Red River Farm Network News

A Mountain of Meat — North Dakota State University Extension livestock market economist Tim Petry says everyone is wondering when the beef cattle market will bottom. “We keep getting mixed reports with an ounce of positive and pound of negative it seems in the last few weeks. We’re struggling with all the livestock markets.” Petry says the main market factor is the glut of meat on the market. “We have record beef stocks, rred meat stocks and high poultry stocks. There’s record production of both poultry and pork. Last week, there was an all-time record hog kill. There’s mountains of meat out there: a big underlying factor in the market.”

Reporting From a Sea of BlueOne of the big stories coming out of the National FFA Convention was the election of a Minnesota FFA member to the 2016-2017 National FFA Officer team. Valerie Earley is the ninth Minnesota FFA member to serve as a national officer, with the most recent being Jason Troendle in 2011-2012 and Dean Harder in 1986-1987. Earley is from Wykoff and is a communications major at the University of Minnesota. This was Earley's second run for national office. In an interview with RRFN, Earley said she was more confident in this run and trusted in the process to "find the people who are the most passionate about our organization." RRFN's coverage the National FFA Convention is sponsored, in part, by CHS. In this edition of FarmNetNews, you'll find more stories from the National FFA Convention, plus updates on harvest and market news. In addition to 19 radio affiliates, you can always stay up-to-date on Facebook and Twitter.  

Pay Attention to Basis Levels — Given the bumper crops of corn and soybeans, Van Ahn & Company CEO Jim Emter reminds farmers to be realistic with their cash grain targets. "We could see a situation where basis upticks a little bit immediately after harvest as commercials come in and gobble some grain for mid-November and December, but I think it will be a tough road for January, February and March on basis. Pay attention to those basis levels and don't get too optimistic with this large crop, especially in North Dakota.”

Harvest Prices Coming into Focus — With just a handful of trading days left this month, harvest prices for revenue insurance policies are starting to become a little more clear. DTN’s running average of the December corn futures closes is $3.48 so far this month and November soybeans average $9.64. According to the Risk Management Agency, the amount of insurance protection is based on the greater of the projected price or the harvest price.

New Limits — The CME Group has set new daily trading limits for soybeans and wheat. The daily limit for soybean futures will go from 65 to 70 cents, as of November 1. The limit for Chicago and Kansas City wheat futures will go down a nickel, to 30 cents, while the corn limit will remain at 25 cents. Limits for soybean oil and meal will also remain the same.

Problems with Canadian Crop Boosts Minneapolis Wheat Market — Hard red spring wheat futures continue to trade more than one dollar a bushel above winter wheat futures. North Dakota Wheat Commission marketing director Jim Peterson says concerns about the quality of Canada’s wheat crop is one factor. "We have more than 90 percent of our grain making number one grade and 14 percent protein. We should be very competitive for those customers looking for a higher quality crop when it appears our competitors are a bit shorter than normal." Peterson says there are two stories on durum this year; the crop is 50 percent bigger than last year, but there are big concerns about high levels of DON.

MN Farm Bureau Minute — Here's the latest from the Minnesota Farm Bureau. In this report, MFBF President Kevin Paap highlights trade issues.

A Better Year Than Anticipated — The unbelievably good corn and soybean yields should make ag lenders breathe a little easier. Money Farm President Mike Krueger says things look much better than projected at planting time. "If you start throwing 180-to-200-plus bushel corn, even at $3, you are showing some numbers in the black. Fifty-five or 60-plus bushel beans at close to $9 is the same thing. Big yields, even with weak prices, will result in a better year than what we thought just a few months ago."

No Need for Panic Selling — This is the month when harvest prices are established for revenue-based crop insurance policies. Even with the recent rally, Diversified Services Marketing Group risk management analyst Rich Morrison thinks there’s a chance of seeing some substantial PLC and ARC payments next fall, especially for wheat growers in the PLC. "The government mid-point price projection is $3.70 and that's $1.80 below the PLC trigger price. I think we're looking at a substantial payment there even if the price would go up a bit. For the ARC program, the government is using $3.25 as a mid-point for its corn price. Even with good county yields, I would think $3.25 would probably trigger some large ARC payments next year. Consequently, if prices trade lower that gives us a reason not to be panic sellers at this point."

More Soybean Acres Expected Next Year — Informa Economics thinks farmers will plant almost six percent more soybeans again next year and reduce corn acres by nearly four percent. Informa estimates corn area at less than 91 million acres next year and soybeans at 88.5 million acres.

Fighting Mud — In the Devils Lake, North Dakota area, soybean yields in the mid-50s have been common. WinField agronomist Jason Hanson says the corn harvest is just beginning in that region with moisture levels from 20-to-24 percent. The wet fields will likely influence the amount of ground that can be fertilized this fall. "The farther north and east you go, the worse it gets. I've never seen ground this wet in the fall before." In the very wet ground, Hanson is taking a wait-and-see approach with fertility. Those nutrients could be lost without the right conditions. Ultimately, the fall conditions will impact logistics for the 2017 growing season.

West-Central MN Farmers Work Around Wet Fields — Murdock, Minnesota farmer Mike Yost has parked his combine, finishing corn Thursday. The soybean crop was one of his best ever, but corn didn't quite match the record crop of last year. Due to wet conditions, Yost says it has been a challenge all year. "It's been wet in west-central Minnesota, particularly in the Swift, Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Renville County area since the last week of June. People are fighting mud. A lot of tracks have been sold for combines." Yost says tiling has been worthwhile. In fact, many of the areas without proper drainage are nearly impassable this year.

Off the ChartsHarvest is going at a good pace across the Midwest and Northern Plains. Thunder Seeds executive sales director Larry Mueller says the corn has dried down nicely. "There's a lot of mid-to-upper teens. There may be a little bit of drying needed, but not a lot." Corn and soybean yields have been much higher than anticipated. "The yields are just off the charts. Thank goodness there is something good to report in a year when prices aren't so great."

Two Crops in One Year — The soybean harvest is complete in Steele County, in eastern North Dakota. Fusion Ag LLC crop consultant Chris Thompson says this was one of the best bean crops ever. "To say we have 60 bushel soybeans in Steele County, that would have been unheard of. For some guys, it was two crops in one year. We were more than 100 percent over our APH on some of these fields; it was pretty crazy."

A Fun Harvest at Harvey, ND — Harvey, North Dakota farmer Bill Ongstad finished combining his corn at midweek. Ongstad says it’s a good feeling to fill the bins with corn. "It was a lot of fun this year." The corn yields were 25 percent above the farm average. Ongstad says his soybeans were very good too. "Normally, we're 25-to-35 (bushels per acre) and they were 45-to-55 in the area this year."

Best EverThe soybean harvest is pretty well done and corn harvest is well under way in Minnesota’s Renville County. Olivia farmer Jim Zenk says the harvest has been slowed by soft field conditions. Zenk thinks these are the best yields he’s had in his 50 years of farming. "I bet we're going to be somewhere in that 225 (bushels per acre) range for an average. That will be the highest we've ever had and I think soybeans will average right close to 70 bushels per acre." RRFN's Harvest Hotline is sponsored, in part, by Minnesota Soybean Farmers and the Soybean Checkoff.

A Tight Situation — Kulm, North Dakota farmer Bart Schott says there are storage challenges for the big crop. “We’re all plugged up here. The elevators are getting full. We have every bin full of something. Storage is a tight situation this year.”

Focus on Proper Grain Storage — As farmers bring in a big corn crop, proper grain storage and management is a must. “If we want to protect a big crop, the prices are low. We truly need each individual kernel we can get.” AGS President John Gnadke is a consultant to the grain storage industry. He says corn can be stored in a pile, but it needs proper aeration. With proper management, Gnadke says the corn stored on the ground will be good for four-to-six weeks. At that point, Plan B is needed—either deliver the corn to the elevator or dry it on-farm. Bags are also an option. “If you can put it in a bag around 35 degrees, you can probably extend it around to May 1.”

Difficult Conditions in WW Region — Winter wheat planting in western Kansas is going very slow. Limagrain regional sales manager Drew Hendricker says seeding has been impacted by the extreme dry conditions. "Western Kansas had a 101 degree high temperature the other day. Guys are either waiting to put winter wheat in the ground or, if they are planting, it is being dusted in." As a result, seeding rates have increased. Daily Harvest Hotline stories can be heard on the Red River Farm Network, thanks to sponsors like U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc.

Corn Matters — Hear the Minnesota Corn Growers Association's Corn Matters program. Buyers from throughout the world are in the U.S., including a stop in Minnesota. Find out more in this update.

Minn-Dak Makes Acreage Decision — The Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative Board of Directors has decided to reduce the amount of beets that will have to remain in the field from 15 percent to 12 percent, effective immediately. The Wahpeton factory is now on restricted status. Minn-Dak’s website says there still exists additional potential relief from another cooperative, but that will not be known until early this week. Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative’s average sugarbeet yield is a record 32.5 tons per acre this year, far exceeding the previous record of 27 tons. But the sugar is below 15.7 percent, almost two percent below where it should be. Minn-Dak’s vice president of agriculture Tom Knudsen says cercospora was a big problem this year, despite numerous fungicide applications.

Sugarbeet Harvest Nears EndThe sugarbeet harvest in the American Crystal Sugar Company region is nearing an end. SES Vanderhave sales manager Nick Revier says the yield is phenomenal. "I don’t know if we’ll break the record from last year, but it’s going to be right in there with the highest yielding crop ever. Sugars are a little disappointing. They are lower than last year. It will be lots of tons to handle, but less sugar than what we’d like to see.” Revier expects beet growers to make some adjustments in variety selection. “I think the emphasis next year will be looking at higher sugar quality and some of the higher producing sugar varieties. We will also be dealing with some of this disease pressure we developed with all of the wet ground this year.” Harvest Hotline is sponsored, in part, by AgCountry Farm Credit Services. 

Grow More Sugar — For more information on sugarbeets, listen to this update with Syngenta and learn about variety selection.

Limited Movement with Beet Stock Shares — FNC Ag Stock sold 257 shares of American Crystal Sugar Company stock in mid-October at $2,500 per share. Ag stock specialist Jayson Menke says all 257 shares were sold to one individual. "The price is a little less than what the market has been at, however, we had a buyer that was looking to purchase a large block and it worked for both parties." Menke says it will be interesting to see what happens to stock values after the record sugarbeet harvest is finalized.

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. 

Reports of Dry Beans Being Too Wet — Some dry bean growers continue to struggle to get their crop in the bin. One receiving station in northeast North Dakota tells the Red River Farm Network they’re rejecting beans because the moisture content is above 16 percent for pintos and 18 percent for navies.

Less Seed Potatoes — According to the North Dakota State Seed Department, a little more than 11,900 acres of potatoes were accepted for certification this year, almost 3,000 acres, or 20 percent, less than last year. The excessive rains played a role in the decline, although there were several other factors. One large potato grower failed to enter any potatoes for certification this year. Minnesota seed authorities certified more than 5,300 acres of potatoes this year, up about 360 acres from last year.

Canola Minute — Here's the latest Canola Minute from the Northern Canola Growers Association. White Mold considerations are featured.

La Nina to Influence Winter Weather — It is expected to be a colder-than-normal winter from Montana, through the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center has issued its winter outlook, saying La Nina will likely influence weather conditions in the months ahead. This phenomenon favors drier, warmer winters in the southern U.S. and wetter, cooler conditions in the northern part of the country. A large share of North Dakota and northern Minnesota have an increased probability of more snow than normal. Southeast North Dakota, much of South Dakota and the balance of Minnesota falls into the ‘equal chance’ category. That means there is not a strong enough climate signal to shift the odds for more or less snowfall or above-or-below normal temps.

Crop Insurance Payments Made Across the Region — The Risk Management Agency has updated its map of 2016 crop indemnity payments. Numerous counties across western Minnesota and eastern North Dakota received payments of $1 million or more. Minnesota’s Marshall County had the largest figure in the tri-state region at $7.8 million. Most of those claims were for excess moisture. In Minnesota, Polk County has received $4.4 million and Roseau County was at $1.3 million. In North Dakota, Emmons County in the south-central part of the state, has received $4.2 million. Crop insurance payments were made for everything from drought to excess moisture to hail in Emmons County. Walsh County had $3.9 million in indemnity payments and Pembina County was at $3.6 million. In South Dakota, Bon Homme County topped the state in payments at $3.8 million.

More Details Out on 2015 ARC and PLC Payments — USDA paid out more than $6.8 billion in payments, 82 percent of which were ARC-County payments. ARC corn payments totaled $3.9 billion; soybeans ranked second at more than $1 billion. Peanuts paid the most for the PLC program, followed by wheat at $445 million. North Dakota farmers received $427 million in ARC-County and PLC payments; Minnesota farmers got $487 million, and South Dakota farmers got $226 million.

A Loss Market — South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke describes the current grain market as a loss market. However, Sombke says he’s better off than some farmers. “We’re fortunate in our county to get an ARC payment. There will be counties that don’t receive an ARC payments. That will be hurtful.” Sombke says the current Farm Bill needs adjusting before beginning to work on the next one. "We’re losing producers rapidly. We’re going to struggle this next spring, too. I have a hard time believing we don’t have a lot of nervous bankers out there.”

Fed Reports Moderate Growth — According to the Federal Reserve’s latest Beige Book, the economy continued to expand into early October despite some uncertainty surrounding the upcoming presidential election. Most Fed districts reported modest or moderate growth amid tight labor markets and steady wage gains. Agricultural conditions in the Minneapolis Fed district weakened since the last reports. Wheat and small grain production was generally down from last year in many areas in spite of strong yields. Bankers say the extended period of low crop prices continued to put pressure on farm incomes and this is beginning to spill over to rural areas more broadly.

Evaluating Ag's Need — Talking with reporters at the National FFA Convention this week, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack stressed the importance of having good discussions on the 2018 Farm Bill. “The first way to start this conversation is to look at the total need. It may be significantly higher than what we’re spending today, fair enough. Once we’ve defined that universe, then let’s be creative on how to meet as many of those needs as we possibly can,” says Vilsack. “I fear we’ll start the conversation from the perspective of saving money, which pits everyone against each other and makes it harder to get a Farm Bill through.”

Trump-vs-Clinton — Agriculture hasn’t received much attention in this presidential campaign, but that changed somewhat Wednesday. Surrogates for the Clinton and Trump campaigns discussed agricultural priorities in a forum hosted by the Farm Foundation. Both candidates are opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis said agricultural trade will happen whether these trade agreements are in place or not. "In 2015, agriculture exported at a $20 billion surplus over our imports. What we exported was goods that was needed by other countries or private enterprise outside the United States. What we imported was goods not raised in this country. It is a natural trade situation that, frankly, would not be affected by the vagaries of many of the trade arrangements that we have." Former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan represented the Clinton campaign. Merrigan defended a strong regulatory system. "I think the anti-regulatory drumbeat is not helpful because regulations in and of themselves are not a bad thing. They level the playing field; they give certainty to businesses; they give certainty to our farmers and ranchers and they build trust and confidence with the American public." A wide variety of topics came up at the forum, ranging from estate taxes to biotechnology.

Keeping Score — Food Policy Action has released its annual congressional scorecard. Food Policy Action includes leaders from the Environmental Working Group, the Humane Society of the United States, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and other activist groups. Food Policy Action chair Ken Cook, who also leads the Environmental Working Group, said farm and food policy should be determined by a broader audience. “We feel that if we’re stuck in the agriculture committee, that’s the only gain in town, we’re going to really be in trouble. We want to bring these issues to the public’s attention. By doing that, we hope that when they move to the floor will effect committee action. It could bring a different outcome when we need it on the floor of the House and Senate. The Food Policy Action scorecard generally has Republican lawmakers with low scores. Among the Democrats, House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member and Minnesota congressman Collin Peterson had the lowest score at 41 percent. Compared to her Democratic colleagues, North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp had the lowest score at 50 percent.

A Different Set of Characters Will Oversee Ag Issues Since there’s been very little, if any, discussion about agriculture among the presidential candidates, National Potato Council executive vice president and CEO John Keeling says no one knows what we can expect with the next administration. "I think people think, perhaps, that they will know a little more about what they'll get out of a Clinton administration than what they do about a Trump administration, but there are a lot of unknowns. We'll have a different set of characters running the various agencies. It is a re-jiggering of tactics and strategies to adapt to whatever the electorate brings us." Keeling says the National Potato Council is working with CropLife America and other commodity groups to begin talking about a “regulatory reset” for the EPA.

Elections Have ConsequencesThis election cycle has every Minnesota state Senate and House seat up for a vote. A Greater Minnesota, which is a coalition of commodity groups and the AgriGrowth Council, is asking candidates to consider issues that impact the agriculture business climate. AgriGrowth executive director Perry Aasness said taxes and transportation funding are top-of-mind. "We also look at things like the regulatory system and how Minnesota compares to other states." Legislative candidates have been asked to respond to a survey from A Greater Minnesota. Check out the responses.

North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association UpdateListen to the latest from the North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association. Find out about a unique Community Supported Agriculture program.

R-CALF Seeks Urgent Changes in Farm Policy — R-CALF USA is warning the cattle industry will move towards vertical integration unless Congress intervenes. In a statement provided to a Farm Bill listening session in Montana, R-CALF said competition is being lost in the cattle industry, due to packer ownership or control of the fed cattle market. R-CALF priorities include the reinstatement of mandatory country-of-origin labeling, banning packer ownership of cattle and reforms to the National Beef Checkoff program.

Unfair — National Farmers Union is criticizing meatpackers for driving down prices for independent beef producers. Data released last week shows cow-calf producers are losing nearly $300 per cow while the packers’ profit margins have increased approximately $75 per cow, compared to a year ago. NFU President Roger Johnson says the situation is incredibly unfair for family producers.

Seeing Hope in the Cattle Market — Despite the doom and gloom of lower prices, Livestock Marketing Information Center senior agricultural economist Jim Robb says there is some promise for the cattle industry. “We’ve seen our exports of beef pick up in recent months, but we have a lot of pork and chicken in the market, too. There are lots of moving parts in this marketplace. In cow-calf and stocker country, I think some of the summer grazing programs could work better in 2017 than they did in 2015 and 2016. Calf prices have come down very quickly in the last year and a half.”

More VolatilityCattle futures experienced limit losses and limit gains this past week. Hackney Cattle Company owner Walt Hackney said this is a "ridiculous" situation. "It is an insult to cattlemens' intelligence to see the market drop $2-to-$3 Wednesday and turn around approach limit up Thursday. There is no rhyme nor reason for that kind of activity in our market system." Hackney says packers are making a fortune on these cattle.

Get Used to This PriceBOLT Marketing analyst DuWayne Bosse thinks we’ll sit at lower cattle prices for another six-to-seven months. "USDA is projecting another increase in beef and pork as well next year. What I’m saying is, get used to this price.” Long term, Bosse thinks the U.S. is putting in a seven-year low for cattle. "Eventually, we’ll see higher prices, but it may not be for a full year.”

Cattle Placements Declined in September — USDA delivered a friendly report to the cattle market Friday. Analysts expected September cattle placements to increase, but there were down two percent from the same time last year. The on-feed total was unchanged from a year ago. Marketings increased five percent, which was within trade expectations.

MN Beef Update — Hear from the Minnesota Beef Council and the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association in their weekly MN Beef Update. Beef had a role in the Twin Cities Marathon. Find out more in this report.

Keep an Eye on Your Herds — There have been reports of butchered cattle and bison, along with other dead and missing livestock near the site of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association is asking ranchers to closely monitor thier herds. Executive Vice President Julie Ellingson says the reason for the special advisory is the close proximity of these cases. “Always keep a watchful eye for strange vehicles in the area and unusual activity. Keep an accurate head count so you know exactly what you have to begin with so you can tell if there is a loss or not. Call the NDSA office or your local sheriff’s department with questions or concerns.”

Milk Supplies Grow — U.S. milk production continues to rise. According to the USDA’s October report, milk production in the 23 major dairy states totaled 16 billion pounds. That’s up 2.3 percent from last year. In Minnesota, milk output increased 2.4 percent with cows added to the state herd and the milk-per-cow figure also increasing. South Dakota had the biggest increase in the country, up 5.3 percent. Wisconsin milk production rose 3.3 percent and California milk production declined a fraction of one percent.

Grants Provided to Ease Veterinarian Shortage — USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded 12 grants nationwide to deal with the shortage of veterinary services. The University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine one of the largest grants at $238,000. With this project, materials will be designed for veterinary students for use in continuing education programs. The University of Minnesota grant targets dairy production and food safety.

A Great Opportunity for Ag Industry — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was on the stage for Thursday morning’s first general session at the National FFA Convention. Vilsack told FFA members there is a great opportunity in the agriculture industry. “Sixty-thousand jobs will be available in the next five-to-six years. In the U.S., we’re only training about 35,000 people to fill those jobs. It will be important for us to make an effort to encourage everyone to understand there is a great opportunity, When you consider the average age of the farmer in this country is 58 years old and that 10 percent of our farmland will change hands in the next five years, it raises the question to FFA: who will be the farmers of the future?” RRFN's coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored, in part, by West Central Ag Services.   

Big Plans for the National FFA OrganizationFor many FFA members, the Indianapolis event was their first National FFA Convention. It was also the first FFA convention for Mark Poeschl in his new role as CEO of the National FFA Organization. Poeschl took the job in August. “It’s absolutely different seeing it from this side of the chair." There is a record number of FFA members right now at 649,355. It was also a record convention, with an estimated 65,000 people in attendance. Poeschl says the National FFA Organization is working on membership goals for the next five-to-ten years, but nothing has been set in stone. “We have every expectation that membership will continue to grow and expand. I’ve had some people plant the seed with me this week, when can we get to one million members? While that is certainly a high aspiration, we do have 2028 and our 100th anniversary coming around. I would ask everyone to stay tuned.” Poeschl says as the organization looks to the future, they believe it’s important to focus on ag teacher recruitment and retention, among other things. “We think we need to expand our giving base not only to companies in the U.S. and outside the U.S. that have operations here," adds Poeschl. "We’re working hard to expand individual giving. We also truly believe we need to be in an organization that’s more inclusive and diverse. We think that will, as well, lead to a more inclusive and diverse ag industry.”  

Mueller Wins 2016 Star in AgribusinessFive FFA members from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota all received recognition for their outstanding Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects at the Stars Over America Pageant Thursday night. Shane Mueller from South Dakota is the 2016 American Star in Agribusiness. “Never doubt yourself or count yourself out. Even if you think your project is small, if you put in the work, dedication and are passionate about the project you have, go for it. Fill out the application, try your best and in the end, you never really know what’s going to happen. You at least have to try.” Thanks to South Dakota Farmers Union for co-sponsoring RRFN's coverage of the National FFA Convention. 

Minnesota Student is a Star — Brett Petersen of Murdock, Minnesota is the 2016 American Star in Ag Placement, focusing his efforts on co-managing and operating  his family farm. “Never give up. Always keep working. Set a goal early and work towards that goal. You can always change your goal, but always have one. That’s what I did. That was my goal to get to this point since I started my SAE.” RRFN's coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored, in part, by AgCountry Farm Credit Services.   

Renner is 2016 Star in Agriscience — Elizabeth Renner of Crooks, South Dakota is the 2016 American Star in Agriscience. Renner’s SAE was focused on runoff and improving water quality. Renner says receiving the honor is a great way to end her time as an FFA member. “It was such a blessing to wear my corduroy jacket one more time,” says Renner. “I’m really going to miss it. My time in the FFA has given me so many incredible experiences and memories. I think I’m a testament to the fact that what it means to wear the blue is truly up to you.”

The Hard Work Was Worth ItTysen Rosenau from Carrington, North Dakota was a finalist for the 2016 American Star Farmer award. “It was a lot of long hours and hard work. You reap what you sow," says Rosenau. "At the end of the year, when you look back, all of the hard work was worth it.” RRFN's coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored, in part, by the North Dakota Farmers Union.

Stenzel Recognized for Field Drainage Project — David Stenzel from Northfield, Minnesota was a finalist for the 2016 American Star in Agribusiness for his field drainage project. Stenzel shares advice for FFA members. “Keep up on your records and make sure you get your pictures turned in. Just keep going from there.”  

Winner, Winner — Minnesota and South Dakota FFA members received top honors during Friday night’s Proficiency Award ceremony at the National FFA Convention. Spencer Wolter from Windom, Minnesota was the National Proficiency winner in Ag Mechanics Design and Fabrication-Entrepreneurship/Placement. The top award in Ag Mechanics Repair and Maintenance-Entrepreneurship belongs to Alexander Warmka from United South Central in Minnesota. Sabrina Portner from Sleepy Eye, Minnesota was the National Proficiency winner in Dairy Production-Entrepreneurship and Colin Wegner from United South Central in Minnesota was the National Proficiency winner in Diversified Crop Production-Placement. Elizabeth Wilts from Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg in Minnesota was the National Proficiency winner in Fiber and/or Oil Crop Production-Entrepreneurship/Placement. Adam Eichacker from Salem, South Dakota was recognized for the Diversified Crop Production-Entrepreneurship and Andrew Streff from Salem, South Dakota received top honors for Grain Production-Entrepreneurship.

Competing in CDEs — Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota FFA Associations were all well represented at convention in Career Development Events. The Napoleon FFA Chapter from North Dakota won first place in the National Ag Sales Career Development Event contest. Napoleon FFA member Sami Bitz was one of the competitors on the winning team. It’s her final year in the National FFA Organization. “It was a really good experience. Everything went really well. It was a great opportunity to represent North Dakota at the National FFA Convention with such a great team." Get more National FFA Convention CDE results.

Transforming Our World — With 60,000-plus blue jackets flooding downtown Indy for FFA convention. Minnesota state FFA vice president Katie Rogers told RRFN those blue jackets are an amazing sight. South Dakota state FFA president Alison Simon said the organization is an equal-opportunity organization. “The National FFA Convention gives students who are in small FFA chapters or big FFA chapters the experience to be around members who have so much passion for the same things they do, Being at the National FFA Convention brings so much opportunity.” North Dakota FFA state reporter Jerrod MacDonald notes the 'Transform' convention theme resonates well with attendees. “Transforming purpose to action: transforming our world through agriculture. Agriculture is probably the biggest industry in the world. We’re the most important industry.  That’s something that’s never going to go away.” RRFN’s coverage of the National FFA Convention is sponsored, in part, by Associated Milk Producers, Inc. 

Making Big Decisions — Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota state officer teams served as delegates at the National FFA Convention. North Dakota FFA Treasurer Paul Moffet served on the service committee. “We talked about ways we can improve national service. A big part of FFA is that service aspect. It’s always progressing.” South Dakota Sentinel Sydnie Peters worked with a committee focused on FFA Alumni. “We’re trying to incorporate something else with the National FFA Alumni, it’s not just for alumni, it’s also for supporters. They’re also looking at the age demographic. Most of the members are 40 to 60 year old men. We’re trying to get younger people more involved with the alumni.”

Reflecting on Ag's FutureMinnesota Agricultural Education and Leadership Council Executive Director Sarah Dornink is charged up by what she sees at the National FFA Convention. “The passion and potential of these students reminds me why we do the work I do,” said Dornink. “Every session, we have Minnesota represented at the top of the country. That’s exciting and it makes it fun to go to the sessions and see where they land in the nation. We continue to keep growing our programs and teacher numbers. Be proud of where we come from. We really are competitive in the country.” RRFN's National FFA Convention coverage is sponsored, in part, by MAELC.

Attracted to the Strong Values and Tradition of the FFAIn agriculture, there is a growing need to educate people where their food comes from. That, in turn, could provide an opportunity for the National FFA Organization and future members. “As people are exposed to the FFA, they feel drawn to tradition and the strong values we have," said Juleah Tolosky, executive secretary, Minnesota FFA Association. "I also think we can do a better job of offering opportunities to show students there is something they can do for agriculture or within agriculture and they can do it pretty close to home. Students have the opportunity to work in their own backyard.”

A Special Organization — The blue jacket may be put away, but the passion for FFA still exists. DuPont Pioneer senior marketing manager Doug Reynolds, a previous state officer from Iowa, is one example. “Being here this week in Indianapolis is really rejuvenating to see the passion and excitement young people have. I was in FFA. I got the opportunity to serve as the state president. All of those experiences were just phenomenal. I look back on that time and realize how special FFA is as an organization. As FFA talks about career preparation and personal growth, I certainly experienced it."

Value of the Co-opAgriculture companies, like CHS, met with students and ag teachers during the FFA Expo. "Students stopped by abd we're offering $500 classroom grants for ag teachers," said CHS communications specialist Tera Fair. Fair says CHS has launched a new initiative called Value of the Co-op. “That next generation may not be as familiar with who we are and the cooperative system as a whole," said Fair. "We’re trying to figure out how we can reach them and show them it’s not just your farmer’s co-op. Co-ops have a great story. Not only do we provide a dependable supply of inputs and access to global markets. We also have local experts that really understand farmers and their needs.”

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Specialty Grants Awarded — A total of 27 grants totaling $2.3 million has been awarded to promote specialty crops in North Dakota. The funding comes from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. North Dakota State University received all but six of the Specialty Crop Block Grants. A $70,000 grant will be used to determine the effect of glyphosate and dicamba drift on yield and seed quality. Projects funded also include nearly $200,000 for Dakota Prairies Resource Conservation and Development Council to grow specialty crops and improve access to healthy foods on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. There’s $113,000 for the National Sunflower Association to develop genomic tools for disease resistance in confection sunflowers and $131,000 for the North Dakota Trade Office to expand international markets.

ND Soybean Minute — Hear the latest North Dakota Soybean Minute from the North Dakota Soybean Council and the soybean checkoff. Learn about Soybean Cyst Nematode.

Seeking Registration for New Fungicide — FMC Agricultural Solutions has begun the joint EPA and Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency registration process for bixafen, a new fungicide that belongs to a new generation of SDHI inhibitors. Registration is being sought for corn, soybeans, cereals, canola and potatoes in the U.S., and in some instances, Canada.

On Pace for Another Record Year — For the first three quarters of the year, the Bank of North Dakota had net income of more than $109 million. The income is 5.4 percent above year-to-date projections. The state-owned bank has posted record profits for 12 straight years.

Income Up, Revenue Down at CP — Canadian Pacific Railway is reporting quarterly income of $347 million, up seven percent from last year. Revenues are down nine percent at $1.5 billion. CP had the biggest decline in Canadian grain movement, down 15 percent from a year earlier at $222 million. Oil shipments are down 88 percent at $13 million.

Profits Decline at Yara International — Yara International warned of a long-term oversupply of fertilizer as it revealed that weak fertilizer prices hit its profits in the third quarter. Yara’s earnings before taxes and depreciation were down 36 percent from the same period last year. Total sales were up two percent. Yara says declines in nitrogen prices, stoked by increased production in Algeria, Egypt and the U.S., have gotten so low that even some Chinese producers are struggling.

Brazilian and Chinese Companies Form a Partnership — Brazil’s largest food processing company, BRF, is forming a strategic partnership with Chinese pork producer COFCO Meat Holdings. Through a public offering, BRF is spending $20 million to buy shares in COFCO. With the deal, COFCO will expand into the processed meat business and BRF will be able to sell more products to China.

Windom Pork Plant to Open in January — A new pork processing plant at Windom, Minnesota is scheduled to begin operations in early 2017.  The Prime Pork plant is owned by Minnesota businessman Glen Taylor and other investors. This facility previously was a cattle slaughter operation, but it closed last December. Once complete, Prime Pork is expected to have a daily capacity of 6,000 head.

Cananadian Pork Company Plans Expansion — Manitoba pork processor, HyLife, is planning a major expansion. The $125 million project will begin in 2017 and will include an upgrade to HyLife’s Neepawa, Manitoba pork processing plant. HyLife also plans to build new swine finishing units and a feed mill.

Cargill Spins Off Canadian Egg Processing Business — Cargill plans to sell its egg processing plant in the Toronto area. This facility will be owned by Global Egg Corporation. The Cargill egg processing plants in Monticello and Big Lake are not affected by this sale.

Expanding North — Fargo-based Red River Commodities is opening a new trading company in Winkler, Manitoba. The new company will be named Red River Global Ingredients and will focus on specialty crops. Bruce Wiebe will serve as president of Red River Global Ingredients. Wiebe has more than 20 years of experience in the business, including time operating his own company, Keystone Grain.

CHS Hedging Promotes Barker — CHS Hedging has named Joe Barker as its director of brokerage services. Barker joined CHS Hedging in 2000 and in recent years, he managed its Kansas City office. In his new role, Barker will be based in Inver Grove Heights.

Black Gold Farms Has Leadership Role at PMA Event — Black Gold Farms was a big winner at the Produce Marketing Association’s annual Fresh Summit Convention in Orlando. The three-day event drew a record 21,000 people and featured more than 1,200 exhibitors. Black Gold’s Chipotle Red Potato Lettuce Cups won both the Buyers’ Choice and Kids’ Choice awards in the Sensory Experience Contest. Black Gold also unveiled its REDVENTURE recipes during the Expo.  

AURI Update — In the weekly update from the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute. Applications are available for vacancies on the AURI board.

Pioneer President to Retire in '17 — DuPont Pioneer President Paul Schickler will retire early next year. This announcement coincides with a merger between DuPont and Dow Chemical. Once that deal is complete, the new company will divide into three businesses—agriculture, material sciences and specialty products. Schickler has been Pioneer’s president since 2007.

MDA Has a New Deputy Commissioner — Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner has named Matthew Wohlman as the new deputy commissioner. Wohlman has been the assistant commissioner for the past five years. Wohlman is also involved in the family farming operation in western Minnesota. Wohlman succeeds Jim Boerboom, who retired earlier this month.

NDFU Leader Participates in UN Event — North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne believes family farmers and ranchers should be involved in the development of policies that deal with food security and agriculture. Watne made that point at a speech before the United Nations Committee on World Food Security in Rome. Watne represented the World Farmers’ Organization at the UN event.

SD Farmer Selected for McCloy Fellowship — A Pennington, South Dakota farmer has been awarded the John J. McCloy Fellowship. With this fellowship, Josh Geigle will participate in a two-week exchange trip, learning about German agriculture. Geigle is one of three American Farm Bureau Federation members nationwide selected for the fellowship.

Kane Joins Rabo AgriFiance Staff — Rabo AgriFinance has hired Mike Kane as a senior relationship manager in central South Dakota. Kane has 13 years of ag lending experience and will work with farmers in Aberdeen Huron, Pierre and Mobridge areas.

Retirement for Nelson — Barry Nelson has retired as the media relations manager for Deere's agriculture and turf division. Nelson has been with Deere for 36 years, taking over as public relations manager of the agricultural equipment division in 1999.

Dvergsten Presented Alumni Award — University of Minnesota-Crookston has presented its Outstanding Alumni Award to Ron Dvergsten. Dvergsten is a farm management instructor with Northland FBM and is a 1979 graduate of UMC.

A New Extension Agent Hired in Cass County — Jacob Maurer is the new agriculture and natural resources agent for Cass County Extension. Before joining the North Dakota State University Extension Service, Maurer was a precision agriculture specialist with Highland (Kansas) Community College.

Honoring UND's Leon Osborne — The University of North Dakota is honoring the professional accomplishments of Leon Osborne at a symposium tonight at Clifford Hall on the UND campus. The symposium is open to anyone. The event will be streamed live for those who cannot attend. Osborne is a Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor at UND. He launched the Regional Weather Information Center in the early 1990s, followed by his private venture, Meridian Environmental Technology, which he since sold. Osborne’s weather outlooks have been a very attraction at several farm meetings across the region in recent years. 

NDSU Extension Celebrates Excellence — During the North Dakota State University Extension Conference, Extension Agricultural Engineer Ken Hellevang was presented the Distinguished Service Award. The Administrative Leadership Award went to Assistant Extension Director Deb Gebeke. Extension Beef Quality Assurance Specialist Lisa Pederson was honored as the Communicator of the Year. Logan County Extension Agent Carmen Ruth-Wald took home the Visionary Leadership Award and former Cass County Extension Agent John Kringler received the Continued Service Award. Eddy County Extension Agent Donna Anderson was given the Mid-Career Service Award and the Meritorious Support Service Award went to NDSU Plant Pathology Department Administrative Assistant Aimee Thapa. The Friend of Extension Award was presented to Havana farmer Joe Breker; Arlene Dura from the North Dakota Department of Human Services; Tower City dairy farmers Durward and Phillis Otterness and AgCountry Farm Credit Services Vice President Russ Tweiten.

ND Wheat Link — Hear the North Dakota Wheat Commission's Wheat Link. Learn more about National Pasta Month. 

Last Week's Trivia — The National FFA Convention has been held in three locations--Kansas City, Louisville and Indianapolis. Dennis Inman of Land O'Lakes was the first to respond with the correct answer and is our weekly trivia winner. Keith Rekow of Dairyland Seed, Marsha Van Laere of Gowan USA, John Zietz of Cargill Malt and Kevin Schulz of National Hog Farmer earn runner-up honors. The trivia 'first 20' list rounds out with Erin Nash of Woodruff Sweitzer, Phyllis Nystrom of CHS Hedging, Mark Schmidt of Betaseed, Kevin Praska of Stone's Mobile Radio, UM Extension Regional Director Chuck Schwartau, Eric Paulson of Western Consolidated Cooperative, Dean Pedersen of Wilbur Ellis, Bob Brunker of J.L. Farmakis, Gene Kronberg of Gene Kronberg Consulting, Duane Maatz of Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, Twyla Wulf of Clear Springs Cattle Company, Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, Chelsea Vilchis of Canterbury Park, Mark Maris of Cargill and Todd Good of AgCountry Farm Credit Services.

This Week's Trivia — Remember the baseball song 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game"? It continues "take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and __________." Fill in the blank and send your answer to Please include your name and business.