A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Monday, February 01, 2021
Farmer Speaks: Optimism Doubles in 2021 – Half of the Midwestern farmers surveyed in the new Farmer Speaks study said they were somewhat optimistic or very optimistic about 2021. That’s double from what it was last year at this time. In a webinar organized by J.L. Farmakis, Indiana farmer Kendell Culp said the grain market rally has influenced farmer attitudes. “You probably sold a fair amount of crop and weren’t able to take advantage of the run-up in prices, but, all in all, it is really good for the attitude and the outlook for agriculture.” Hillsboro, North Dakota farmer Sarah Lovas said the past few years were very wet. That changed during this past fall’s harvest season. “I’ve never seen such happy farmers over such a poor yielding crop and it was simply because field conditions were that easy.” The Farmer Speaks survey found the one area where farmers are expected to make significant changes this year is in the crop protection category. The stronger commodity prices have farmers planning to invest more in fungicides and insecticides to boost yields. Red River Farm Network Farm Broadcaster Don Wick moderated the J.L. Farmakis Midwest Regional Webinar.
Increased Market Speculation Has Implications for the Hedger – Last week, GameStop made headlines in the financial markets. Silver is the story today. Amateur investors are sharing information on online forums, like Reddit, and moving the market. Advance Trading Risk Management Advisor Tommy Grisafi says the fear of missing out is getting people more active on Wall Street. “With everyone working from home during the pandemic, 10 million online stock accounts have been opened. America’s favorite past time became playing the stock market.” To curb speculation, trading platforms have increased margins and imposed restrictions on shares. Grisafi says the regulators are also paying attention to this trend. “The CME Group, the CFTC and the NFA will not tolerate this type of joyride in the market; it could create additional costs and fees to hedgers.”
China Continues to Make Massive Corn Purchases – China booked a massive amount of U.S. corn this past week in three flash sales. Private exporters reported a 2.1 million ton sale on Friday, marking the third large sale for the week. Nearly 5.7 million metric tons of old crop corn has been sold, about 230 million bushels. It’s also roughly 14 percent of the U.S. corn carryout of 1.55 billion bushels.
China’s Corn Purchases May Be More Political than Fundamental – China is making big purchases of U.S. corn, but those purchases may be more political than fundamental-based. StoneX Group Chief Commodities Economist Arlan Suderman questions why this is happening now. “Why such a big sale that could risk doing something to the markets instead of doing this over a steady period of time? China has a history of making big purchase announcements at key times to influence politics. It could be that.” If this is the case, history shows poor follow-through on the actual shipments. Fundamentally, Suderman can justify large imports into China. “However, Communist Party leadership has control at the end of the day and they’ve been vocal in recent weeks about pushing the country toward self-sufficiency. I want to see purchase follow-through.”
Phase One Trade Deal Under Review – During Friday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked if the phase one trade deal with China is still in effect. Psaki was guarded in her response. “Everything that the past administration has put into place is under review as it relates to our national security approach so I would not assume things are moving forward.”
China Has a Need for Feed – Last week was a record for U.S. corn sales to China. Rabobank Senior Director of Animal Protein Christine McCracken says China’s interest is due, in part, to a growing protein sector. There’s structural changes taking place in China’s hog herd. “As hogs move to new, larger barns with modern genetics and management practices, we should see a shift in what they’re feeding and how much they require.” McCracken isn’t worried too much about the new strains of African swine fever. “I think these new operations are having more success in controlling the spread of the virus.” There has also been an increase in China’s poultry production to offset the drop in hog production.
South American Crop Uncertainty Motivates China to Buy U.S. – Global Commodity Analytics and Consulting President Mike Zuzolo thinks the uncertainty and delay in South America’s crop is motivating China to shore up its supply of feed grains. “With the Brazilian crop delayed and the Argentine crop hurt, the Chinese are moving more aggressively to get boats on the water,” said Zuzolo. “Also because of the logistical issue of the sheer amount of what they’re buying, to get it out of the U.S. ports and into the Chinese ports, you can’t buy both corn and soybeans. There would be bottlenecks.” Zuzolo said China is shifting to more poultry and other sources of protein due to African Swine Fever, increasing corn demand. “What we may see is a shifting of per-capita consumption from pork to poultry, because of both high price and less confidence in pork. This includes boosting poultry production.”
Continued Demand Keeps Boosting Grain Markets – Diversified Services market analyst Sterling Smith was a presenter during the Ihry Insurance spring virtual farm meeting and current market conditions were part of the conversation. Continued demand boosted the grain markets and featured massive corn sales to China. There were also rumors of China buying U.S. ethanol. “The ethanol space needs all the help it can get right now.” While corn and soybeans reacted to tight supplies, Smith said the wheat market situation is different. “Global wheat supplies are pretty good, but we’re seeing a change in tax regimens in Europe. This is supporting the U.S. markets a little bit, opening up a chance for better wheat export action.”
Beet Stock Snapshot – Last week there were 25 American Crystal Sugar Company sugarbeet shares brokered at $3,800 per share. This information is provided by Acres & Shares broker Jayson Menke, who tracks sales from his firm and others and provides weekly and annual summaries of the sale data.
Tighter Corn Stocks Boosts Prices and Changes Demand – The grain market is starting to get nervous as corn supplies tighten, partly due to China’s feed demand. “As we start to get U.S. ending stocks pulled down and corn prices get higher and more variable, all of a sudden, the wheat supply chain becomes an alternative feed source,” said Frayne Olson, crops marketing economist, NDSU Extension. In addition to feed demand, Olson is also watching ethanol consumption. “Ethanol has traditionally been a very large corn user. We’ve seen a reduction in the amount of corn going to the ethanol sector. The USDA forecast is for lower levels to continue. There’s a rebound in ethanol production, but production levels are much lower than we saw before COVID. As corn prices have gone up, ethanol margins have been squeezed tight. The ethanol futures market has kept pace, but there’s a limit. As corn prices go higher, ethanol consumption may drop.”
Soybeans Pull Other Commodity Prices Higher – A rising tide raises all ships. NDSU Extension Farm Management Specialist Ron Haugen is seeing a similar situation with higher soybean prices lifting other commodity prices. “Wheat, corn and soybeans, all of the major crops, definitely have a much better projection than a year ago. Durum wheat has also come up.” 2019 was a tough year in agriculture and this past year was a time of recovery. “Last year, we had a big influx of government payments and we really don’t know what that situation will be this year.” NDSU Extension released its price projections this past week.
Grain Traders Watching Ending Stocks in February WASDE Report – The February USDA Supply and Demand Report is typically not a big market mover, but U.S. Commodities President Don Roose says recent demand will have traders watching ending stocks closely. “Exports should go up on corn and soybeans and the crush number should probably go up on soybeans.” Corn does have a little better cushion, but supplies are tightening. “That is quickly eroding as more people are talking about ending stocks around one billion.” The report will be released February 9.
What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets – The silver market is surging, boosted by the same people involved in the GameStop and AMC stocks this past week. In this week’s edition of What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Market, Advance Trading Risk Management Advisor Tommy Grisafi has details on the Wall Street activity. Last week was also explosive for corn futures. That was good news for corn farmers, but it was tough on end-users like cattle feeders and ethanol plants.
Positive Cash Flow – A year ago, commodity markets were stagnant and many farmers still had corn standing. AgCentric Executive Director Keith Olander says the situation is entirely different this year. Farm income has been given a boost from better markets and government payments. “If look at those locking in pricing, there’s a positive cash flow and we have not experienced that in a number of years.” Olander says farmers have the dollars available to manage and make decisions for 2021.
Fed Maintains Low Interest Rate Philosophy – The Federal Reserve is holding interest rates near zero. The economic recovery has slowed in recent months, but Fed officials said the setback is only temporary. The overall economy will continue to lag until COVID vaccines are widely distributed.
Tight Canola Supplies Push Prices Higher – Statistics Canada will release its next crop report on Friday. Due to strong export demand, canola prices have reached a 13-year high, which bring more attention to this report than normal. As of December, China purchased more than twice as much canola as it did in 2019. This past season’s canola production was also smaller than normal in Canada, adding to the tight supplies.
Biden to Meet With GOP Senators – President Biden has invited a group of Republican senators to discuss the next coronavirus stimulus package. The Republicans have said the Biden Administration’s $1.9 trillion package is too expensive. Ten moderate Republicans, including South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds, asked for this meeting. This face-to-face meeting is expected to happen early this week.
Confirmation Process Moves Forward – EPA Administrator-nominee Michael Regan is scheduled to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday. Previously, it was announced the agriculture committee will hear from Agriculture Secretary-nominee Tom Vilsack on Tuesday.
Unfair Trade Policies Won’t be Tolerated – The incoming Commerce Secretary plans to take an aggressive stance against China’s trade practices. Secretary-nominee Gina Raimondo testified before the Senate Commerce Committee, saying the Biden Administration will take a hard line against unfair trade practices. The Commerce Department helps negotiate trade agreements and enforces trade law.
Supplemental CFAP Payments Paused – USDA has suspended $2.3 billion in supplemental CFAP payments to farmers. Most of the money is going to contract hog and poultry growers and others who were left out of earlier programs. The Biden administration put these payments on hold while it reviews the regulations taken during the final days of the Trump administration. The Farm Service Agency will continue to accept applications during the review process.
USDA Suspends Past-Due Debt Collections – Due to the pandemic, the Farm Service Agency is temporarily suspending past-due debt collections and foreclosures for farmers utilizing the Farm Storage Facility Loan and Direct Farm Loan programs. In addition, USDA has extended the deadline for loan deferrals and similar loan servicing action.
Canola Minute – In USDA’s annual Crop Production Summary, the average canola yield in North Dakota was increased for the 2020 harvest season. Find out more from Northern Canola Growers Association Executive Director Barry Coleman in the Canola Minute.
Climate Change Executive Order Highlights Agriculture – President Biden issued an executive order on climate change, which includes three areas of focus for agriculture. First, it sets a goal of conserving 30 percent of lands and oceans by 2030 while launching a process for stakeholder engagement for agriculture. It also establishes a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative and directs the agriculture secretary to get input from farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders on how to encourage the adoption of climate-smart ag practices. “President Biden and his team indicated they want to seek input from America’s farmers and ranchers and we appreciate that,” said Dale Moore, executive vice president, American Farm Bureau Federation. “As new strategies are implemented, it is crucial for leaders to listen to farmers.” As soon as Agriculture Secretary Nominee Tom Vilsack is confirmed, along with Deputy Secretary Jewell Bronaugh and others, Moore said USDA will chart the course. Hear the story.
Biofuels Supporters Respond to More Electric Vehicle Infrastructure – President Biden wants to build more electric vehicle charging infrastructure. If that happens, it could speed up a decline in gasoline consumption, challenging the biofuels industry. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor addressed the importance of promoting biofuels during the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. “Thankfully, we’ve supported bipartisan champions from the Midwest who are ready to press the case for biofuels and forge opportunities for growth including Ag Secretary Nominee Tom Vilsack. While the nominee to lead EPA, Michael Regan, has a limited record on biofuels, he certainly doesn’t come to the table with deep anti-ethanol ties.” Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said the president campaigned on the desire to offer greater use of electric cars. “I don’t have a problem with electric cars, but the reality comes home pretty fast if you’re going to mandate electric cars by 2035 and half of a fleet by 2025, you’re obviously going to hurt jobs.”
Senators Issue Resolution to Uphold Navigable Waters Protection Rule – North Dakota Senators Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven helped introduce a resolution to uphold the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule. This rule replaced the Waters of the United States rule, which challenged property owners who would have faced new federal permitting requirements. The Biden administration is expected to take a closer look at the Trump administration’s rule once other priorities are addressed. Read the resolution.
MFBF Update – Minnesota now has three representatives on the House Agriculture Committee. According to Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Paap, this is good news for the state’s farmers and ranchers. Hear more in the latest MFBF Update.
American Sugarbeet Growers Association to Hold Virtual Meeting – The American Sugarbeet Growers Association will have a virtual annual meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday. The event will feature key congressional lawmakers like Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow and North Dakota Senator John Hoeven. Attendees will also hear from former House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson. ASGA President Dan Younggren, who farms at Hallock, Minnesota, says the sugar industry is already working on the 2023 Farm Bill. “It takes many years of laying groundwork for the bill. The turnover in Washington D.C. seems to be historical each election. With the turnover comes many people who have never voted on a farm bill. Our work has already started.” Younggren says the meeting will focus on other key issues impacting sugarbeet growers like climate change and trade. “It’s unbelievable and a huge line-up. If you haven’t signed up, register, because it is free.”
North Dakota Legislative Report – There are concerns from NDSU Extension and the Agricultural Experiment Station over budget cuts. Hear more from Greg Lardy in the North Dakota Legislative Report, made possible by the North Dakota Corn Growers Association, North Dakota Soybean Growers Association, NDFB, North Dakota Farmers Union, North Dakota Wheat Commission and North Dakota Grain Growers Association.
A Busy Week in ND Legislature for Ag Bills – It’s was a busy week in the North Dakota Legislature. North Dakota Soybean Growers Association Government Liaison Phil Murphy says there’s been several big bills heard, including Senate Bill 2208, regarding water resource districts. The bill was heard in the North Dakota Senate Ag Committee on Thursday. “Lawmakers decided to move this to a study and I think everyone is breathing a little easier on that, because they can take interim and try to do a better job with it.” A beef checkoff bill will be heard on Friday in the House Agriculture Committee. NDSGA is watching this bill closely. “If this were to pass, many see this as a possible unraveling of the checkoff. The (North Dakota) Agriculture Coalition views this as a non-starter.”
Infrastructure Bonding Proposals Capture Attention in ND Legislature – Infrastructure bonding proposals are being considered in the North Dakota Legislature. Representative Jared Hagert says there are a multitude of different proposals. “The governor’s proposal is at $1.25 billion, there’s another proposal for $2 billion and one that started in the House at $1.1 billion, but is currently at $800 million. There’s lots of issues being worked out and it’s cliche, but we don’t know what we don’t know.” Hagert says the majority of legislature recognizes the need for improved infrastructure in rural North Dakota. Hagert is a member of the House Transportation Committee, but the committee hasn’t reviewed anything on the subject yet. “We all are keeping tabs on it. As we move forward in understanding different proposals, there may be an opportunity to address some in committee settings.”
ND House Approves Grain Inspection Bill – A grain inspection bill has passed in the North Dakota House. This bill includes financial standards and licensing rules for grain buyers and ag processors. This bill will move to the Senate after crossover.
Updating State Seed Law – The North Dakota State Seed Commissioner Ken Bertsch addressed the House Agriculture Committee Thursday as it considers an update to the state seed laws. This change would adopt the new seed breeding techniques seen in the industry. “Gene editing is one example which would be considered acceptable for us to bring a variety into the state-inspected program.” This language moved through the House Agriculture Committee with a ‘do pass’ recommendation.
Bill Seeks “A Simpler Process” for Paying into the State Beef Checkoff – North Dakota House Bill 1487 would reword language, making paying into the state Beef Checkoff voluntary. Independent Beef Association of North Dakota President Kerry Dockter, who ranches at Denhoff, says the proposal is tied to the refund process. “A lot them do not know it is available (the refund) to ask for that second dollar back. You have 60-days from the time the cattle are sold to request checkoff dollars back. If you miss that period, you’re out of luck.” Dockter adds the intent of this bill is to make paying into the state checkoff a simpler process. “My personal opinion is those checkoff dollars should be kept in the state to promote the beef that if born, raised and processed in North Dakota. Funnel that money into packing plants so people can get the good quality beef we all grew up on.” The bill has been referred to the Agriculture Committee, where a hearing is scheduled for Friday. Listen to the Red River Farm Network interview with Dockter.
Walz Proposes 2022 – 2023 Biennium Budget – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz released a $52 billion budget proposal for the 2022 – 2023 biennium. The proposal would raise taxes for corporations and the wealthy. It emphasizes small business support in COVID and provides an increase in the general fund for education. “Our budgeting we did in 2019 created opportunities for all. We made historic investments in education all the way from Pre-K to universities and state college systems. We made historic investments in housing, we made affordable drug prices a reality for folks and we did that all by creating the largest surpluses in one of the most sound fiscal states in the union,” said Walz. “This budget will do that again. It will take in the realities of where we’re at in COVID-19. It’s fair in how it impacts people and it does the things I said we would do. It’s a responsible budget to leave this state in good shape.”
MDA Budget Proposal Focuses on Biofuels, Meat Processing and Conservation – The Minnesota Agriculture Department’s budget proposal has a three-percent increase from the previous biennium. With the additional funds, Minnesota Ag Commissioner Thom Petersen says the department wants to build on two areas, starting with a $4 million investment in E15 infrastructure. “We know by moving to E15 about 15 percent of the pumps can handle it, but we would like to get that much higher.” MDA also wants to boost the value-added grant program for local meat processing. “There were 10 to 15 transfers or new processors in the last year and there are more in the queue.” Conservation efforts, trade and farmer stress efforts are also included the budget proposal. On Wednesday, Petersen will present to the Senate Agriculture Committee. Read the proposal.
House Ag Committee Reviews MDA Budget – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture proposed budget is less than one-half of one percent of the entire state budget. Appearing before the Minnesota House Agriculture Committee, Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen emphasized the state has 68,000 farms generating $112 billion in economic activity. Deputy Commissioner Andrea Vaubel said MDA is seeking additional dollars for international trade. Vaubel says the trade staff has been very innovative with virtual events, but “in-country representation is key to market success.” Funds also run out next year for the state’s noxious weed program and the legislature is being asked to include dollars in that effort. “We’ve been wildly successful in our pursuit to battle Palmer amaranth in particular.”
MN House Ag Committee Reviews Farmer-Lender Mediation Bill – The Minnesota House Ag Committee met Monday to consider House File 80, legislation proposing an extension for the farmer-lender mediation period of an additional 60 days. University of Minnesota Extension Statewide Mediation Coordinator Mary Nell Preisler showed support for the Farmer-Lender Mediation Act extension from 90 days to 150 days, partly due to the COVID pandemic. “I’ve been doing this since 1986 and 90 days has never been long enough. However, if we have an agreement before 90 days, we can stop the mediation. We really haven’t run into this issue before, but the pandemic brought it to a head we’ve never had enough time.” The committee laid the bill over for possible future inclusion. Last year, the committee took similar action to get farmers through the pandemic. The Minnesota House Ag Committee also heard from the Rural Finance Authority Supervisor Matt McDevitt on ag loan activity during the hearing.
Permitting Bill Advances in SD Legislature – In Pierre, state senators have approved a permitting bill for large-scale livestock operations. With the current regulations, livestock operations must renew these permits every five years. This bill doubles that timeline to ten years.
Dry Weather Decreases the Risk for Wheat Midge – Due to dry conditions this past year, there has been a dramatic decline in the wheat midge population in North Dakota. Over 2,000 soil samples were collected this past fall. Eighty-six percent of those samples had zero wheat midge cocoons. NDSU Extension Entomologist Jan Knodel says that is record low.
Be Mindful of Sudden Death Syndrome in Soybeans – During the final day of the virtual Best of the Best in Wheat and Soybean Research meeting, University of Minnesota Extension Plant Pathologist Dean Malvick took at a look at Sudden Death Syndrome. The disease is spreading across soybean production areas in Minnesota. SDS is caused by a fungus resulting in root rot and leaf scorch. SDS often happens in fields infested with Soybean Cyst Nematode. Malvick says farmers can reduce the risk for disease by selecting resistant varieties or get specific seed treatments labeled for the disease.
Managing FM – China and other export partners are demanding less foreign material in U.S. soybean shipments. University of Minnesota soybean agronomist Seth Naeve says FM contamination begins on the farm. “Storage purposes and pricing purposes for FM; weed seed from a weed management stand point is important; I think of this works together with marketing and maintaining the highest quality crop we can.” During the Best of the Best in Wheat and Soybean Research Webinar, Naeve outlined an effort to reduce foreign material. This work is funded by the soybean checkoff programs in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
A Systems Approach Advocated for Weed Control – BASF Technical Service Representative Ken Diebert says farmers can’t rely on just one herbicide anymore. “You’re going to hear and see this trend as we move forward, especially as we deal with higher waterhemp pressure.” If weather does not allow growers to apply a pre-emergence herbicide, Diebert says there are options to lay a residual down post-emergence.” During a virtual meeting with ag retailers and crop consultants, Diebert said the grain market rally has resulted in more farmers making a bigger investment in yield. Fungicides would be one example. “Not only for plant health and reducing stress on the crop, but also protecting the crop from diseases, like white mold.” Click to hear the entire interview.
Dry Bean Scene – As farmers gear up for the 2021 planting season, dry bean seed supplies are tightening in some instances. Brendan Dufner with Pulses America says farmers may have to consider a different variety or class of bean. Find out more in the Dry Bean Scene, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.
NDSU Extension Releases Price Projections – NDSU Extension is forecasting the price for soybeans at $10.25 per bushel for this marketing year. That’s up from a historical average of $8.45. Corn prices are projected at $3.80, up from $3.14 for the five-year average. The short-term projected price for spring wheat is $5.65 per bushel, which compares to $4.89 for the average. For cattle, 800-to-900 pound steers are forecast to be at $143 per hundredweight. That’s up $4.70 from the historical average. NDSU Extension expects cull cows to average $120 per hundredweight this year. That’s down from the $124.88 average over the past five years.
DIRECT Act Introduced to Help Small Meat Processors – South Dakota Congressman Dusty Johnson has reintroduced his proposal to allow state inspected meat to be sold across state lines through e-commerce. In Johnson’s view, there are a lot of small processors that don’t want to take on the expense of federal inspection. Johnson’s bill would allow these processors to develop new products for a broad market. “I’ll give you an example. The SDSU meat lab is state inspected and they could develop a jackrabbit jerky and market that to SDSU alumni across the country.” The needs of the small processing plants came to light when large packing plants slowed down production or closed when COVID-19 hit their business.
Minnesota Beef Update – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association will host policy meetings during their Winter Reboot Conference this coming week. Learn more from Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association Executive Director Allison VanDerWal in the Beef Update.
A Look at the ND Beef Checkoff Program – The Beef Checkoff program has been around since 1973. “It is not necessarily something new for cattle producers,” says Nancy Jo Bateman, executive director, North Dakota Beef Commission. Like other commodity groups, the North Dakota Beef Commission is a state agency that functions under law that sets the amount deducted when cattle change ownership. “A total of $2 are collected. Fifty cents of that goes to the national program, while the remaining $1.50 per head is budgeted by the state board of directors for research, promotion and other programs,” says Bateman. “Those dollars help reach consumers in North Dakota and around the world understand the benefits of beef when purchasing our product.” A bill has been introduced in the North Dakota House that would reword current language, making paying into the state checkoff optional for cattle producers. Currently, North Dakota cattle producers can request a refund for dollars allocated for the state checkoff within a certain time frame. Listen to the full Red River Farm Network interview with Bateman here.
Cattle Inventory Report Released – Beef cow numbers are down slightly and dairy cow numbers are up. According to USDA’s semi-annual cattle inventory report, beef cow numbers are down one percent from one year ago. Dairy cow numbers up one percent. The number of beef cows was down five percent in Minnesota, down two percent in North Dakota and up one percent in South Dakota. For dairy cows, the inventory in Minnesota rose two percent; North Dakota is unchanged and South Dakota is up a whopping 11 percent.
Milk Production Rises – U.S. milk production topped 18 billion pounds in December. That’s up more than three percent from December of 2019. Minnesota milk output is up five percent. Cow numbers total 455,000 head, up 10,000 head from last year. South Dakota milk production rose nearly 12 percent. The size of South Dakota’s dairy herd grew by 14,000 head.
Midwest Dairy Launches New Strategic Plan – Midwest Dairy launched a new three-year strategic plan earlier this month. The new plan takes into consideration lessons learned in the COVID pandemic with objectives to boost dairy sales, advance dairy research and grow trust in dairy nutrition. Midwest Dairy CEO Molly Pelzer says consumers are thinking about health now more than ever. “Dairy has immune-boosting nutrients.” Pelzer says Americans continue to eat more food at home and the dairy industry is watching for the return to restaurants. “We certainly know Americans consumed lots of cheese in restaurants and we were pleased to see cheese and butter diverting to home use. Although we’ve enjoyed the baking, we’re looking forward to going out again. We’re hopeful dairy demand will continue to grow in the food service area.” Other areas of focus in the strategic plan include developing farm and community leaders and creating checkoff advocates.
Little Change for the U.S. Lamb Crop – USDA says there 3.2 million head nationwide this past year. That’s down one percent from 2019. South Dakota had 200,000 head, down 5,000 from last year. Minnesota is unchanged at 90,000 head. North Dakota’s lamb crop totaled 52,000 head, up 2,000 from 2019.
COVID Hits Restaurant Business Hard – According to the National Restaurant Association’s state of the industry report, more than 110,000 bars and restaurants closed this past year. For the restaurants that closed for good in 2020, the majority of the operators had been in business for an average of 16 years. While there is pent-up consumer demand, the report said consumers are also finding new ways to enjoy their favorite restaurants, including restaurant subscription services and meal kits.
A Response to the H-2A Visa Concern – Despite the COVID travel ban, the State Department is making an exception for South African workers with H-2A and H-2B visas. This applies to food and agriculture workers. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall urged the State Department and the Homeland Security Department to review the issue. Approximately 5,000 H-2A workers are from South Africa.
New Scholarship Opportunity for Water Quality Certified Farmers – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is offering a scholarship for farmers tied to the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program. AgCentric Director Keith Olander says the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program Farm Business Management Scholarship provides tuition buy down for the Farm Business Management Program. “For those who are water quality certified, there are opportunities to have tuition bought down as much as 75 percent based on qualifications. Farmers must also be water quality certified through the agriculture department.” The program is an opportunity to compare profitability between farms enrolled in the state’s water quality program and those who are not. “They’re looking at the economics around the adaption of environmental and conservation practices and water quality,” says Olander. “We’re trying to identify within that how those farmers stack up against their peers.”
Countryside Insurance Agency to Hold Farmer Update Meeting – Countryside Insurance Agency will host its annual farmer update meeting in-person Tuesday. In addition to crop insurance information, there will be an update on farm policy and markets. Owner/agent Jennifer Otteson says the grain market is capturing the attention of farmers. “Prices look more favorable. Farmers are trying to decide what they’ll plant and where. They are also looking at different contracts in the area. There are also Farm Service Agency programs farmers need to be working on.” The meeting begins at 10 a.m. in Reynolds, North Dakota.
Getting Truck Dealerships to Recognize Agriculture’s Needs – Filling the gap between a general consumer and an agricultural purchaser is the mission of Certified Agriculture. Head of the Certified Agriculture Dealership program, Pat Driscoll, says getting truck dealerships to recognize the needs of agriculture is the goal. “We created the ag awareness training program. It’s a proprietary training program and the dealership has to put at least three people through our training before they can become a certified ag dealer. No matter where that farmer or rancher touches the store, they always have a go-to ag person.”
ADM Reports Higher 4Q Income – Archer Daniels Midland is reporting quarterly net income of $687 million. That compares to $504 million one year ago. Strong export volume, especially with China, was positive news for the ag services and oilseeds division. Tight soybean supplies also resulted in higher margins for the crush business.
CN Railway Finishes the Year Strong – The Canadian National Railway is crediting an increase in grain shipments for its stronger fourth quarter profits. The income was at $803 million in U.S. currency, up from $631 million one year ago.
Income Increase for State-Owned Mill – The North Dakota Mill reports second quarter income of $4.5 million, up from $3.3 million one year ago. President and CEO Vance Taylor says the mill’s family flour business is up 66 percent, due largely to the increase in home baking during the pandemic. During Wednesday’s Industrial Commission meeting, Taylor offered perspective on wheat acreage. “Some of the projections show less wheat acres going forward in this year. We’re watching that close. I think that’s part of the run up in prices with some acres going to corn and beans.”
Corn Matters – The virtual MN Ag Expo highlighted research important to Minnesota corn farmers. Learn more from Minnesota Corn Growers Association Public Relations Manager Brent Renneke in Corn Matters.
AGP Settles With the CFTC – Ag Processing Incorporated will pay $400,000 to settle charges made by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The CFTC alleged AGP exceeded the speculative position limits on soybean meal contracts on multiple occasions between December 2017 and July of 2019. AGP did not admit to any wrongdoing and cooperated with the investigation.
New Seed Treatment Comes to Market – Heliae Agriculture is introducing a new seed treatment formulation called PhycoTerra ST. This product adds a microbial food source around each seed, enhancing the relationship between the seed and soil microbes.
FMC and Novozymes to Co-Develop Enzyme Solutions – FMC Corporation and Novozymes have entered into a strategic collaboration to research, co-develop and commercialize biological enzyme-based crop protection products. FMC Global Director of Plant Health Dr. Benedicte Flambard said “enzymes are a relatively untapped solution in the agricultural market.”
Region III Best of NAMA Awards Announced – The Region III National Agri-Marketing Association has recognized the Best of NAMA. The Best of Show for Agricultural Advertising went to Peterson Farms Seed and the Paulsen agency. For Agricultural Public Relations, WinField United was recognized along with its agency, Colle McVoy. WinField United also won a digital award for its social media campaign. The Best of NAMA Region III winner for public relations for a consumer audience is Cenex and Exponent. Purina Animal Nutrition and Filament was recognized in the specialty audience category.
AGP Elects New Board Leadership – Ag Processing Incorporated has announced Iowa farmer Lowell Wilson is the new board chairman. Wilson has been on the AGP board since 1985 and has been its vice chairman since 1995. The retired general manager for Western-Consolidated Cooperative in Holloway, Minnesota, Dean Isaacson, was elected vice chair.
Hogstad Takes Over IPSA Presidency – NorthStar Genetics Senior Advisor Dan Hogstad is the new president of the Independent Professional Seed Association. Mustang Seeds CEO Terry Schultz and Peterson Farms Seed General Manager Scott Sanders are members of the IPSA board.
AgBiome Names New Chair – Dr. Marijn Dekkers is the new chairman of AgBiome. Dekkers is the founder and chairman of Novalis LifeSciences and former served as the chief executive officer for Bayer. Last year, Dekkers joined AgBiome as a strategic advisor.
Wyse Awarded MCIA’s Highest Honor – The Minnesota Crop Improvement Association has presented the Achievement in Crop Improvement Award, to Dr. Don Wyse. Wyse is a professor and researcher with the University of Minnesota. The MCIA Premier Seedsman Awards went to Bob Ehlers of Elbow Lake, Clyde Kringlen of McIntosh and Dean and Dennis Terning of Cokato. University of Minnesota researcher Donn Vellekson and MCIA field inspector Randy Krzmarzick received the Honorary Premier Seedsman Award.
SD Native Moves From CFTC to Edelman’s – Rachel Millard has taken a communications role at Edelman’s Financial. Most recently, Millard was the deputy director in the office of public affairs for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Previously, the South Dakota native worked for the House Agriculture Committee and on the staff of South Dakota Senator John Thune.
Thompson to Serve in the Biden Administration – A South Dakotan has been selected to lead USDA’s Office of Tribal Relations. Heather Dawn Thompson is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe who works on American Indian law and tribal agriculture issues at a Washington, D.C. law firm. Previously, Thompson was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in South Dakota.
Conaway Graves Group Launches – Former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway and his former chief of staff, Scott Graves, are forming the Conaway Graves Group. This will be an advocacy and reputation management firm, assisting clients with issue monitoring, strategic communication and association management.
Eannello Leaves National Association of Wheat Growers – The National Association of Wheat Growers Communications Director Caitlin Eannello will be joining the Department of Homeland Security in February. NAWG is in the process of hiring a new communications director.
Last Week’s Trivia – Tequila is a town in Mexico’s western state of Jalisco. The alcoholic drink with the same name is made from the blue agave plants in the region. A toast goes out to Pete Carson of Carson Farms for winning our weekly trivia challenge. Dazey farmer Jim Broten, Nick Sinner of Northern Crops Institute, Dianne Bettin of LB Pork and Sherry Koch of Mosaic earn runner-up honors. The ‘first 20’ rounds out with retired banker John Stone, Dave Gehrtz of Proseed, Kevin Schulz of Dakota Farmer/Nebraska Farmer, Jim Altringer of CHS Dakota Plains Ag, Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, Keith Bjorneby of Lone Wolf Farms, Ron Dvergsten of Northland Farm Business Management, Karlstad farmer Justin Dagen, Sara O’Toole of O’Toole Seed, Grafton farmer Brian Sieben, Twyla Wulf of Clear Springs Cattle Company, Harvey farmer Bill Ongstad, Keith Rekow of Dairyland Seed, Crookston farmer Ron Lanctot and Mark Mettler of PreferredOne.
This Week’s Trivia – The Green Bay Packers won the first Super Bowl in 1967. What was the other team in the first AFL-NFL championship game? Send your answer to email@example.com.
|RRFN Upcoming Events|
|February 2, 2021||Soil Talk Tuesday - Virtual|
|February 2, 2021||MN Soybean Spill the Beans Webinar Series - Online Webinar|
|February 2, 2021||“Getting It Right” Dry Bean Meeting - Virtual|
|February 3, 2021||Agronomy On Ice - Devils Lake, ND|
|February 3, 2021||Women in Ag Network Conference - Virtual|
|February 4, 2021||NFU Annual Convention: Farm Stress Panel - Online Webinar|
|February 4, 2021||Farm Safety Webinar: Tractors and Equipment - Virtual|
|February 9, 2021||Soil Talk Tuesday - Virtual|
|February 9, 2021 - February 11, 2021||Sugarbeet Grower Seminars - Virtual|
|February 9, 2021||MN Soybean Spill the Beans Webinar - Online Webinar|
|February 9, 2021||SDSU Beef Day - Virtual|
|February 10, 2021||AgCountry FCS Winter Forum - Virtual|
|February 10, 2021 - February 13, 2021||Watertown Winter Farm Show - Watertown, SD|
|February 11, 2021||Minnesota Milk Minne-Series - Online Webinar|
|February 11, 2021||NFU Annual Convention: Access to Ag Education - Online Webinar|
|February 11, 2021 - February 12, 2021||Advanced Crop Advisers Workshop - Online Webinar|
|February 11, 2021||Drought Planning Series: Drought Outlook - Online Webinar|
|February 12, 2021 - February 13, 2021||NDSU Saddle and Sirloin Club Little “I” - Fargo, ND|
|Contact RRFN||Don Wick
|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|
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.