A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Monday, December 18, 2023
Congress Works on Border/Ukraine Aid Before Holiday Recess – Congressional negotiators worked throughout the weekend to find a compromise on border security and new money for Ukraine, but were unsuccessful. House Speaker Mike Johnson wants the two issues to be linked. Both parties are divided on immigration policy and lawmakers were unable to come up with a framework agreement within a self-imposed deadline.
Thompson Offers Farm Bill Timeline – House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson wants to move forward with the farm bill in March. “When I look at the calendar in the first quarter, the first month we get that has the contiguous weeks that we need is March.”
A Farm Bill Opportunity in Early 2024 – National Farmers Union President Rob Larew addressed North Dakota Farmers Union Convention and reminded members about the importance of staying in contact with lawmakers as work continues on the next farm bill. Larew is pushing hard to get the bill signed early in 2024. “If we aren’t willing to push hard for that, the inevitable default is either lame duck at the end of the year or into the following year.” Larew said any more major delays will be a missed opportunity. Find the full interview with Rob Larew here.
Farm Bill Vote Complicated by Busy Congressional Schedule – With a full congressional calendar and the continuing resolution for agriculture appropriations expiring in mid-January, James Callan Associates President Jim Callan says it will be a challenge for lawmakers to meet that deadline. The appropriations process has been divided into two tracks which complicates the ability to secure the floor time needed for a farm bill. “I did meet with the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, ‘G.T.’ Thompson, and I asked him about his previous sentiment which was to hold off on the farm bill until the appropriations process had cleared itself and he’s now saying he’s not going to wait for that; he wants to introduce a Chairman’s Mark in January with the idea of getting floor time in January, but he’s only going to do it if he has the floor time scheduled and he has to work with the leadership to get that done.”
MFBF Minute – The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation was part of the American Farm Bureau Federation resolutions meeting this past week. Hear from MFBF Director of Public Policy Pierce Bennett in this week’s MFBF Minute.
Looking for Farm Bill Leverage – Many farm groups are hoping Congress will pass the new farm bill in the first half of 2024. “I’m not sure we’re going to get it done even by September by next year, but I’m more optimistic by the end of 2024,” said Todd Wilkinson, president, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Senator (Debbie) Stabenow retires at the end of ’24 and she wants a farm bill as part of her legacy; we can use that as a negotiating position to get this farm bill through.” Wilkinson is a South Dakota rancher and was featured at the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association Convention.
More Farm in the Farm Bill – North Dakota Senator John Hoeven praised the farm bill extension during NDFU annual meeting. “It’s really important that we got the one-year extension so folks know they’re going to be covered under the farm programs the way they should be.” Hoeven said the extension also provides time to make necessary improvements. “We hadn’t gotten to what I think we need in the farm bill. That means more farm in the farm bill.” Hoeven wants to see expanded options for crop insurance coverage for both crops and livestock, and voluntary conservation programs. Click here for the full interview with Senator John Hoeven.
ERP Disappointment – The projected Emergency Relief Program payment levels are a disappointment for Minnesota Soybean Growers Association President Bob Worth. “The way it stands now, unless you are an underprivileged farmer, you’ll get about ten percent of what you were supposed to get.” Worth hopes to see more emphasis on expanded crop insurance options in the new farm bill rather than ad hoc disaster programs. “If our ag committees look at what they spend on ad hoc programs and put that into the crop insurance, they could have a really nice federal crop program.”
Policy Priorities – The North Dakota Grain Growers Association is focused on the issues coming out of Washington, D.C. “Pesticides are always at the forefront and we’re trying to get a better handle around the EPA’sis herbicide action plan,” said Ed Kessel, president, NDGGA. “There seems to be a bit of a pause happening with the farm bill, but there is going to be some news coming out shortly on some crop insurance provisions that we’re really excited about.” NDGGA is seeking “better coverage rate at a better price.”
SAF Tax Credit Guidance Released – The Treasury Department has issued guidance regarding the implementation of sustainable aviation fuel tax credit. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper says this has been a long time coming. “The industry’s been waiting on this guidance for a long time now,” said Geof Cooper, president/CEO, Renewable Fuels Association. “Just to remind folks, the tax credit is available to producers of sustainable aviation fuel that can demonstrate that the fuel they’re producing reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent or more compared to petroleum-based jet fuel.” The corn and ethanol industries are pleased the Energy Department’s GREET model will be among the methodologies used to determine eligibility for the tax credit.
Demand to Surpass Supply in Renewable Diesel Market – According NDSU Extension Crops Economist Frayne Olson, state policies are driving the demand for renewable diesel. “California, Washinton and Oregon have all passed similar kinds of legislation,” said Olson. “To be very honest, we’re having a hard time in agriculture to provide the demand base for California only.” No changes are necessary for engines or pipelines to make the switch to renewable diesel. The bigger debate is likely to be seen if food or fuel is viewed as most important for soybean products.
COP28 Deal Includes a Move Away From Fossil Fuels – Nearly 200 governments participating in the United Nations Climate Conference in Dubai have agreed to transition away from fossil fuels. The goal is net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This is the first time a UN climate agreement called for the phase-out of fossil fuels. The head of the COP28 Conference, who is also the president of a United Arab Emirates oil company, brokered this compromise agreement.
Canada Makes Push for EVs – The Canadian government is expected to announce its new Electric Vehicle Availability Standard this week. This rule would require all of the vehicles sold in Canada to be zero-emissions by 2035. The Toronto Star reports the regulations will mandate 20 percent of new vehicle sales to be EVs by 2026. That moves up to 60 percent by 2030 and 100 percent in 2035.
Farming for the Future – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is partnering with the Red River Farm Network and the Linder Farm Network to provide information on soil health events and topics. Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Executive Director LeAnn Buck gives details on the organization in this week’s Farming for the Future.
Ag Pushes Back on Potential Trade War – Members of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party have issued a report on U.S.-China relations. According to Politico, farm-state lawmakers were able to reduce the most critical language about China. The concern is China would retaliate against U.S. agriculture. Fifteen farm groups, including the American Soybean Association and National Corn Growers Association, sent a letter to committee leadership emphasizing the importance of the Chinese market. Missouri Senator Josh Hawley is a longtime advocate of a more protectionist policy against China. When asked about the potential impact to farmers, Hawley said the government would “take care of agriculture.” In 2018, the Trump Administration provided federal assistance to farmers dealing with low prices due to a trade war with China. Hawley may be referring to a similar scenario.
Brazil and Russia Increase Trade Relationship – While Western sanctions remain in place with Russia, Brazil is increasing its business with Moscow. Russian exports to Brazil, which is mostly fertilizer and oil, is up 13 percent. In the first quarter of 2023, Brazilian exports to Russia rose more than 38 percent. Soybeans and beef represent most of that business. The Brazilian ambassador to Russia said the Western sanctions provided ‘a window of opportunity’ for his country and they’re ready to expand this trade relationship.
USDA to Begin Issuing Pandemic Assistance – USDA has announced plans to issue more than $223 million in Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program payments. This money is to help farmers and ranchers who suffered a drop in gross revenues due to COVID-19 in 2020. The application process wrapped up in mid-July. There were more than 38,500 applications, triggering payments of nearly $7 billion. That is far above the available funding. As a result, a 9.5 percent payment factor has been applied to all payments to ensure equitable distribution.
H-2A Wage Rates Announced – The Labor Department has completed its annual update for the mandated wages for H-2A workers. Effective January 1, the average hourly wage is $18.50 per hour in Minnesota and $18.32 per hour in North Dakota and South Dakota. That’s above the national average of $16.98 per hour. Meanwhile, the National Council of Agricultural Employers has petitioned the Labor Department to change the methodology for determining adverse effect wage rates for H-2A workers.
Crop Nutrition Consolidation a Concern – Concentration within the meatpacking business has been the crosshairs for many years. A bill is now being introduced in the Senate asking USDA to investigate possible anticompetitive activity within the fertilizer industry. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin are behind this proposal, saying farmers need more transparency and certainty as they price their fertilizer needs.
Activist Groups Petition to End Registration for Glyphosate – The Center for Food Safety has filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency to end the registration of glyphosate. The activist group is joined by four farmworker organizations and a group known as Beyond Pesticides in filing this petition. They want EPA to immediately cancel the registration of this popular herbicide, claiming risks to human health and the environment. A Bayer spokesperson said this petition has no merit.
SD Corn Comments – A proposed EPA rule could impact the farmer’s ability to use certain herbicides. South Dakota Corn Executive Director DaNita Murray provides a Pesticide FYI. Hear more in the latest SD Corn Comments.
Spring Fertilizer Season is 90 Days Out – StoneX Director of Fertilizer Josh Linville says the fall fertilizer run was huge. “Mother Nature really played nicely with us this year,” said Linville. “Now we have to start looking at resupply and that’s the unfortunate part; we’re in the middle of December and springtime starts up, especially on phosphate and potash application, in the middle of March. That’s 90 days away.” Linville discussed fertilizer supplies and logistics at the University of Minnesota Extension Crop Management Shortcourse in Minneapolis.
Excitement for Soybeans – Heading into the 2024 growing season, Asgrow Brand Manager Clint Chaffer is optimistic about the potential soybean acreage. “Soybeans look pretty good.The soybean industry has a lot going on right now so I think that that could drive some excitement as we go into ’24.” As buying decisions are being made, Chaffer said it is important to know what you need in each individual field. “Some products may do a little better on disease resistance; others may do better with wet feet versus dry feet.”
A New World Record Corn Yield – The results are in for the National Corn Yield Contest. The top yield overall is 623 bushels per acre. Virginia farmer David Hula shattered his previous record yield of 542 bushels per acre. In the state contests, Al Fox of Cannon Falls had this season’s best yield in Minnesota with nearly 339 bushels per acre. For South Dakota, Joey Waldner of Huron topped all-comers with 324 bushels per acre. Jamie Edwards of Adrian pulled in the highest yield for North Dakota at 319 bushels per acre. All winners will be recognized at Commodity Classic.
Minnesota Beef Update – The Minnesota Cattle Industry Convention took place over the weekend. Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association Executive Director Kaitlyn Root gave us the latest MN Beef Update.
A Slow Herd Rebuild Ahead – Cattle numbers remain low. NDSU Extension Livestock Economist Tim Petry says any herd rebuild is going to be a long process. “The bred heifer numbers we put on this summer were really low so the rebuilding is going to have to come from this fall’s calf crop,” said Petry. Thirty-seven percent of the beef cow herd continues to see drought. “We’ll have to see by spring how many of these heifer calves do get bred, so it’s a slow, slow process.”
A Roller Coaster Market – Optimism remains within the beef business. Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association Past President Grant Breitkreutz offered his viewpoint during the group’s annual convention. “The markets in the past few months since October has been a roller coaster to the downside in the fed cattle, but we know we have the lowest cow numbers ever recorded in history so hopefully this market will straighten out.”
Wolves, Deer and Elk, Oh My! – Animal depredation was top-of-mind at the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association Convention. MSCA Executive Director Kaitlyn Root said the issue includes wolves, elk and deer. “We’ve been seeing an incredible number of deer eating our producers’ forage and we had a pretty rough winter last year which also brings disease concerns and that is an issue we’ll be focusing on with the DNR this year.” Efforts are also underway to de-list wolves from the Endangered Species List again.
Cattle Ponzi Scheme Has a ND Connection – The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued a cease-and-desist order against Agridime, LLC. The Texas-based company was doing business in North Dakota and allegedly was behind a massive cattle Ponzi scheme. According to the SEC, Agridime secured more than $191 million from 2,100 investors in 15 states. The company ran ads promising annual returns for 15-to-32 percent related to the purchase of cattle. The SEC froze Agridime assets after it reportedly continued to sell cattle contracts in North Dakota and Arizona after it had been told to stop. With this legal action, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture also denied Agridime’s state livestock dealer license.
Domestic Lamb Business Threatened – The R-CALF USA Sheep Committee is asking the U.S. International Trade Commission to investigate the sheep industry. This investigation would determine if imported lamb and mutton is causing serious injury to the U.S. sheep business. The petition claims lower cost imports from Australia and New Zealand have taken nearly 75 percent of the U.S. lamb and mutton market. “We see the sheep industry as the canary in the coal mine for the cattle industry,” said Bill Bullard, CEO. R-CALF. “As we see the sheep industry being decimated by imports, we know for a fact, imports can destroy a domestic supply chain.”
Whole Milk Bill Advances – Congress has passed legislation allowing schools to serve whole milk. That’s in addition to the two percent milk that is now available. This bill now moves to the Senate where it has bipartisan support.
Risk Management Options for Dairy Farmers – The Dairy Revenue Protection program, which allows dairy farms to put a floor on the milk price and capture any market upside. Purina Risk Management Specialist Tim Patchin says there is more interest in managing risk with the current low milk prices. “We recognize that you should act proactively versus reactively,” said Patchin. “I think that’s one of the advantages of sitting down with one of us and discussing options. What’s your risk management comfort level? What’s your risk management knowledge base? Lets start from the beginning and build out from there.” Approximately 25 percent of the milk produced today is covered by DRP.
Fall Financial Planning Strategies – Northland Community College Farm Business Management Instructor Betsy Jensen has seen farmers shy away from pre-paying for inputs this fall. Increased interest rates are causing producers to be more hesitant. “Most companies have not increased their pre-payment discount,” said Jensen. “The cost of the money is offsetting all of your tax savings.” Jensen also encourages farmers to use deferred contracts strategically. Splitting grain sales into a few contracts means you have an opportunity to correct mistakes on a contract-by-contract basis if needed. Click here for the full conversation with Betsy Jensen.
Register for Next NCI Marketing Webinar – The Northern Crops Institute is hosting a market update webinar on Wednesday morning at 8. This webinar will feature Dr. Frayne Olson, crop economist/marketing specialist, North Dakota State University Extension. Olson will discuss the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates for key agricultural products. For more information and to register, go online.
What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets – In this week’s edition of What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets, Martinson Ag Risk Management President Randy Martinson cites the stock market as a bullish story. “It’s starting to pull money out of the commodities.” Wheat and corn are trending lower and would be considered “not hot.”
Demand Grows for Spring Wheat – The demand for spring wheat is increasing as end-users look for a higher quality product. “We’re finding ourselves as the fastest-selling class of wheat in the United States that is going into the foreign markets and there is pretty doggone solid demand in the domestic market as well,” explains Neal Fisher, administrator, North Dakota Wheat Commission.
A Demand Driven Beer Market – Malteurop North American Barley Procurement Manager Mark Black says demand for beer has shifted from a supply driven market to a demand driven market. There are several factors that have contributed to that market shift. “Culture has changed,” said Black. “Since 2020, we’ve been through COVID, wars and inflation. Australia/China tariffs were lifted. A lot of dynamics changed.” That coupled with lower demand and consumption means it is more difficult to move product. The situation has been further complicated by big barley yields in 2022 and 2023. Black says the impact will likely last the next few years. Hear the full conversation with Mark Black here.
Acreage Influences Barley Research – The North Dakota Barley Council would like establish an endowed chair in barley pathology at North Dakota State University. However, NDBC District Representative Tony Schneider says that goal is on pause. “Dr. Thomas Baldwin and his team are doing some very good work, but we might have to step back from that for a year or two.” Declining barley acreage is blamed for that decision. Schneider believes the need still exists. “The barley pathologist works on a lot of disease issues that can also impact barley production in the state like Bacterial Leaf Streak and Don; a better understanding of how it works is very, very important.”
A Difficult Year for Nitrogen Research – Minnesota Wheat Vice President of Research Melissa Carlson presented at the Prairie Grains Conference during the On-Farm Research Summit. Carlson says a lack of rain made nitrogen research difficult. “When the roots are pulling from way deep down there it kind of negates any soil fertility treatments you put on the topsoil.” There was not a lot of response to additional nitrogen this past season.
Cover Crops Helps Cash Flow – Mikayla Tabert spoke at the Prairie Grains Conference about a five-year cover crop trial on her Red Lake County, Minnesota farm. The Tabert farm has practiced no-till for several years and continues to experiment with cover crops trying to figure out the right formula. “We’ve had some swings where we’ve hit and done well and we’ve had some misses,” said Tabert. “We have cattle so the grazing aspect helps that cash flow.” Their goal with cover crops is to limit inputs rather than increase yields. “We’re farming for profit more than yield. Cover crops are an expense, but we’ve been able to back off on fertility and chemical inputs.”
NDFU Leads the Alliance to Advance Climate Smart Agriculture – North Dakota Farmers Union Government Relations Director Matt Perdue highlighted the organization’s leadership role in a pilot program called the Alliance to Advance Climate Smart Agriculture in the state. Funding is provided by the USDA Climate Smart Commodities grant. “We’re going to be delivering $13 million to $14 million to farmers and ranchers around the state for adopting or maintaining conservation practices that are good for soil health, water quality, and erosion control and happen to sequester carbon in the soil.” Hear all the details with Matt Perdue here.
MN Soybean Joins Clean Fuels Alliance America in New York City – Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council board member Paul Freeman travelled from his farm in Starbuck to New York City for the Clean Fuels Alliance America Big Apple Tour. Freeman says farmers are learning innovative ways to have a role in cleaner air. “I cringe a little when I fill up my work truck at 20-to-30 gallons,” said Freeman. “These barges, some of them have 55,000 gallons of fuel on board; if we can get a cleaner fuel in there, it makes a big difference.”
MFBF Increases Influence at National Level – Minnesota will have a formidable role in the policy process at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting. “Due to our membership growth this year we will actually have three voting delegates and three alternates,” said Carolyn Olson, vice president, Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation. “That is exciting for us because it means we have a bigger voice on the delegate floor.” The AFBF board was in Washington, D.C. this past week to advance the resolutions process. The AFBF convention will be January 19-24 in Salt Lake City. Olson was a RRFN in-studio guest Thursday.
$25 Million Grant Finalized – Representatives of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and the state’s soil and water conservation districts were part of a signing ceremony Tuesday with USDA officials. Minnesota is receiving a $25 million Regional Conservation Partnership Program grant and will focus on soil health practices through voluntary programs with farmers and landowners. The signing ceremony took place at the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Annual Meeting in Bloomington.
MFU Minute – The next Minnesota legislative session is set to begin February 12th. MFU Government Relations Director Stu Lourey highlights what the organization is looking forward to in the latest MFU Minute.
Ag is Playing Defense – With the metro-rural split in the Minnesota Legislature, agricultural lobbyist Bruce Kleven believes agriculture will be playing defense in the 2024 legislative session. “A lot of things got done in the ag world this year with the increase in the ag homestead tax credit, the beginning farmer tax credit and some increases in funding,” said Kleven. “We took care of some bad bills thanks to (Senate) Ag Chair (Aric) Putnam from St. Cloud. He stopped a lot of the junk from the House. As we look into ’24, there’s not a lot of asks that the ag groups are bringing, we’ll be looking at playing defense, especially on the environmental front.” Kleven was part of the Minnesota Wheat meeting in Grand Forks and the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting in Alexandria this past week.
Dry Bean Scene – The Red River Farm Network discussed Cuban trade with Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen for the latest Dry Bean Scene. The Dry Bean Scene is sponsored by Northarvest Bean Growers Association.
Soybean Trade Opportunities in Central Asia – Minnesota soybeans may find a home in Uzbekistan. “We’re doing a project in Uzbekistan to try to get whole soybeans over there,” explained Ben Storm, treasurer, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. “We’ve got an in-country rep over there that’s working with both poultry and dairy guys to include soybean meal in their rations and looking at getting some crush capacity in Uzbekistan.” The Port of Duluth may be an option to move soybeans to Uzbekistan.
NDFU Meets in Bismarck – North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne is hearing concerns from members about what is happening in the insurance sector. “Premiums are probably going up and it’s industry wide,” said Watne. “That comes with the fact that we’re having very severe storms that tend to impact the price of insurance products that we buy.” Watne participated in a Q & A session where he addressed membership concerns. Topics addressed included the state’s corporate farming law in the state, the expansion of animal agriculture and the soy crush. Hear the full recap with Mark Watne here.
Decisions Being Made for ’24 Growing Season – In many ways, the annual Prairie Grains Conference is the kickoff to the winter farm show season. Westbred Technical Product Manager Justin Berg says the show is a good way to assess farmer attitude going into 2024. The buying season has been slow to start, but Berg remains optimistic about wheat acres. “We had an interesting fall with the snow that we got in October and I think a lot more fertilizer was put down than was expected,” said Berg. “I think that’s good for the wheat and there is a lot of pre-buys on chemical going on right now so as long as we get that commodity price back up, we’ll still see a good share of wheat acres.”
Soybean Stress and the Impact on Yield – According to University of Minnesota Extension Soybean Specialist Seth Naeve, there is an air of mystery surrounding the soybean crop. It has been known to take a beating from Mother Nature and still deliver bushels. “The most visual example of this is when you get a really big hail event at the end of June that just completely tatters the soybeans and yet they’re able to recover and produce very good yields,” said Naeve. “The problem is we don’t know what that yield would have been had we not had that hail and it’s very, very unlikely that that hail increased the yields.” Corn is most vulnerable to stress during tasseling. The timing of stress and the impact on soybeans is a bigger question. Two years of study has identified R5-to-R5.5 as the most critical time for soybeans. Naeve addressed this topic at the Crop Pest Shortcourse in Minneapolis.
Canola Minute – Here’s the latest Canola Minute from the Northern Canola Growers Association. This week, Northern Canola Growers Association Executive Director Barry Coleman gives an outlook for the Canola Research Conference coming up Tuesday, December 12th.
Research Priorities for Canola – During the online Canola Research Conference, Northern Canola Growers Association Executive Director Barry Coleman outlined the organization’s research priorities. “Looking at disease management, we want to emphasize blackleg and clubroot research in our proposals and we’ve got a separate sclerotina initiative that’s been going on for a number of years.” Research will also concentrate on crop fertility, varieties and canola’s role in the expansion of the biofuels industry.
Canola and Backgrounding Steers – Colin Tobin is an animal scientist at the NDSU Carrington Research and Extension Center and was featured at the Northern Canola Growers Association research conference, discussing backgrounding calves. Canola meal delivers crude protein at a reasonable price. “That’s why it’s really an effective feed going forward because we don’t have to feed as much canola meal to get as much protein in as distillers grains and its not as expensive as soybean meal,” said Tobin. “We’ll look at the economic values of canola meal when fed to calves.” With the new production of renewable biofuels, Tobin expects the supply of canola meal to rise.
Understanding Biologicals – Biologicals are getting a lot of buzz. The Red River Farm Network asked FMC Regional Technical Service Manager Gail Stratman how farmers are responding to the move to toward biologicals. “A lot of times they’re interested, but they’re skeptical at first,” said Stratman. FMC has adopted a strategy of outlining what biological can do and what it can’t do. “It’s not a one-for-one swap. A synthetic chemistry will get you this far, but when you put a biological with that, it takes you one step further.” The full interview can be found online.
Solid Results for Farm Credit System in First Nine Months of the Year – In its quarterly report on agricultural conditions, the Farm Credit Administration reports the Farm Credit System enjoyed solid financial results for the first nine months of the year. The loan portfolio is performing well with nonperforming assets at a low 0.53 percent rate for outstanding loans. Capital and liquidity levels are good, but higher interest rates and lower commodity prices are a concern.
AURI Update – The next episode of AURI’s Ag Innovation News Podcast will be released Wednesday, December 20th. The podcast will highlight an inspiring story about a food entrepreneur. Hear more details in this week’s AURI Update.
Awards Presented at MASWCD Convention – During the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Annual Meeting, the MASWCD Teacher Award went to Samantha Middendorf of Christ the King School in Browerville. Representative Liz Reyer of Eagan and Senator Matt Klein of Mendota Heights were recognized as Legislators of Distinction. The Legislators of the Year are Senator Ann Rest of New Hope, Representative Aisha Gomez of Minneapolis and Representative Dave Lislegard of Aurora. The MASWCD Friend of Conservation Award went to State Resource Conservationist Ryan Galbreath and Interim Assistant State Conservationist for Management and Strategy Keith Kloubec.
BWSR Announces SWCD Employee Award Recipient – The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources has presented its Outstanding Soil and Water Conservation District Employee Award to Skip Langer, Olmsted SWCD. Langer joined the district as a conservation technician in 1998 and was promoted district manager in 2015.
Irrigation Excellence – Bill, Jeff and Kent VanRay have received the Irrigation Excellence Award from the North Dakota Irrigation Association. The Pingree, North Dakota brothers have farmed under a pivot for 25 years.
Hallock Man Recognized by AGCO – AGCO has named Lee Pemberton of Makin’ Trax of Hallock, Minnesota as its 2023 Operator of the Year. In a statement, AGCO said Pemberton is “well-known and respected by his colleagues at Makin’ Trax Contractors, who nominated him as Operator of the Year. His experience as a farmer and nearly 30 years as a professional applicator have provided valuable real-world knowledge.”
Sundberg Retires – Swine Health Information Center Executive Director Paul Sundberg is retiring at the end of the month. After private practice and time at the National Pork Producers Council and National Pork Board, Sundberg helped launch the Swine Health Information Center in 2015. Sundberg credits the Swine Health Information Center for the development of rapid response teams to tackle a swine disease threat and a faster, more directed approach to animal health research. As retirement approaches, Sundberg encouraged producers to be engaged in organizations like the National Pork Board or National Pork Producers Council. His advice also extends to the swine barn. “Never assume that you have what doc said you had last time. Always get professional diagnostic help even with cases that look routine.” Dr. Megan Niederwerder will move into the executive director role for the Swine Health Information Center on January 1.
Kernel Awards Presented – Congratulations to Jim Bahm of New Salem and NDSU Vice President of Agriculture Affairs Greg Lardy. They both received the North Dakota Grain Growers Association Kernel Awards. Bahm is a long-time member of the North Dakota Wheat Commission. Lardy was recognized for his commitment to the industry.
Little ‘I’ to Honor Schnell – Larry Schnell of Dickinson has been named the NDSU Little International Agriculturalist of the Year. Schnell previously served as general manager and co-owner of Stockmen’s Livestock Auction Market. Schnell previously served as president of the Livestock Marketing Association, chairman of the North Dakota Beef Council, president of the North Dakota Auctioneer’s Association and regional vice president of the Federation of State Beef Councils.
Pankonin Named Cattleman of the Year – The Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association awarded Mark Pankonin of Lamberton as its Cattleman of the Year. Pankonin was elected MSCA president a year ago. After a cancer diagnosis, Pankonin has served as an advisor to the board of directors.
Beef Industry Supporters Recognized – During the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association, American Foods Group received the Industry Service Award. The Minnesota Beef Council recognized the Cottonwood County Cattle Producers with its Prime Promote Award.
Thiesse to Remain Involved in Agriculture After Retirement – Kent Thiesse spent 27 years in Extension and another 20 years as an ag lender in southern Minnesota. At the end of the year, Thiesse will retire from the day-to-day work at the bank. During his career, Thiesse has seen everything from the farm crisis of the 1980s to the boom days from 2009-to-2013. “I think farmers today pay a lot more attention to cash flow to be able to service debt and keeping their working capital strong. As a whole, Thiesse said farm businesses are in a stronger position today than they were going into the 1980s.” Thiesse will remain involved in agriculture, including the writing of his Focus on Ag column. Thiesse also plans to coordinate the Farmfest forums and continue his involvement with the State Fair 4-H Beef Show.
Watne Reelected – Mark Watne was reelected as president of the North Dakota Farmers Union. This will be Watne’s 11th term in that role. NDFU Vice President Bob Kuylen was also reelected.
Bemis Accepts DC Job – Kaytlin Bemis has accepted a position with the National Corn Growers Association as its manager of public policy. Bemis will work on transportation, research and new uses. Bemis has been the public policy specialist with the Minnesota Farm Bureau for the past two years.
An Honorary Degree for Norma Peltier – Norma Peltier received an honorary Doctor of Agriculture degree Friday. The Peltier family is dedicated to NDSU academics and athletics. Those contributions include the Peltier Endowment for Innovation in Teaching, Don Larew Scholarship; the Jessamine Slaughter Burgum Scholarship, Joe Peltier Award for Risk Management and the Peltier Complex, a state-of-the-art agriculture research facility. Norma Peltier is a longtime NDSU donor, philanthropist and Bison athletics fan.
Last Week’s Trivia-Grinch is the character who attempts to steal everything related to Christmas in the fictional town of Whoville. Jason Heen of Farm Credit Services of Mandan was the first to respond with the correct answer and is our weekly winner. Runner-up honors belong to Jon Farris of BankWest, Derry Mackenzie of CHS Ag Services, Jacob Downing of Cargill and Dennis Sabel of Minnesota Farm Bureau. The ‘first 20’ rounds out with Norm Groot of Monterey County Farm Bureau, Pisek farmer Ernie Barta, Kyle Rollness of CHS Agronomy, South Dakota FSA State Executive Director Steve Dick, Kevin Schulz of The Farmer, Ramsey County farmer Paul Becker, Val Dolcini of Sygenta, Mark Mettler of PreferredOne, Lee Hutchinson of Farm Credit Services of Mandan, Mohall farmer Gene Glessing, Shane Orr of DPH Biologicals, retired Cargill official John Zietz, Nick Revier of SES VanderHave and Jim Altringer of Dakota Plains Ag.
This Week’s Trivia-Santa’s reindeer include Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen and Comet. Name one of the three remaining reindeer and send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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|Northarvest Bean Day - Fargo, ND
|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.