Red River Farm Network News

Step Out and Redefine — The keynote speaker for the American Agri-Women’s national convention, Associated Milk Producers Incorporated co-president and CEO Sheryl Meshke told attendees to step out and redefine their role in agriculture. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in traditional agricultural roles. Perhaps you’re going the organic route, perhaps pasture raised. Speak with one voice. We are down to less than one percent of the population, but we’re feeding a hungry world. We’ll need to work in unison.” That also includes things like ag policy like the upcoming Farm Bill and tax reform discussions. Meshke says getting a tax reform solution which lowers burdens for producers is AMPI’s top priority. Currently, both versions of tax reform include a loss of the Section 199 tax credit, known to many farmers as the domestic production activities deduction. She echoes other cooperatives’ concerns noting farmers would feel the loss on their farms.  

Farmers Should Pay Attention to Trade Talks — Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he was working on a plan to help shield farmers and ranchers from potential negative market effects from a withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but later walked back from those comments. U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight says agriculture hopes for the best in the trade talks, but is planning for the worst. The talk of withdrawal from NAFTA is a worry. “We’re concerned about it and all farmers need to be paying attention. It does impact their bottom line.”

Pipeline Foods Breaks Ground for New ND Facility — Pipeline Foods LLC is building a new grain terminal in Bowbells, North Dakota. This project is designed to complement three other recent elevator acquisitions in North Dakota and Saskatchewan. The Minneapolis-based Pipeline Foods focuses exclusively on non-GMO and organic food and feed.

Ag Committee Sends Smith Nomination to the Full Senate — The nomination of Glen Smith to the Farm Credit Administration board will now be considered by the full Senate. The Senate Agriculture Committee announced its support Thursday. Smith farms at Atlantic, Iowa and operates a land acquisition/exchange company.

Serious About Trade — American Farm Bureau Federation Director of Market Intelligence John Newton says the uncertain trade environment is challenging for agriculture. No one in the industry wants to see NAFTA go away. “It’s very serious. We export about 25 percent of the products we produce in this country. Ninety-six percent of the world’s population lives outside of our border. Our farmers and ranchers are communicating with a louder voice. The well-being of farmers and ranchers is critical and we get that with access to foreign markets.”

Finishing Up With CornNorth Dakota and Minnesota farmers are in the final stages of corn harvest. Thunder Seed District Sales Manager Derek Haug says the vast majority of farmers in his territory are either finished or will finish harvesting soon. "Out west past Bismarck, farmers are still working on corn and sunflowers. Fertilizer application is also mostly done, so just finishing up bits and peices and starting to think about next year." For many, the main concern with this year’s corn crop has been stalk integrity. Haug says the corn stalk weakens the longer it stands into the harvest season. "Seems like a lot of the corn still out there has integrity issues. That's mostly due to extremes between dry and wet weather."

Farmers Testing Their ResiliencyAccording to Virginia Tech Ag Economist Dr. David Kohl, agriculture is currently in what he refers to as the fall cycle. In this cycle, commodity prices are in a longated reset, and producers are testing their resiliency. "From about 2018 to 2021 is going to be the winter cycle. What I'm starting to observe is a certain group of farmers making adjustments and making a little money," says Kohl. "The other group, the bridge, is look at refinancing options, and another 30 percent of producers are at the end of the pier burning through land equity, etc." Approximately 20 percent won't see the spring cycle. Kohl says farmers showing some resiliency have to devise a game plan. "Some farmers overpaid for marginal land and marginal type of assets. Dropping some of those assets and restructuring the operation may work, but they have to plan, execute and monitor. Only 30 to 40 percent can do it."

Ag Bankers Seek FSA Program Changes — The 2018 Farm Bill was at the forefront of discussions at the National Agricultural Bankers Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Shan Hanes, vice chairman, Ag Bankers Committee, says ag lenders are seeking improvements in the Farm Service Agency programs. "Right now, FSA has programs to help farmers. It's just a matter of knowing which programs fit and being able to structure them correctly." Ag bankers are also advocating for higher limits on individual loans in the new farm bill, as well as a larger total pot of money. Hanes says what worked 15 years ago doesn’t fit today’s family farm. "Farm sizes are getting bigger, and we're not talking corporate farms. Lines of credit and real estate purchases are getting bigger."

Canola Minute — Here's the latest Canola Minute from the Northern Canola Growers Association. Executive Director Barry Coleman discusses canola research.

Concerned with Land Values — Based in South Dakota, First Dakota National Bank’s Nate Franzen says land values vary by region and the Midwest is an area of concern. "In other areas of the country, land values are a little more stable and stronger. However, the concentration is on depressed grain prices and a higher concentration of grain farmers." Land values in the Midwest haven’t fallen dramatically. In part, that’s because despite higher levels of financial stress, farmers are reluctant to sell. "Selling land just to reduce debt is appropriate in some cases. That's hard for a farmer to do, but with today's land values we don't known if that window is closing or not. We (bankers) believe farmers need to be adjusting aggresively to remain profitable."

Dry Bean Scene — The Dry Bean Scene airs Fridays at 12:37 PM on the Red River Farm Network. This week, we pick up on discussions about dicamba drift in dry edible beans.

New Regulations Could Put Livestock in Danger — The installation of electronic logging devices would take place of written logs to track hours-of-service for commercial truckers. However, the implementation of the ELDs could have substantial economic impacts on farmers and ranchers, auction markets, and truckers. In particular, Protect the Harvest spokesperson Linda Chezem says the rule could be dangerous to those hauling livestock. "Regardless of where the driver is, after 11 hours they have to pull over and rest. Livestock can't sit on the side of the road for ten hours, and loading and unloading adds to their stress." Chezem adds ELDs could cause hold-ups in transportation, with 80 percent of the United States relying on trucking for the delivery of agricultural products. "If we don't have dependable trucking at a reasonable cost, rural communities have no other way of receiving products. Implementing ELDs will cost $1.6 to $2 billion in just the first year." The Federal DOT is not expected to make a decision regarding rule exemptions until December 17, only one day before the deadline.

Farmers Advised to Concentrate on What They Can Control — Volatility in milk prices is nothing new. From the 2014 peak of around $25 per hundredweight, milk prices are now in the $17-to-$18 range. Manitowoc, Wisconsin banker Dave Coggins says labor costs are the big variable when managing a low-price environment. "Today's dairy farms are trying to get reliable employees and then deploy them in ways which are most effective and happy." Coggins says the key to tough times is managing things farmers can control. "Milk prices are important, but farmers can't do much about them. Some of it's an attitude of how can they engage employees to manage the bottom line, finding more efficient ways, maximizing facilites, etc." Coggins was part of the National Agricultural Bankers Conference in Milwaukee.

Perdue Still Confident — In a press conference in Kansas City, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters he is confident an agreement will be reached between the U.S., Canada and Mexico on NAFTA 2.0.   “The administration knows how important NAFTA is to agriculture. We’ll continue to negotiate. I think there’s room for anxiety when we see some proclamations come out. At the end of the day, I think we’ll get an agreement. It may go to the brink, but I believe we will get a new and better agreement over NAFTA from the Canadian side on poultry, eggs and dairy and also, Mexico.”

ND Land Market Strengthens — Farmers National Company Senior Vice President of Real Estate Operations Randy Dickhut says the North Dakota land market is strengthening post-harvest. “There’s not a lot of land on the market for sale. Less than one percent of the land openly sells in the open market in any given year. We’re on the low side of that. With not much on the market, there’s enough demand to bid up the price a bit. That’s coming into play. Maybe more optimism thinking ahead they had a decent year. Maybe it’s bottoming, maybe it isn’t.” Dickhut says land rents were steady this past year. He thinks we’ll see the same thing for 2018.

Being Smart with the Money — Wholesale changes aren’t coming for the 2018 Farm Bill. There will likely just be tweaks to programs now in place, like added flexibility for the ARC-County program. North Dakota Senator John Hoeven is on the Agriculture Committee and chairs the agriculture appropriations subcommittee and says the budget will be an issue. “We have to recognize that has a cost," says Hoeven. "When we look at the overall baseline on the farm bill, remember, we’ll have about the same amount of money we do now. Any changes we make that have a cost, we’ll have to find a way to pay for it.”    

Crop Insurance is Top Priority — South Dakota Senator John Thune sees crop insurance as the top priority. “Any farmer you talk to will say crop insurance is the cornerstone of the safety net program we have today. Ensuring it’s funded at the level it is and continues to be a viable program and alternative for producers will be key as we move forward in the farm bill.”

Bringing Together Agriculture — Dollars are tight—but National Farmers Union senior vice president Rob Larew says bill brings together agriculture and the groups supporting the SNAP nutrition programs. If that coalition holds, farm bill priorities will also hold. For Larew, the concern centers on attempts to make changes in cuts like SNAP program and other hunger programs. "The higher the pressure it is on those programs, the harder it is to get a farm bill done. The stronger the cuts, the more pressure to make cuts in crop insurance.”  RRFN’s Farm Bill Focus is sponsored, in part, by the National Farmers Union.

Politics at PlayIn a tight budget environment, National Corn Growers Association Executive Vice President Jon Doggett says some folks will get more in the next farm bill, and others will not. “Ag groups are as close together as they’ve ever been, and this is my sixth farm bill. However, that doesn’t necessarily get us more money. We need a fusion of more money, but that’s not going to come.” In the meantime, tax reform is front and foremost in Washington, D.C. “There’s a lot of difference between the House and Senate bills. This game is above the net at this point, so we’ll have to see if the Republicans will do any bill," says Doggett. "The politics at play in D.C. is a much different environment. Compromise isn’t a word you want to use in the company of some folks.” RRFN’s Farm Bill Focus is sponsored, in part, by the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.

No More Cuts to Title Two — With money being the big challenge in the 2018 Farm Bill, National Association of Conservation Districts president Brent Van Dyke says the organization hopes there aren’t further cuts or caps to CRP acreage. “We need more money. I think if we have more money in title two we will be able to spend it. The bottom line is conservation is the best deal for the American taxpayer. We have to continue sustainable agriculture to feed others and we can only do that with programs like the farm bill.” Van Dyke says agriculture needs the new farm bill as soon as we can have it.

Section 199 Not Included — The tax reform legislation in Congress does not include the 199 deduction. Minnesota Senator al Franken says this issue will impact cooperatives, like American Crystal Sugar Company. “Section 199 is a tax break for manufacturing in the U.S. American Crystal Sugar Company is a manufacturer, but since the company is also a cooperative, the deduction goes to the producers. Section 199 is being eliminated. We don’t want to eliminate this for the cooperatives. We’re going to be fighting for the cooperatives.”

Repealing Estate Tax: Worth It for Farmers? — Tax reform is a priority for lawmakers. The proposed senate legislation would repeal the estate tax. North Dakota State University Farm Resource Management Specialist Andy Swenson doesn’t think repealing the death tax would necessarily help farmers. In fact, Swenson says the estate tax impacts very few farmers. “There’s a recent USDA study which indicates less than one half of one percent of farm estates will be impacted by the estate tax," says Swenson. "If you look at the actual numbers on the IRS website, in North Dakota for 2014, there’s only 56 federal estate tax returns filed for the entire state. Only 15 of the estates had to pay the estate tax for North Dakota.” Swenson says most of the estate tax is borne by three states: California, New York and Florida. Also, Swenson says in 2016, the estate tax generated $8.2 billion of revenue for the government. “If they eliminate that, there’s a lot of revenue lost," he explains. "If you want to make a tax bill revenue neutral, you’ll have to cut costs or spending by an equal amount. It will be added pressure to cut government subsidies for crop insurance and commodity payments. That would have a negative impact on many farmers.”

Yield Surprises Dwindling — Harvest is wrapping up and the hope of a surprise with yields is dwindling. Utterback Marketing president Bob Utterback says farmers now have to deal with the reality: supply is there. Demand is a challenge. “I’m not pessimistic from these levels. The real danger is when the December goes off the board, that will be pressure for markets to go down further.” Utterback says there are several factors which need to be in place before we get better corn prices. “It’s the supply side of the question we’ll have to deal with. Before I can become bullish, I’ll have to get acreage supply deduction in North America and contraction in South America, we have to clean out the bins and we have to get farmers to support the inventory going into the June and July time period.”

Very Real Consequences — President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp says that threat is real. In Heitkamp’s view, the consequences are also real. “One of the things you want to be careful on is using the threat of withdrawal in negotiations. It may in fact result in people walking away from the deal. We’ve already seen Mexico look to Latin America and South America for ag commodities. We’ve seen Canada dig in their heels. We just have to be really careful.”  Mexico will be holding its presidential elections in 2018 and Heitkamp says the rhetoric on trade could impact that vote. “We don’t want a candidate who is anti-American. We don’t want a candidate in Mexico who won’t help us secure the border. We don’t want a candidate in Mexico who doesn’t feel part of the North American renaissance. I’m concerned about whether or not the statements coming out of the administration might create problems in and of themselves without an actual withdrawl.”

The Challenges of Good Customer Service — Deputy Ag Secretary Steve Censky has been in his role with the USDA for one month. The former leader of the American Soybean Association says USDA’s goal is to provide the best customer service possible for agriculture. However, achieving the goal can be challenging when there are key positions unfilled, like Iowa’s Bill Northey. Censky isn’t sure how long Northey’s hold up will last. “I hope it can be resolved soon. My understanding is Senator Cruz put the hold on Northey over biofuels policies. There are interests opposed to renewable fuels. That has caught up Bill Northey. We need his leadership and management at USDA.” The USDA will implement the 2018 Farm Bill. If there isn’t staff in place to help implement, that’s also a challenge. Chief ag negotiator nominee Greg Doud also needs to be confirmed. “With NAFTA negotiations in their fifth round, we need a strong advocate for agriculture. At USDA, we’ve been involved trying to inform and stress the importance of trade moving forward.”

Watching For RFS Updates — The Environmental Protection Agency will announce the renewable volume obligations for the Renewable Fuel Standard later this month. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor is confident ethanol will have a 15 billion conventional volume target. “We have room for improvement on the advanced and cellulosic numbers. The proposed volume targets the EPA came out with in July weren’t as high as they should be. That’s been the nature of the conversation the past two weeks. We’re at a pivotal point on advanced technology and ethanol. The administration needs to send a signal: investors continue investing, because we’re on the precipice of continued growth.” Skor says the U.S. is consuming more than 10 percent ethanol and the growth potential is strong. There is a challenge taking away the gas share from the petroleum industry. 

Protecting Crop InsuranceWhen direct payments came to an end in the last farm bill, crop insurance became an even bigger part of the farm safety net, which includes revenue insurance products. Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake, along with Democratic New Hampshire Senator Jean Shaheen, have introduced a bill to cut the revenue-based Harvest Price Option. "Senator Shaheen and Senator Flake don't understand that," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts. "God bless their hearts. I've tried to do some education there, but sometimes you just ride into a box canyon." In an interview with RRFN, Roberts said crop insurance is the number one issue for farmers, and he is confident the program will stay intact.

Limited Changes, Enough Money? — Limited changes are expected in the 2018 Farm Bill. There seems to be support for tweaks to dairy and cotton programs, changes to ARC-County and money for a FMD vaccine bank. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson does not expect Congress to have enough money for the programs funded now, which do not include these new proposals. “Add them all up and that's $5-to-$7 billion of new money. In most cases, promises have been made to those asking for the money. How are you going to do that without more money?” The proposed tax reform will add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next ten years. Johnson says promises about new farm bill spending will be influenced by that deficit spending. “All of the promises made about adding baseline spending, you can kiss them goodbye. I can guarantee you, everyone will be screaming on the Hill, ‘wait a minute, the budget just blew up! We have to figure how to cut spending!’ That will be the rally cry.” Johnson remains optimistic the 2018 Farm Bill will be completed early. Without much legislative success on issues, like healthcare or taxes, the NFU leader says lawmakers will need a ‘win’ before midterm elections.

Corn Matters — In this week's Minnesota Corn Growers Association Corn Matters program, we discuss how ethanol expansion is benefiting more than just farmers.

Better Than ExpectedHarvest results are still coming in. However, in many cases, yields were better than expected. Dairyland Seed Marketing Leader T.J. Strachota says "with many weather variables, people went into harvest not in the best mood. Everyone was expecting not-so-great yields, however, everything exceeded expectations.” As farmers make plans for 2018, Strachota says it is important to look for consistency. “2017 was different from 2016. On the research side, we try to understand where genetics performed well. We’re always looking for the highest yielding product out there, and we want to protect our customers on the bottom end, too.”

Understanding Dicamba Label Changes — Based on years of research and development, BASF believes volatility is not a driving factor when it comes to off-target application of dicamba. Vice President Scott Kay says through conversations with growers, BASF was able to gather insight into best practices that proved to be successful. "Following application checklists came up in nearly every conversation. They clearly had a plan and were trained in that plan," says Kay. "Using approved nozzles specific for dicamba application was also critical. Also, understanding what crops where in nearby fields and understanding label changes reinforced that as well." To help applicators meet new training requirements, Technical Marketing Manager Chad Asmus says BASF will expand their on-target application academy and resources. "Understanding what the labels says and why will be an important component. We will be working closely with state agencies to make sure everyone understands the intricacies."

What's Next for Dicamba in MN? — Minnesota’s dicamba task force is working on a recommendation to the Minnesota Ag Department for next year’s restrictions on product use. While farmers in some areas across the region aren’t reporting much yield drag from dicamba damaged soybean acres, chairman and Minnesota farmer Bob Worth says there was an impact in Minnesota. “We’re finding out there was a yield drag. We have a crop consultant on the task force and he says anywhere between two to 12 bushels/acre. It depends on the severity of the issue. There is some kind of drag. That’s one of the things we’re working on, making sure we have the timing of the product down.” Worth says there are other products available to growers to manage resistant weeds, but it’s important farmers have options. 

Closer to Making a Decision — States are in the process of deciding next steps with the use of dicamba technology. Minnesota Ag Commissioner Dave Frederickson says the state is getting closer to making a decision. “Farmers are likely buying seed by now. It’s fairly imperative we get through this. I’m hoping in the next few weeks.”

Lessons LearnedWith the new dicamba technology, RRFN hosted a special radio series late this summer. Lessons Learned is produced by the Red River Farm Network to provide education and the tools to help growers prepare for 2018. You can go back and review this series. Listen to the podcast. Thanks to BASF and Peterson Farms Seed for sponsoring this initiative. 

Not As Big of a Deal — While there was lots of excitement this past summer about dicamba drift, Richland County, North Dakota crop consultant Matt Danuser says at soybean harvest, there wasn’t the issue many people were concerned about. “In most cases, there was no damage. In some cases, a little yield boost. There were a few cases with actual damage. A lot of it was the timing, when things were sprayed.” Danuser says each state is dealing with the dicamba drift situation differently. “When everything is said and done, I think we’ll be looking at more restrictions on the time of day to spray, how late in the season, more training for applicators and more awareness of it all. There will be a strong push on using the right nozzles and watching the conditions when applicating.”

Seed Technology Impacting Production — R.J. O’Brien Director of Market Insight Rich Feltes says seed technology is having a large impact on production. “The ag markets are realizing technology has impacted higher acreage. This past summer, despite a sub-par growing season, we produced because of technology and remarkably good yields," says O'Brien. "Productivity is advancing faster than growth in demand. Until that changes, I think farmers will have to produce with a sharp pencil and market with an even sharper pencil.” Feltes reminds producers South American farmers have access to the same seed technology they do.  

AURI Update — In Minnesota, agriculture is the heart and soul of the state. Learn more in this weekly update from the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute

Securing Livestock Sales — More often than not, livestock producers only have one payday a year. So what happens when payments fall through? The Securing All Livestock Equitably Act (SALE) Act would place livestock sold to a dealer, and proceeds from already sold livestock, in a trust until the original seller has been paid. Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) Vice President of Government and Industry Affairs Chelsea Good says for those left without payment, that’s not right. "Unfortunately, we've seen a trend of livestock dealers that default on payment. It's the farmer or rancher who raised the stock or auction barn that sold them left holding the bag." With the bi-partisan bill currenlty in the House Agriculture Committee, Good says LMA is hopeful in its progression. "It just makes sense that unpaid sellers stand first in line as it relates to livestock."    

Potential for U.S. Beef — The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled in favor of the United States in a dispute over Indonesia’s import requirements for several agricultural products. U.S. Meat Export Federation Senior Vice President for Trade Access Thad Lively says that these restrictions were originally aimed at achieving self-sufficiency in beef production, but actually resulted in tight beef supplies and high prices for consumers. "Trying to import a lot of live cattle and build-up an industry of their own. That's going to be difficult to do, and I think that's become increasing apparent." The WTO ruling is expected to open up significant new export opportunities for U.S. beef in the Indonesian market. "If you look at their per-capita beef consumption, it's actually quite small. To us, that says there's huge potential. Indonesia is a market for lower-value muscle cuts and variety meats, but that will change over time as incomes and the middle class grows."

MN Beef Update — Hear from the Minnesota Beef Council and the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association in their weekly Minnesota Beef Update. Learn more about revisions to the Beef Quality Assurance program.

Aftermath of Montana WildfiresFrom hurricanes to wildfires, farmers and ranchers have endured the many faces of Mother Nature in 2017. Bank of the Rockies Vice President Heather Malcom says summer wildfires in eastern Montana cost cattle producers quite a bit of forage. "We're waiting to see how the cows preg-tested. They did come in 40-to-50 pounds lighter then anticipated," says Malcom. "Right now, we're just waiting until those numbers before moving forward." Malcom says pastures should bounce back as long as livestock producers receive adequate moisture. "One rancher right next to the fires is concerned about moisture levels. Before the fires, he had only received 3 inches of rain since January 1 through the end of August."

MSA Secures Chinese Beef Market — The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSA), along with Cross Four Ranch and Chinese retailer, have signed an agreement to source Montana beef to China. The agreement is proposed for an initial three years, with a minimum commitment of $200 million in MSA beef to be imported. In addition, JD intends to invest up to another $100 million to build a processing facility in Montana to support beef production.

Turkey Woes — Turkey producers are feeling a price squeeze in 2017 as production has rebounded from 2015’s bird flu outbreak. However, USDA Livestock Economist Shayle Shagam says consumer demand has not. "Demand has not kept up with the increase in supply. Supplies of whole hens in cold storage are 22 percent above a year ago." Usually turkey prices spike ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, but Shagam says that didn't happened this year. "Frozen, whole turkeys were averaging 83 cents per pound, which is about 29 cents below a year ago."

Thanksgiving Meal Prices Down — American Farm Bureau Federation’s 32nd Annual Thanksgiving Meal Price Survey shows the lowest costs in five years. A major reason is due to turkey prices. The average cost of a 16-pound turkey is down two cents per pound, or roughly 36 cents per whole turkey, from last year to $1.40 per pound. The survey also places the average meal cost for ten people at $49.12, down 75 cents from last year.

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Winter Biodiesel Reminders — Currently, Minnesota mandates fuel blends of 10 percent biodiesel in warmer months, but in spring 2018, the biodiesel blend increases to B20. While misconceptions prevail around biodiesel’s performance in colder months, Minnesota Soybean Director of Product Development and Commercialization Mike Youngerberg says the minimum requirement for diesel from October to March is only 5 percent. "A 5 percent blend fits into the diesel specifications for D975. It is nearly identical to diesel fuel as the ASTM looks at it." Given the fact, Youngerberg adds you have to treat number two diesel fuel in the wintertime. "Any diesel blends are treated in the same way. Whether it's through adding number one fuel or additives to control gelling, you just have to remember what operativity levels you want to work at."

Biodiesel Wants a Strong, Robust Number — National Biodiesel Board member and Nebraska soybean grower Greg Anderson says the biodiesel industry is looking for good numbers from the EPA on those RVOs. There has been some concern from the biodiesel industry. “We’re looking for good numbers. We’ve provided EPA with a lot of data and credible information of why we should be increasing the numbers. We have the production capacity of way more than what’s even been required. A lot of biodiesel producers are looking forward to a strong, robust number so they can have long term plans.” Anderson says the biodiesel industry is looking at ways to get the biodiesel tax credit to be reinstated. 

Ag Groups Challenge Proposition 65 — Agriculture groups have joined together in a federal lawsuit against the State of California for inaccurate classification of glyphosate under Proposition 65. The groups believe California has ignored the science and research behind glyphosate, making it a safe and widely-used herbicide. The North Dakota Grain Growers has joined the lawsuit, along with the National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, United State Durum Growers Association and South Dakota Agri-Business Association.

California's Glyphosate Label — Monsanto and a number of U.S. farm groups have sued California to stop the state from requiring cancer warnings on products containing glyphosate. California added glyphosate to its list of cancer-causing chemicals after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic”.

Monsant Ups Dicamba Lawsuit — Monsanto has amended its current lawsuit to also challenge Arkansas’ proposed ban on spraying dicamba over growing crops after April 15, which could cut into chemical and potentially seed sales. The Arkansas State Plant Board had no immediate comment.

Stronger Third Quarter Expected for JBS — JBS in Brazil is set to post stronger third-quarter results, driven by good performance in the United States, lower grain costs and an increase in sales. Average estimates point to a net income of $1.426 billion, up 61 percent from the third quarter of 2016. However, due to company executives’ involvement in corruption cases in Brazil, the future of JBS remains uncertain. 

NorthStar Genetics Kicks-Off 'Partners in Profit' Seminars — NorthStar Genetics kicked off a series of Partners in Profit meetings in Grand Forks Tuesday. CEO Dan Hogstad says NorthStar Genetics has partnered with Kluis Commodities to help farmers increase their bottom line. “Trying to show how we can make better marketing decisions and make more money that way. We have a plan called increasing yields without increasing costs. We talked about that. Yields have been good, but farmers have to pay attention each year and do things right. We also talked about some marketing strategies.” Hogstad says the goal is to help farmers make a profit. “Attendance has been above average. There are lots of younger farmers attending.”  

Sorting Through Biotech Facts Genetically modified organisms were the focal point for nearly 150 women gathered at Thunder Seed’s Women in Ag night. Biotech spokeswoman and Wolverton, Minnesota farmer Nancy Wulfekuhle said transparency is important when telling the story of agriculture. "Some people think we're not doing the right thing, but there's a lot of misinformation out there," said Wulfekuhle. "People are very receptive, and they want to know what farmers do. Once you assure them we eat the same food, they usually will listen." Wulfekuhle added conversations surrounding GMOs and biotechnology can often be tough to start, and recommended going back to the basics. "I just explain exactly what a GMO is. In the end, it is a breeding method, not an ingredient. Once people find that out, they really are very interested."

NDSU Extension Agronomist Provides Training in Uganda — North Dakota State University Extension Service Agronomist Joel Ransom spent time in Uganda this fall training local farmers on corn production. Although Uganda has fertile soils and suitable climate for corn production, yields are still low. While there, Ransom planted plots with different hybrids and fertilizer inputs so participants could learn firsthand what worked for their area. With more intensification and use of available technologies, Ransom says that yields could increase by fourfold on some of the farms he visited.

ND and MN Sheep Producers to Hold Conference — The North Dakota and Minnesota Lamb & Wool Producers Convention will take place December 1 and 2 in Fargo, North Dakota. North Dakota State University and University of Minnesota Extension Sheep Specialist Travis Hoffman says this year’s speaker line-up and discussions will benefit a growing North Dakota and Minnesota sheep industry. Nutritional impacts on ram fertility, predator management and ewe reproduction strategies are among the topics that will be covered during the conference. Visit or to register.

engAGe: a series for women in agribusiness Listen to the Red River Farm Network's podcast, called engAGe: a series for women in agribusiness. engAGe is sponsored, in part, by AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Dow Agrosciences, Thunder Seed, Black Gold Farms, North Dakota Soybean Council, Peterson Farms Seed and the North Dakota Grain Growers Association. 

HUB Purchases Wells Fargo Crop Insurance — HUB International has agreed to purchase the assets of Wells Fargo Crop Insurance Agency. Wells Fargo Insurance has offices in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Indiana. Terms of the agreement have not been disclosed, but Wells Fargo Crop team members will join HUB.

MDA Accepting Grant Applications — Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is accepting grant applications for Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration grants. MDA says about $250,000 is available to fund projects that explore new ways of conserving natural resources, enhance farm profitability, increase energy efficiency and improve life in rural communities. More information can be found on their website.

NDSU Awarded Grant to Improve Pest Management — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded $172,134 to North Dakota State University (NDSU) to improve crop protection and pest management. In a statement, Senator John Hoeven says the funds will help NDSU develop new methods to help producers prevent disease and pests from damaging their crops.

Merck Increases Veterinary Scholarship Funding — Merck Animal health announced a $115,000 increase in funding for its Veterinary Student Scholarship Program. The program will provide $300,000 in scholarships for second- and third-year veterinary students in the 2017/18 academic year. 

ND Soybean Bids Farewell to CEO North Dakota Soybean Council CEO Diana Beitelspacher has announced she will step down from her current position in mid-December. Beitelspacher did not reveal her next career move. Beitelspacher has been with the North Dakota Soybean Council for seven years. Previously, she worked for AgCountry Farm Credit Services.

Dusek Takes New Role with CHS — CHS has named Rick Dusek as the executive vice president for its country operations division. Dusek most recently served as vice president of CHS Agronomy and previously oversaw North American commodity trading and risk management for the cooperative. Dusek is a Grafton, North Dakota native and a graduate of North Dakota State University.

SD Soil Health Adds Fitzgerald to Staff — The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition has hired Sarah Fitzgerald as its communications coordinator. Fitzgerald is an Illinois native who has worked for the Quad City Botanical Center and two county Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

NCGA Adds to DC Staff — Katherine Emerson has joined the National Corn Growers Association as its director of public policy and political strategy. Emerson previously worked for World Food Program USA and Monsanto.

Marsh Succeeds Gasperini at NCAE — The former chief executive officer of Western United Dairymen is the new CEO of the National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE). Michael Marsh has been working as a consultant since 2014, but led the California-based dairy organization for 15 years before that. Marsh succeeds Frank Gasperini Jr., who will continue to serve as the NCAE executive vice president until the end of the year.

Brooks to be Honored with Agriculturist of the Year Award — The North Dakota State University Saddle and Sirloin Club has selected Steve Brooks as this year’s Agriculturist of the Year. Brooks is a Bowman, North Dakota rancher and the immediate past president of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association. He will be honored at the 92nd Little International, which will be held February 10-11 in Fargo.

USFRA Elects Board Members — The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) has elected four new board members representing various agriculture organizations and businesses. James Adams of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, Steve Geick of John Deere, Amanda Rinehart of Dupont Pioneer and Blair Van Zetten of the American Egg Board will join the 18-member Board of Directors. USFRA is comprised of more than 100 affiliates and industry partners.

NDDA Seeks Hemp Advisory Board Nominations — North Dakota Department of Agriculture is seeking nominations for a new seven-member industrial hemp advisory board. Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says the industrial hemp research pilot program has grown to the point that an advisory board is needed. The board will provide advice and expertise on market potential, identify new research objectives and review prospective research proposals. Interested individuals can apply now through December 11.    

Last Week's TriviaThere are 13 in a 'baker's dozen.' Holly Henitzman of R.D. Offutt Company came through with the first correct answer and is our weekly trivia winner. Laurie Hoffman of Vistacomm, David Stewart of United Valley Bank, Rene Scheurer of Betaseed and Bob Brunker of J.L. Farmakis earn runner-up honors. The 'first 20' list includes Erin Nash of Woodruff, Peter Carson of Carson Farms, Jeff Hamre of Legend Seeds, Danny Pinske of Hoffman Cooperative Grain Association, Brenda Kovar of Choice Financial, Joan Hoovestol of North Dakota Beef Commission, Val Dolcini of The Pollinator Partnership, Norm Groot of Monterey County Farm Bureau, Bob Nielsen of United Farmers Co-op, Dave Gehrtz of Proseed, Kentucky farmer George Martin, Jim Altringer of Midwest Ag Energy Group, Scott Mattocks of Western Consolidated Co-op, Dennis Inman of Land O'Lakes, and Todd Good of AgCountry Farm Credit Services.