Red River Farm Network News

Senate Ag Committee Promotes Murray — A Milbank South Dakota native has been named the chief counsel for the Senate Agriculture Committee. DaNita Murray previously was senior counsel and policy director for the committee. Before that, Murray worked for the House Agriculture Committee, the National Corn Growers Association and USDA.  

Disaster Declared — North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum has declared a drought disaster for nearly all of the state. This clears the way for additional support from state and federal agencies. Burgum said this drought is “a serious economic hardship” for farmers, ranchers and the entire state.

Supporting the Next Generation of Ag Leaders — USDA and the FFA have signed a memorandum of understanding to work on projects that will motivate and prepare young people for careers in agriculture. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue participated in the ceremony, which took place during the National FFA Organization’s State Presidents’ Conference.

AGCO Inks Deal for Precision Planting LLC — AGCO has made a deal to take over Precision Planting. The Precision Planting equipment business is now part of Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto. Deere and Company and Monsanto had an agreement for the Precision Planting business last year, but the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit to block the deal.

R7 Field Forecasting Comes to the Ag Market — WinField United has launched new web-based crop modeling technology. The R7 Field Forecasting Tool will be available for the 2018 growing season. This tool is designed to help the farmer improve in-season input decisions for corn, soybeans and wheat.

WOTUS Rewrite Published in Federal Register — The Environmental Protection Agency has filed a repeal-and-replace plan for the Waters of the U.S. rule. The public now has 30 days to comment on the WOTUS revision. This action follows a four-state tour by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to gain input on these controversial regulations. One of those tour stops was in Minnesota.

Regulatory Relief to Help Move Hay, Livestock During Drought — The federal government has issued a regional emergency declaration in North Dakota to simplify the movement of hay, feed, supplies and livestock due to the drought. Senator John Hoeven said the regs will be waived, making it easier to support the ranchers hurt by the drought.

Investment Made in Premier Crop Systems — Syngenta Ventures has made a capital investment in Premier Crop Systems. Premier Crop Systems, which is based in Des Moines, is an ag-data processing and analysis company in the precision agriculture sector. Syngenta Ventures will have minority ownership in the company, but the money will allow Premier Crop Systems to expand its staff to accommodate new and existing customers. A Syngenta official said the deal will help it scale its in-field research.

Emergency Loans Available for MN Farmers — Minnesota Farm Service Agency Acting Administrator Chris Beyerhelm has announced that physical loss loans are available for Big Stone County in Minnesota. Farm operators who have suffered major physical losses caused by a tornado on June 13 may be eligible for emergency loans. Additionally, four Minnesota  counties are contiguous to this designated disaster area, making these producers also potentially eligible for programs based on this designation. The contiguous counties are Lac qui Parle, Stevens, Swift and Traverse. Producers in Grant and Roberts counties in South Dakota are also eligible because they are contiguous counties.

engAGe: a series for agribusiness women The Red River Farm Network has a new podcast called engAGe: a series for women in agribusiness. The latest podcast features Stewart-Peterson market analyst Naomi Blohm. Blohm says there are positive changes taking place in agriculture. “I think you have girls who are growing up now who have dads in their 30s, 40s and 50s. They say they want to come back to the farm. The girls come back to the farm with the mindset that they have a specific job. They are part of a family business. This is only going to continue and result in good things for family farms.” Blohm also says agriculture careers will be a hot commodity moving forward. Get the rest of the story. engAGe is sponsored, in part, by AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Dow Agrosciences, Thunder Seed, Black Gold Farms, North Dakota Soybean Growers Association, Peterson Farms Seed and the North Dakota Grain Growers Association.

Sugar Adjustments — USDA has announced several fiscal year 2017 sugar program adjustments that are being made in order to ensure an adequate supply of raw sugar in the U.S. market. USDA is increasing the overall allotment quantity for domestic sugar, reassigning beet sugar marketing allotments among processors, reassigning a surplus cane sugar marketing allotment of 870,000 tons, and increasing the U.S. raw sugar tariff-rate quota by 270,000 tons. American Crystal Sugar Company’s marketing allocation is cut by nearly 130,000 tons, while Minn-Dak Farmers Co-op and Southern Minnesota Beef Sugar Co-op both saw slight increases. USDA has also requested that the Department of Commerce increase this year’s Mexico export limit by 104,000 tons and that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative reallocate the expected shortfall in the fiscal year 2017 raw sugar tariff-rate quota of 95,000 tons.

Excess Sugar in the Market Again?

American Crystal Sugar Company’s Director of Government Affairs Kevin Price says the co-op is disappointed and concerned with USDA’s announcement. “We’re finally at a point where we might get out from under the problem with Mexico. Now, we have an announcement that could lead to excess sugar in the market again.” Price says American Crystal will watch the developments closely and hopes that it doesn’t lead to another depressed market.

Trade is Vital — During Tuesday's Senate Agriculture Committee hearing, North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp highlighted the importance of trade to agriculture. American Soybean Association board member Kevin Scott, who farms at Valley Springs, South Dakota, said trade is critically important. “For the soybean crop, we export 60 percent of what we grow. In North Dakota and South Dakota, it’s probably much higher percent than that. As far as value-added, we would love to put it on a hoof and export it that way.” National Association of Wheat Growers President Kevin Schemm wants the language in the trade agreements enforced. “We have some countries subsidizing the wheat producers to the point of almost $10/bushel. We need to enforce the trade agreements we do have. The other component, we need those trade agreements out there.” Today’s panel also advocated the need for Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development programs in the next farm bill.

Bye-Bye Black Bird — The House and Senate appropriations bills include $250,000 to help prevent blackbird damage to crops in the Northern Plains. With this money, USDA will use fixed-wing aircraft to keep the birds away from cropland. The National Sunflower Association estimates North Dakota’s sunflower industry loses almost $11 million in direct costs associated with blackbird damage. These spending bills still need approval from the full House and Senate.

Aphids and IDC — CHS-Devils Lake sales manager Jeremy Safranski says there have been lots of questions on aphids and iron deficiency chlorosis in the area. “We’ve seen aphids in plots right now. For the most part, our crop looks decent. South of the lake, it’s tougher area. The area has missed a few of the recent rains.” CHS-Devils Lake hosted a series of field tours this past week.

Dicamba Concern Grows — Farmers are complaining about crop damage due to a neighbor’s use of dicamba. In Illinois, there are about 100 complains of alleged dicamba damage. There are 68 complaints in Indiana, 46 in Iowa and 35 in Minnesota, according to officials. None of these states had recorded complaints one month ago. In North Dakota, as of Friday, there are four official dicamba complaints. North Dakota State University Extension Pesticide Program Specialist Andrew Thostenson says there are more farmers having issues with dicamba drift. He’s not sure how much more though. That’s hard to know. “The Deptartment of Agriculture is logging their telephone traffic. It’s been increasing in the last seven to ten days. They had reported and logged 28 dicamba-related calls in their office as of Friday. There’s lots of stuff going on out there.” Thostenson says going into this application season, farmers and applicators needed to be on top of their game to minimize problems. “I hate to see people’s crops get damaged, especially in a situation when we have short crops anyway because of the weather. I also hate seeing my industry people who have tried to do a good job get into situations where some of their applications resulted in complaints."

No Cuts for Crop Insurance — The Trump Administration’s 2018 budget proposal called for additional cuts to crop insurance. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts has addressed this issue with the Office of Management and Budget and the White House. “We are not going to cut crop insurance, period.”

Not Just One Thing — It’s hard to know what causes drift, because it can happen different ways. In last Thursday’s Crop and Pest Report, North Dakota State University says North Dakota growers followed best management practices to limit off-site movement. The report suggests wind speed is a factor, among other things. Further south, Iowa State University Extension Weed Scientist Dr. Bob Hartzler says there’s a wide range of mechanisms in which dicamba is coming into contact with soybeans in Iowa. “Last week, I was visiting a field. There was obvious particle drift. The farmer sprayed under too windy conditions or it didn’t have the proper nozzles. There was relatively minor injury to the beans that dissipated as you moved away from the treated field. In the same field, it looked like dicamba had moved with runoff water from the field. That dicamba was at a much higher dose. It will impact the yield potential.” Hartzler says soybean plants are more susceptible to drift. “For some reason, soybeans are very inefficient at metabolizing the dicamba. Any dicamba that gets in the plant sticks around and causes injury. Other species have the ability to metabolize the dicamba.”

An Update on Missouri's Dicamba Drift — University of Missouri associate professor of plant sciences Kevin Bradley says the lesson Missouri farmers are learning about dicamba drift is based on off-target movement of the product. He notes concerns with volatility. “I’m not going to argue or discount the things that have been said that could cause off-target movement. I know there has been physical drift out of the sprayer. I think everyone knows that. I know there are applications that have been made as on-target as you could possibly make them. They is still dicamba injury.” Bradley thinks farmers need to understand there are lots of potential challenges. “There are labeled legal applications that have occurred also causing injury. Those are the ones you don’t want to overlook. We feel like volatility is still an issue. That’s going to be a big one to figure out in the future with this technology.”

Who is Liable? — One of the big questions from the initial Arkansas dicamba ban discussion is who is liable for drift. One source tells RRFN it’s always the applicator, whether it’s the commercial applicator or private farmer. Any off-target movement is the responsibility of the applicator. The source tells us companies are shooting for a similar situation to dicamba. Once acreage increases, they’re right. Another source thinks the market will sort things out. However, there will never be another Xtend tomato, peach or potato. We will still have issues moving forward.   

Stay Connected with RRFNAre you on social media? Connect with RRFN and get updates on farm news, markets and weather on Facebook and Twitter. The RRFN team: Carah, Megan, Mike, Randy, Jay and Don are also on Twitter. Listen each day on your local RRFN affiliate. 

Bill to Ban Chlorpyifos Filed — A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate to ban the use of a widely-used insecticide. The Obama Administration had a plan in place to ban chlorpyifos. The Environmental Protection Agency reversed that decision in March. Activist groups tried to intervene, but the courts kept the EPA decision in place. Senate Democrats, including New Mexico Senator Tom Udall and Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, are now attempting to implement the ban through the legislative process.

Drought Challenges, Market Impacts — Roach Ag Marketing held a series of summer seminars this past week in Grand Forks and Watertown. Regional office manager Dan Manternach says they’re in the Dakotas because of the challenges with the drought. “The big question: could the top already be in?” Manternach thinks harvested acres will be the key to the direction of the spring wheat market. He says the corn and soybean markets have been a year of contrast. “It’s too dry in the western Corn Belt, but a little too wet in the eastern Corn Belt. There’s lots of challenge to the USDA corn yield as well. At Roach, we have private estimators who think the corn yield could be as low as 165 bushels/acre.” Manternach warns that the top of the market can sometimes occur before USDA figures out how small the crop is. He says the key is to watch weekly crop condition ratings.

Propane Shortage — Recent trends in propane sales may cause some concern for farmers. Inventory typically builds throughout the course of the summer, but is currently lagging behind the typical five year average. CHS Propane Director of Marketing Dennis St. Aubin says farm producers, as well as residential home heat users, should be aware of these inventories. “Right now, we’re watching closely. What is creating the alert is the fact we have exports taking place. Each and every week we get inventory updates that come out. This week, we’ve seen a rather large inventory build. We are working on getting supply back up.” St. Aubin encourages farmers to build their supply now, as propane demand starts to ramp-up come late September due to crop drying. “We’re encouraging farmers to get their tanks full and get with their suppliers to understand supply needs.”

"Treading Water" — That’s how Bell Bank senior vice president and director of agribusiness development Lynn Paulson describes the current state of the local farm economy. "2016 turned out to be a little better than we expected, due mainly to better than trendline yields. We saw more guys that were more profitable, maybe, not cash flowing, but more profitable." Paulson says Minnesota’s crop potential seems to be fairly good at this time, while things drop off fairly quickly to the west. "Ironically, for most guys out west, no crop is better than a 50 percent crop. If they have decent crop insurance, they can stop the bleeding with respect to harvest expenses and such." Bell Bank is hosting a symposium called Vision 2025 Wednesday in Fergus Falls and Moorhead. Nationally known speaker and author David Kohl will be one of the presenters.

An Update on the VFD — The veterinary feed directive has been in effect for seven months, and the phone calls to North Dakota State University Extension veterinarian and livestock stewardship specialist Gerald Stokka have tapered off considerably. He’s hoping that’s because of Extension specialists’ and agents’ extensive efforts to educate livestock producers. The VFD requires producers to obtain a written order from their veterinarian before buying antibiotics intended for use in or on animal feed. The regulation is intended to limit the use of antibiotics in livestock to those necessary for animal health.

Income Rises for DuPont — For the second quarter, DuPont reports income of $1.2 billion. That’s up from nearly $1.1 billion a year ago. Sales in DuPont’s agriculture business unit represents nearly half of the total revenues. The DuPont-Dow merger is expected to be finalized in August. At that time, the new company will split into three separate businesses. One will focus on agriculture and the others will deal with specialty chemicals and materials.

Strong 2Q for CN Railway — Canadian National Railway is second quarter revenues of $3.3 billion. That’s up 17 percent from the previous year. The shipment of agricultural products rose. The revenue from grain and fertilizer movement increased 23 percent. Due to a high Canadian currency and dry weather hurting crops in both the U.S. and Canada, CN Rail officials expect the second half of the year will be more challenging. The Canadian Pacific Railway had record second quarter profits in mid-July, but also voiced concern about the balance of this year.

Driving ND's Economic Development Strategy — John Schneider is the new economic development and finance division director at the North Dakota Department of Finance. Schneider has been the interim director since January. The Rugby native previously was the executive director for the Agricultural Products Utilization Commission.

Farmers for Free Trade — Former Indiana Senator Dick Lugar and former Montana Senator Max Baucus are the honorary co-chairs of a group called Farmers for Free Trade. This group is promoting the importance of trade for agriculture.

AGCO to Purchase Precision Planting — AGCO says it has reached an agreement to purchase Precision Planting from Monsanto’s Climate Corporation. Terms of the agreement have not been disclosed and the deal is subject to regulatory approval.

SD Native Leading FPA — Food Policy Action's new executive director is Monica Mills. Mills previously served as the director of government relations of Bread for the World. Mills is a South Dakota native and worked for South Dakota senators Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson.

New President for LPC — Cindy Cunningham, assistant vice president, National Pork Board, is the new president of the Livestock Publications Council. Cunningham succeeds Scarlett Hagins of the Kansas Livestock Association.

Lovas Picked as SBARE Nominee — The North Dakota Ag Coalition selected Sarah Lovas of Hillsboro as its nominee to the State Board of Agricultural Research and Education. Lovas' name has been forwarded to the State Board of Higher Education. Lovas is a farmer and crop consultant.

Hauf Promoted — NDFB has promoted Lisa Hauf as director of public relations. Hauf has been with NDFB for over 11 years and assisted with the communications and public policy divisions.

Ag Coalition Re-elects Board Members — The North Dakota Ag Coalition has re-elected members to its executive board. Paul Mathiason of Grand Forks was elected to his second term as chairman. Mathison represents the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association. Darrell Oswald, who ranches at Wing, is the vice chair. Oswald represents the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association. Brian Amundson of Jamestown, who also represents the NDSA, was elected to his second term as the livestock representative.

Omaha Farm Broadcaster Passes — The longtime farm broadcaster at KFAB Radio in Omaha has died. Roger Flemmer, 83, had been with KFAB for 33 years. Flemmer was born in Hebron, North Dakota and graduated from Dickinson High School.

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

NDFMGA Update — Drought is impacting produce grown in North Dakota. Listen to this update from the North Dakota Farmers Markets and Growers Association.

Corn Matters — Hear the Minnesota Corn Growers Association's Corn Matters program. Meet the new district field manager for Minnesota Corn.

The Sugarbeet ReportLearn more on taking care of your crop during the growing season. Here's a crop update. The Sugarbeet report is sponsored, in part, by SES VANDERHAVE and Dow Agrosciences. 

Canola Minute — Here's the latest Canola Minute from the Northern Canola Growers Association. Learn more about the canola field tour.

MN Beef Update — Hear from the Minnesota Beef Council and the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association in their weekly MN Beef Update.

AURI UpdateCatch this weekly update from the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute. Learn how AURI is getting feedback from the industry on challenges and opportunities in agriculture.

Last Week's TriviaGranny Smith is an apple variety. Angie Skochdopole of AdFarm takes top honors in our trivia challenge. Congrats, Angie. Marshall Erickson of First International Bank & Trust, Kenmare farmer Michael Brekhus, Clearwater County Auditor/Treasurer Allen Paulson, and Mandy Kvale of Farm Credit Services of Mandan earn runner-up honors. The 'first 20' recognition goes to Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, Dean Nelson of Kelley Bean Company, Lake Wilson farmer Gene Stoel, Fred Parnow of Nuseed Americas, Laurie Hoffman of Vistacomm, Scott Mattocks of Western Consolidated Co-op, Brenda Kovar of Choice Financial Group, Brian Brandt of Rabo AgriFiance, Al Wimpfheimer of Simplot, Tuttle farmer/rancher Burdell Johnson, Parnell Thorson of Commerce Bank, Jim Altringer of Columbia Grain, Erin Nash of Woodruff, Patrick Gilligan of Marubeni America Corporation, Roger Scheiber of South Dakota Dairy Producers and Matt Wilson of DuPont Pioneer.