Red River Farm Network News

Monsanto Shareholders to Vote on Bayer Deal — A special Monsanto shareholders meeting will be held Tuesday, December 13. Bayer’s planned acquisition of Monsanto will be up for a vote at this meeting. Two independent proxy advisory companies have recommended Monsanto shareholders vote for the proposal. If the merger agreement is adopted, the deal between the two companies could be finalized by the end of 2017.

Crop Insurance Critics Remain — The crop insurance industry is pleased that President-elect Donald Trump’s ag advisory committee has voiced support for crop insurance. However, National Crop Insurance Services President Tom Zacharias says critics remain in Congress. “Farmers pay a portion of the premium on this and share the risk with taxpayers. We know we have a good story to tell.” Zacharias explains crop insurance is an insurance-based system. “Wide-scale participation is key,” says Zacharias. “Diversification of risk is also important for insurance. coupled with that is the farm safety net aspect of the program, making sure crop insurance is affordable so we have wide scale participation.” Zacharias uses 2012 as an example that crop insurance works. Despite a devastating drought, there were no calls for ad hoc disaster assistance that year. 

A Request from Thune and Rounds — South Dakota Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds have joined 21 of their Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Barack Obama requesting the administration stop issuing non-emergency rules and regulations in the final weeks of his term. Thune and Rounds stressed to the president that the American people made it clear on November 8 that they expect regulatory relief. 

Practicing Patience — National Potato Council executive vice president and CEO John Keeling says we’ll likely have to wait a little longer to hear about the new ag secretary. “Particularly in agriculture, because of president-elect Trump being an outsider from the process, we have less of an understanding in agriculture probably of who will be the next ag secretary and the other Cabinet members.” Keeling says they’ll try to keep trade on the radar screen. “While we support the idea of doing tough and good deals, we need to continue doing deals," says Keeling. "Whether it’s revamping TPP so it’s a satisfactory trade agreement or going back and reconfiguring NAFTA to modernize it, we need to keep the negotiations going forward on those type of agreements. That’s how we reduce tariffs and expand trade.”

Hope for the Trans-Pacific Partnership — Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch is optimistic that the outstanding issues Congress has with the Trans-Pacific Partnership can be resolved and the agreement can be ratified. Hatch is willing to work to get issues blocking TPP resolved, but prospects for ratification remain bleak as President-elect Donald Trump has said he would pull out of TPP on his first day in office. 

North Dakota Farmers Union Meeting Friday — North Dakota Farmers Union president Mark Watne says the business report will kick off the event Friday morning, followed by policy discussions. “David Wasserman with the Cook Political Report will give us an insight on the election and what that means in the future,” says Watne. “We also have the North Dakota Congressional Delegation-both Senators and Congressman Cramer coming to the event.” On Saturday, the policy discussions continue along with youth recognition. “I don’t see a lot of big changes on policy,” says Watne. “We’ve got a number of resolutions in from our counties and probably the only thing is farmers getting some benefits for wetlands or mitigating issues and there are concerns on improving the Farm Bill and NASS reporting and how it works out with ARC-County payments. Nothing of real major consequence, more on tweaking.” The event will be held at the Bismarck Event Center. 

More Beans for China — Word from Brazil is that China bought 15 to 20 cargoes of Brazilian soybeans last week. Brazilian agribusiness consultant, and Minnesota native, Kory Melby, is surprised by that volume. “They are booking six to seven cargos for January, which is ahead of normal for Brazil, especially given the past few years. That will probably take away some of the U.S. market share.”  Melby says Brazil should have plenty of soybeans to sell. “The crop is just fine. Sure, there are a few dry pockets here and there. We’ll need to worry about Southern Brazil and Argentina in January/February. This crop is big and it is early.  Melby estimates 40 percent of Brazil’s soybean crop is sold, including 60 percent of the crop in Mato Grosso.

AGP Aberdeen Project Moves Forward — Ag Processing Incorporated is making progress with its new soybean processing facility in Aberdeen, South Dakota. AGP is focused on engineering design and regulatory approvals with the construction of the plant expected to begin next spring. The new plant will likely begin processing soybeans in 2019.

Slow, Gradual Land Value Decline to Continue — In general, land values have been declining since the peak several years ago. But Farmers National Company Senior Vice-President Randy Dickhut says there are certain areas where land values have been very stable. “North Dakota has started to decline in land values a year sooner due to sugarbeet prices. Then, it’s taken some decline in the heart of the Midwest due to weather conditions and lower grain prices with wider basis. There’s a little more risk.” As long as grain and cattle prices remain low, Dickut thinks the slow, gradual decline in land values will continue. He doesn’t see a big drop as long as there is not a lot of land for sale. “There hasn’t been as much in the last few years as the decline has happened, but there continues to be estate sales and investors starting to sell.” Cash rents vary regionally as well.

Negotiating More Labor ContractsAs if low sugar content and low sugar prices weren’t enough to think about, American Crystal Sugar Company will also have to negotiate another labor contract in 2017. American Crystal attempted to extend the current contract this summer, but the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union did not put it to a vote and in fact, filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board. American Crystal President and CEO Tom Astrup comments. “We’ve got a July 31 contract deadline. At that time, our shareholders have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the crop. Not running the factories isn’t an option. Our efforts are focused on getting contracts done and getting the employees we have working beyond July 31. I have every expectation that will happen, but we have to run the plant. There always has to be a backup plan.” By law, all employees at Crystal’s three Minnesota plants are union members, but only about 30-40 percent of employees at its two North Dakota plants belong to the union. The union was locked out in August 2011, a lockout that continued for 22 months.

An Economic Force for Rural America — CHS commissioned a study evaluating the economic impact cooperatives have in their communities. CHS vice president of aligned solutions Mark Biedenfeld says the co-op is an economic hub. “In a rural community, often times the co-op is often the largest employer in the community, providing significant services and resources, whether that’s grain purchases, the sale of agronomy or being a station to get a gallon of milk or get a tank of gas." Biedenfeld says these co-ops also create jobs, allowing young people to remain in rural America. “They are becoming the next generation or part of the next generation of these rural communities.” The business consulting firm, Ernst and Young, did this research.  

Dalrymple Releases His Final Budget — North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple has released his 2017-2019 Executive Budget. With revenues projected at $4.78 billion, the budget represents a 21 percent reduction in general fund appropriations. Most state agencies were asked to identify ten percent savings in spending for the 2015-2017 biennium. Another $60 million in spending cuts are now being made in addition to that ten percent target. The budget calls for 268 fewer full-time positions in general government and 315 fewer employees in the state’s higher education system. The budget calls for no new taxes and carries forward with property tax and income tax relief. The budget also includes $725 million for highway and road improvements.

Big Crop, Low Beet Payment — Members of Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative harvested a record sugarbeet crop, but beet payments will be down significantly. At the Minn-Dak annual meeting, it was announced production topped 3.2 million tons, which is a record high. Yields averaged 28.4 tons per acre and the net beet payment will be $32.50 per ton. Minn-Dak expects to cut its acreage by more than nine percent for the 2017 growing season.

Antibiotic-Resistant Gene Reported — According to a research paper from Ohio State University, an antibiotic-resistant gene has been identified in one swine farrowing barn. The researchers do not know how the resistant bacteria was introduced into the facility. The National Pork Board released a statement, emphasizing the U.S. pork supply is safe. The resistant gene identified in the study was not in a market hog and is not a threat to food safety.

Working on New Forage Innovation — A collaboration between Dow AgroSciences and Australian company is developing new forage products. Agriculture Victoria Services is taking a commercial license for the EXZACT Precision Technology Platform to bring new forage grass varieties to the market. The EXZACT gene editing platform is a proprietary technology from Dow AgroSciences.

Proper Nutrition for Your Field — DuPont Pioneer put a special focus on phosphorus and potassium levels in this past year’s agronomy trials. Agronomy research manager Jeff Mathesius said the research highlights the importance of proper nutrition. “We had about 22,000 samples on 9,000 fields across 12 states characterizing those P and K levels," said Mathesius. "There are opportunities for farmers to get those P and K levels up to those adequate amounts they need.” The research confirmed that deficient P and K levels will impact yields.

Aphid Resistance — Soybean breeders have developed various soybean varieties that carry aphid-resistance traits, in addition to other promising agronomic characteristics. Commercially-available aphid-resistant varieties carry a single aphid-resistance gene or a combination of two resistance genes. Pyramiding of two or more aphid-resistance genes in single soybean varieties is underway in several soybean breeding programs in our region. The University of Minnesota Soybean Breeding Program, in collaboration with the University’s Department of Entomology, is working on pyramiding various gene combinations in soybean varieties adapted to Minnesota conditions and with superior traits for other agronomic factors.

The Importance of Quality Data — CropLife America has petitioned the EPA to stop using studies that are not backed by sound science or quality data. Crop Life America’s petition requests that EPA cease regulatory decision making with respect to any organophosphate pesticide where that decision making is based primarily on results from epidemiological studies that do not meet well-defined data quality standards and where the public has no means of knowing how EPA is determining the quality of such studies.

Contract Awarded for Diversion Project — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded its first contract for permanent flood protection in the Fargo-Moorhead area. The $46 million contract will include construction of a diversion inlet control structure south of Horace. This concrete structure will feature three gates to regulate water flows into the diversion channel. Work on this project is expected to be done in 2020.           

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CFO Appointed at Calyxt — Former Monsanto executive Bryan Corkal is the new chief financial officer for Calyxt. Calyxt is based in Minnesota and is focused on developing crops and food products with healthier characteristics.

Flores in New Role at John Deere — Beverly Flores has been named as the media relations manager for John Deere Ag and Turf Division for Region 4. Flores previously served as the manager of external communications for Deere’s Intelligent Solutions Group. Flores takes over for Barry Nelson, who retired at the end of October.

4-H Ambassadors Named — Three young people have been selected to join the North Dakota 4-H Ambassadors team. They are Theodore Mayer of Hettinger County, Marisa Tuhy of Stark County and Tobias Zikmund of Walsh Count. The ambassadors coordinate numerous activities for 4-H and facilitate the annual Extension Youth Conference.

Potato Leader Passes Away — A former chairman of the Red River Valley Potato Growers Association has died. Alan Collette from Grafton, North Dakota was well known for his innovative ideas and progressive farming practices.  In fact, he co-founded the first 4-row potato harvester in the Red River Valley. He was given the Potato Growers Association’s Meritorious Service Award in 1988. Funeral services will be held Saturday for the 77-year-old Collette.

MASWCD Awards Presented at Annual Meeting — During the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts annual meeting, Rick and Marlene Schlichting of Benton County received the outstanding conservationist award. Charles and Cheryl Funk of Wadena County was recognized with the outstanding forest stewardship award. Becker Soil and Water Conservation District received an appreciation award from the DNR. Laura Molenaar of New-London-Spicer Public School received the teacher of the year award. State Representative Denny McNamara of Hastings is the legislator of the year. The association’s Friend of Conservation Award was given to Doug Thomas, who is the assistant director of the Board of Water and Soil Resources.

ND Soybean Minute — Hear the latest North Dakota Soybean Minute from the North Dakota Soybean Council and the soybean checkoff. Make plans to attend the annual North Dakota Soybean Expo.

Corn Matters — Hear the Minnesota Corn Growers Association's Corn Matters program. Find out more about the Nitrogen Smart Program.

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

Canola Minute — Here's the latest Canola Minute from the Northern Canola Growers Association. Hear more on the upcoming 2016 Canola Expo.

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 Cattle Feeder Days.

AURI Update — In the weekly update from the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute. 

Last Week's Trivia — Charles Schultz is the Minnesota native that brought us Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy and more. Tim Book of Verdesian wins our weekly trivia challenge. Josh Tjosaas of Northland Farm Business Management, Todd Good of AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Greg Guse of Paulsen and Dennis Sabel of Minnesota Farm Bureau earn runner-up honors. The trivia 'first 20' list rounds out with Mandy Kvale of Farm Credit Services of Mandan, Justin Golden of Western Consolidated Co-op, Ryan Anderson of Bremer Insurance, Brian Rund of Nufarm Americas, Erin Nash of Woodruff Sweitzer, Jim Altringer of Columbia Grain, Bruce Miller of Minnesota Farmers Union, Eric Lahlum of Dow AgroSciences, Paul Coppin of Reynolds United Co-op, Mary Buschette of the University of Minnesota, Mark Haugland of Bayer, Karlstad farmer Kurt Aakre, Kevin Schulz of National Hog Farmer, Burleigh County farmer Jim McCullough and Mark Maris of Cargill.