A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Saturday, February 10, 2024
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ASA Wants Farm Bill Done in ’24 – The clock is ticking for a new farm bill. American Soybean Association Executive Director of Government Affairs Christy Seyfert does not want to see this legislation pushed into next year. “We’ve been advocating for a new and improved farm bill for two years and hope that we can get there.” The farm bill extension last fall was necessary to give policymakers more time. “They have through the end of September to do that and I think there’s sincere interest in making sure that that a meaningful. bipartisan farm bill can happen.” Seyfert was part of Tuesday’s Northern Corn and Soybean Expo.
ASA President Provides D.C. Update – American Soybean Association President Josh Gackle of Kulm, North Dakota gave a policy update during the Northern Corn and Soybean Expo. Communicating the importance of updating and passing the farm bill this year is a focus for ASA. “It’s difficult to get anything through Congress right now no matter what the issue is,” said Gackle. ASA continues to engage committee leadership on updating risk management tools like crop insurance. Outside of the farm bill, ASA continues to look for ways to expand markets for soybeans. “Prices are a little lower than what we’ve experienced the last few years and margins are a little tighter. We’re making sure we have somewhere for our product to go at a profitable level.” Foreign demand and domestic crush capacity are bright spots for soybean growers.
Lame-Duck Farm Bill Passage Could Avoid the ‘E’ Word – National Corn Growers Association Director of Public Policy Wayne Stopskof sat on a panel during the Northern Corn and Soybean Expo. Farm bill negotiations are still happening in Washington. “We’re hoping the appropriations process will finalize soon and allow floor time and get a markup from the committee,” said Wayne Stopskof, director of public policy, National Corn Growers Association. While there is still some hope of getting a multi-year, bipartisan farm bill done ahead of the presidential election, it is possible a farm bill could be passed during a lame duck session following election day. “There’s a lot of attention to that so we can avoid using the “e” word, which would be an extension for another year.”
Wiesemeyer Highlights Farm Bill Timeline – The farm bill remains in limbo until the budget allocation is locked down. Farm groups have asked for an increase in reference prices, but Pro Farmer Washington Policy Analyst Jim Wiesemeyer says that will be a big lift because of the cost. At the AgCountry Farm Credit Services AgFocus Conference, Wiesemeyer said House Agriculture Committee Chair Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson is hard at work on the farm bill. “His Speaker, Mike Johnson, wants a farm bill because they have to show that they can actually do work in the House, but ‘GT’ Thompson has said he will not release what they call a Chairman’s Mark until the House is in for three consecutive weeks and that’s not going to happen until March at the earliest.”
Internal Battles Influence Farm Bill Process – Like other commodities, wheat benefits from foreign market development and market access funding in the farm bill. Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin’s pessimism is evident when discussing a new farm bill. “It’s one thing when we have infighting going on across the aisle, but when you have infighting within political parties like we’re seeing right now it’s hard to get too optimistic about really trying to get good policy initiatives moved forward.” Speaking at the Bayer Cereal Experts meeting, Gilpin said all of the national farm organizations need to be on the same page to push for a good farm policy.
Dems Offer Farm Bill Principles – The Democratic members of the House Agriculture Committee have released their guiding principles for the new farm bill. There are five priorities on the list; reducing hunger, strengthening America’s farmers, an investment in sustainable agriculture, lower costs for farmers and support for renewable energy and bioenergy.
USDA Ag Outlook Forum This Week – This is the 100th year for the USDA Ag Outlook Forum. The latest market trends and policy initiatives will be highlighted in this unique event on Thursday and Friday. The Red River Farm Network is providing special on-air and online coverage. The title sponsor for this special coverage is the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. Sponsors also include the North Dakota Corn Council, AgCountry Farm Credit Services and Amity Technologies.
A Flip in Majority – In his address to the American Sugarbeet Growers Association annual meeting, Cook Political Report Election Analyst David Wasserman said the Democrats have a one-in-three chance of flipping the majority of the House. “We have so many open seats with 23 Democrats who are leaving and 18 Republicans who are leaving, plus we’ll have more retirements because Congress has been so unproductive and members are so dissatisfied.” What about the Senate? “Republicans would have to screw up a two-car funeral procession to not win control of the Senate because you have so many vulnerable Democratic seats out there.”
Focused on Farm Bill Floor Time – Politics will play a large role in determining if a farm bill gets done in 2024. Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association Executive Director Harrison Weber believes congressional leadership wants to get this done. “It’s just whether the farm bill can rise to the level of importance with all of the other issues that Americans are facing,” said Weber. “If we can get the farm bill to that top spot, we’ll get it done this year, no doubt, but there’s a lot of things at play right now, polarizing issues like the economy or border security.”
Funding Decisions Needed Before Farm Bill Can Advance – The farm bill is being stymied by the appropriations process. American Sugarbeet Growers Association Vice President of Government Affairs Zack Clark says the agriculture committee has the topline numbers for a farm bill and something needs to happen soon. “They’re hard at work making sure that the 2024 levels are set.” The appropriations process has two deadlines, March 1 and March 8. “Things are progressing, but we’re so far behind. It should be noted, that we’re now legislating in the fiscal year that we’re operating in so that’s a problem.”
Rockstad Takes Over as ASGA President – Ada, Minnesota farmer Neil Rockstad will lead the American Sugarbeet Growers Association as its president over the year ahead. “I’m excited about being able to represent the growers.” The fate of the new farm bill remains a question mark. In an interview with RRFN, Rockstad admits there is always opposition to the sugar program, “but, I’m pretty confident we’re in a good place to overcome that.” Doran, Minnesota farmer Tim Deal was elected ASGA vice president Deal also serves as board chairman for the Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative.
Rutherford Reflects on His Time on ASGA Board – After nearly three decades of involvement at the regional and national level, Euclid, Minnesota farmer Paul Rutherford in his last year as a member of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association board. Rutherford sees the sugarbeet industry as an economic engine for the region. The sugar industry has a $23 billion impact nationwide. “Just in the Red River Valley alone, it’s about $6.3 billion; 150,000 jobs nationwide and 20,000-to-25,000 in the Red River Valley,” said Rutherford. “If we didn’t have sugar, our small, rural communities would dry up.” Rutherford emphasized to RRFN the importance of farmers speaking up for their industry in Washington, D.C.
ASGA, Registrants and EPA Working on Chlorpyrifos Issue – American Sugarbeet Growers Association Vice President of Science and Innovation Nick Storer is in his second month on the job. Storer is focused on crop protection technologies and the regulatory process. A federal appeals court vacated the EPA ban on chlorpyrifos and the agency is now working with the companies that produce the product. “The tolerances have been restored so depending on the state, the use of chlorpyrifos is again allowed according to the current label. They’re working with the registrants to adjust those labels to reflect some of the concerns around endangered species.” Storer said it is important for growers to check with state regulators about the use of the insecticide.
U.S. to Import Less Mexican Sugar – In its monthly supply and demand report, USDA said the United States will import 799,000 short tons of sugar from Mexico. That’s down from 922,000 short tons in the last estimate. Mexico’s sugarcane harvest has been poor. The crop size is projected at 4.8 million short tons for the 2023-2024 crop year. That’s nearly 350,000 short tons below the previous crop.
New Crop Insurance Option for Beet Growers – Sugarbeet growers have had an early harvest crop insurance adjustment since 2019. AgriLogic Consulting President Clif Parks says this mandatory adjustment is being converted to an optional format. “So essentially making it an option where one grower can select it and another grower can opt not to and just get that flexibility in the program going forward.” To transition from a mandatory adjustment to an optional one, beet growers must update their yield history from 2019-to-2022.
Crop Insurance Changes – One of the biggest crop insurance changes for 2024 is for sugarbeet growers. The early harvest allowance is now an option that would need to be elected by March 15. “There are some changes with that, they changed the threshold to 15 percent instead of ten percent,” said Jennifer Otteson, owner, Countryside Insurance Agency. “To use that early harvest allowance, you would have had to harvest more than 15 percent of the acreage of that unit prior to October 1.” Countryside Insurance hosted its annual farmer meeting Tuesday in Reynolds, North Dakota.
Beet Stock Values – After a busy January of American Crystal Sugar Company beet stock trading, February has started out quieter. According to Acres & Shares broker Jayson Menke, 30 shares were brokered at $5,500 and 15 shares at $5,600 per share last week. “In the short term, inventory has dried up pushing prices higher,” Menke said. “Between the three brokers there’s only 27 shares for sale at $5,800.”
Court Vacates Dicamba Registrations – The use of dicamba is now in jeopardy for the upcoming growing season. A federal court has vacated the registrations of XtendiMax, Engenia and Tavium. The court determined the EPA violated the notice-and comment requirement for these product registrations. Bayer released a statement, saying it disagrees with the ruling and is assessing its next steps. Bayer also said it is awaiting direction from the EPA on the actions it may take in response to the ruling.
Ag Retailers Association Responds to Dicamba Ruling – The Agricultural Retailers Association is upset with the federal court ruling, vacating the registration of over-the-top applications of dicamba. ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock said the timing of this decision is problematic. That’s because farmers have already made planting decisions and retailers have stocked seed and herbicides. The Agricultural Retailers Association is urging the crop protection companies to appeal the decision and request a stay during the appeal process.
A Game Changer – Minnesota Soybean Growers Association President Bob Worth says the dicamba ruling couldn’t have come at a worse time. “What a game-changer,” said Worth. “This is really a bad time of the year to be having a ruling come out like this; all the farmers have purchased their seed and all their chemicals for next year and dicamba was a big part of that.”
The Dicamba Scramble – With a federal court in Arizona vacating the registrations of XtendiMax, Engenia and Tavium, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council Director of Research Dr. David Kee is concerned for farmers who already purchased dicamba products heading into this growing season. “Producers are going to have to make some decisions now about what to do for ’24. Make sure to talk to your seed dealer, your herbicide dealer and see what your options are as we work to get this tool back to the farmers.”
EPA and NRCS Sign MOU – The Environmental Protection Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service have signed a memorandum of understanding to give farmers credit for voluntary conservation practices that will reduce pesticide drift and runoff. EPA Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff spoke to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and outlined the agency’s plan to meet the terms of the Endangered Species Act. With a huge backlog, the EPA is looking for ways to streamline its evaluation of crop protection products and their impact on endangered species. That includes working with the crop protection industry to its options.
Additional ERP Payment Being Made – USDA is issuing the final Emergency Relief Program payments for crop losses in 2020 and 2021. The first round of payments was made with a 75 percent payment factor. Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux says additional assistance is on the way. “If you received an ERP phase 1 payment for 2020 or 2021, you’ll receive a 3.5 percent payment on top of that.” Meanwhile, ERP enrollment continues for disaster losses suffered in 2022.
NASDA Approves Policy Action Items – During its winter policy conference, members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture approved action items to address ag labor shortages and provide incentives for new and beginning farmers. With the federal court dicamba ruling, NASDA encourages EPA to use its discretion to allow farmers and ag retailers to use existing stocks and not disrupt the supply chain. NASDA also wants EPA to fast-track the registration of crop protection products for the 2025 growing season.
Corn Matters – John Mages serves on the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council’s board of directors. He joined this week’s Corn Matters to highlight a recent trip to Vietnam and Thailand. This trip promoted U.S. corn products and quality to the region.
Fischbach Asks for Gray Wolf Delisting – Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach has co-signed a letter asking House leadership and Appropriations Committee leadership to include delisting the Gray Wolf from the Endangered Species Act in any Fiscal Year 2024 spending package. The letter states that “state governments are fully qualified to responsibly manage gray wolf populations and are better able to meet the needs of local communities, ranchers, livestock and wildlife populations.”
Immigration Standoff – A bipartisan immigration bill failed this past week. American Business Immigration Coalition Director of Outreach Jim O’Neil sees this as a critical issue for agriculture. A resolution to this issue is not expected anytime soon. “We’re two months into an election year and that tends to be a time when people are very wary of taking up issues that they see are controversial so I don’t think that there’s many opportunities in this Congress, especially with such tight margins with both chambers being controlled by different parties,” said O’Neil. “I don’t see a pathway in this Congress. However, we’d love for farmers to start reaching out to your elected officials now and making sure that they know that this needs to be top of mind so that when the new Congress is sworn in, we can hit the ground running and start working on legislation right away.” Agricultural groups are seeking H2A reform and the ability to have a stable workforce.
Supply and Demand Estimates Released – USDA cut Brazil’s soybean production by one million metric tons 156 million in the February supply and demand report. Argentina’s soybean production is unchanged from January at 50 million tonnes. Brazil’s corn production was lowered by three million tonnes to 124 million from January and Argentine corn production was left unchanged at 55 million metric tons. USDA raised U.S. corn ending stocks slightly to 1.17 billion bushels. U.S. soybean ending stocks, at 315 million bushels, are up 35 million bushels. Wheat ending stocks were raised 10 million bushels from last month, totaling 568 million bushels.
USDA and CONAB Numbers Vary Widely – Global Commodity Analytics and Consulting President Mike Zuzolo is questioning the wide difference between Brazil’s CONAB production numbers and the USDA WASDE numbers. “The CONAB corn number is now 10.3 million tons lower for Brazil versus USDA’s updated numbers. CONAB soybean numbers are down 6.6 million tons versus USDA’s updated number. This is the second month in a row and I’m starting to wonder if the trade is going to have to start scrutinizing these numbers a little bit more.” Zuzolo says demand is the most concerning number in the report.
CONAB Drops Brazilian Corn and Soybean Production – Brazil’s crop supply agency, CONAB, lowered soybean production to 149.4 million metric tons in Thursday’s report. That is slightly lower than pre-report estimates. CONAB also lowered corn production to 113.7 million metric tons with safrinha corn at 88 million metric tons. Both estimates were lower than pre-report trade expectations.
No Surprises – Statistics Canada released its grain and oilseed stocks in all positions report on Thursday. Stats Can pegged total wheat stocks at the end of 2023 at 20.7 million metric tons. That is down ten percent from the end of 2022 primarily on a 1.1-million-ton decline in durum stocks. Canola stocks are up one percent year-over-year. Intelli-Farm President Brian Voth said there was nothing out of the ordinary in this report. “Oats had a massive drop in stocks, down about 40 percent year-over-year, but our acres were down 35 or 36 percent last year as well. It’s some big changes, but nothing unexpected or out of the ordinary from what I can see.”
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 says the cattle market continues to trend higher. “We continue to see buyers come back to the cattle market and push it higher.” The bearish news is with the corn, soybean and wheat markets.
$5 Corn or Sub-$4 Corn? – Speaking at the AgCountry Farm Credit Services Ag Focus Conference, AgMarket.net co-founder Matt Bennett said there is a chance for December corn to top $5 per bushel. Bennett is also cautious. “If you get a rally, but the safrinha crop is good enough and then you come in here with 91 million or 93 million acre corn crop, what do you think the price of corn is going to be next October? I’ve got a real fear that we could be looking at sub-$4 corn. It’s possible. If you tell me $4.70 (per bushel) doesn’t work very well, how does $4 work?”
Buckle Up for a Wild Ride – Inflation has dropped from a peak of nine percent in June of 2022, but it is still above the Federal Reserve’s two percent goal. In an interview for the Bull Pen Report on the Red River Farm Network YouTube Channel, Advance Trading Risk Management Advisor Tommy Grisafi said Wall Street is holding strong. “The NASDAQ is at an all-time high, the S&P is not far behind it and the Dow Jones isn’t far behind it,” said Grisafi. “The labor market’s extremely tight and inflation isn’t exactly going away, but the Fed may have pulled off one of the wildest things ever. They raised rates as fast as they did and nothing bad actually happened.” Grisafi said the exception may be with the American farmer who saw the interest rate on his or her operating note triple. With the election and global uncertainty, Grisafi said “buckle up because this year is going to be a wild one.”
Long-Term Impacts on Soybean Markets – NDSU Extension Crops Economist Frayne Olson says the relationship between growth in demand from China and production in Brazil will be important in the long term for soybean markets. For the last 15 years, there has been steady growth in Chinese demand due to economic and pork industry growth. “Now all of a sudden, we have this continued growth of production in Brazil, but there’s slower growth in the Chinese imports.” African Swine Flu and an economic downturn could mean big changes are coming to soybean production in both Brazil and the United States. Olson says this shift will be important to watch.
An Economic Transformation on the Way – Demographics around the world are changing. Geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan says this will cause a great disruption in how our economic systems function. “The world is running out of people under age 40,” said Zeihan. “This is the decade we’re running out of working-aged adults.” China will see the greatest effect. “In essence, the world’s largest manufacturing power, the destination for a huge chunk of the world’s raw commodities, agriculture and otherwise, will go down to zero.” North America will see less of an impact than other areas around the globe that produce food since many inputs are produced domestically. While demand will decrease, there will still be opportunities for producers with access to inputs. Zeihan delivered the keynote address at the Northern Corn and Soybean Expo in West Fargo. Hear the full conversation with Peter Zeihan here.
A Downturn After 3 Years of Record Farm Income – This year’s U.S. net farm income is expected to be down 26 percent from 2023. USDA economist Carrie Litowski cites lower commodity prices, less government support and higher farm expenses. “Net cash farm income is forecast at $160.4 billion for 2023 and it’s forecast to fall to $121.7 billion in 2024. That’s a decline of almost $39 billion.” Farm input costs are forecast to increase nearly four percent. In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the Biden Administration has taken “unprecedented actions” to support small and mid-sized producers. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow reacted to the USDA announcement, saying now is the time to act on a new farm bill. Ranking Member John Boozman said U.S. agriculture is going through “the most rapid and steepest erosion in the farm economy of all time” and work must be done to improve the farm bill safety net.
Used Equipment Markets Cooling Off – Farm equipment prices increased dramatically in 2021 and 2022. NDSU Extension Ag Finance Specialist Bryon Parman spoke at the Best of the Best in Wheat and Soybean Research and highlighted how grain hauling equipment did not follow the same pattern as other implements. Commodity hauling trailer prices increased along with other farm equipment, but semi-trucks remained steady. “It’s more speculation than it is concrete on why that may be the case,” said Parman. More supply and spread-out demand were likely factors. Used equipment markets cooled down in 2023. “We’re seeing a decline in the used equipment market due to the bigger inventories now being available.”
Houthi Sites Targeted by the U.S. Military – The United States made a series of strikes Sunday in an area controlled by the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The military action took out missiles and other devices that reportedly were going to be used to target ships in the Red Sea. The Red Sea normally handles 12 percent of global maritime trade, but many ships are being diverted around the area to avoid the attacks. Freight rates and insurance premiums are increasing due to the volatility in that part of the world.
GMO Corn Dispute Should be Resolved by the End of the Year – Chief Agricultural Trade Negotiator Doug McKalip expects the U.S.-Mexico dispute over biotech corn will be resolved by the end of this year. McKalip made that prediction at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture conference in Washington, D.C. The United States sought a dispute settlement panel after Mexico said it would ban biotech corn imports. A ruling from that panel is expected in late 2024.
Expanding Trade – U.S. agriculture depends on market access and the development of new markets. “There are a number of different key markets that we should be focusing on,” said Matt Wohlman, vice president of government and industry relations, Land O’Lakes. “Especially, as we look at the geopolitical shift that is going on and how do we build our relationship with markets that provide opportunities for our ag products, but are also aligned with our security agreements around the world as well.”
EU Farm Protests Having an Impact – The ongoing farm protests in Europe have resulted in a significant policy change. The European Union has dropped plans to cut pesticide use in half and excluded agriculture from a required 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. Farmers in France, Belgium, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Poland and Germany have been protesting the EU Green Deal and the threat of increased competition. Farm groups are also calling for the resignation of the EU agriculture commissioner.
Well Grounded – In this edition of the Well Grounded podcast, Acres and Shares owner Jayson Menke and RRFN farm broadcaster Randy Koenen visit with John Warcup, an attorney with the Grand Forks-based firm Swanson & Warcup. The topics addressed include easements and legal access to the land. Well Grounded is a presentation of Acres and Shares and the Red River Farm Network. Here’s a link to this episode.
Corn Ethanol Has a Role in Climate Debate – President Joe Biden has received a letter signed by nearly 3,500 farmers voicing concern about the Administration’s favoritism of electric vehicles over biofuels. “If we’re going to address climate change and meet our sustainability goals, we are going to have to take a multi-pronged approach that includes tapping into higher levels of biofuels, such as corn ethanol.” The letter was put together by the National Corn Growers Association.
Clean Fuel – Sustainable aviation fuel was the hot topic at the Clean Fuels Alliance America’s Clean Fuels Conference. Chris Hill represents the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council on the Clean Fuels Alliance America governing board. “What we’re doing is better, it’s cleaner and it’s now; that’s biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel.” Hill cites the new crush plants that are being built and their ability to fuel this new industry.
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. This week, Alec Marxen highlights how their farm has embraced climate-smart practices with limited tillage and cover crops. They have experienced reduced input costs and better withstanding extreme weather. Hear more details in this week’s Farming for the Future.
Minn-Dak to Transition to Hard Frozen Beets Soon – Warmer than usual winter temperatures have been a concern for sugarbeet piles. Minn-Dak Farmer’s Cooperative President and CEO Kurt Wickstrom says the chilled beets that have been on ventilation will be processed by mid-month. “Then we’ll transition into our hard frozen beets; that two-week cold stretch wasn’t fun for a lot of us but it was what we needed to get our hard froze beets close to being finished off and froze very hard.” This is not the first time winter temperatures have been warmer than desired for the sugarbeet piles. “I think the last time we had a winter like this was 2012 and we were able to do okay because of our ventilation. About 60 percent of our beets that are in long-term storage are ventilated and that helps us out quite a bit.”
Canola Minute – Here’s the latest Canola Minute from the Northern Canola Growers Association. This week, Northern Canola Growers Association Executive Director Barry Coleman says the recent USDA canola production estimates for 2023 set a new record.
Wheat Management and ROI – To produce a successful wheat crop, WestBred Wheat Commercial Lead Jeff Koscielny says the crop needs to be managed throughout the season. “Variety selection is key, right? Picking the right genetics for the acre. Getting it to the right population, not pushing the population too high that you get lodging or too low that you can’t get the yield potential.” Yield is a priority, but Koscielny says the crop needs to be standing at harvest time.
A Well Rounded Approach – Bayer hosted a national Cereal Experts event in the Twin Cities. Northern Plains Regional Business Lead Craig Rogers says a well-rounded approach is necessary for small grain production. “Number one, you want to get your crop in the field and then it’s about protecting it, making sure the weeds are cleaned up,” said Rogers. “Then it’s about what can you do to push that., whether it’s protecting against diseases or trying to get that extra four or five bushels by putting a fungicide on.” Rogers says wheat is a significant part of Bayer’s crop protection and seed business.
Managing Bacterial Leaf Streak – Bacterial Leaf Streak is carried in with the seed and is gaining the attention of researchers. Host resistance is the only defense growers have against the disease. “I also caution that because it’s a bacterial disease, we don’t have anything to spray our way out of the problem,” said Andrew Friskop, plant pathologist, NDSU. Disease pressure was down across North Dakota in 2023 but it’s difficult to predict the disease prospects for the next growing season. Planting decisions are part of disease management. “It all starts with variety selection, knowing where it’s failing in its disease scores and be able to help it with a fungicide with those fungal diseases.” Friskop spoke at the Best of the Best in Wheat and Soybean Research this past week.
Genetic Resistance Shift for Phytophthora – Some phytophthora-resistant soybean varieties are becoming ineffective. NDSU Extension Soybean Pathologist Wade Webster covered the issue at the Best of the Best in Wheat and Soybean Research. The issue shows up in saturated soils. “The RPS1/C and RPS1/K are becoming ineffective so we need to shift more toward other sources of resistance such as the 3/A and the 6 genes,” said Webster. Other management practices like crop rotation can help reduce disease pressure. “Phytophthora is only able to infect soybeans. We can rotate out which can help knock down populations of the pathogen.” Unfortunately, phytophthora can live in the soil for up to five years. Shorter rotations will not eliminate the disease.
Unveiling the Power of Cover Crops – University of Minnesota Extension Educator Angie Peltier says livestock producers may be more likely to incorporate cover crops on their operation. “Oftentimes, they’ll be able to extend their grazing times a little longer and maybe not turn their herd onto hay as quickly,” said Peltier. Some farmers are using cover crops to fight herbicide-resistant waterhemp populations. Peltier says cover crop roots can support other organisms that promote soil health. “The more diverse our cover crop mix of species, the more diverse the bacterial and fungal populations that can be supported below ground.” They can develop symbiotic relationships that help hold water in the soil and make nutrients more available. Peltier was part of a breakout session at the Best of the Best in Wheat and Soybean Research meeting.
Short Session Underway in St. Paul – Minnesota legislators are back in St. Paul today. The trifecta remains in place with the DFL in control of the House, the Senate and the Governor’s Office. A bonding bill, which would be for roads, bridges and other infrastructure, is one of the expected priorities.
MFU Minute – Minnesota Farmers Union Government Antimonopoly Director Justin Stofferahn talks about a recent report on implementing a Minnesota Care public option. This MFU Minute focuses on how a universal health insurance program could increase coverage options and access to farmers in the state.
Foreign Farmland Hearing Sparks Spy Story – The South Dakota House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee is considering legislation to place restrictions on foreign ownership of farmland. South Dakota Agriculture and Natural Resources Secretary Hunter Roberts gave a personal example during his testimony. “In 2022, a Chinese delegation reached out to the Department of Ag and Natural Resources and wanted to meet with me and wanted to meet with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. They requested that we give them tours and help them facilitate infrastructure meetings with grain elevators, processing facilities and ag producers.” Due to geopolitical concerns, the meeting did not happen. This Chinese delegation still came to South Dakota. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security followed up with state officials. “The rest of the story is that Homeland Security told the Governor’s Office and Department of Public Safety that these were Chinese spies.”
SD House Repeals SDSU Dairy Funding – A bill to repeal $7.5 million in state funding for South Dakota State University to build a new dairy research facility overwhelmingly passed in the State House and is on the way to a Senate committee. This funding passed three years ago, but SDSU was unable to raise outside money for this project. The dairy research and training center is scheduled to close at the end of June.
SD Corn Comments – In this week’s edition of South Dakota Corn Comments South Dakota Corn Executive Director DaNita Murray talks about issues within the fertilizer marketplace. Murray says almost any tariff or regulation is an artificial constraint on the market.
PUC Preempts Local Land Regs – The North Dakota Public Service Commission has determined that local cities and counties cannot restrict the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline project. The PUC said its approval of the pipeline “automatically supersedes and preempts local land regulations.” Summit plans to build a 2,000-mile pipeline across five states to sequester carbon from 50 ethanol plants. North Dakota rejected the Summit proposal in August, but a request for reconsideration is expected.
Flood Retention Priority List Released – The Red River Retention Authority has released its priority list for flood retention projects. There are 18 projects on the list, including a project in Pembina County to prevent sediment and phosphorus movement to downstream reservoirs and a gated storage and drainage system project on the Roseau River.
Dwindling Dairy Heifer Supplies – The number of dairy replacement heifers is at a 20-year low. According to a new report from the CoBank Knowledge Exchange, this situation could limit any meaningful growth in U.S. milk production. Due to tight numbers, dairy replacement prices are at an eight-year high. Despite that, heifer values have not kept pace with high production costs.
Herd Rebuilding Will be Slow – The beef cow herd is at its smallest level in decades sending beef prices near all-time highs. NDSU Extension Livestock Marketing Economist Tim Petry expects herd rebuilding to be a lengthy process. “This last year was the fifth year of liquidation all because of drought,” said Petry. “At the end of 2022, 76 percent of our beef cow herd was in drought and now the latest Drought Monitor shows only 18 percent of our beef cow herd is in drought so we’ve seen significant improvement in the last year.” North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Montana have all seen an increase in replacement heifers “so that is an indication that there is herd rebuilding, but it is going to be slow.”
MN Beef Update – The Minnesota Beef Update catches up with MN Beef Director of Industry Relations Jon Dilworth to recap the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Convention in Orlando. Minnesota cattlemen were well represented. Staff and board members had a chance to weigh in on programs happening at the national level.
Beef Exports Remain Strong – Healthy Latin and South American markets are supporting U.S. beef exports, despite declinging sales to Asia. U.S. Meat Export Federation CEO Dan Halstrom credits a post-COVID return to tourism as a driving force. Logistical issues are one of the current challenges. “We’re starting to see some supply-chain constraints over in the Red Sea around Gaza and near Egypt. It’s relatively short term so far, but the longer it goes on the more this will impact the supply chain as a whole.”
Cattle Performance Predetermined Before Birth – What happens early in a cow’s pregnancy can have a lifelong impact on her offspring. Purina Director of Beef Technical Innovation Ron Scott cites work done at North Dakota State University, evaluating the importance of quality nutrition early in gestation. “That first trimester sets up the building blocks for growth, development and outcomes when that calf becomes an adult.” Calves born to cows getting no mineral supplementation during gestation were never able to catch up to those receiving proper vitamin and mineral nutrition. The calf birthweights were not different, but the cows fed the supplements weaned heavier calves. Scott says the NDSU study is groundbreaking research. “Scientifically, it is some of the work done at that level for fetal nutrition; I think it will be the basis for a lot of knowledge in the future.” Listen to the interview.
Advocating for Beef – Paige Schmidt is one of ten beef industry advocates called Trailblazers, using social media to advocate for the beef industry. Schmidt started sharing her story while getting her undergraduate degree in North Dakota. “Wow, we’re in Rural America and there’s so many people that have so many questions about cattle production and how we get beef to their plate.” Schmidt is from south-central North Dakota and is now a veterinary student at Kansas State University. As her time wraps up as a representative of the Beef Checkoff through the Trailblazer program, Schmidt plans to continue to share her story. “I would like to use this advocacy training in my future career to help consumers learn more about our animal protocols and what we do to have healthy cattle.”
Mankato Hosting MN Pork Congress – The Minnesota Pork Congress will be held Tuesday and Wednesday. Minnesota Pork Producers Association Director of Events and Promotions Pam Voelkel says the trade show will allow producers to check out the latest technology and product trends. Seminars will cover various topics, ranging from PRRS to technological advancements. MPPA and the Minnesota Pork Board are holding their annual meetings today. All pork producers are invited to participate. “It’s a great opportunity to ask questions about what the organizations are doing to help farmers and improve things.”
Case IH Launches New AF11 Combine – According to a company news release, the AF11 delivers industry-leading capacity by coupling Case IH’s first-ever dual rotor with an active and dynamic cleaning system. The AF11 has a 567 bushel grain tank and a six-second-per-second unload rate. The AF11 will only be available in North America. Information on pricing will be released at a later date.
Agtegra Territory Expands – An agreement is in place for South Dakota-based Agtegra to purchase the Aurora Cooperative Elevator facilities in Mitchell and Tyndall, South Dakota. The deal is expected to close at the end of the month. Aurora Cooperative Elevator is based in Nebraska and this deal only includes its two South Dakota locations.
Surtain Gains EPA Approval – The EPA has approved BASF’s Surtain corn herbicide. This is the first solid encapsulated premix formulated product on the market. Surtain has a wide application window ranging from pre-plant to early post-emergence and will control or suppress nearly 80 key broadleaf and grass weeds. It will be available for the 2024 growing season, subject to state approvals.
FMC Fiscal Year Revenues Down – For the year, FMC is reporting income of nearly $4.5 billion. That’s down 23 percent from 2022. Revenues were influenced by channel destocking in all markets and weather challenges in Brazil.
New Triple-Stack Trait Coming to Beet Business – There’s optimism for an early start to the planting season. “We’re actively shipping seed into some markets now and our processing plant in Tangent, Oregon is getting everything read to go,” reports Betaseed Sales Lead Jason Evenson. Betaseed has seen success with its CR+ hybrids. “A high percentage of our sales have been CR+ and it’s been a nice story to tell in helping growers protect the crop from Cercospora.” Evenson said a new triple-stack trait called Truvera will be available in the middle of the decade. “It’s in the hands of regulators now; the breeding work has been completed and we’re anxious to see how it will turn out.”
FBN Announces Sustainability Solutions – Farmers Business Network is offering new programs that reward climate-smart farm practices. These programs include its partnership with ADM. “Farmers can earn up to $25 per acre for things like cover cropping, conservation tillage and improve carbon intensity scores,” explains Kurt Alles, head of sustainability. FBN also has a partnership with POET for corn acres in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. Alles said new income streams are being created for farmers that will also benefit the environment.
Pea Protein Plant Planned – Louis Dreyfus plans to build a pea protein isolate production plant in Saskatchewan. The demand for plant-based proteins is behind this decision. Construction should be complete by the end of 2025.
Farm in the Dell Ties Life Skills to Agriculture – Farm in the Dell of the Red River Valley is a non-profit organization that provides meaningful employment to individuals with developmental disabilities. Executive Director Anna Sather was grateful for a contribution from the Minnesota Farm Bureau during the recent LEAP conference. “We rely heavily on the generosity of others to support our mission,” said Sather. Farm in the Dell employs over 20 individuals each growing season on a 30-acre plot north of Moorhead, Minnesota. Most work is done by hand which helps employees learn valuable life skills. Some have started their own patio or backyard gardens as well. “Now they’re getting to reap the benefits and share that with their families, which is huge.” Learn more about the organization or how you can get involved at farminthedellrrv.org.
MFBF Minute – The Minnesota Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee Chair Jessie Bester joins this week’s MFBF Minute. She highlights how getting involved has strengthened her ability to be a leader and provided benefits to her classroom as an ag teacher.
Life’s a Beach – Wednesday’s Agronomy on Ice was adjusted to accommodate the warmer-than-normal winter. “There were enough poor ice areas that we were concerned about it so we moved to an alternative location on land right next to Woodland Resort,” said Kyle Okke, who is one of the organizers. Okke jokingly said the annual tailgating experience on frozen Devils Lake was “on a beach this year and it was just as active as ever.”
Respected Ag Leader Passes – The agriculture community is in shock with the passing of former USDA Undersecretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. Northey, who was 64, was a farmer in northwest Iowa and former Iowa secretary of agriculture. Northey was president of the National Corn Growers Association nearly 30 years ago, one of the youngest individuals to serve in that role at the time. Two years ago, Northey was on the Red River Farm Network stage at the Big Iron Farm Show. “The struggle in agriculture in general is there’s fewer of us and sometimes we just assume good things will happen and they don’t always happen,” Northey said during the RRFN forum. “We need to be able to have a strong voice; we need to be able to make sure the people understand agriculture.” Northey was CEO of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa and was instrumental in the creation of the Midwest Council on Agriculture.
Ritchison Serving as Interim State Climatologist – Summer expansion plans are underway at Noth Dakota Agricultural Weather Network with 18 stations contracted for construction this year and another 21 scheduled in 2025. NDAWN Director Daryl Ritchison is also seeing his duties expand as he takes on the role of interim state climatologist. “It’s very sad, Adnan Akyuz passed away in January after a long battle with cancer so at least, for now, I’ll be interim for a while and we’ll see what happens after that.” Ritchison’s responsibilities at NDAWN will continue and he is “very happy to take on” the additional role.
Jirik Leaves NCI Post – After six years on the job, Northern Crops Institute Director Mark Jirik is stepping down. “For me personally, there’s still a lot of things that I want to do careerwise and for a number of reasons the timing was right,” said Jirik. “From an NCI standpoint, we’ve been very fortunate to have good support from our legislatures in North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota, but with the next legislative session coming up in North Dakota in January, it’s important to have a new director in place and it takes a while to get that position placed.” NCI Technical Manager David Boehm and NCI Program Development Manager Casey Peterson will serve as interim co-directors.
A New Role for Schommer – The Metropolitan Airports Commission has named Michael Schommer as its new assistant director of strategic communications. For the past 11 years, Schommer was the communications director for the Minnesota Department of Health. From 1999-to 2013, Schommer was the communications director for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
MFBF Names New Public Policy Specialist – Loren Dauer is the new public policy specialist for the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation. Most recently, Dauer was a district outreach representative for Minnesota Congressman Brad Finstad. Previously, Dauer was a legislative assistant in the Office of State Senator Gary Dahms.
Last Week’s Trivia-The Anaheim Ducks is the NHL team that was named by Disney and inspired by a movie. Adam Kuznia or Riopelle Seed Company is our weekly winner. Our Runner-ups are Sara O’Toole of O’Toole Seed, Mark Haugland of the National Wheat Foundation, Harvey farmer Bill Ongstad and Keith Bjorneby of Lone Wolf Farms. Triva honors also belong to Jacob Downing of Cargill, Kevin Schulz of The Farmer, Nick Sinner of Northern Crops Institute, Ron Dvergsten of Northland Farm Business Management, former Minnesota Ag in the Classroom leader Al Withers, Kevin Praska of Stone’s Mobile Radio, Lawton farmer Dennis Miller and Keith Rekow of Dairyland Seed.
This Week’s Trivia-The trophy awarded to the winning team of the Super Bowl is named after a former NFL coach. What is the name of that coach? Send your answer to email@example.com.
|RRFN Upcoming Events
|February 11 - February 13
|MN Grain & Feed Association Annual Convention and Trade Show - Alexandria, MN
|MN Pork Producers Annual Meeting - Mankato, MN
|February 13 - February 14
|MN Pork Congress - Mankato, MN
|Nitrogen Conference - St. Cloud, MN
|Sugarbeet Growers Seminar - Grand Forks, ND
|Advocate for Landowner Rights and More - Pierre, SD
|Nitrogen: MN’s Grand Challenge & Compelling Opportunity Conference - St. Cloud, MN
|Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage - Online Webinar
|Irrigators Association of MN Convention - Freeport, MN
|February 15 - February 16
|USDA 100th Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum
|NDFU Evolution Ag Summit - Jamestown, ND
|Forage Summit Meeting - Alexandria, MN
|Sugarbeet Growers Seminar - Grafton, ND
|Nutrient Management Conference - Mankato, MN
|February 20 - February 22
|International Crop Expo - Grand Forks, ND
|Getting it Right Sunflower Production Webinar - Online Webinar
|February 28 - March 2
|Commodity Classic - Houston, TX
|March 8 - March 9
|Multi-Generational Farm Transition Retreat - St. Cloud, MN
|March 10 - March 12
|National Farmers Union Convention - Scottsdale, AZ
|Getting it Right Canola Production Webinar - Online Webinar
|March 13 - March 14
|International Sugarbeet Institute - Grand Forks, ND
|Estate Planning and Farm Succession Conference - Watertown, SD
|AG Day Gala - St. Paul, MN
|Design Your Succession Plan for Farmers and Ranchers - Devils Lake, 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.