Red River Farm Network News
Acre Shift in 2014 — There may be a small shift in acres in 2014. Bigg Dogg Agg general manager Mark Fillbrandt, who is based in Felton, Minnesota, is seeing some caution. “I think corn is going to come down a little bit, wheat will probably go up a little bit. We really don’t move a lot of acres up here, at least in our group. You have to keep your rotation decent because it helps with sugarbeets. I think a lot of guys who dove into the corn are going to be a little more cautious, which is good. I still think corn is a good deal, we just have to take care of it right.” He says the late harvest delayed bookings for the 2014 crop, but orders are now coming in.
MNFB Wants Repeal of Certain Taxes — Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Paap says their number one priority on the state level is repealing business-to-business sales taxes, such as the tax on labor charges on farm machinery repairs. “That probably was the number one issue that came from resolutions from the county. Last year we put a sales tax on the labor portion of farm machinery repair. That was against our policy. We have a little revenue now in the budget. We’re going to ask the governor and everyone else to take a look at repealing not only that tax, but these other business-to-business taxes.”
Beef Checkoff Deadline Extended — The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is extending the deadline for producers to request ballots for the upcoming beef checkoff referendum. That deadline is now January 17 and was extended after a series of public hearings. The vote is part of a proposed $1 per head increase in the Minnesota beef checkoff. The additional $1 checkoff is voluntary. Dairy cattle sold for meat production are subject to the checkoff, but those purchased for milk production are not.
Record Crop, Record Consumption — While the US wheat crop was only average, global wheat production is record high. US Wheat Associates president Alan Tracy says wheat consumption is also at record levels. "Despite that record crop, we're looking at only a tiny increase in the carryout," said Tracy, "It's the biggest crop we've ever had and it's getting used up; that is good news because we're not building stocks with these large crops and that speaks well for the future." Tracy was in Grand Forks, participating in the Prairie Grains Conference.
Don't Focus on the Easy Sale — At the South Dakota Soybean 9th annual Ag Outlook Event Thursday, International Marketing Consultant Peter Mishek says when marketing, it’s hard not to focus on the easy sale. “China right now is like a giant vacuum cleaner sucking up all the soybeans out there right now. There is a certain amount of risk leaning too far into one market. One of the things South Dakota is doing is that we’re also doing markets in the Black Sea and Mediterrianian area. We’re looking at Central America and the Carribbean. We’re doing what we can to make sure that in the event one market falters, our producers are not left with the bean in the bin.” Mishek says the South Dakota Soybean group has done a good job positioning their products in the global market.
Using Social Media to Promote Ag — Greg Peterson from Assaria, Kansas is the oldest of four children who stormed into fame in the agriculture world about a year and a half ago because of their use of YouTube videos and music parodies to show people what they do on their farm. At the 65th annual South Dakota Cattlemen’s Convention Greg said anyone can use social media to tell agriculture’s story. “You don’t have to be making music parody videos. You don’t have to be getting millions of views. Take pictures of your farm. Take videos of your farm and post them on social media. People see that and it helps them correct their perception of farmers because it makes us more real. Farmers are real, hard-working, caring, honest people. They’re not these villains that people make us out to be.” Greg said they don’t sell any of their parodies so they’ll remain free to view. The three brothers-- Greg is 22, turning 23 next week, Nathan is 20, Kendall is 19--are featured in each video. Sister Laura, who helps with the video work and makes a brief appearance in a few of their videos, is 13.
Canadian Wheat Affecting US Wheat — USDA says the US wheat market may be impacted by the large crop in Canada this year. World Ag Outlook Board Chairman Gerald Bange says the Board increased its estimate of US wheat imports this month. “We’re looking at imports about 160 million bushels which is not a big number. But, it is considerably higher than last year and does reflect that large crop in Canada. We do have a demand in the US right now for some higher quality milling wheat. That, we think, will come from Canada.” US wheat imports are expected to increase 30 percent this marketing year, compared to the previous year. Bange estimates about two-thirds of this year’s wheat crop has been sold at prices just below $7. USDA estimates the season-average price of wheat at $6.90, down almost 90 cents a bushel from last year.
Lentsch: Future of Cattle Looks Good in SD — During the 65th annual South Dakota Cattlemen’s Convention State secretary of agriculture Lucas Lentsch said despite storms this past spring and fall, the future is good for cattle production in SD. “With 1.6 million cow-calf pairs in our state, that leads to a lot of cattle on feed, that leads to a lot of diversified economy adding value to the commodities that we raise in this state.” Lentsch says loss numbers from the early October blizzard are still estimates, but they number into the tens of thousands. “The Animal industry Board recently reported 21,000 head of livestock have been called in, but we know that’s a light number. And on top of that, 1400 sheep. And you start looking at the horses. You look at 40 bison. You look at the fact that deer and antelope were part of that loss. It wasn’t just cattle.”
New Identity for XSAg.com — XSAg.com is getting a new name. By next summer, the web-based agricultural chemical exchange will be known as Farmtrade.com. Farmtrade LLC purchased the XSAg business nearly a year ago.
Dry Bean Production Down From '12 — USDA estimates this year’s US dry bean crop at just over 24 million hundredweight, down 25 percent from last year. Planted acres declined 23 percent, and the average yield is 35 pounds per acre less than a year ago. North Dakota’s dry bean production declined 39 percent, and Minnesota’s is 28 percent below last year. The US pinto bean crop is down 37 percent, or five million bags from last year. Navy production fell 31 percent; blacks are off 33 percent; and dark red kidneys are down 11 percent. Great Northern bean production is up 23 percent from a year ago.
Still Plenty of Risk — At the 9th annual South Dakota Soybean Ag Outlook Thursday in Sioux Falls President and CEO of Top Third Marketing Mark Gold said many farmers are holding onto their corn and soybeans thinking price can’t or won’t go lower. He disagrees. “I would say that there’s still plenty of risk out there. If the Brazilians have a big crop, if we have a big crop, we’ll get updates on the ’13 crop in the January USDA Crop Production report. I believe bigger crops get bigger and we’ll see even bigger yields when it’s all said and done.”
Brooten Couple Awarded Jaycees' OYF Award — The Minnesota Jaycees have awarded a Brooten couple with its Outstanding Young Farmer Award. Aaron and Jessica Radermacher will now compete at the national level. The Jaycees Outstanding Young Farmer program dates back to 1938.
House Passes Farm Bill Extension — On a simple voice vote, the House has passed a short-term farm bill extension. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas said this action would prevent permanent law from being implemented on January 1. "The press headlines already speak of doom and that we're on the brink of going off the dairy cliff. Time magazine is saying and I quote 'people are freaking out about $8 a gallon milk;' it is not necessary to have that kind of panic throughout the country." While the House quietly passed an extension, Senate leadership says it isn’t necessary. The House has recessed for the year, but Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson will remain in Washington in the week ahead. They’ll meet with their Senate counterparts to continue the farm bill negotiations. Full conference committee action is expected in early January.
Gold Dirt in Iowa — Average Iowa farmland increased five percent in value this year, according to the Iowa Land Value Survey conducted last month. Values increased in 2013 for the fourth straight year and achieved historic highs. The average acres of farmland in Iowa is now estimated to be worth $8,716. The northwest crop reporting district reported the highest land values at almost $11,000 per acre. Over three-fourths of survey respondents cited lower commodity prices as a negative factor affecting land markets.
Breaking New Records — USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber says 2013 produced one of the biggest crops the world has ever recorded. "World grain crops--wheat, rice and corn are all at record levels; soybeans are also at record levels." USDA won’t issue its final crop estimates until January, but the corn estimate is already record-large, and almost 30 percent bigger than last year. In the December Supply/Demand report, USDA cut the season-average price forecast for corn by ten cents from last month, to $4.40 a bushel. US corn ending stocks were cut 95 million bushels, as both exports and ethanol use were raised 50 million bushels.
Sales Increase — During this past year, sales for those distributing crop protection products increased 6.2 percent. According to a report from the research firm, Kline & Company, the gains were helped by gains in corn, soybean and wheat acreage and the increased use of biotech traits.
Capistran Reelected — Crookston, Minnesota farmer Kevin Capistran will serve another year as president of the National Sunflower Association. Dickinson, North Dakota farmer Art Ridl was reelected vice president. Kansas farmer Karl Esping is the NSA second vice president and Guy Christensen of ADM is the secretary-treasurer.
Opportunity to Educate — The 9th annual South Dakota Soybean Ag Outlook was Thursday in Sioux Falls. Past-president Paul Casper of Lake Preston says the event is an opportunity to provide education. “We’re trying to educate our farmers as best we can. We’re trying to help them on the marketing side and giving them insight on what’s going on in the United States based on the issues like different types of ecological issues, what’s going on with our farm bill or federal crop insurance.”
Corn Ethanol Elimination Legislation — California Senator Diane Feinstein and Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn have introduced a bill that would eliminate corn-based ethanol from the Renewable Fuels Standard. The lawmakers claim this policy pushes food prices higher and dot benefit the environment. A coalition of poultry and livestock groups have endorsed this measure, while the National Corn Growers Association has voiced its ‘strong opposition.’
Cargill Makes Strategic Purchase — Cargill has purchased a minority ownership stake in a key Black Sea port facility. Cargill officials said this was a “strategic” deal, linking its Russian grain operations with the rest of the world.
Dow Gets Enlist Patent — Dow AgroSciences has received a patent for Enlist, its 2,4-D herbicide tolerant corn. The corn event provides robust tolerance to broadleaf and grass herbicides, including 2,4-D and the FOP family of herbicides. Pending regulatory approvals, Dow AgroSciences expects to launch Enlist corn in 2015 in the US.
Change in Chinese Farm Policy — Deutsche Bank is warning of a substantial threat to agricultural commodity prices from a potential change in China’s farm support policy. China is said to be reconsidering its farm support program which offers minimum state procurement values for certain commodities, but causes market dislocations. In cotton, for instance, China has built up stocks equivalent to about one-and-a-half years’ use as farmers exploit generous state prices. A switch to direct support to farmers would ensure less of an incentive to import, according to Deutsche Bank.
Reducing Antibiotics in Food-producing Livestock — The Food and Drug Administration is taking broad measures aimed at reducing levels of antibiotics used in food-producing livestock, with the ultimate goal to reduce outbreaks of drug-resistant bacteria across the country. The FDA will ask pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily stop marketing drugs that are important for treating human infection for use in animal production. If the companies sign on, prescriptions would also be required to use the drugs. The FDA has been under pressure from consumer groups and some members of Congress in recent years to grapple with the problem of organisms, especially in hospitals, that don’t respond to powerful antibiotics currently available.
Tyson Sets Handling Practices for Beef and Poultry Producers — Tyson Foods says beef producers will have to follow on-farm requirements for animal treatment next year if they want to work with the major meat processor. Tyson made the decision as it has received customer feedback from major food companies, including Whole Foods and McDonald’s. Tyson already requires its hog producers to follow specific guidelines and will now enforce its higher animal welfare standards on beef and poultry producers.
Skeptical About Chinese Cargo Rejections — Chinese authorities have reportedly rejected another cargo of US corn due to the presence of the Agrisure Viptera trait which is not yet approved in China. The 59,100 ton cargo is in addition to 180,000 tons already rejected since mid-November. There are an estimated two million tons of US corn currently en route to China, so more rejections are expected in coming weeks. Mark Lucas, with FCStone in Minneapolis, says the rejections look suspicious. “The Chinese say it’s all due to the presence of these unapproved varieties in the corn and has nothing to do with the fact that the corn price is dramatically cheaper than when they bought it. Call me a skeptic I guess.”
Max Out Your Crop Insurance Dollars — According to an article on agriculture.com, it looks like your best bet for the 2014 crop is to max out your crop insurance dollars. University of Illinois ag economist Gary Schnitkey says, in most cases, premium levels across coverage levels will be slightly lower next year. Guarantee levels will be much lower and losses will occur at per acre guarantee levels offered by crop insurance. Given guarantee levels, Schnitkey says farmers who have not purchased at the highest coverage levels should consider higher coverage levels due to lower guarantee levels. Considering the changing costs expected for the 2014 crop, Schnitkey thinks even an 85 percent coverage level may not make ends meet.
Room for Tweaks to Crop Insurance — Risk Management Agency Administrator Brandon Willis says there’s room for tweaks to the crop insurance program to allow farmers to produce with a safety net and to respond to the market. Speaking at the National Grain and Feed Association’s country elevator conference in St. Louis, Willis said the RMA is focused on three areas to help improve the program-integrity, expanding coverage, and education. Willis talked about the Government Accountability Office’s audit last year that suggested a cap on crop insurance, and said he has told the GAO that capping crop insurance would not be a good idea.
Commodity Title Holding Up Farm Bill — According to the National Association of Wheat Growers, disagreements over the commodity title have delayed Congress from completing a farm bill by the end of the year. The four agriculture committee leaders have been exploring various ways to frame the commodity title in order to please all parties while staying within their budget target.
Growing US Propane Supply — Propane produced from natural gas has been the fastest-growing component of overall US propane supply. According to the Energy Information Administration, propane production in the US has set record highs on an almost weekly basis this year as a result of increased oil and natural gas drilling. A record corn harvest has increased the demand for propane in the central US. According to the EIA, expanded propane production met this agricultural demand, while continuing to supply other markets.
Farm Credit Quarterly Condition Report — In its quarterly report on the condition of the Farm Credit System, the Farm Credit Administration’s Office of Examination says the System remains fundamentally safe and sound and is well positioned for the risks facing agriculture. In general, the risk profile for the farm economy is shifting. The profitability outlook for the protein and dairy sectors is strong; however, corn producers will face tighter margins because a large crop has driven corn and soybean prices down significantly. Lower crop prices will also put pressure on farmland values, particularly in the Midwest.
Pollinator Plan Unveiled — North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says a new North Dakota Pollinator Plan has been developed to help farmers, ranchers, landowners, and beekeepers better protect honeybees while enabling cultivation practices necessary for modern agriculture. Goehring says the plan was developed in response to a growing need for a balanced public policy that reduces risk to honeybees, while minimizing the impact of that mitigation on production agriculture.
Back on Track — Following a week of difficult negotiating sessions, World Trade Organization members agreed to adopt multilateral agreements on efforts to reduce barriers at borders as well as several agricultural provisions. "The most meaningful thing for me about this whole thing is the WTO is back on track," said Tom Sleight, President and CEO, US Grains Council, "Agriculture really needs the WTO, whether they realize it or not." One issue the US Grains Council focused on in Bali was the India Food Security plan, which allows India to increase the amount of money it spends on subsidizing domestic food grain production and switch it from the “amber” box to the “blue” box. An agreement was also reached on provisions that will improve the administration of tariff rate quotas and reconfirm the commitment to complete elimination of export subsidies and reductions in export guarantee programs that were agreed to at the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial.
Whole Different World — Gulke Group President Jerry Gulke, who also farms in Illinois and North Dakota and is a columnist for Top Producer magazine, thinks it’s too early to panic on new-crop grain. Assuming average yields, Gulke says we need about nine million fewer acres of corn next year. “If we can get the less acres planted and hit soybeans with six to eight million acres more and we produce 150 bushel corn instead of 160, then you’re on a roll. Then you flip the other way again.” Gulke thinks soybean acres will increase next year. “Some people that have been planning corn-on-corn for years are saying they should plant ten or 20 percent more beans. That’s quite a bit. Twenty percent of the corn acres is 18 million acres. We can’t stand that and I don’t think they’re going to do that. It’s a whole different world we haven’t had to deal with for probably ten years.”
Six Charged in Seed Conspiracy — Following a two-and-a-half year FBI investigation, six Chinese men have charged with conspiracy to steal trade secrets. These men, including one who is the chief executive officer with a Chinese seed company, allegedly took corn from DuPont Pioneer and Dekalb test plots. Two individuals were found to have seed corn in their pockets and luggage as they prepared to fly from Chicago to China. Another man was stopped at the Canadian border with 44 bags of seed corn hidden under the car seat and in his luggage. One man has been arrested. Others face changes, but may not be tried because the US does not have an extradition agreement with China.
Looking Ahead to the January Report — Even before the USDA released its December Supply/Demand report, traders were looking ahead to next month’s final crop production report. Progressive Ag market analyst Ray Grabanski thinks higher crop estimates could offset the cuts in ending stocks for corn and beans. "In the November report, it raised production quite a bit in corn and soybeans and, usually, when you have that kind of increase, the final January report has an increase, as well."
Canola is Good for Bees — At the 17th annual Canola Expo in Langdon, North Dakota Manager of Scientific Affairs for Bayer CropScience Murray Belyk said he’s trying to raise bee pollinator awareness among canola growers. “The past few years, the bees have been subjected to declining hive health. Without honey bees we are not able to grow our hybrid canola seed business.” Belyk says the pollinator issue is clouded by a lot of misinformation and emotion. “We want this to be science based evidence. Contrary to what a lot of people read, there is no bee apocalypse. Bees are good for canola and canola is good for bees.”
Canola Yields Well; Be Alert for Clubroot — At the 17th annual Canola Expo Wednesday in Langdon, North Dakota, Cavalier County Extension Agent Ron Beneda said it’s been one of the best canola years he remembers in 30-some years yield-wise. “We planted late in the season, way beyond normal dates and basically came out with record yields all across the board. So, there’s a lot of interest next year in canola.” Beneda says Clubroot disease was found in the state this year. “It will really pull yield back. Here we found one little patch. We want people to be aware of what Clubroot looks like. We’re trying to head it off so it doesn’t become a big problem here.”
Wet Fall Nets More Winter Wheat Acres — North Dakota farmers got a lot of winter wheat planted this fall. Blake Vander Vorst is a senior agronomist with Ducks Unlimited. “We may have set a new record acreage for 2014. We’ll see what survives first. That tells you whether we’ll get that record or not. The southwestern part of the state really surprised us. They were really wet in that September/October period. It actually pushed the guys to seed some more because they were so wet they couldn’t harvest. They were concerned they weren’t going to get in next spring and it was going to be PP. So when they got a crack in the window about the third week in September, a lot of guys planted winter wheat.”
It All Depends On.... — Gulke Group President Jerry Gulke packed the room at a market outlook at the Prairie Grains Conference in Grand Forks Thursday. Gulke said most farmers are asking about the chances of a rally, and how low prices can go. “All that depends on, first, South America’s crop which looks to be in perfect shape. Then, how much corn they don’t plant. That will help the world situation. I think we just have so much that we could lose some acres and not make a lot of difference. It’s going to end up hinging on how much we can reduce our corn crop and then the yield.”
Get Used to It — You may as well try to get used to this cold weather. Leon Osborne, director of the University of North Dakota’s Regional Weather Information Center, expects more of the same this winter. “We are looking at probably an extended, cold winter, one that we haven’t seen in the last 30 plus years.” Osborne thinks the spring of 2014 will be normal. He told the Prairie Grains Conference audience he expects above, to much above normal temperatures across most of the US next July through September, along with normal to above normal rain.
Noem Wants Farm Bill in Law — South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem voted for the extension of the current farm law. Noem says the extension allows farm programs to remain in place while negotiations are wrapped up over the new farm bill. “The problem we have is the Senate is saying they won’t do an extension. What that means is they’re relying on one individual in USDA to make the right decision. I prefer we have law in place that protects our producers that are trying to put food on the table. If the Senate isn’t doing that, it brings a lot of uncertainty into a situation that doesn’t need to happen.” Noem is looking forward to having the farm bill signed into law in early January.
Sell Soybeans — Through harvest and still today, many farmers are storing much of their corn and soybeans. At the 9th annual South Dakota Soybean Ag Outlook event, President and CEO of Top Third Marketing Mark Gold encouraged selling. “If they carry the carry in corn by going out and selling a deferred contract which will pay for their storage, that’s fine. But in soybeans, there’s a negative carry which means the market isn’t paying them to store beans. You’ve got good basis in most of the country. If you believe we’re going to have a drought or something else this summer, buy a call option. Spend 20 or 25 cents to keep the upside open, but we would not be storing beans today.”
Nufarm Releases New Chemicals — Nufarm has introduced its new CATS herbicide line for corn and soybeans. During a media tour of Nufarm’s new Global Headquarters in Alsip, Illinois, Technical Services Manager Bob Bruss said CATS will provide a range of solutions that will deliver control of numerous herbicide-tolerant or resistant weeds. “The key to managing resistant weeds is to use multiple modes of herbicide action at different times. The CATS herbicides provide an easy way for growers to do that.” Nufarm has also announced the launch of ChampION, a fungicide/bactericide that controls key fungal and other diseases in a wide range of high-value crops.
US Soybean Supplies Increase in Size — USDA raised US soybean supplies 10 million bushels on stronger than expected soybean imports. Exports were raised 25 million bushels and the crush is up five million bushels. Soybean ending stocks are 20 million bushels below last month, at 150 million bushels. The soybean price forecast is up 35 cents from November, to at mid-point of $12.50 a bushel. The world soybean crop forecast is up 1.4 million tons from last month, to a record of almost 285 million tons. Argentina’s crop is raised a million tons, while USDA left its Brazil bean forecast at 88 million tons. Global soybean ending stocks are up almost 400,000 tons from November.
Growers Recognize Resistance Problem — According to a survey conducted by BASF, 75 percent of participating farmers suspect glyphosate resistance is a problem on their operations. Seventy-six percent of these growers have already changed their weed management programs. More than two-thirds of the growers surveyed said they would be applying a preemergence herbicide. More than half of these farmers are planning to add another herbicide to their existing weed control program.
Policy Concerns in St. Paul — The projected budget surplus will get a lot of attention in the 2014 Minnesota legislative session. Bruce Kleven serves as a lobbyist for agriculture groups, including the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers and the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association. With a budget surplus, Kleven is hopeful the farm machinery labor sales tax will be repealed. GMO labeling bills have been introduced in the past, but failed. Kleven says pressure is building on that issue. "Part of that is due to the make-up of the legislature," said Kleven, "The Census in 2010 changed the make-up and now there are more metro seats. When there are more metro seats, there gets to be a few more votes for these kind of things." On the environmental front, Kleven expects nitrates and groundwater regulations to get attention in St. Paul in the year ahead.
Supporting Organic Agriculture — USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded new grants to support organic agriculture research. The University of Minnesota received over $718,000 to create online, interactive modules to outline the fundamentals of organic agriculture and the transition to organic farming.
Tax Issues to Get Attention in '14 MN Legislative Session — Business-to-business taxes, including a sales tax on farm machinery labor, will be on the table during the 2014 Minnesota legislative session. Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation executive director Chris Radatz says a sales tax on warehousing and rental services is scheduled to take effect April 1, which is also a concern. "The concern about that from the Minnesota Farm Bureau perspective is how does a company, let's say, American Crystal, that may store packaging material, will they be charged a tax on that," said Radatz, "We don't know those answers, but it could impact farmers." Mnnesota Farm Bureau is a new partner in the Prairie Grains Conference, which took place this past week in Grand Forks.
NACD Opposes New User Fees — House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray have negotiated a budget agreement, avoiding a government shutdown and replacing sequestration for the next two years with additional cuts to discretionary funding. The National Association of Conservation Districts welcomes action on the budget, but is upset with proposed new user-fees for NRCS technical assistance. In a statement, the NACD said these user fees are “short-sighted” and will discourage critical conservation practices.
Grow Big Corn — National corn yield winner Randy Dowdy has launched his own website. Dowdy was featured in the Red River Farm Network seminar series during the 2013 Big Iron Farm Show.
SDSU Extension Honors — During the National Association of County Agricultural Agencts Annual Meeting, South Dakota State University Extension Integrated Pest Management Coordinator Darrell Deneke received the Distinguished Service Award. Warren Rusche, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist, received the Achievement Award. Heather Gessner, SDSU Extension Livestock Business Management Specialist was recognized with the National Search for Excellence in Farm Management Award. Connie Strunk, SDSU Extension Plant Pathologist, was a national communication award winner.
A Major Change for Animal Agriculture — The US livestock industry has three years to come into compliance with new Food and Drug Administration rules on antibiotic use. The FDA is asking animal health companies to restrict over-the-counter sales of antibiotics and require farmers to get a prescription before administering drugs to livestock. "The new guidance and new rules are be a real change for how antibiotics are used on the farm and, also, how veterinarians are involved in those uses," said Dr. Liz Wagstrom, a veterinarian with the National Pork Producers Council. In particular, the FDA is targeting antibiotics used to increase feed efficiency and promote growth.
MFBF Creates New Foundation Director Position — Minnesota Farm Bureau has implemented a staff reorganization, adding a foundation director. Ruth Meirick will take on that new role. In addition to the foundation, Meirick will oversee MFBF Young Farmer and Rancher programs and the Promotion/Education programs. Meirick has been the MFBF southeast area program director, will move into the state office. Katie Brenny, who has been serving as the associate director of public relations will take over the southeast area program director job.
New Varieties Released — The University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station has released Deon oats, a new high-yielding variety; Linkert, a high-quality hard red spring wheat; and MN0083, an early-maturing soybean. Minnesota also participated in the release of Forefront spring wheat, developed by the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station. Certified seed of these new varieties will be available for planting in 2014. Linkert spring wheat is a medium-maturity variety that combines high protein and yield. It has good leaf and stem rust resistance and moderate resistance to scab. Forefront spring wheat is an early-maturing variety with high yield potential. The new Minnesota soybean variety is a double-oh-eight maturity conventional soybean with white mold tolerance.
Daugaard Comments on Northern Beef Packers Project — Speaking at an Aberdeen Chamber event, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard voiced optimism about the Northern Beef Packers plant. The White Oak investment firm purchased the plant in a bankruptcy auction. Daugaard expects White Oak to get the plant operational before selling it. Daugaard also said new policies are in place to avoid the double-billing and misappropriation of funds associated with the Northern Beef Packers project.
S/D Report Confirms Big Crop Estimate — USDA raised US wheat supplies 10 million bushels in its December Supply/Demand report, as record production and higher exports for Canada are expected to add to US supplies. The wheat import forecast is up 10 million bushels from last month. Ending stocks are also 10 million bushels higher. The season-average price forecast is down a dime, to $6.90 a bushel. Global wheat production is up five million tons, and ending stocks are up 4.3 million tons. USDA cut US corn ending stocks 95 million bushels from November, as both exports and ethanol use were raised 50 million bushels. The season-average corn price is down a dime, to $4.40. Global corn production is up almost 1.5 million tons from last month, while ending stocks are down 1.9 million tons.
Sugar S/D Numbers Released — USDA cut its estimate of the US sugar supply by 217,000 tons in its December Supply/Demand report. This is mainly due to lower imports from Mexico. Total sugar use is increased, as all of the forfeited sugar held by the government is expected to be sold for non-human use. However, domestic food use is lowered from last month. Sugar ending stocks are down 423,000 tons from November. The stocks-to-use ratio dropped from 19.9 percent in November to 16.1 percent today.
New Alliance Announced — Monsanto and Novozymes have formed a strategic alliance to research and commercialize microbial solutions for agriculture. The two companies will remain independent with Novozymes responsible for production and supply of microbial solutions to Monsanto. Monsanto will serve as the lead for field testing, registration and commercialization of alliance products. Monsanto will pay Novozymes an upfront payment of $300 million and will be responsible for marketing Novozymes’ current product portfolio.
Sysco-US Foods Merger Announced — Sysco Corporation and US Foods are planning to merge. This value of this combination is over $8 billion. The Sysco name will used for the new company and Sysco leadership will be in charge of the new entity. The merger has been approved by the board of directors of each company. Pending regulatory approvals, the merger is expected to be finalized in the third quarter of next year.
Transparency is Vital — According to research conducted by the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, 59 percent of consumers say it’s extremely important for grocery stores and restaurants to provide information about the way the food they sell is grown and raised. And over 50 percent say they want more information than they’re currently getting. American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman says information about how food is grown and raised is almost as important to consumers as the price. When asked which is more important, 45 percent of survey respondents chose information and 55 percent chose cost.
Soybean Minute — To hear this week's North Dakota Soybean Minute, click http://rrfn.com/indepth/110113%20nd%20soybean%20minute%20herbicide%20resistance%2060.mp3.
Last Week's Trivia — Las Vegas is home to the National Finals Rodeo. Cindy Cunningham of the National Pork Board was first to respond and is our weekly trivia winner. Strasburg farmer Kenny Nieuwsma, Stephen auctioneer Jason Rominski, Benson County FSA Director Mark Dahlen and Bob Lebacken of RML Trading earn runner-up honors. Our 'first 20' list rounds out with Northland FBM instructor Josh Tjosaas, Harvey farmer Bill Ongstad, Keith Finney of Clifford Farmers Cooperative, Jim Altringer of Columbia Grain, Beth Bakke Stenehjem of the North Dakota FFA Foundation, Dale Enerson of the North Dakota Farmers Union, Bill Crawford of Preferred Capital Management, Val Aarsvold of Minnesota FFA Foundation, Brian James of KXPO-KAUJ, Mary Ebnet of AgStar Financial Services, Bruce Miller of Minnesota Farmers Union, Curtis Noll of Noll's Dairy Farm, Barbara Determan of Heartland Marketing, retired Grand Forks Extension agent Morrie Davidson, and Kevin Stiles of Midwest Dairy Association.