A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Monday, April 27, 2020
Unprecedented: COVID-19 is unlike anything the agriculture industry has ever seen. The stories covered by the Red River Farm Network would have been unthinkable weeks ago. As an example, crude oil prices moved into negative territory one week ago. Who would ever imagine companies holding the contracts would actually have to pay someone to take delivery of oil? In animal agriculture, milk has gone down the drain and hog farmers are weighing the inconceivable decision for mass euthanasia of their animals. With all of these challenges, it is rewarding to see the sunshine and warmer temperatures. Farmers are venturing back into the field, and the weather has also been great for calving. This gives us all hope. Our farmers and ranchers are amazingly resilient! God bless, take care and be well from all of us at RRFN.
Tough Decisions – National Pork Producers Council Vice President of Industry Relations Dallas Hockman says hogs are backing and time is running out for the industry. “Pork producers are in dire staits; we need assistance, we need help. Producers today are having to make tough decisions on their farm, changing the diets to slow the pigs down because of the limited packing capacity and decisions are having to be made about the euthanasia of animals on the farm.”
Backed Up 400,000 Hogs Per Week – Due to COVID-19, eight percent of U.S. meat packing capacity is off line. With more employees staying home from work over concerns about the virus, many plants are operating at 50-to-70 percent of their normal production. That leaves the industry operating at 60 percent of its normal capacity and backing up 400,000 hogs per week. Commodity Futures Trading Commission economist Dave Amato participated in an agricultural advisory committee conference call, saying eight percent of the milk is being dumped and contract chicken operations are being forced to euthanize birds. Amato said this is “the Holcomb (Kansas) fire times ten or 15 or 20 because of the number of plants involved. The fire at the Tyson Foods plant last year shut down a cattle slaughter facility, which caused havoc in the markets.
‘Last Resort’ Options Discussed for Mass Depopulation – The National Pork Board hosted a rare Sunday afternoon webinar to outline recommended methods for the emergency mass euthanasia and disposal of pigs. Coronavirus has resulted processing plant closures and slowdowns resulting in this unparalleled situation. American Veterinary Medical Association recommendations for euthanasia include ‘last resort options’ like the use of captive bolt or carbon dioxide. Rendering, composting and deep burial were cited as options to manage the dead animals. “We’re in a really tough situation here and the only way we’re going to get through in the coming weeks is to all focus in on the work at hand,” said Bill Even, CEO, National Pork Board. “It’s easy to place blame in this sort of a situation, but the real enemy is the virus.”
Euthanasia Situation to Accelerate This Week – With closed plants and a growing backlog of hogs, depopulation has begun for Minnesota’s swine herd and will accelerate this week. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has resources available on euthanasia and carcass disposal on its website. Indemnity payments are not available at this time. “The programs we have are for foreign animal disease and these are healthy animals; this is a food chain issue and that’s a difficult thing.” Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen says the state is doing everything possible to deal with this backlog. Smaller plants are taking in additional hogs, but Petersen says those facilities can typically handle 50-or-100 pigs and not the thousands that are now without a market. It is estimated as many as 200,000 pigs are at risk in Minnesota. “I’ve probably taken the toughest calls I’ve had in my 20 years of being involved in ag,” says Petersen. “Farmers are making real life decisions. Not only are they killing livestock, they are losing money and they have been losing money for years.” Petersen emphasizes pork is safe to eat and consumers should be confident in the safety of their food supply.
Poppe: 200,000+ Pigs May Need to be Euthanized – Worker safety takes precedence as the meatpacking industry deals with the COVID-19 crisis. Minnesota House Agriculture Committee Chair Jeanne Poppe says the food supply chain also needs to operate. With the closure of major packing facilities, Poppe says hog farmers will be forced into a grim situation. “It may be as many as 200,000 animals that would need to be destroyed in the coming couple weeks here.” When birds were destroyed during the avian influenza outbreak five years ago, there was an indemnity payment for farmers because it was an animal health crisis. That’s not available if hog farmers euthanize animals due to a backlog at the packing plant. “The reason they can’t take their animals to market is not because of the health of the animals, it is because of the health of the animals. It is catastrophic for farm families because there is nothing more they can do.” The Minnesota legislative session ends on May 18th. Poppe anticipates one or more special sessions may be necessary this summer or fall.
Peterson Asks White House to Help U.S. Pork Industry – House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson sent a letter to the White House Coronavirus Task Force on Thursday. In the letter, Peterson asked the task force to address challenges facing the U.S. pork industry. Peterson also asked Vice President Mike Pence provide urgent assistance to farmers and ranchers, develop standards for humane euthanasia and use any other means to support farmers, processing plant workers and plant communities. Read the letter.
Executive Order Gives SD Hog Farmers More Time – A new executive order in South Dakota allows hog farmers to humanely hold onto pigs a little longer than normal. “This will only work on the lighter weight market hogs,” explained Glenn Muller, executive director, South Dakota Pork Producers Council. “For a short time, farmers can increase the number of pigs in the barn without being in violation of the general permit. That stipulation will be waived for 60 days.” Packing plants are shutting down due to the coronavirus, leaving market-ready pigs without a home. Heavier weight hogs are a perishable product and farmers are making ration adjustments to minimize a hog’s weight gain. Muller said there are pigs weighing beyond 300 pounds in barns and this isn’t normal. “That’s a crisis situation. Not only is it difficult for the pigs, it’s hard for the equipment and those folks working with pigs.” Muller said euthanizing hogs is a last resort for producers.
USDA Establishes National Incident Coordination Center – The USDA is establishing a National Incident Coordination Center to provide direct support to producers whose animals cannot go to market. Moving forward, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Coordination Center, state veterinarians and other state officials will help identify potential alternative markets for producers. The USDA will use the National Veterinary Stockpile as needed and the Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide state level technical assistance to producers under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Read more.
Klobuchar Asks Trump Administration to Investigate Price Challenges – Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Attorney General William Barr and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair Heath Tarbert to identify the disruptions in the meat supply chain and market manipulation. In a letter, Klobuchar addresses the closing of meat packing plants and market vulnerabilities. Read the letter.
COVID-19 Highlights Critical Nature of Meat Processing Industry – The North American Meat Institute is working with a patchwork of local, state and federal government agencies to keep meat packing plants open during the current COVID-19 crisis. Julie Anna Potts, who is president of the organization, said the industry needs “additional backing from our federal government to reinforce the critical nature of our packing plants to feeding our consumers, but also providing a place for our animals to go. That situation has become more and more acute and we are working on that hourly everyday.”
New Analysis Highlights COVID-19 Impact on Ethanol – The coronavirus is having a swift and sharp impact on the U.S. ethanol industry. A new analysis by the Renewable Fuels Association says U.S. ethanol sales could decline by $10 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic and crude oil glut. Building on the results from a recent Purdue University study, the RFA is estimating ethanol production could fall by three billion gallons in 2020. Lower usage and higher inventories could cause ethanol prices to be 56 cents per gallon lower on average from March to December.
PPP Funds Won’t Last Long – Congress is at work on replenishing funds for the Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program. Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose says the $310 billion in the bill will not go far. “The expectation around that is 72 hours, I don’t see it lasting four days at this point. There’s going to be a huge rush to get that.” Farm Credit institutions were not approved for the PPP program until late in the process and Van Hoose says it may not be very effective for agriculture. The relief provided through the coronavirus economic stimulus package is welcomed. However, Van Hoose is concerned about the payment limits, especially for the livestock sector.
Local Farm Groups Give Feedback on COVID-19 Package – The USDA is putting together a rule for the $19 billion COVID-19 aid package. North Dakota Senator John Hoeven hosted a roundtable discussion to address with local farm groups. In the roundtable, North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Executive Vice President Julie Ellingson gave input on the proposed payment calculations, asking how USDA would be measuring damage for expected losses in the cow-calf industry. “If local cow-calf producers sell calves in the fourth quarter and the program ends in the third quarter, very few North Dakota producers would qualify for the program.” Ellingson said there are still feeder cattle that need to be sold. “We have had many calls from farmers feeding cattle right now and those cattle are ready for market. There are zero bids for those cattle and they don’t have documented losses to show.” North Dakota Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Brad Thykeson reminded farmers to plant for the marketplace, not a government program. “Producers should look at the marketplace, which isn’t real friendly right now, and make their own decisions.” Hoeven said the USDA wants to get the rule sent to the Office of Management and Budget soon and he is hopeful sign-up can begin in May.
U.S. Cattle Industry is Waiting on Further Assistance Details – Cattle producers are slated to receive $5.1 billion of the $9.6 billion in USDA direct payments for the livestock industry. However, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Senior Policy Analyst Jess Peterson says the industry is waiting on specific details. “The Department of Agriculture is in the rulemaking process right now. which outlines the payment mechanisms and classification for the payments. Producers are eligible for payments, which is a good thing, but right now the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association thinks it falls short.” Further down the pipeline, the association hopes there will be additional assistance for U.S. cattle producers. Peterson says the coronavirus and its impacts are something of epic proportion; the cattle industry needs a true safety net for producers. “There are payment limitations of $125,000 per commodity, with an overall limit of $250,000 per entity,” Peterson explains. “For the folks who don’t make their living in cattle production, that seems like a lot of money but it is not. Those price limits need to be much, much higher. We wanted a cap at around 10,000 head, which would bump it up to around $3 million.” Peterson has more in this full RRFN interview.
Cattle Industry Speaks Up on Payment Limitations – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, urging USDA against payment limitations for cattle producers in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Currently, the program caps payments at $125,000 per commodity with $250,000 per producer or entity. Analysis by Oklahoma State University indicates that a $125,000 cap would limit payments for cow-calf operations with 505 head or more of cattle, backgrounders with 781 head and feedyards with 606 head of cattle. Read the full letter.
Stabenow: USDA Can Address Payment Limits – Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow addressed concerns for the $125,000 payment limits for direct payments in the USDA’s COVID-19 relief package. “Given the circumstances, the USDA has flexibility to address that. They did that in the Market Facilitation Program,” said Stabenow. “We need every part of the farm economy being supported. The trade payments frankly weren’t going to the parts of the agricultural economy that needed it the most. We’re trying to fix that in the CARES Act.” Minnesota Senator Tina Smith said the aid is a matter of urgent need for Minnesota farmers right now. “Particularly in dairy where prices have plummeted, we’re trying to figure out how to shift the supply chain.”
Removing Payment Limits Could Lower COVID-19 Payments – It’s been one week since the USDA announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Since then, lawmakers and agricultural organizations are giving feedback before a rule is submitted to the Office of Management and Budget. One request from the agriculture sector on direct payments is the removal of the $125,000 payment limit. University of Illinois agricultural policy specialist Jonathon Coppess explores how the removal of payment limits could impact the assistance. “The payment limits equalize the support. It’s probably one of those things they’ll have to sort out. In general, given a limited amount of money, the more that any one or few would take up, the less money could be available for someone else.”
Demand Decline for Frozen Spuds Means Fewer Potatoes Planted – The lack of demand for frozen potato products will impact process potato acres for 2020. Acreage declines range from 10 to 25 percent. “Those are fluid numbers,” explained Donavon Johnson, president, Northern Plains Potato Growers. “Processing plants are still trying to figure things out.” Simplot and Cavendish Farms have enough potatoes in storage to process through October. “Because of the reduced demand, their finished product inventory can only hold so much product and they’ll have to slow down processing. The new crop will have to be stored on farms. Hopefully, there will be a rebound.”
The Sugarbeet Report – Sugarbeet growers in the southern Red River Valley are starting to plant this year’s crop, while the northern RRV is still a few days away. Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative Vice President of Agriculture Todd Geselius says this is a fairly average start time for the region. Listen to the latest Sugarbeet Report here.
Warmer Temperatures Could Help with Planting Progress – Temperatures are warming up in the Northern Plains. Planting progress is expected in the next two weeks. “There will still be some interruptions with cool fronts coming along, but it won’t be anything like we’ve seen in recent weeks. It will be enough to set off a little bit of shower activity, but that precipitation shouldn’t be great enough to have a serious disruptive factor,” explained Drew Lerner, senior agricultural meteorologist, World Weather Incorporated. “As the soil temperatures rise, we should be able to work fields without the fear of a weather event coming to interrupt.” Lerner cautions farmers about a potential round of cool weather coming up in May. “From mid-May to the third week of the month, there could be another round of interesting, cool weather. We will have to recover from that event and we might end up with a fair amount of rainfall,” said Lerner. “Conditions for the next two weeks look good. After that, we may see more disruptive weather.”
ND Farmers Begin Planting Small Grains – Bismarck, North Dakota farmer Clark Coleman wrapped up barley planting this week. “We’ve been planting pretty hard for the last few days and the conditions are good.” Coleman said he’ll plant spring wheat soon. “We’ll probably jump into the wheat and then, I want to plant some durum. In the next week, we should be able to get spring wheat planted.”
No Trouble So Far – As of Friday, Crystal, North Dakota farmer Brian O’Toole had about 15 percent of his wheat seeded. At this point, O’Toole has been able to get into the fields that were in sugarbeets or potatoes last year. “The fields that I’ve been in so far, I haven’t had any trouble with them,” said O’Toole. “I’m thinking their are some underlying problems coming in the future, but for now frost is still in some of the ground and that supports our equipment in the lighter areas.” For his seed business, O’Toole is still seeing a lot of indecision. While most growers are sticking to their normal crop rotation, O’Toole has had some seed corn returned and he’s fielding more calls about wheat seed.
Northern Plains Farmers Considering Earlier Maturities This Year – Farmers are starting fieldwork in northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. That is according to Mycogen commercial agronomist Morgan Hanson, who says the ground is still fairly saturated in places. Soil temperatures also remain on the cool side. Field lefts unturned and unharvested from last fall may have a heavy layer of residue. That one factor is changing rotational plans for some farmers. “For farmers in the northern part of North Dakota and Minnesota, they have a few more options with crops like canola and wheat,” says Hanson. “They are wanting to move to earlier maturities just because of what happened last year. In 2019, the Northern Plains didn’t accumulate enough Growing Degree Unites for crops to finish, especially if farmers pushed their maturities.” Hanson has more in this RRFN interview.
Monitor Seed Depth and Seeding Rates – To get the spring wheat crop off to a good start, attention should be given to seed depth and seeding rates. Across eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, the general recommendation is 1.4 million pure live seed calculated for germination. “However, you could dial it 200,000 up or 200,000 seeds down depending on the planting date and variety,” said Grant Mehring, technical product manager, WestBred Wheat.
Pioneer Agronomy Update – The Pioneer Agronomy Update has a different look this season. Due to the concern over social distancing, this update is being done right now over Zoom. District Sales Lead Nate Johansen, Product Lifecycle Manager Alan Scott and Research Agronomist Zach Fore are our guests.
Watch Soil Temperatures as Planting Begins – WinField United Technical Seed Agronomist Ryan Moeller says farmers are seeding small grains near Bismarck, North Dakota. “If you go to the west, north and south of Bismarck, the wheat is going in.” Moeller reminds farmers to be aware of soil temperatures as corn planting begins. “If it’s anything less than 50 degrees, it’s probably a risky idea. Warm weather in the future is key to getting a healthy stand out of the ground.” Listen to the story.
Dry Bean Scene – Several factors could come into play when planting dry beans this growing season. According to NDSU Extension agronomist Hans Kandel, using a seed treatment can help maximize dry bean emergence given current field conditions. Hear more in the Dry Bean Scene, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.
Feeding the Crop is the Key to Yield – Crop nutrition is a priority as growers prepare for the 2020 growing season. “Fertility makes up about 60 percent of what the farmer is going to get out of that field,” said Sherry Koch, technical product manager, Mosaic. “With that large of a percentage of their yield, we want to make sure we put the right amount out there, we put it in the right place, the right time and the right source.” Koch says fertilizer is in place for this spring, but growers are encouraged to communicate with their ag retailer. “Situated where we are and with the large warehouses we have in the area, we’re confident that we’ll supply the farmers with what they need.”
Record Contracts Signed for 2019 ARC and PLC Programs – According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers and ranchers signed a record 1.77 million contracts for the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs for the 2019 crop year. That’s more than the five-year average. The deadline to enroll in ARC and PLC programs for 2020 is June 30.
New Waters of the United States Rule in Federal Register – Language replacing the Waters of the United States rule is now in the Federal Register. The Navigable Waters Protection Rule excludes streams that only contain water during or after a rainfall, most farm ditches and converted cropland. Environmental groups are indicating they will file lawsuits to overturn the rule. The rule is set to go into effect on June 22.
China’s Soybean Purchases Positive for ND Farmers – China bought U.S. soybeans two days in a row this past week. “That’s good news for North Dakota farmers,” says Stephanie Sinner, executive director, North Dakota Soybean Council. This is typically not the time of year China buys from the U.S. “Obviously, we’re just starting to plant the next crop. This will be 2019 soybeans that ship to China. It’s a different time for us to compete with them. It’s good to see the movement.”
U.S. Ready to Implement the USMCA – U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer notified Congress on Friday that the U.S. – Mexico – Canada Agreement would be ready for implementation on July 1. This is the final step necessary for the USMCA to take effect. Read more.
What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets – Advance Trading Risk Management Advisor Tommy Grisafi offers insight into the latest market news in this week’s edition of What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets. Topics include planting progress, the stock market and food security.
The U.S. Acreage Mix is Still Unknown – There is a lot of discussion among grain traders as to what the final U.S. acreage mix will look like. The current weather pattern could lead to more corn acres. “There will be lots of corn planted this week,” says DuWayne Bosse, market analyst, BOLT Marketing. “We’re hearing from many farmers in southern Minnesota and the I-states that with crop insurance prices where they are, their bushel guarantee goes high even with the lower price. It may not look profitable on a spreadsheet, but they’re going to go ahead and plant corn.” The big unknown is how much prevented plant acres there will be. “If you’re a spreadsheet person, you’re going to look at the cost of production planting corn and the potential for a sharply lower price this fall. It looks like a heck of a loss at $100 an acre, plus. Prevent plant on a spreadsheet works, but farmers have to qualify for it.”
Basis Contracts Feel the Pinch – Farmers who took advantage of historically narrow basis levels by using a basis fixed contract are feeling a pinch as the May futures get closer to first notice day. There is some concern that May basis contracts could go inverted, because of the corn futures working against them. Each grain elevator has its own rules on how to handle those contracts. “There are certain facilities out there that will not allow customers to roll a basis contract. That means they’re going to have to prices at these lower futures levels. There’s also places that do allow a roll, but right now the carry has widened out,” explained Angie Setzer, vice president, Citizens Elevator, LLC. “This will cost the producer money to roll it out to July and capture a few more months of upside potential.” Setzer said the grain elevator is holding all the cards. “They have the ownership of the corn. The risk isn’t there necessarily for the futures side. It depends on the elevator’s structure,” said Setzer. “When I sell grain to an end user, I take a long futures position that’s typically offset when a farmer makes a sale. That’s where the cost of the roll comes in. If you don’t, you’ll take a hit at the elevator.”
Goehring: Ag Industry Keeps Moving Forward – North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says the primary focus for the ND Department of Agriculture is to keep the industry moving forward. There are many moving pieces right now. “Whether we’re working on H2-A labors issues or working with the meat industry, we’ve developed some guidance for these issues.” Even though the coronavirus pandemic may be shutting down certain industries or businesses, farmers are still planting this year’s crop. The 2019 spring planting window was tight, with much of the U.S. getting into fields at the same time. Goehring says this spring is different and remains optimistic. “There are Hours of Service and Electronic Logging Device waivers that have already been granted on a federal level. This is giving us the ability to operate like we need to operate, so I’m not as concerned as I have been in the past. Planting is slowly progressing across the U.S. from south to north.” Hear more in this RRFN story with Goehring. A full list of resources to help farmers and ranchers navigate COVID-19 are available here.
Checkoff Program Rides the Price Roller Coaster – USDA oversees 21 research and promotion programs nationwide. The funding mechanism vary for each checkoff program. The mandatory beef checkoff is $1 per head, collected each time cattle are sold. Dairy farmers contribute a 15 cent per hundredweight assessment for their checkoff. Programs, like the pork checkoff, are based on market values. Hog farmers are assessed 40 cents from each $100 in market value. “We operate where our revenue goes up and down along with the producer,” said Bill Even, CEO, National Pork Board. “When producers aren’t pulling in money, the checkoff isn’t either; we ride that roller coaster right along with them as partners in the operation.” Hog prices have plummeted in recent weeks due primarily to supply chain disruptions. Retail consumer demand for pork is up significantly.
Soy Checkoff Continues to Build Demand Amid Coronavirus Outbreak – The food supply chain is critical during the coronavirus pandemic. Pork producers are being challenged. “We’re doing economic analysis on the impact right now,” said Polly Ruhland, CEO, United Soybean Board. “Tyson announced they are going to close a plant and I believe five percent of the pork supply is attributed to that plant. When you add that to the JBS USA and Smithfield Foods meat plant closures, we’re talking about a pork situation that’s very grave. Pork and chicken are the biggest eaters of soybean meal.” Ruhland said the soybean checkoff is doing its best to build demand despite the coronavirus challenges.
Driving the Demand for Beef – Cattle prices have plummeted in recent weeks due to supply chain disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the current challenges, Cattlemen’s Beef Board chairman Jared Brackett says the checkoff program continues to drive demand for beef. The mandatory Beef Checkoff is $1 per head collected each time cattle are sold. Bracket, who is a cow/calf producer and cattle feeder in southern Idaho, says it is bothersome when prices are not profitable. “It does bother me when I get $1.09 for a pen of cattle I traded three weeks ago that graded 42 percent prime and 58 percent choice,” says Brackett. “That’s $20 under what I got last year at this time. I tell my fellow producers keep doing what you do best; that’s producing safe, nutritious beef.” The full RRFN interview with Brackett is available here.
Dramatic Drop in Cattle Placements – Friday’s cattle on feed report offered dramatic news for the industry. March feedlot placements totaled 1.5 million head, down 23 percent from 2019. That is the lowest total since this series of reports began in 1996. Placements were down 21 percent in South Dakota and 29 percent in Minnesota. For the U.S., the cattle inventory was up five percent and marketings increased 13 percent.
MN Beef Update – Applications for the Minnesota Top of the Class Beef Program are being accepted through May 1. Hear more from Top of the Class participant Rachel Gray, a northern Minnesota cattle woman, in the Minnesota Beef Update.
Petition Drive Underway for Mandatory COOL – R-CALF USA has launched a petition urging President Trump and Congress to immediately pass mandatory country-of-origin labeling for beef, pork and dairy products. Within the first 30 hours, the petition received 26,000 signatures. R-CALF says the labeling law is needed to strengthen food security and help stimulate economic growth.
Ag Research Projects Challenged by COVID-19 – With social distancing and travel restrictions in place, agricultural research is being challenged. Extension sugarbeet agronomist Tom Peters says traveling between North Dakota and Minnesota is difficult. “I’m having a hard time getting approval to travel to Minnesota locations,” says Peters. “In a normal year, I typically have eight Minnesota and eight North Dakota locations. Right now, I’m down to three Minnesota locations. Our ability to get to the Crookston, Minnesota station is precarious.” Peters says concern for researcher’s health in the Twin Cities is impacting Minnesota’s research facilities statewide. “The University of Minnesota is concerned about researchers from the cities potentially carrying the virus into the Crookston area. I get part of that same policy. At this time, I don’t feel like I’ll be able to work in Crookston and I’m negotiating to get access to a field in the Moorhead area.”
Be Careful Removing Crusted Grain from the Bin – Out of condition grain can crust inside of the grain bin. NDSU Extension Agricultural Engineer Ken Hellevang says if crusting happens, farmers should develop a game plan to remove it. “We really need to know about the history of what’s taken place in the bin and how did we determine there is a crust? If we’ve unloaded grain and there’s no inverted cone, there will likely be a void underneath. Keep in mind all of the recommended safety practices becomes critical in removing the crust.” Hellvang says attacking crusted grain will also depend on the size and scale of the facility. “People can use holes and other methods from outside of the bin to break things up. In doing so, there’s a danger of forming chunks of grain that then will become an impediment for grain flow. There’s no easy solution. It’s a matter of taking the crusted grain and physically removing it from the bin.” Here are some tips on safely working around grain bins. This farm bin safety reminder is made possible by the North Dakota Wheat Commission, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and North Dakota Corn Utilization Council.
SD FFA Plans Virtual Convention – Due to the coronavirus threat, the South Dakota FFA will host a virtual convention. South Dakota’s first-ever online FFA convention will be held May 12-14.
SDFB Offering COVID-19 Resources – Right now, farmers and ranchers navigating uncharted territory with COVID-19. That’s why agricultural organizations, like the South Dakota Farm Bureau, have created a new set of resources. Executive Director Krystil Smit says a coronavirus page and new video series is available on the SDFB website. While these resources are certainly beneficial, Smit adds the spring-like weather is also helping lift spirits. “Especially when farmers are able to get out into fields and for those livestock folks working cattle during calving season. There is so much to be positive about,” says Smit. “When people feel like they’re being productive by creating food for our nation and the world, it gives them purpose.” There is now doubt the coronavirus outbreak has caused added stress. Additional resources are available to help farmers and ranchers navigate these uncertain times. Learn more in this RRFN story with Smit.
Ag Groups Seek Intervener Status in Glyphosate Lawsuit – A coalition of agricultural groups has filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit that challenges the EPA’s registration of glyphosate. In January, a group of environmental activist groups challenged an EPA decision supporting the use of the popular weedkiller. The motion to intervene was made by a broad coalition that represents corn, soybean, sugarbeet and wheat commodity groups, Farm Bureau, the Ag Retailers Association and others.
Viterra to Close Grand Forks Location – Viterra USA is closing its Grand Forks grain handling location on April 30. A company spokesperson told the Red River Farm Network Viterra is reviewing its strategic options for the site including a possible sale. Viterra is reaching out to customers that any payments owed to them are readily available and the terms of their contracts remain valid.
Bunge Sells 35 Grain Elevators – Bunge plans to sell 35 of its U.S. grain elevators to the Zen-Noh Grain Corporation. ZGC was established in 1979 in New Orleans to provide a stable supply of feedgrains and soybeans for Zen-Noh’s feed mills in Japan. ZGC is affiliated with Consolidated Grain and Barge to supply most of that product. Details for the Bunge sale were not announced.
An Alternative to DFA-Dean Foods Deal Proposed – Another option is on the table if the Dairy Farmers of America merger with Dean Foods is rejected due to antitrust concerns. Bondholders with Borden Dairy and Dean Foods filed a bid with the bankruptcy courts, positioning it as an alternative to the DFA deal. Borden and Dean Foods are both in bankruptcy protection. The proposal would bring the two companies together through “separate but coordinated plans” from their respective bankruptcy cases.
CP Has Record First Quarter for Grain Shipments – The Canadian Pacific Railway moved a record amount of grain in the first quarter. With more than 6.3 million metric tons carried, it beats the 2016 record by 300,000 tons. CP also indicates it plans to add nearly 6,000 new rail cars to its fleet.
A Sustainability Partnership Between Farmers and Food Companies – Even with the uncertain market environment, food companies are seeking sustainability partnerships with farmers. Truterra, which is part of Land O’Lakes, has interactive technology that connects to systems like ClimateView or WinField’s R7 tool. Truterra Vice President Jason Weller says the program measures ROI and provides a benchmark on sustainability. It also links farmers with food companies that want to know more about farm production practices. “It’s no longer anecdotal, we have real data to show what these practices are doing to enhance soil health and protect water quality.” Weller says there’s no premium available for farmers yet. “I’m optimistic that day is coming; our belief is the consumer wants to partner with that grower and will prefer to buy product from food companies that work with farmers that do a great job protecting their soil and water.” Tate & Lyle, Nestle Purina PetCare and the Campbell Soup Company are currently working with Truterra.
New Role for Sinner at NCI – The Northern Crops Institute has hired Nick Sinner as a program director with a focus on barley, corn, pulse crops and industrial hemp. Most recently, Sinner was a processing technologist at NCI. Previously, Sinner was the executive director of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association.
Last Week’s Trivia – Zoom is the name of the video conferencing platform that has soared in popularity during this COVID-19 era. Bob Brunker of J.L. Farmakis was the first to respond with the correct answer and is our weekly trivia winner. Rolla farmer Doyle Lentz, Brian Rydlund of CHS Hedging, retired controller Evonne Wold and John Zietz of Cargill earn runner-up honors. The ‘first 20’ rounds out with Mike Brinda of Columbia Grain, Carver County feedlot officer Alan Langseth, Eric Lahlum of Corteva Agrisciences, Jim Altringer of CHS Dakota Plains Ag, Kristal Rick of SES VanderHave, Drayton farmer Mark Tungseth, Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, Ernie Barta of Barta Farms, Todd Good of AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Ken Pazdernik of Minnesota Farmers Union, Mark Haugland of Bayer, Kevin Praska of Stone’s Mobile Radio, Nick Sinner of Northern Crops Institute, retired Hanley Falls farmer Roger Dale and Harvey farmer Bill Ongstad.
This Week’s Trivia- Mickey’s, Yuengling, Spotted Cow, Rolling Rock, Red Stripe and Sol are all popular brands. What is the product? Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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|U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Horn Wrap Call - Via Phone
|May 12, 2020
|NDSU Extension Soil Health Series - Online Webinar
|May 14, 2020
|NDSU Extension Soil Health Series - Online Webinar
|May 15, 2020
|SDSU Extension Ag Economics Dialogue - Online Webinar
|June 10, 2020
|Four-State Dairy Nutrition and Management Conference - Online Webinar
|RRFN Affiliate Stations
|Aberdeen, SD – 105.5 FM
|Ada, MN – 106.5 FM
|Bagley, MN – 96.7 FM
|Bemidji, MN – 1300 AM
|Benson, MN – 1290 AM
|Bismarck, ND – 1270 AM
|Bismarck, ND – 1270 AM
|Casselton, ND – 103.9 FM
|Crookston, MN – 1260 AM
|Devils Lake, ND – 103.5 FM
|Fergus Falls, MN – 1250 AM
|Fosston, MN – 1480 AM
|Glenwood, MN – 107.1 FM
|Grafton, ND – 1340 AM
|Jamestown, ND – 600 AM
|Langdon, ND – 1080 AM
|Mahnomen, MN – 101.5 FM
|Mayville, ND – 105.5 FM
|Roseau, MN – 102.1 FM
|Rugby, ND – 1450 AM
|Thief River Falls, MN – 1460 AM
|Wadena, MN – 920 AM
|Worthington, MN – 730 AM
FarmNetNews is a production of the Red River Farm Network. RRFN is based in Grand Forks, North Dakota and provides news to farmers and ranchers across Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.