Red River Farm Network News

Campaign Launched to Engage Consumers in the Farm Bill Debate — The Environmental Working Group and the Food Policy Action Fund have launched a campaign to make consumers more aware of the farm bill and its impact on food policy. The ‘Plate of the Union’ has four main priorities. Number one, the two groups want prevent large-scale farms from receiving farm program payments. The EWG and Food Policy Action Fund also want to improve anti-hunger programs, increase investment in organic agriculture and expand programs to reduce food waste.

Enlist E3 Soybeans Receive Patent — Dow AgroSciences and MS Technologies have been granted a patent for its Enlist E3 soybeans. For the first time, three herbicide tolerance genes can be found in a genetic event within the soybean genome. Enlist E3 provides tolerance to Dow AgroSciences’ new 2,4-D choline product, glyphosate and/or glufosinate. The patent recognizes proprietary work to develop new soybean products tolerant to three different modes-of-action.

Fewer Farms in South Dakota — The total number of South Dakota farms and ranches in 2016 was down 300 from 2015 with the average size just under 1,400 acres. Total farm land in South Dakota is pegged at 43.3 million acres, unchanged from 2015. The number of farms and ranches in North Dakota was down 200 from 2015. Total land is pegged at 39.1 million, down 100,000 acres from 2015. The average farm size is up 5 acres to 1,312 acres. The number of Minnesota farms was down 300 farms from 2015 to 73,300. Total 2016 farmland was pegged at 25.9 million, unchanged from 2015. The average farm size in Minnesota in 2016 was 353 acres, up 1 acre from 2015.

Canola: An Attractive Crop This Year — According to the Minnesota Canola Council, when compared to other alternatives, canola is an attractive crop choice this year. Data suggest canola’s return on investment per acre exceeds most cropping choices in northwestern Minnesota. Using a price of $16.25 per hundredweight and a reasonable yield of 2,100 pounds per acre, canola’s return on investment is roughly $75 per acre. 

Murray Joins Senator Roberts' Staff — Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts has announced promotions and new hires on his Committee staff. DaNita Murray, previously senior counsel for the Committee, adds the title of policy director. Murray received her undergraduate degree from South Dakota State University and her Juris Doctor from Drake University Law School. Murray grew up on her family’s farm near Milbank, South Dakota. 

Reporting Agriculture's Business — It's National FFA Week. The Red River Farm Network is a proud supporter of youth in agriculture and pleased to bring you special coverage this week. We're featuring success stories of former FFA members in this week's FarmNetNews. From the early Farm Bill discussions to the news coming out of Bismarck, St. Paul and Pierre: all can be found in FarmNetNews. Join RRFN this week at the International Crops Expo in Grand Forks. Follow coverage on your RRFN radio affiliate. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter. The RRFN team, Carah, Mike, Randy, Jay and Don are also on Twitter.

A 10-Year Forecast — USDA has released its annual forecast, projecting the next ten years in agriculture. USDA economist David Stallings coordinates this report and said the farm industry is re-adjusting after record income in 2014. “We do have net cash income and net farm income continuing to fall from our recent record highs. Net cash income declines through 2019 before remaining steady. Net farm income declines in 2017 and then increases back to 2016 levels in the later years of the projection period.” Stallings says the total acreage devoted to crop production will decline over the next ten years.  

An Uncertain Political Environment — The National Potato Council’s D.C. Fly-In wrapped up Thursday. With so many political unknowns, NPC executive vice president and CEO John Keeling says congressional leaders are left shrugging their shoulders. “Tax reform is something that is likely to occur this year. There is still lots of work being done to figure out what direction things will go and how they’ll set rates. We focused on the border adjustment taxes, what that looks like and how it may impact agriculture. We also talked a little bit about estate taxes.”

Rural Finance Authority is Back in Business — Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed legislation Friday, funding the Rural Finance Authority. This $35 million program provides small loans to beginning farmers and others through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The RFA ran out of funds at the end of 2016 and passed both chambers as a stand-alone bill.

MFU Legislative MinuteCheck out this update from the Minnesota Farmers Union on Minnesota's current legislative session. 

Amended Checkoff Bill Passes ND Ag Committee — The North Dakota House Agriculture Committee has taken action on legislation dealing with commodity checkoff programs. The original proposal sought restrictions on governance and had language outlining how a commodity council member could be removed. After review by a subcommittee, the full committee approved an amendment requiring a one-time report of state commodity councils to Legislative Management about their structure and operations. A study will also be conducted before more changes are recommended. This amended version of the bill passed unanimously in the House Agriculture Committee on Friday.

ND Legislative ReportGet an update on work in the North Dakota Legislature. The North Dakota Legislative Report is sponsored by North Dakota Farm Bureau, North Dakota Soybean Growers Association, North Dakota Corn Growers Association and North Dakota Farmers Union. In this edition, learn more ahead of Crossover Day.

New State Agency Proposed — A bill that would create a new state agency has passed the full North Dakota Senate. The new agency would be the Department of Environmental Quality. The proposal will move to the North Dakota House during the second half of the session.

Conservation-Minded Farmers in ND — In a speech to the North Dakota Pork Council, State Conservationist Mary Podall outlined the technical assistance and cost-share programs that are available. With the new Farm Bill debate cranking up, Podall said conservation will be part of the discussion. "North Dakota farmers utilize a lot of the Conservation Title II programs. For the Conservation Stewardship Program, we had 1,000 applications that year. That's exciting for me. That 1,000 applications are probably all eligible for the program, but, we're not going to have nearly enough acres and dollars to go down that list. CSP is about producers who are already doing a good job and willing to do a little bit more. That's a good indication of North Dakota's stewardship."

Wide Open SpacesThere are opportunities to grow animal agriculture in North Dakota. North Dakota Pork Council President Seth Bacon says the wide open spaces of the state is attractive for those in the pig business. "Biosecurity is important in any kind of pork production, especially, on a larger scale. In this part of the world, it is not very pig-dense. In our system, the closest (swine) farm is ten miles away and our sister farm is 40 miles away. In Minnesota and Iowa, that doesn't happen." According to Bacon, the state has only been involved in two permits for swine operations over the last ten years. Both of those cases happened in the past year. One is a sow multiplier in southeastern North Dakota, which was approved. The other case is the proposed Rolling Green Family Farm at Buffalo, which is now in the court system. The North Dakota Pork Council met this weekend in Grand Forks.

MN Beef Update — Hear from the Minnesota Beef Council and the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association in their weekly MN Beef Update. Learn more about the Wulf family's recent BQA honor. 

Recognizing ND FFA Members — The North Dakota State FFA officer team is hosting National FFA Southern Region Vice President DeShawn Blanding during National FFA Week. North Dakota State FFA president Al Schwabe. “Over the course of the week, we’re going to see about 40 of the 80 different chapters in North Dakota. FFA members across the state are going to be incredibly involved.” North Dakota State Treasurer Paul Moffett says Blanding will be talking with FFA members about the organization. Moffett says the week is filled with lots of excitement. “It’s their week to be recognized by everyone else. To me, that’s cool. There are also contests going on this week, too.”

Wearing the Blue JacketDPI Global Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Kendal Thompson served as president of the South Dakota FFA from 1972 to 1973. He would later teach vocational agriculture at Willow Lake, South Dakota. Thompson tells RRFN the communication skills he learned through the FFA are invaluable to his professional career. Listen to Thompson's story.

An Excuse to Talk About FFA — During National FFA Week, former Wishek, North Dakota FFA member Bridgette Readel takes her blue corduroy jacket to work with her every day. “Hopefully people notice it and ask why I have it so I can talk about the FFA.” Readel works for Dow AgroSciences LLC. Hear Readel's story. 

Continuing the Tradition of Ag Education — Brentford, South Dakota farmer Jeff Vander Wal remembers celebrating National FFA Week in high school. Vander Wal says it was extremely fun for FFA members and younger students to interact. But the best part of FFA Week? “The day where we had the most fun was when we would drive tractors to school on a particular day,” says Vander Wal. “Some people would drive a manure spreader, a feed wagon and another would drive loaders. We would scatter the parking lot of our high school with all kinds of farm equipment.” Listen to Vander Wal's story.

Renegotiating Labor Contracts — American Crystal Sugar Company tells the Red River Farm Network that contract negotiations with the Baker, Confectionary Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers will start in April. Vice president of administration Lisa Borgen. “We have been trying to negotiate with the union. We have settled on our first negotiation date, in April. We think that’s a move in a positive direction.” Borgen says the current five-year contract ends July 31, and it’s always been the company’s goal to continue to operate Crystal’s facilities will the people that now work for them. “As management, we have an obligation to our shareholders to ensure those facilities are operating,” says Borgen. “The best way to operate them is with our employees. Hopefully, we’ll get this contract settled before the expiration date.”

International Crop Expo This Week — The International Crop Expo comes to the Grand Forks Alerus Center Wednesday and Thursday. Show hours are 9 to 5 Wednesday, and 9 to 4 Thursday. Retired Grand Forks County Extension agent Willie Huot helped organize the agenda, and says there will be some very timely topics for the economic times we’re in. “We’re also having a joint session talking about what to do after the wet harvest that we had last fall: how you can best prepare your fields for the 2017 crop year and things you can do to mitigate some of the damage that was done. Another important one is spray drift and dicamba.” Thursday afternoon’s program about making smart financial decisions should draw some attention. “We’re going to have NDSU Extension’s Frayne Olson and Andy Swenson talking about some common-sense things growers should be thinking about in 2017 and ahead.” The trade show will be full again this year. There’s free admission and parking for the International Crop Expo.

County Average Yield Estimates Out This Week — On Thursday, USDA will release 2016 county yield estimates. These National Agricultural Statistics Service numbers are used for the ARC-County program. “NASS needs a minimum of 30 responses per county per crop to develop an estimate. They can go less than 30 observations, if the observations they get add up to more than 25 percent of the commodity area grown in that county. Just so they can be assured they are getting a statistically significant estimate.”  USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson says additional data, such as crop insurance information,  may be used if the NASS surveys don’t provide an accurate sample size.

ND Soybean Minute — Hear the latest North Dakota Soybean Minute from the North Dakota Soybean Council and the soybean checkoff. Check out the upcoming Soybean Marketing Seminar. 

A Step Change for Agriculture — On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency approved six herbicide tank mixes and 27 adjuvants for use with XtendiMax. Monsanto chemistry manager Shawn Vis expects these regulatory decisions to be made right into the growing season. "It is a fluid label. That label can change. Even though we have six (tank mixes) now, we expect more to be coming in short order." Having the regulators adjusting supplemental labels on an ongoing basis is described as “a step change for agriculture.” Information on tank mixes, adjuvants and nozzles will be available at the ag retailer. Details here. Vis says this dicamba product will provide exceptional weed control. Multiple modes of action are still recommended, including the use of a pre and a layered residual post and a post-emergence product like XtendiMax.

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. 

Canola Minute — Here's the latest Canola Minute from the Northern Canola Growers Association. Learn more about upcoming club root meetings.

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FeXapan Herbicide Approved by EPA — The Environmental Protection Agency has registered another dicamba formulation that can be used with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans and cotton. The FeXapan herbicide with VaporGrip Technology is produced by DuPont Crop Protection. This formulation is identical to Monsanto’s dicamba product, known as XtendiMax with VaporGrip, but carries the DuPont brand name.

Dean Foods Anticipates Lower Earnings in '17 — For the fourth quarter, Dean Foods is reporting net income of nearly $33 million. That’s up from $18 million a year ago. Dean Foods is the largest dairy processor in the United States. Looking ahead, the company is downplaying its profit outlook. A downturn in milk consumption and costs associated with its recent joint venter with CROPP, an organic dairy cooperative.

New Fertilizer Distribution Center Opens — Midwestern BioAg has opened a distribution facility in Brookings, South Dakota. The Wisconsin-based company will use the Brookings site for its custom fertilizer blends.

MFU Elects New VP — A Wauban farmer is the new vice president of the Minnesota Farmers Union. Bryan Klabunde was elected in a special meeting this weekend in St. Paul. Klabunde fills the position that was left open with the election of Gary Wertish to the MFU presidency.

Theimann Moves to The Russell Group — The Russell Group, which is a government consulting and lobbying company, has hired Karla Theimann. Theimann is the former chief of staff for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Before that, the Missouri native was on the staff of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Randy Russell leads this firm. Russell has a similar history, having served as chief of staff for Agriculture Secretary John Block and as an agricultural aide for the Senate Agriculture Committee and Minnesota Senator Rudy Boschwitz.  

Weller Makes the Move to Land O'Lakes — The former chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service is taking a job with Land O’Lakes. Jason Weller will take over as a senior director of sustainability. This will be part of the Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN business, which was created late last year. This business segment concentrates on sustainability and conservation efforts within the agriculture industry.

Skurupey Makes a Move to ND 4-H — Leigh Ann Skurupey has joined the North Dakota State University Extension Service as a 4-H youth development specialist. Skurupey will be based in the Center for 4-H Youth Development and will coordinate all state 4-H programs related to animal and equine science. Skurupey recently completed her doctorate degree at the University of Florida.