeing support from strong demand and relatively low global supplies. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s forecast of world durum stocks is at a 15-year low, due to low yields this year in Canada as well as other major producing countries. The world durum crop is forecast at a 13-year low.

Anxious to Start on Corn — Wimbledon, North Dakota Mike Clemens is very happy with his soybean crop. “We were fortunate getting weekly rains up here. Rain makes grain. Yields are mid-30s for the low and mid-40s for the high. That’s definitely above our APH yields.” Clemens is anxious to start combining corn. “We’ve been hand shelling corn out. It’s 20 to 22 now. Who would ever have guessed that at Big Iron time?”

Phomopsis Stem Canker in Sunflowers — Phomopsis stem canker has been found in sunflowers in South Dakota again this year. South Dakota State University extension agronomy field specialist Ruth Beck says stem canker is the most widespread stalk disease in sunflowers in the Northern Great Plains. “It’s a fungus. We’ve probably had it before last year, but because of the weather the last two years, we see more of it. It overwinters on infected plant residue.” Beck says the major problems caused by phomopsis stem canker are smaller heads and lodging.

Above Average Corn Yields — CHS Ag Services Hillsboro location manager Mike Doeden is seeing above average corn yields in his area. "I'm hearing low 130s up to 160-plus. The earlier varieties are about 16 percent moisture, which is really good. For the most part, the mid varieties are going to be in the lower 20s right now.” With the price of propane, Doeden says some growers have held off on harvesting corn "although, it goes through the dryer pretty fast when the weather cooperates and when it’s warmer.”

Corn Quality in Question — There is growing talk that the quality of this year’s corn crop may not live up to earlier expectations. Rich Balvanz at Ag Management Services says the extended growing season was supposed to result in high test weights, adding even more bushels to the record yields being harvested in many areas. But farmers are discovering that not only are test weights in some areas not records, they are not even average. The reasons are unclear. Balvanz says this won’t change market opinions about crop size, but it could limit discussions of further yield increases in future USDA estimates.

Map Out Weed EscapesDuring harvest, North Dakota State University Extension weed specialist Dr. Rich Zollinger recommends paying attention to what weeds are still showing up in fields. “This can be an excellent time to map weeds that escaped herbicide applications or new flushes of weeds so they can determine which weeds are present and the areas of the field that have a higher pressure than normal.” Zollinger says mapping doesn’t have to be complicated. “Draw a quick map of the field on a piece of paper and designate where the weeds are. In the spring, use the map to take action to diminish the weeds you see this fall.”

Fertilizer Supply Problems Linger — Some farmers are putting down fall fertilizer and CHS Lake Region sales manager Jeremy Safranski says the railcar backlog is causing supply problems. “Fall fertilizer is going pretty well. I think everybody in the industry is having a tough time getting their needs met. But, we’ve been struggling through it and we’ve been able to make ends meet.”

Weather Kick-starts Corn Harvest in the Northern Plains — The end of the soybean harvest, coupled with warm, windy weather is likely to hasten the start of the corn harvest in the northern Plains. In fact, the fairly rapid dry down has reduced talk that some corn would be left to dry down in the field through the winter. Prior to the recent drying weather, crop insurance agents were getting a number of questions about coverage on their corn left in the field. The end of the insurance period for corn is December 10. There are times under certain weather conditions when the farmer is still trying to harvest that insurance companies may allow extra time to harvest past December 10. However, if the farmer is simply leaving the crop to dry in the field, any cause of loss after December 10 would be uninsurable. 

Lower High Temps Arriving SoonDirector of the University of North Dakota’s Regional Weather Information Center, Leon Osborne, expects a good end to the harvest season for the Northern Plains. “We will be making a transition as we get into the end of this month and the first part of next month. As we all expect, we’re going to see those temperatures start to plummet. We’re no more than two weeks out from seeing daytime highs only making it into the 20s to low 30s.”

Brazil Expected to Get Some RainSoybean planting has stalled in parts of Brazil as farmers wait for rain. World Weather, Inc. senior ag meteorologist Drew Lerner sees an increase in shower activity across Brazil through the next two weeks. “It’ll be a slow process. As we get to the last days of October and early November, we should have at least one frontal system that will come through and help enhance the rainfall.” In the upper Midwest, Lerner says weather will continue to be influenced by frequent high pressure ridges aloft which are blocking significant weather events from evolving. Once we get to November, Lerner expects more cold air coming across the northern Plains from Canada. “Because we have a developing El Nino, the odds are relatively good that there will be a new ridge of high pressure over western North America this late autumn and on into the winter. So, there won’t be a lot of cold air on a persistent basis.”

Warmest September on Record — According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, September was the warmest on record. NOAA says the combined average temperature over land and sea surfaces was 60.3 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.3 degrees above the average 20th Century temperature. Every month, except February, in 2014 has been among the top four warmest on record with record highs recorded in May, June, August and September.

Sunflower Contracts Offered for 2015 — Sunflower crush plants are offering 2015 new-crop NuSun sunflower cash and Act of God clause contracts. The National Sunflower Association says all crush plants are also offering a bid for 2014 High Oleic sunflowers at a premium to NuSun prices. 

Sunflower Price Holding UpWhile many commodity prices have dropped substantially, the sunflower market is holding up. “Last year, we were around $19," said John Sandbakken, executive director, National Sunflower Association. "Right now, we’re at $17.10 to $17.25 at the plant. Overall, we haven’t seen that big drop other crops have. Price usually comes down this time of year because people are delivering on their contracts and the plants are getting full. What growers should do is deliver what’s on their contracts and hold back a little bit to see where the market’s going to go this winter.”

Biofuels Target 11 Months Behind — The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 instructs the EPA to announce by November 30 each year the amount of renewable fuel that is required to blend into the nation’s gasoline supplies during the following calendar year. That means the final 2014 biofuel targets are now almost 11 months late. They’ve been under review at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget since August. The head of the EPA division that oversees the renewable fuels program says delays in finishing the targets are due to the complexity of the program, which is further complicated by the fact that growth in US fuel demand has not kept pace with the levels expected when Congress set the mandate in 2007.

APH Allowed for Spring 2015 Crops Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the implementation of a new farm bill initiative that will allow farmers to adjust their Actual Production History yields that declined due to extreme weather. “As they look at their production history over the last ten years, if they had one year where they literally were wiped out or had very little production, if you take that year out, obviously your average yield for that period of time will be significantly higher. That may prompt you to want additional coverage or to provide coverage for what usually happens.” The APH exclusion would adjust a farmer’s actual yields for crop insurance in counties where the average planted acre yield dropped at least 50 percent below the 10-year county average. Farmers could exclude yields for up to six years of crops. Growers in contiguous counties would also qualify. The APH exclusion will apply to a number of spring crops for the 2015 crop year, including corn, soybeans, spring wheat, barley, canola, sunflowers and grain sorghum.

Wheat Response Mixed to APH in 2015 — The National Association of Wheat Growers is happy with USDA’s decision to implement the APH provision for 2015 spring crops. NAWG President Paul Penner said this provision is particularly good for those growers suffering from multi-year disasters. NAWG remains hopeful USDA will be able to implement the APH provision for winter wheat growers this year. Meanwhile, Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association President Tim Bartram is disappointed that USDA waited until after the September 30 signup deadline for winter wheat. Bartram suggests legal challenges may be possible. 

WTO Rules on COOL — The WTO has ruled in favor of the US on the fundamental legitimacy of US country of origin labeling laws, but also raised concerns about regulations that are in some respects inconsistent with US trade obligations. The ruling results from a challenge to COOL filed by Canada and Mexico, which have threatened retaliation. 

Mixed Reaction from Livestock Groups on COOL — National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Bob McCan says the ruling brings us one step closer to facing retaliatory tariffs from two of our largest trading partners. United States Cattlemen’s Association president Danni Beer says her organization strongly supports the revised COOL regulations issued in response to the original WTO decision, and is urging the US Trade Representative to consider appealing the ruling if there are meritorious grounds to do so. “The way it’s implemented is going to be the important factor in getting it to be WTO compliant. We have to continue working to make it something worthwhile for consumers and yet compatible with WTO requirements.” National Pork Producers Council President Howard Hill says the US economy can’t afford to have its products restricted to its number one and two exports markets.

NFU and AFBF Continue Support for COOL — Executive Director of Communications Mace Thornton says the American Farm Bureau Federation continues to support COOL, as long as changes are made to bring it into compliance with US trade obligations. “We’re going to continue to work with the US Trade Representative’s Office and USDA to try to make the goal of the goal of the COOL program one that works for American agriculture and one that that works for consumers.” The National Farmers Union says there were positive points made in the WTO’s decision. Senior Vice-president of Programs Chandler Goule says COOL doesn’t need to be changed. “The WTO has confirmed for the third time that there’s nothing wrong with the Country of Origin Labeling law, it’s how it’s been implemented. A second victory for the US is that they said that the new rule was providing and more accurate information to the consumer, which was an improvement over the previous rule. We are not fully compliant, but USDA has taken a step in the right direction. We need to look at the regulation and how its implemented and work from that direction.”

Protect Your Premium When Selling CalvesCattle prices remain at record highs on the futures market and in cash sales. North Dakota State University Extension Livestock Marketing Economist Tim Petry thinks we’re seeing the highs on the futures markets. Petry expects some weakness in the calf market when the big runs start, so he’s encouraging producers to protect their premium. “The un-weaned, no shots, plainer kind of calves are being discounted and probably will be discounted more when the big runs hit. From a marketing standpoint, producers should contact their market. Doing the things the buyers want is a prudent thing.”

Don't Rush Into Marketing CowsWith the beef herd at 50-year lows, ranchers may be reluctant to cull cows. North Dakota State University Extension livestock specialist Kris Ringwell still encourages basic management strategies. Fall is the best time to determine if that cow is a keeper or should be converted to market beef. “The market likes a cow with a little flesh on her. Don’t just rush into marketing cows. Look at the cows and ask yourself if you can put some resources into them either if you’re keeping them or moving them out as market beef.”

Big Numbers at Livestock Auctions — Big numbers are moving through the auction markets. Mobridge Livestock Exchange co-owner Casey Perman says the season is off to an earlier-than-usual start so the Mobridge, South Dakota market is holding two sales per week to take advantage of the volume. Perman is also seeing excellent demand for replacement heifers. In Tuesday’s Red Angus Sale, replacement heifers approached $2,000 per head. . “Corn’s down from a year ago. There’s a lot of hay out there. Grass has been good. It looks like there are going to be a lot of heifers getting bred next year as well.”

Milk Production Up in September — Milk production in the 23 major dairy states increased more than four percent during September. US cow numbers increased and per-cow milk output is at levels not seen before. South Dakota milk production increased 3.6 percent in September. In Minnesota, production was up 1.5 percent. California milk output went up 2.9 percent and Wisconsin rose 3.2 percent.  

Farm Payments May Be $4 Billion More Than Expected — Bloomberg reports that government farm payments may reach $6.5 billion for this year’s crops. Vincent Smith, director of the Agricultural Marketing Policy Center at Montana State University, says that’s about $4 billion more than lawmakers anticipated in the new farm bill. One factor may be the higher reference prices for the Price Loss Coverage program, which are $4.95 for barley, $5.50 for wheat, $3.70 for corn, $8.40 for soybeans, and $20.15 per hundredweight for minor oilseeds. 

Dietary Guidelines Being Linked to Sustainability — The federal government updates its dietary guidelines every five years. For the first time, the 2015 report may focus on sustainability. The American Meat Institute and the North American Meat Association oppose that move and have submitted comments to the advisory committee making the recommendations. In July, a draft proposal was released saying consumers should reduce their consumption of meat and dairy products and eat more plant-based foods. The draft proposal linked a reduction in meat consumption to climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Decline in Financials of ND Farms in 2013 — While the average farm size has remained fairly stable in North Dakota the past 10 years, gross cash revenue has more than doubled. North Dakota State University Extension farm management specialist Andy Swenson saw a significant decline in financial performance last year. “We’ve had a string of good years starting in 2007 and 2012 was the pinnacle. If you look at 2013 by itself, historically it wasn’t too bad, but the median farm income was down 62 percent from 2012.” Of the more than 500 farms enrolled in the North Dakota Farm Business Management Education program, the average gross cash revenue was almost $870,000 last year. Farms in the Red River Valley were particularly hard hit last year, as both corn and sugarbeets had negative returns. Cow-calf enterprises fueled profits in the north-central district.

Ag Groups Ask Vilsack to InterveneA coalition of nine North Dakota agriculture groups have sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asking USDA to immediately stop employing Ducks Unlimited personnel to conduct NRCS business. North Dakota Grain Growers Association executive director Dan Wogsland says it’s alarming that a group with a political agenda can have access to farmer and rancher information at NRCS, especially during the current election cycle. “If the federal government is going to promote a program, it should be federal employees that do the promotion of the program, not someone that’s beholden to a private political organization with a definite agenda that really doesn’t include North Dakota farmers and ranchers.” The letter to Vilsack was signed by the North Dakota Grain Growers Association, AmeriFlax, Landowners Association of North Dakota, North Dakota Corn Growers Association, North Dakota Farm Bureau, North Dakota Farmers Union, North Dakota Soybean Growers Association, Northern Canola Growers Association and the US Durum Growers Association.

USDA Resuming Ethanol Report — Reuters reports that USDA plans to begin releasing a monthly US ethanol production report in February, the first of several reports to be re-launched that were discontinued by the Census Bureau in 2011. Among other reports to be re-issued will be a monthly soybean crush report, starting in July. The ethanol report will include data on ethanol feed stocks, along with statistics on production of dried distillers’ grains. 

Hands-on LearningThe National FFA Convention and Expo features a massive agriculture career show. That is appropriate since agriculture education provides a well-rounded, practical approach to learning through classroom learning, hands-on supervised agricultural experience and FFA. FFA members earn $4 billion through hands-on work experience. RRFN's coverage from Louisville and the National FFA Convention is sponsored by CHS, Inc., which will be featured in the career show.

CP Reports Record Earnings — Canadian Pacific Railway Limited reports record third quarter financial results. Net income rose 23 percent, to a record $400 million. Net income through the first nine months is just over one billion dollars, a 29 percent increase over the previous year. CP’s CEO Hunter Harrison is extremely pleased with the third quarter results. “Overall, it was a great quarter. We’re starting to hit on all cylinders and we’re pretty excited about the future.”

Yara Expanding in Norway — The fertilizer company, Yara, is investing the US equivalent of $343 million to expand capacity at its plants in Norway. One plant will increase NPK fertilizer capacity by 50,000 metric tons and another facility will expand calcium nitrate capacity by 200,000 tons. 

McDonald's Earnings Decline — The golden arches are not doing well. McDonald’s Corporation has reported one of the worst profit declines in history, down 30 percent. The quick serve restaurant chain is dealing with weak sales in the US, Asia and Europe. McDonald’s executives are calling for ‘fundamental changes’ to its business.

CP Not Ruling Out Other Merger Deals — The Canadian Pacific Railway has ended merger talks with CSX Corporation, but CEO Hunter Harrison has not ruled out other deals. Harrison said an expanded railroad company could ease congestion around Chicago, which is part of the current service problems for agricultural shippers.

Syngenta and Bunge Back in Court — Syngenta is facing numerous lawsuits over the release of Agrisure Viptera corn. Now, Syngenta is in court as the plaintiff. A federal appeals court has ordered a lower court to review a 2011 case to determine if Syngenta had the standing to sue Bunge North America for false advertising. Syngenta sued Bunge when it refused to accept Viptera corn. In 2012, a district court ruled in Bunge’s favor, but that decision is now being reviewed. 

Arysta LifeScience Sale Pending — Pending regulatory approval, Arysta LifeScience is being purchased by Platform Specialty Products for $3.5 billion. Once the sale is complete, Platform will combine Arysta LifeScience with Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions into a vertically integrated farm chemical business. The deal is expected to be finalized in the first quarter of 2015. 

Nitrogen Enhancement Technology for Plants — Verdesian Life Sciences has signed a licensing agreement with the Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop and market nitrogen enhancement technology for plants. The newest nitrogen innovation improves photosynthesis by increasing carbon flow into the plant. The technology is expected to reach the marketplace by 2017. 

IH Club Donates to New Exhibit HallThe International Harvester Collectors Club South Dakota Chapter 21 has raised more than $50,000 for the new State Fairgrounds’ exhibit hall. The club raised funds while hosting the Red Power Round Up this past summer in Huron.

MN Beef Ambassadors Named — The Minnesota Beef Ambassadors have been named for the year ahead. Carlie Jackson of Sanborn, Zach Klaers of Arlington and Amy Beckstrad of Waldorf are the senior ambassadors. Martha Moenning of Hayfield and Abby Schiefelbien of Kimball are the junior ambassadors. The Minnesota Beef Ambassadors educate consumers and students about nutrition, food safety and stewardship practices within the beef industry. 

Leadership Changes at Foremost Farms — The new president and CEO of Foremost Farms has announced changes to his leadership team. Michael Doyle, who took over following the retirement of Dave Fuhrmann, has named Jim Hamm as the vice president of strategy and business development. Hamm has been with Foremost Farms since 2008, directing financial planning and analysis. Mark Graupman has been promoted to vice president of finance. Previously, Graupman was the director of finance and controller. Graupman has been with Foremost Farms for 32 years. Foremost Farms is farmer-owned dairy cooperative based in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Ihnen Promoted at Wheat GrowersNick Ihnen has been promoted to MZB Technical Agronomist for the southern part of the Wheat Growers territory. Ihnen was previously a Sales Agronomist at the Tulare location and will now work with the development and testing of the new MZBTools.com platform.

Last Week's Trivia — The Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants are competing in the World Series. Chris Kappes of Agassiz Seed scored first and is our weekly trivia winner. Solen farmer Woody Barth, Crookston farmer Ron Lanctot, Jamestown farmer Lori Carlson, and Quinn Friesen of CIBC earn runner-up honors. The 'first 20' list includes Erin Nash of Woodruff Sweitzer, Keith Rekow of Dairyland Seeds, Barton farmer and CHS director Steve Fritel, Dean Nelson of Kelley Bean, Plainview-Elgin-Millville ag instructor Paul Aarsvold, Windom veterinarian Mike Curley, Erick Grafstrom of Thunder Seed, Pastor Bud Johnson of Bethany Luthern Parish, James Houx of National Crop Insurance Services, Nick Sinner of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, Kevin Schulz of National Hog Farmer, Mark Maris of Cargill, Jim Altringer of Columbia Grain, Mandy Kvale of Farm Credit Services of Mandan and Bruce Herz of Bader Rutter.