Red River Farm Network News
Land Values Cool — North Dakota State University Extension farm management specialist Andy Swenson tells RRFN the market for farmland has showed significant cooling in 2013. According to a survey commissioned by the North Dakota Department of Land Trusts, land values showed about an 8 percent increase over the previous survey, well under the 42 percent increase that was seen in 2012. Land values in the northern Red River Valley region declined 4 percent in 2013 compared to a 56 percent increase in 2012. Swenson says all other regions of the state had positive year to year results. He says land rents were up slightly last year in North Dakota. “Rents were up about four percent versus over 12 percent the previous year. Historically, we’ve seen land values go up and down faster than cropland rents.” Swenson says it is quite possible land prices peaked in the last few months of 2013 when the financial impact of lower crop prices became more evident. He says unless crop prices have a significant rally, it’s likely that next year’s survey will confirm that the historic 11-year run in land values, averaging an annual increase of 15 percent, is over. The complete report can be found on the NSDU website.
Boggess Picked to Lead Dairy Forage Research Center — Dr. Mark Boggess will take over as the new director of the US Dairy Forage Research Center, effective May 19. Boggess has been with USDA's Agricultural Research Service since 2009. Boggess succeeds Dr. Neal Martin, who led the Center from 1999 to 2013.
Cost of Viptera Rejections — When US shipments tested positive for the Agrisure Viptera trait, China rejected 1.4 million metric tons of corn. The National Grain and Feed Association estimates this action resulted in a nearly $2 billion loss for the US corn, DDG and soybean industries. With the commercial launch of the Agrisure Duracade trait, potential losses are estimated in the $1.2-to-$3.4 billion range.
Vermont Considering GMO Labeling Law — Vermont is on the way to becoming the first state in the country to pass mandatory GMO labeling laws. The Vermont Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill that already passed in the House. The bill still needs to go back to the House to deal with some small modifications. If approved, the law would take effect in 2016.
FAA Official Coming to See UAS Work in Grand Forks — Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Micheal Huerta will visit Grand Forks and Williston Monday, at the request of Senators Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven. The senators will show Huerta the work Grand Forks is doing on unmanned aerial systems development, particularly following the FAA selection of Grand Forks as one of six sites to test UAS for integration into the National Airspace. Huerta will see the growth and development in the Williston area, and see the strong need for infrastructure and aviation investments.
Post Holdings Buying Michael Foods — Post Holdings Inc. will acquire Minnesota-based Michael Foods Inc. for $2.45 billion, expanding the cereal maker’s menu of breakfast offerings into eggs and dairy goods. The transaction is expected to be close in the second quarter. The deal for Michael Foods represents Post’s biggest acquisition, nearly doubling its size.
Glyphosate-resistant Kochia in Manitoba — Glyphosate-resistant kochia has been confirmed in Manitoba. While this is the first report of this kind in Manitoba, glyphosate-resistant weeds have already been found in North Dakota, Minnesota, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Preparing for Spring — A few farmers in southwestern North Dakota are doing vertical tillage, applying fertilizer and getting the planter ready for the busy days ahead. Belfield, North Dakota farmer Byron Richard says there is still a lot of frost in the ground. “We are going to struggle getting the crops in because there are a lot of saturated areas in the fields. It looks like it’s going to be a later seeding year.” The winter wheat is said to be in good shape right now. RRFN’s Crop Watch is sponsored, in part, by West Central Ag Services.
Farm Bill Seminar May 2 in Fargo — North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer will bring two senior staff members of the House Agriculture Committee to Fargo for a public farm bill seminar and question and answer session early next month. Matt Schertz, senior professional staff member, and Bart Fischer, chief economist for the Committee, will answer questions about farm bill implementation. The seminar will be held May 2.
Seeding Wheat Over the Frost — Lake Benton, Minnesota farmer Bob Worth says he will seed his spring wheat over the frost. “I like putting wheat on top of frost. If you wait too long, you work the ground and the frost comes up, you get in trouble because the ground gets too soft and you can’t move." Worth says getting the wheat seeded over the frost will also provide some moisture. “We are extremely dry. There’s not much moisture in the snow we had. We could really use a good drink of water.” RRFN's Crop Watch is sponsored, in part, by Minnesota soybean farmers and the Soybean Checkoff.
Grain Movement Improving, But Still a Concern — Grain and product movement continues to be a concern for country elevators. Independent market consultant Tregg Cronin says rail movement of grain is improving with warmer weather, but elevators are concerned about last year’s large crop coming to market all at once in the June to July time frame. “Even though freight’s improving, we need to clear this backlog ahead of small grains and then we’ll be rolling into fall harvest before you know it. Despite the fact that we’ve seen freight cost come down in the short-term with a little better movement, there’s still a lot of concern out there by country elevators and farmers of whether we’re going to be able to clear this huge backlog. In three or four months, we have more supply coming back on line.”
Escalating Effect Economically — North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer thinks the Surface Transportation Board’s recent public hearing on railroad service issues was very constructive. Cramer says it’s not simply a matter of late railcar deliveries. “Now we’re seeing farmers having to borrow more money, which is a cost to them. We’re seeing basis being lost and actual customers being lost. That has an escalating effect economically. It’s going to be interesting to see what, if anything, the STB is able to do to relieve those economic losses.”
Disaster Signup Has Started — The livestock disaster portion of the new farm bill was put on the fast-track with signup starting Tuesday. South Dakota State Farm Service Agency Executive Director Craig Schaunaman says US Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Michael Scuse is stopping at offices and holding producer meetings in the part of the state hard-hit by a blizzard in October. “Undersecretary Scuse was out here just after the winter storm and he is back out here. We’re going to some offices. He’s attending producer meetings. A lot of these offices had scheduled appointments and we’re busy taking signup.”
When Will Consumers Rebel? — Cattle prices have been at record high levels for months and Utterback Marketing Services president Bob Utterback says consumers are now seeing that in the retail case. “The trade is really starting to become concerned if consumers will back off when they see high beef values, high pork values, high produce values because of the drought in the western cornbelt and at the same time, higher petroleum prices. So the consumer dollar is going to start getting stretched. The question is at what price does the consumer start to rebel against the higher prices we’re starting to see on food items.”
Demand Remains Good for Replacement Heifers — While calf numbers have been declining at the auction barns, Kist Livestock Auction Company fieldman Matt Lachenmeier says demand for replacement heifers has been picking up. “We’re getting a lot of phone calls every week for replacement heifers to get them before grass time. A lot of those seven-weight heifers are falling in the $1500 to $1600 range.”
Brazil May Increase Ethanol Blend — Brazil says it may increase the amount of ethanol it blends in its gasoline from 25 percent to 27.5 percent. Brazil’s Agriculture Minister is negotiating with the Minister of Mines and Energy proposing the increase as a way to increase ethanol consumption and help control inflation during an election year in Brazil.
Cargill Flour Mill Merging With ConAgra — Cargill expects the merger of its flour mill operations with ConAgra Foods within the next two months. The combined entity will join ConAgra’s milling business with Horizon Milling, which is a joint venture between Cargill and CHS. The merger is being investigated by the antitrust division of the US Justice Department. Cargill executive chairman Greg Page said that process has gone on longer than expected, but should be resolved soon.
Winter Wheat Hit by Frost — As if the lack of rain and winterkill weren’t enough, parts of the hard red winter wheat area is feeling the impact of frost and freezing conditions after temperatures as low as 19 degrees this morning. World Weather, Inc. thinks there may be some injury to leaf mass, but permanent damage may have only occurred in west Texas. Mark Hodges, with Plains Grains, Inc. says temperatures were as low as 22 degrees in southwestern Oklahoma, where drought has already damaged the crop. “Wheat was in the boot stage in some of those areas. We already have a severe drought in that part of the state. Wheat has been going backwards the last week because we’ve had mid-80s to 90 degree temperatures in the state. We’ve had 30-35mph winds with low humidity and we’ve already lost some yield because of it.” RRFN's Crop Watch is sponsored in part by Ihry Insurance.
Small Grain Seeding — There’s some small grain planting going on in the Pierre area according to South Dakota State University Extension Agronomist Ruth Beck. “There’s a lot of people around Pierre and south of Pierre planting some spring wheat. I’ve heard of oats going in and some field peas going in.” Beck says winter wheat in the area is short. “We had a fairly cool fall and spring, so it hasn’t got to growing yet. It does sound like it’s overwintered fairly well. Our winter wheat’s greening up good right now and a little bit of warm weather and rain would really get that going.” Beck says pastures aren’t greening up yet, but she expects them to start as temperatures warm toward the weekend. RRFN's Crop Watch is sponsored in part by AgCountry Farm Credit Services.
Corn Use Up — Corn use in the United States continues at a faster pace than earlier USDA estimates. In its April supply and demand report the USDA pegged corn ending stocks about 550 million bushels smaller than in November. University of Illinois Extension ag economist Darrell Good says compared to consumption projections made in November, corn used for ethanol is up 100 million bushels, exports are 350 million more and feed and residual use is 100 million bushels more.
Fewer Potatoes Expected in Manitoba — Potato growers and processors in Manitoba are saying fewer potatoes will be grown in Manitoba this year. Potato processors have cut volumes in Manitoba, moving to less costly production areas in North America. The Western Producer says Cavendish Farms has cut its Manitoba volume by 50 percent. McCain Foods is promising to contract at least 65 percent of last year’s volume, and Simplot volumes were lower but not disclosed. The General Manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada says potato growers in the less costly regions of North America including Washington and Idaho have agreed to a 3 to 4 percent price cut adding to the pressure on Manitoba producers.
Northern Beef Legal Battle Continues — The legal battle continues for the former Northern Beef Packers plant at Aberdeen. A former contractor filed a $2 million mechanic’s lien against the plant in 2007. The case will be heard in federal bankruptcy court next month. Northern Beef Packers is now known as New Angus. The new name is the result of White Oak Financial Advisors purchasing the facility in a bankruptcy auction.
Emission Rules Upheld — A federal appeals court has upheld the Environmental Protection Agency emission rules for coal and oil powered power plants limiting mercury, lead, arsenic and other air pollutants. Industry groups say the EPA is overstating the benefits of limiting emissions and will cost billions of dollars, while supporters say the ruling is a giant step forward on the road to cleaner, healthier air.
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Farm Bill Extension Fact Sheet — The University of Minnesota Extension Service has issued a series of fact sheets on the new farm bill to help farmers prepare for changes. Extension economist Kent Olson prepared the six-part series, which emphasizes changes in programs and rules affecting crop commodities. The fact sheets are on Extension’s web site at www.extension.umn.edu.
Dry Bean Farmers Encouraged to Visit FSA — Farmers considering planting dry edible beans this year are encouraged to visit the Farm Service Agency to familiarize themselves with the Fruit and Vegetable provisions for Agricultural Risk Coverage/Price Loss Coverage-enrolled farms prior to planting. Farmers who participate in the programs are subject to an acre-for-acre payment reduction when they plant more than 15 percent of the base acres of a farm enrolled in ARC using the county coverage, or PLC; or if more than 35 percent of the base acres of a farm enrolled in ARC using the individual coverage.
ND Specialty Crop Block Grant Funding Increased — North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says a near seven-fold increase in North Dakota’s share of specialty crop development block grant funds should encourage more people to get involved in specialty crop production and processing. USDA has informed Goehring that North Dakota will receive $3.1 million for specialty crop block grants, a substantial increase over last year’s $483,000. The increase in funding is the result of the new farm bill, which emphasized specialty crops. The North Dakota Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for 2014 specialty crop block grants until May 23.
"Farmland" Showing April 30 in Fargo — The North Dakota Soybean Council will host a premier showing of the movie “Farmland” in Fargo on Wednesday, April 30 at 7 p.m. The Soybean Council sees the movie showing as an opportunity to educate consumers on the real story of American agriculture, especially those who did not grow up on a farm. Farmland follows the lives of six young farmers and ranchers as they take responsibility for the operation of their businesses. Farmland will premiere at a private screening this Thursday during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
Chemtura Selling Chemical Business — Chemtura is reportedly selling its farm chemical business to Platform Specialty Products. The deal is said to be worth $1 billion. Miami-based Platform Specialty Products has been busy acquiring its foothold in the specialty chemical business, buying MacDermid last fall. That privately-held company was purchased for $1.8 billion.
Cargill Donation — Cargill’s Animal Nutrition and Pork Business has donated $150,000 to the National Pork Board to fund additional research into Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus. That’s on top of the nearly $2 million in Pork Checkoff funding that has already been allocated.
CHS Adding Propane Storage — To mitigate future propane shortages, CHS is adding 4.2 million gallons of storage capacity in the Upper Midwest. Five terminals are expected to be online by September 1. Those projects include an expansion of the Hannaford and Fairmount, North Dakota terminals. Projects are also planned in central Minnesota and central Wisconsin. The Kinder Morgan Energy Partners Cochin Pipeline is being converted from propane to natural gas condensate. In response, the CHS terminal projects will have ability to operate around the clock with truck and rail service.
CME Group Sued — Three futures traders have filed a lawsuit against the CME Group, alleging data was sold to high-frequency traders ahead of others in the market. The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status for those people who traded futures contracts at the exchange between 2007 and now.
ADM Portfolio Management — Archer Daniels Midland says it is taking three significant steps for ongoing portfolio management. First, ADM announced it had sold its South American fertilizer business to Mosaic Company for $350 million in cash, including $150 million in working capital as part of the closing. ADM says it is also looking to sell its chocolate business although CEO Patricia Woertz says it will retain the majority of its cocoa press business. Woertz also says ADM will buy the remaining 20 percent minority share of grain export company, Alfred C. Toepfer International, for 83 million euro. ADM has owned 80 percent of Toepfer since 2002.
Titanium Approved — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a new vaccine that protects cattle against the viruses and bacteria most associated with bovine respiratory disease. Elanco’s Titanium 5 + PH-M provides modified-live virus protection and is safe for cattle at all stages of production.
ND Wine Grants — North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has awarded the state’s first research grants to support North Dakota’s grape and wine industry. $80,000 has been appropriated by the legislature to fund research and promotion. Goehring says North Dakota’s grape and wine industry has seen significant growth in recent years and the research funded by these grants will help keep the industry growing. $66,500 has been awarded to Harlene Hatterman-Valenti at North Dakota State University for germplasm evaluation of cold hardy wine grape cultivars. Lindsay and Mike Ostlie of Carrington received $2,000 for trials of high tunnel fruit production.
Cercobin Launched — Cheminova Inc. has launched their CERCOBIN Fungicide. CERCOBIN is labeled for use on a wide variety of crops including dry beans, edible beans, soybeans, sugar beets, potatoes and fall wheat.
Japanese Company Acquires Bayer Product — A Japanese company known as Sumitomo has acquired a fungicide product from Bayer CropScience Japan. The metominostrobin is a broad spectrum fungicide, which is useful in the treatment of soybean rust.
Syngenta Enters into Ethanol Deal — Syngenta has entered into a deal with Cellulosic Ethanol Technologies to license a new process that will enhance productivity for ethanol plants. This technology combines with Syngenta’s Enogen corn trait, allowing the corn kernel fiber and start to be more easily converted into ethanol.
Sygenta Reports Increase — Syngenta reports a five percent increase in first quarter sales, with volumes up two percent and prices three percent higher. Sales in Europe, Africa and the Middle East rose 10 percent, while the late spring in North America, and the California drought, reduced demand for insecticides and fungicides. Despite the delayed season in the US, Syngenta’s selective herbicide sales increased by six percent. In seeds, corn and soybean sales were unchanged with US growers delaying planting decisions.
Vander Vorst Takes New Role with Syngenta — Blake Vander Vorst has been named the new cereal product evaluation scientist for Syngenta. Vander Vorst is based in the Fargo area. Most recently, Vander Vorst was the senior agronomist for Ducks Unlimited.
Littau Joins SDDA — Ty Littau has been hired as the new Agricultural Development Representative for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. Littau’s a 2013 graduate of South Dakota State University and recently spent six months working in Argentina with a local ranching family. He’ll be based in the western part of the state.
NAFB Scholarships Available — The National Association of Farm Broadcasting Foundation is offering three, $5000 college scholarships: the Glenn Kummerow Memorial Scholarship, the George Logan Scholarship and the Orion Samuelson Scholarship. Applicants must be a college junior, senior or grad student and must be enrolled in - or transferring to - an agricultural communications curriculum with concentration or application in broadcast media. For more information and to apply, go to www.nafbfoundation.com.
Last Week's Trivia — The Union College Dutchmen are the 2014 NCAA Hockey champions. Mark Schmidt of Betaseed scored first and is our weekly trivia winner. Michael Brekhus of Bayer CropScience, Jon Davis of Davisco Foods, Monte Heilman of Rea Hybrids and Todd Good of AgCountry Farm Credit Services earn runner-up honors. Our 'first 20' list rounds out with Joe Bridges of AGCO, Erin Nash of Woodruff Sweitzer, Mike Brinda of Columbia Grain, Judge Jessop of the South Dakota Grasslands Coalition, Al Oberembt of Nufarm Americas, Eric Lahlum of Dow AgroSciences, Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, Carla Vigen of P.D. Sproule, Bob Gustafson of Agassiz Seed and Supply, Bottineau farmer Larry Neubauer, Clint Larson of Arysta LifeScience, Ken Pazdernik of the Minnesota Farmers Union, J.W. Schroeder of North Dakota State University, Mandy Kvale of Farm Credit Services of Mandan and Troy Nelson of Trojan Promotions.