A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Monday, February 22, 2021
Reporting Agriculture’s Business – Technology and the media are constantly evolving. Change was accelerated this past year with the onset of COVID-19. Zoom is now part of our daily routine and we’re spending more time in front of computer screen than a windshield. One thing hasn’t changed and that’s the Red River Farm Network’s commitment to telling agriculture’s story. We focus on the stories that impact the farmers’ bottom-line. Read those stories in this edition of FarmNetNews below.
USDA’s #1 Priority is COVID Response – With Agriculture Secretary-designate Tom Vilsack awaiting confirmation, USDA Chief of Staff Katharine Ferguson spoke on behalf of the Agriculture Department at the Ag Outlook Conference. Ferguson said the Department’s response to COVID-19 tops the agenda. “We cannot get our economy back on track and we cannot build Rural America unless we contain and end the COVID-19 pandemic.” Ferguson promoted local and regional systems to improve access to healthy food. Ferguson also said the Biden administration will support farmers of color and the small-to-mid sized farms by reducing barriers to land, capital and risk management.
Third Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Waiting on Vilsack – The Biden administration is waiting to review the rules and eligibility criteria of the third Coronavirus Food Assistance Program before distributing payments to farmers. Once Ag Secretary Nominee Tom Vilsack is confirmed and reviews the program, the Russell Group President Randy Russell said CFAP3 payments will likely be distributed. The Senate is scheduled to vote Vilsack’s confirmation Tuesday, February 23. Congress was more prescriptive in how the CFAP 3 money should be spent: there are direct payments. “A big one is a $20 per acre payment for farmers, which should make it much easier for the FSA to get payments out in a timely manner,” said Russell. “I suspect farmers will see payments go out in March.” In most cases, if farmers have already applied for CFAP, no additional application will be required to receive CFAP 3 payments.
House to Vote on COVID Bill This Week – Before last week’s recess, the House Agriculture Committee moved a reconciliation bill offering more COVID relief for rural America. Minnesota Representative Michelle Fischbach says there are rural healthcare grants included in the bill. “Clinics and hospitals that saw a loss in revenue will be able to get some of that,” says Fischbach. “My concern is we haven’t used $1 trillion of the former COVID relief money. We’re adding on additional COVID relief when we haven’t spent what we’ve had. Then, we turn around and President Biden has suspended the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program money for farmers.” The House is expected to vote on the bill later this week.
Give the Paycheck Protection Program Another Look – Sign-up is open for the Paycheck Protection Program. MinnStar Bank Farm Management Analyst Kent Thiesse says if farmers did not qualify for the first round, the program may be worth revisiting. “Now, farmers can use line nine on the Schedule F, gross income, to potentially qualify.” Thiesse says if farmers applied for a loan in the first program, received it and were forgiven, those farmers cannot reapply for the first round of the program. Farmers may be eligible for the second round of PPP loans. “Farmers can apply for round two, but they must demonstrate they had at least a 25 percent reduction in receipts or gross income for one quarter in 2020, compared to the same quarter in 2019.” PPP loans are being administered through local ag lenders and the application deadline is March 31.
FSA Still Processing WHIP+ Program Applications – Northern Plains farmers waiting on the remaining half of the 2019 WHIP+ program payments may be waiting a while longer. Farm Service Agency Acting Administrator Steve Peterson says payments will be made once the 2018 and first half of the 2019 WHIP+ program applications are processed. As of Friday, there are at least two states still processing applications. “And then, technically, I don’t think we’ll see updates to the remaining 50 percent for 2019, until we have the full scope of Quality Loss Adjustment program sign-up in hand.” Peterson expected a greater interest in the QLA program, though he acknowledges producers are trying to get all of the right information together. There are more than 2,500 applications submitted for QLA. QLA sign-up is open through March 5. Peterson also talks about the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Hear the story.
Senate Continues Confirmation Process This Week – More confirmation hearings and votes are on the agenda this week. Tomorrow, the Senate is scheduled to vote on Ag Secretary Designate Tom Vilsack’s confirmation. The vote was delayed due to last week’s recess and former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee will hear from the U.S. Trade Representative Nominee Katherine Tai.
USDA Names New FSA Administrator and Deputy Under Secretary – A South Dakota rancher will be the new Farm Service Agency Administrator. Zach Ducheneaux, the current executive director of the Intertribal Ag Council and a north central South Dakota rancher, will start the job on Monday. The new Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation is Gloria Montaño Greene, a former FSA State Executive Director from Arizona. Montaño Greene will also start at USDA on Monday. Read more. Photo credit: USDA
U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Excited to See Ducheneaux at FSA – Zach Ducheneaux ranches on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in north central South Dakota and currently serves on the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association board. Director of Policy Outreach Lia Biondo says Ducheneaux is passionate about beginning U.S. farmers and ranchers and knows agriculture like the back of his hand. “He’s lived the issues and understands what happens when disasters hit. Ducheneaux knows how hard these producers work to make a buck out there,” said Biondo. “We are so excited to see him in this leadership role at the USDA, because he’ll bring those lessons to this role.”
What is the Future for Renewable Fuels in the Biden Administration? – President Joe Biden has a goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and Renewable Fuels Association CEO Geoff Cooper says electric vehicles aren’t zero emission vehicles. “The U.S. Department of Energy says when upstream emissions are properly considered, the average battery electric vehicle is responsible for more than two tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year and the average plug-in hybrid is closer to three tons per year.” Cooper thinks electric vehicles will play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but there are also synergies to connect with electric and ethanol. “Not matter how you slice it, we’ll be using liquid fuel worldwide for a very long time. Why wait until 2035 or 2050 to take meaningful action to lower carbon impacts of liquid fuels?” Cooper was part of the National Ethanol Conference last week.
ACE Offers Public Comment on RFS Waivers – The American Coalition for Ethanol has submitted comments to the EPA, urging the agency to not grant waivers to the Renewable Fuel Standard. The oil industry and the National Wildlife Federation are asking for the waiver. ACE CEO Brian Jennings said these petitions have no merit.
Record RIN Prices – The price for renewable identification numbers, or RINs, are near all-time highs. The EPA tracks compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard with the RIN credits. The corn ethanol RIN price has topped $1 per gallon in recent weeks. According to the Energy Information Administration, that’s the highest price since 2013.
USDA Predicts Bigger U.S. Corn Crop – In the latest USDA Grain and Oilseed Outlook, the agency is expecting U.S. corn ending stocks at the end of the current marketing year at 1.5 billion bushels. The new crop corn production is based on 92 million acres and a record 179.5 bushels per acre. This may result in the production of 15.1 billion-bushels. USDA increased demand for feed, exports and ethanol for the 21/22 marketing year, with ending stocks at the end of the new crop marketing year estimated at 1.55 billion bushels.
Grain and Oilseed Outlook Shows Higher Soybean Planted Acres – According to the USDA’s Grain and Oilseed Outlook, U.S. soybean ending stocks at the end of the current marketing year to be at 120 million bushels. The current marketing year ends on August 31. New crop soybean production is based on 90 million acres and a yield of 50.8 bushels per acre, resulting in U.S. soy production at 4.68 billion bushels. Soybean exports are lowered slightly to 2.2 billion bushels, with ending stocks at the end of the new crop marketing year estimated at 145 million bushels.
U.S. Acreage and China Demand Highlighted in Ag Outlook Forum – Exports, acreage and the farm income forecast dominated the opening session of USDA’s Ag Outlook Forum. USDA Chief Economist Seth Meyer anticipates China demand to remain strong in the next year. “Outstanding sales, what we have on the books for the U.S. sold to China right now that’s not yet shipped is 11.2 million metric tons. One of the views of the balance sheet is we expect continued demand from the country longer term.” When it comes to U.S. acreage, Meyer expects a record 182 million combined corn and soybean acres in 2021. “That’s 92 million acres of planted corn and 90 million acres of planted soybeans. If realized, this would be a record.” Meyer also surprised attendees by saying there will be a slight rise from last year’s 100-year low in wheat acres.
Winter Wheat Concerns Capture Grain Market Attention – Grain traders are concerned about the condition of winter wheat. “I drove back from Houston, Texas last week and the winter wheat was green. This cold will hurt the wheat in Oklahoma and Texas,” said Randy Martinson, market analyst, Martinson Ag Risk Management. “A lot of that was already looking like it was going to be out of dormancy. We could see as much as 25 to 30 percent damage to the crop. I don’t know if it will be that severe, but we will lose some of the crop.” Firmer winter wheat prices should help spring wheat compete for acres. “In the big picture, spring wheat will lose acres if it doesn’t start participating as well. Soybeans and canola are trying to grab as many acres as possible.”
What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets – In this week’s edition of What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets, Advance Trading Risk Management Advisor Tommy Grisafi says copper hit a ten-year high overnight. That is typically offers insight into the global economy. China is also back after a week-long holiday.
Harvest Delays Backing Up Ships at Brazilian Ports – Only eight percent of the 16 million tons scheduled for shipment by mid-February actually went out. The rest are loading or backed up in the system. In Paranaqua, soybeans are trading with a five cent per bushel discount to the Chicago March futures contract. That’s the first time the basis bid has been at a discount to the CBOT market in six years. With the high number of ships waiting to load, exporters may face demurrage costs.
The U.S. May Import More Soybeans in 2021 – U.S. Commodities President Don Roose thinks USDA is expecting an increase in soybean imports into the U.S. “I think they’ve already tipped their hand on that. Typically, we bring in 15 to 25 million bushels of soybeans. This year, we’ll bring in 35 million on this year’s balance table. Next year, that could be even the case. How can that be? According to Informa, Brazil and Argentina’s soybean crops are 200 million more than the government’s estimate.” South America can supply the beans. “They’re expanding. Between Brazil and Argentina, they raise 8.2 billion bushels of soybeans,” says Roose. “There’s an expanding, chugging engine in South America.”
Northern Plains Spring and Summer Outlook Features a Moisture Boost – World Weather Incorporated Senior Ag Meteorologist Drew Lerner’s spring and summer weather outlook features more moisture for the Northern Plains. “When we get into spring, there will be warmer air, but I’m concerned we’ll have shots of cold coming, too. We’ll bounce around a bit. It may not warm up as much as we want. With temperatures bouncing around, we should be able to generate moisture. There will likely be near to above average precipitation around the Canadian border from Montana to Minnesota.” Southwestern South Dakota is expected to remain dry in the spring. The summer outlook is warmer and drier. “There will still be moisture deficits, especially July and August. There seems to be a high correlation for a drier August across the Northern Plains.”
Weather Outlook Uncertain Going Into Spring – In the latest outlook from the National Weather Service, USDA Midwest Climate Hub Director Dennis Todey says there’s no real surprises. La Nina will still be in place for the next month. “That’s a mixed situation for the Northern Plains. Going into spring, there are no strong indications of what La Nina means. Right now, the expectation is we’ll have to wait later on in the spring and it may be warmer than average in the spring. From a drought standpoint, that probably means there will be no major changes in drought.” Todey says there is no big snow cover. “Flooding looks to be less of an issue and drier soils may allow more field access and rangeland conditions are a wait-and-see.”
Dry Bean Scene – Soybean cyst nematode is not just a problem in soybeans, it can also be a problem in dry beans. Learn more from NDSU Extension plant pathologist Sam Markell in the Dry Bean Scene. This weekly program is made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.
Western ND Farmers May Be Up for Drier Than Usual Spring – There’s limited snowfall across the Northern Plains this winter. NDSU Extension State Climatologist Adnan Akyuz says out west, the ground is bare. Farmers rely on snowfall like a savings account. “Unfortunately, western North Dakota doesn’t have anything in the savings account. In fact, if we are looking at October through January in the current conditions, North Dakota as a whole is in its third driest year. Farmers have reason to believe there should be something happening in the winter and spring. If it doesn’t happen, farmers will be in trouble.” The Climate Prediction Center’s spring forecast is La Nina heavy. “If I had money to bet, I’d put all of my money in a warmer-than-normal spring, but when it comes to precipitation, that’s a little tricky.”
A Shift in Acres for ND and NW MN – Pioneer District Sales Lead Brett Goodman is seeing a shift in acres for northwest Minnesota and North Dakota. “We’re going into this spring with a lot of interest in soybeans. We are geared up for that shift in acres and we’ve seen those sales numbers this winter.” Goodman says canola also has a lot of interest in the northern and western parts of North Dakota. There is optimism for the season ahead. “With the lack of moisture we’ve had and the ditching that was done last fall, we’re in a good position to set up for an early spring and we hope that holds and just like any farmer we’re also hoping for a nice half-inch of rain after planting.”
Don’t Wait Too Long to Control Weeds – With weed pressure from waterhemp, ragweed and Palmer amaranth, resistance is a serious problem. Corteva Agriscience Enlist Field Specialist Steve Snyder says multiple modes of action are important. It is also important to target small weeds. “Our label is six inch or smaller weeds and some of our tank mix partners are at four inches or less in height. 2,4-D is a growth regulator which kills growing points and as that plant gets larger there are more growing points.” Synder spoke at an Enlist technology program Wednesday at Leonard, North Dakota.
Glufosinate Resistant Palmer amaranth Confirmed in Arkansas – The problem does not appear widespread, but it is the first documented case of broadleaf resistance to glufosinate worldwide. Liberty is the brand name for glufosinate which is commonly used in cotton production.
Get Soybeans Off to a Good Start – One way farmers can get a good start with soybeans in the spring is by using an inoculant. “For every bushel of soybeans an acre, you need five pounds of nitrogen. That adds up,” said Troy Bauer, Seed Treatment Tech Representative, BASF. “Soybeans, with the assistance of rhizobia, can fix a lot of nitrogen. Many times, at least 60 percent of nitrogen soybeans need to maximize yield potential comes from inoculants. That’s why it’s important to use a very fresh, high quality rhizobial product.” Bauer says BASF’s Vault IP Plus is different from other inoculants, because dual-strain biofungicides help promote vigorous regrowth and nutrient uptake. Hear the story.
Higher Urea Rates Impact Sugarbeet Stands – The University of Minnesota Extension completed two research trials considering a link between spring applied urea in sugarbeets and germination. Nutrient Management Specialist Dan Kaiser says higher than recommended rates impacted early sugarbeet stands. “If you look at recommended rates, the reduction wasn’t overly large. We started to see things kick in when we saw rates above suggested rates. There’s not a lot that can be done about it.” Even with the higher urea rates, final yield and recoverable sugar per acres were not impacted. “We have trials going in this year where we’re looking at fall versus spring application. I’d like to get a better idea of urea timing and also, different products.”
Beet Stock Snapshot – Last week there were 149 American Crystal Sugar Company sugarbeet stock shares brokered at an average price of $3,766.78 per share. That’s according to Acres & Shares broker Jayson Menke. Find out more by clicking here.
Aphid Research Part of the NPPGA Research Reporting Conference – Local potato specialists and researchers spent last Tuesday updating growers on projects as part of the virtual Northern Plains Potato Growers Association Research Reporting Conference. University of Minnesota Extension Entomologist Ian MacRae discussed aphid research. “Adding Warrior to Aphoil can give farmers extra time. We did a double cage trial with green peach aphids in on PVY-infected plants in a small cage and put the small cage into a bigger cage. On the other side of the bigger cage, we put uninfected plants. We let aphids feed on the smaller cage infected plants for about one week and then, opened the inside cage and let them feed. Then, we tested the plants one week later for PVY. Warrior alone didn’t do anything.”
North Dakota Legislative Update – The proposal to use legacy funds to support value-added agriculture products is still in play in the North Dakota legislature. Crossover is also coming up, which means bills must pass out of one chamber and move to the other. Hear more 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.
Bonding Bill to Reach the ND House Floor This Week – North Dakota Farmers Union Government Relations Director Matt Perdue says the size and scope of that bill is becoming clear. “It’s taken a couple haircuts since the conversation started with a $1.14 billion bonding package. We’re now at a $680 million bonding package.” The bonding bill includes funding for the Ag Products Development Center at NDSU. It does not include money for township and county roads and bridges. Perdue said other revenue streams are being considered, including a gas tax increase. “The bottomline is farmers and ranchers need to have sound infrastructure, rural roads and rural bridges.”
ND Senate Subcommittee Rejects Extension Budget Cut Proposal – North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum’s budget proposal calls for a 15 percent reduction for NDSU Extension and research. North Dakota Soybean Growers Association Joe Ericson says a Senate subcommittee has rejected these cuts. “A 15 percent budget reduction would result in the loss of 20 Extension positions and that wouldn’t be good. It doesn’t look like they’re going with the Governor’s cut of 15 percent so that’s a win for us.”
$$ Needed for ND Roads and Bridges – Despite budget challenges in the state, the North Dakota Corn Growers Association is calling for an investment in roads and bridges. Executive Director Brenda Elmer cites an Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute study that identified the need for local roads and bridges. “It has really come down to a critical situation.” Township and county roads were in poor shape in the spring of 2020, influenced by wet conditions in eastern North Dakota and the never-ending corn harvest. “We would argue the interest rates are really low and with inflation, the more you put it off, the more it is going to cost.”
Approps Committee Calls for Study of ND Beef Commission – The North Dakota House Appropriations Committee has passed an amendment to study the North Dakota Beef Commission including its operations and the selection of commission members. Earlier in the session, there was a deep divide in the testimony about the beef checkoff. “We need to get this fixed so they can end the infighting,” said Representative Mike Brandenburg. “They need to do elections, that’s exactly what needs to happen.” Currently, commission members are appointed by the governor from names submitted by the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, the NDSA Feeder Council, the Milk Producers of North Dakota and the North Dakota Livestock Marketing Association.
Representing Agriculture’s Interest on the Land Board – A proposal to include the agriculture commissioner on North Dakota Land Board has been approved in the State Senate. This change would require a constitutional amendment so the issue will eventually come before voters. The Land Board is responsible for the management and stewardship of the state’s land and minerals. The Land Board currently has five members; the governor, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, state treasurer and attorney general.
Speed Limit Bill Dies in ND Legislature – This proposal would have raised the maximum speed limit of 80 miles per hour and a minimum of 40 miles per hour on interstate highways. NDFB Public Policy Director Pete Hanebutt says this bill had implications for agriculture. “Granted, most agriculture people are not too worried about interstate travel with big equipment, but there are certain situations like a farmer who farms in both Burleigh and Morton counties who cannot cross the river without crossing the interstate bridge.” Hanebutt says that is one example where a minimum speed limit of 40 miles per hour would be problem.
Farmers, Researchers and Others Offer Support for Research and Education in North Dakota – In a joint hearing of the North Dakota Senate and House Agriculture Committees on Friday, the State Board of Agriculture Research and Education (SBARE) provided testimony in support of full funding for education and research. SBARE chair Mark Birdsall, a farmer from Berthold, said investment in agriculture is an investment in all of North Dakota with a proven record of return. “Let’s make sure we keep these tools available for generations to come,” said Birdsall. “North Dakota agriculture has a great story to tell and we need to keep telling it.” NDSU Extension and the Agriculture Experiment Station director Greg Lardy elaborated on that same thought during the hearing. “Businesses benefit either directly or indirectly from the work conducted by the Experiment Station and Extension. The return on investment helps improve the lives of citizens through more profitable farms, ranches and small businesses.” Watch the hearing.
MN Senate Ag Committee Considers E15 Bill – On Wednesday, the Minnesota Senate Agriculture Committee heard a bill to shift the state’s fuel standard to E15. “The bill would raise Minnesota’s fuel standards from the 10 percent ethanol blend,” said Torrey Westrom, Senator and author of the bill. “This would extend the ethanol standard by July 2022.” A similar bill was heard in the Legislature last year. Minnesota Corn Growers Association Board Member Brian Thalmann said there are infrastructure updates in the new bill. “New fuel station infrastructure is compatible for blends over E15. The bigger challenges are smaller locations. Any station selling 300,000 gallons of gas or less would be exempt from this standard.” Thalmann testified in favor of the bill. The committee did not take a final vote on the bill, but this may be included in a bigger bill later in the session.
Supporting Soil Health – A bill calling for grants and direct payments to Minnesota farmers for soil-friendly practices has passed the House Agriculture Committee and is on its way to the Judiciary Committee. This bill calls for $5.5 million in funds to offset the costs of planting cover crops, rotational grazing and practices to enhance soil health.
Bill Advances to Repeal Restrictions to Manure Applications – The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is making changes to the NPDES permit requirements, restricting the application of manure during certain months. A bill repealing these restrictions has passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee and is on its way to the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Minnesota Farm Bureau said tying regulations to specific dates on the calendar makes no sense and will limit a farmer’s ability to manage these nutrients.
Noem Signs SD Farm Bureau Healthcare Bill into Law – South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed a bill into law on Thursday allowing the South Dakota Farm Bureau to offer healthcare coverage to members. SDFB will be partnering with a third-party administrator to provide this benefit. Read more about the bill.
Corn Comments – South Dakota corn farmers are celebrating National FFA Week. Find out more in the latest Corn Comments, a production of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council and the South Dakota Corn Growers Association.
SD Pesticide Drift Investigations Will Remain Private – The South Dakota Department of Agriculture is not required to release the details of its investigations into off-target pesticide drift. A proposal to change this policy has been rejected in the South Dakota Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Organic farmer Glenn Pulse testified in favor of this bill, claiming “the South Dakota Department of Ag is purposely trying to prevent public release of records when the EPA says they are public records.” South Dakota Agri-Business Association Executive Director Kathy Zander spoke in opposition to this bill. “These are private business records and they should not be released to anyone who wants them whether they are part of an investigation or not.” Following a tie vote, lawmakers postponed action on the bill to the non-existent 41st of the session. That kills the proposal since the legislature cannot meet for more than 40 days.
A Milestone for MN Ag Water Quality Certification Program – One-thousand farmers and landowners have enrolled in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program. In its announcement, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture reports 715,000 acres are now part of this program. Governor Tim Walz has a goal of enrolling one million acres in the certification program by the end of 2022.
To celebrate youth in agriculture and those who support them, the Red River Farm Network is highlighting stories of former FFA members during National FFA Week. Minnesota FFA alumni Steve Olson, who is the former Minnesota Turkey Federation Executive Director and now operates Steve Olson Consulting, says FFA provided him with essential career skills. “It’s working with others, team building and communication skills are all things I learned in FFA and use everyday on the job,” says Olson. “I went to college to be a high school ag teacher, but decided I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher. But, with my career, I am still able to work with ag educators and support FFA.” Olson belonged to two FFA chapters throughout his career, Roseau and Moorhead, and his fondest memories involve livestock judging. Olson’s advice for current and prospective FFA members is to take advantage of opportunities. “FFA and ag education offers a lot of opportunities and I think it’s important to expose students to those opportunities.” Listen to the full interview with Olson by clicking here.
Livestock Judging Brings Lifelong Love and Leadership – Former Maddock, North Dakota FFA member Rob Maddock has many FFA stories about livestock judging. One that stands out is when he met his wife, Tam. “I was the high individual at the first two contests of the year and Tamra was the second high individual at the first two contests. My advisor said one day, she is going to beat you. At state, she ultimately did.” Maddock is now an associate professor of meat science at North Dakota State University. “I love the livestock industry, especially cattle,” said Maddock. “Those communication skills I learned from being a chapter officer, a state officer and judging activities serve me everyday. Whether I’m in the classroom or giving a report, it requires standing in front of people and effectively communicating.” Hear the story.
FFA Week-A Conversation With MN State President Ben Olander – During this National FFA Week, the Red River Farm Network is sitting down with state officers in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Minnesota FFA President Ben Olander outlines the impact the pandemic has had on him and his team. “There have been so many opportunities” during this time of COVID. Watch the entire interview on YouTube.
USDA Releases Farmland Summary – According to the report, the number of farms and ranches in North Dakota. totals 26,000, down 100 operations from 2019. Minnesota has 67,000 farms, down 500. South Dakota’s number of farm and ranches was left unchanged at 29,600. The average farm size in North Dakota is just over 1,500 acres. It is 376 in Minnesota and South Dakota’s average farm size is just below 1, 500 acres.
Farm Wages Up Six Percent – Farms paid their workers an average gross wage of $15.87 per hour in October. That’s up six percent from October 2019. According to the newly-released USDA survey, field workers in the Northern Plains were paid an average of just over $17 per hour. Livestock workers had an average gross wage of $15.52. This survey is normally released in November, but it was delayed this past year.
Tractor and Combine Sales Increase – According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, tractor sales in January were up 25 percent from one year ago. Sales of 4-wheel drive tractors enjoyed the largest bump in sales, up 34 percent. A total of 350 combines sold last month nationwide, up 77 percent from one year ago.
Preparing Machinery Prior to Planting – As spring approaches, farmers are spending time in the shop. CENEX District Sales Manager Tanner IntVeld says a lube scan oil analysis will provide insight into a piece of equipment. “It talks about contamination, moisture and the additive package. It provides some clues about what is in the oil and one thing it catches a lot is if antifreeze is leaking in there.” With today’s high-tech diesel engines, IntVeld says farmers shouldn’t skimp on quality oil or lubricants.
Court Delays Lawsuit Over Water Regulations – A federal court in New Mexico has granted a stay in a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule. This delays any action until the Biden Administration can review the rule. Trump withdrew the Obama-era Waters of the United States Rule and replaced it with the Navigable Waters rule. The White House has until May 1 to consider its next step on this controversial regulation.
A Pipeline Proposed for CO2 Storage in ND – Green Plains plans to develop a pipeline network in partnership with Summit Agricultural Group and its subsidiary Carbon Solutions. The goal is to capture and transport carbon dioxide from its ethanol facilities in Iowa to North Dakota for geologic storage. The system is projected to have capacity for 10 million tons of storage from up to 40 ethanol plants. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2023.
EPA Takes Public Comments on Atrazine Use – The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on a draft Endangered Species Act biological evaluation of atrazine. Minnesota Farm Bureau Director of Public Policy Amber Glaeser says atrazine is an important tool for controlling weeds. “We want to make sure farmers can share their voice about important tools the EPA is looking at right now. We want the EPA to understand why farmers use atrazine and why it’s important for Minnesota corn production.” Glaeser thinks it’s important EPA’s decision-making process be transparent and based on science. Minnesota Farm Bureau is eager to work with EPA Administrator Designate Michael Regan on key issues going forward. “In the last few years, there’s been an improved relationship with the EPA and groups like Farm Bureau and we want that to continue.”
Mexico’s Supreme Court Issues Favorable Draft Ruling on Fresh Potatoes – The Mexican Supreme Court released a draft ruling to overturn a 2017 lower court decision to prevent Mexico’s federal government from implementing regulations to all imports of fresh U.S. potatoes. “In the Mexican Supreme Court, they issue a draft ruling in advance. That draft ruling was written by one justice and that justice, based on our legal team’s analysis, ruled in favor of the U.S.,” said Kam Quarles, CEO, National Potato Council. “If a majority of the justices agree, this will enter into law and create a precedence that will hopefully end the legal blockade preventing U.S. potatoes from entering the country.” The case is scheduled to be decided February 24.
Preventing ASF – The spread of foreign animal diseases, like African Swine Fever, was detailed in the USDA Ag Outlook Conference. Minnesota Pork Producers Association CEO David Preisler emphasized the importance of stopping these diseases at the border. “We start there. I’d also say our partners at feed mills have stepped up biosecurity for feed and farmers themselves have made tremendous investments in facilities to store ingredients and let the virus die out before it comes onto the farm.” Preisler said COVID had a significant impact on the swine industry last spring, but farmers never put the prevention of ASF on the sidelines.
United Soybean Board Meets to Outline Fiscal Year Priorities – The United Soybean Board met virtually on Wednesday to outline priorities for Fiscal Year 2022. Astoria, South Dakota farmer and United Soybean Board Secretary Dave Iverson says sustainability is one priority. “When it comes to sustainability, the definition is broad, but profitability has to be a part of it.” More than 500 research proposals were submitted to the checkoff for consideration. Between now and July, farmers will review those proposals to determine the strategic fit ahead of recommendations.
ND Grain Dealers Association Cancels 2021 State Convention – The North Dakota Grain Dealers Association has cancelled the 2021 convention due to COVID. Executive Vice President Stu Letcher says it’s best to be on the safe side. “We would actually hold the event in January, but we postponed it until March. The pandemic is improving, but it isn’t likely going to improve fast enough for us to feel comfortable to put people in the same place.”
Ag Groups Files ITC Hearing – The American Soybean Association, the National Corn Growers Association and National Cotton Council have filed joint comments to the U.S. International Trade Commission regarding the petition by the Mosaic Company to enforce countervailing duties on Russian and Moroccan imports and phosphate fertilizer. ASA President Kevin Scott, who farms at Valley Springs, South Dakota, said these import duties will have a negative impact on the availability of phosphate fertilizer in the U.S.
Nutrien Releases 4Q Results – The Canadian fertilizer company, Nutrien, posted fourth quarter net income of $138 million. That compares to $54 million one year ago. Fertilizer markets improved during the second half of 2020. Nutrien officials said the expected increase in planted acres has resulted in a boost in potash sales volume.
Hormel 1Q Profits – Hormel Foods reports first quarter revenues of $2.46 billion, up from $2.38 billion one year ago. With the pandemic, more consumers were eating at home resulting in stronger sales for Hormel.
Year-Over-Year 1Q Income Rises for Deere – Deere and Company finished its first quarter with net income of $1.2 billion. That compares to net income of $517 million one year ago. Deere also announced it is splitting its farm production and precision equipment business away from small ag products and landscaping. Strength in its agriculture and construction divisions was credited for the increase in income.
Company’s Largest Shareholder Calls for a Change on AGCO Board – This longtime AGCO board member says the farm equipment company is falling behind its rival companies. The letter calling for a change in leadership was disclosed in a regulatory filing.
Helena Offers Empyros Corn Herbicides for Pre and Early Post-Emergence – Helena Agri-Enterprises has received EPA registration for three corn herbicides. Empyros is a pre-mix of topyralate and s-metolachlor. Empyros Triad and Empryos Triad Flex add atrazine to the mix. Pending approval by state regulatory agencies, these products are available for the 2021 growing season.
WTO Members Select New Leader – The 164 members of the World Trade Organization have unanimously selected Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its new leader. She is the first African and the first woman to lead the WTO. “If I really want to make Africa and women proud, I have to produce results. That’s where my mind is at now. How do we work together as members to get results?” The new WTO leader also has U.S. citizenship and said WTO rules need to be modernized to work within a digital economy.
Minnesota Beef Update – February is heart month and the Minnesota Beef Council is working with others to include beef in a heart-healthy diet. Learn more from Communications Director Becky Church in the Minnesota Beef Update.
AMVAC Announces Promotions – AMVAC has promoted Jason Jimmerson, Andy Asbury and Cory Ritter. Jimmerson moves from SIMPAS project manager to SIMPAS Technologies commercial manager. Asbury and Ritter will take over as technical representatives with the U.S. launch of SIMPAS.
Collin Peterson Receives Industry Award from RFA – The Renewable Fuels Association awarded former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson with the RFA Industry Award. The RFA said Peterson has been the ethanol industry’s most effective and passionate advocate in the House of Representatives for decades. While in office, Peterson helped form the Congressional Biofuels Caucus and helped develop the Renewable Fuel Standard. In accepting the award, Peterson said he believes in ethanol and he will stay engaged in advocating for agriculture.
Canola Minute – The Northern Canola Growers Association was a sponsor at the recent Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives event at the Culinary Institute of America. Find out more from Executive Director Barry Coleman in the Canola Minute.
NCBA Communications Staff Expands – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Center for Public Policy has added two new communications professionals. Ashley Willits and Sigrid Johannes will both serve as associate director of communications. Most recently, Willits served as the USDA deputy director of external and intergovernmental affairs. Johannes previously oversaw the digital media strategy for Virginia Representative Abigail Spanberger.
Debes Leaves USGC – Julia Debes is the new director of agricultural communications for Working Lands for Wildlife. Debes had been the communications manager for the U.S. Grains Council.
Martin to Oversee Government Affairs for AgriBank – AgriBank has named Staci Martin as its director of governmental affairs. Most recently, Martin ran her own consulting business. Previously, Martin worked for Compeer Financial, Thrivent and the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation.
Conservation Award Presented to SD Farmer – Frankfort, South Dakota farmer Jamie Johnson has been honored with the Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award from the National Association of Conservation Districts and Natural Resources Conservation Service. Johnson serves as a Spinks County Conservation District supervisor and leads the South Dakota Soybean Association Conservation Committee. The Johnson farm has been a no-till operation since 1986.
Recognizing Dairy Excellence – The Kleingartner Dairy Farm of Gackle, North Dakota has received the Commissioner’s Award of Dairy Excellence. Sue and Ross Kleingartner milk 100 cows, which includes seven different dairy breeds. Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring also cites Kleingartner’s record for producing quality milk.
Nowatski to Retire on March 1 – On March 1, NDSU Extension Ag Machine Systems Specialist John Nowatski will retire. Nowatski has been with Extension for 27 years. In retirement, Nowatski plans to travel to see family and serve on the Big Iron Farm Show Committee in West Fargo.
USDA Announces the Passing of Former NRCS Chief – Paul Johnson, who was the chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service from 1994 to 1997, has passed. Johnson grew up in South Dakota and served three terms in the Iowa Legislature. Johnson was 79.
DeBriyn Passes – Former AgStar Financial Services CEO and President Paul DeBriyn has passed away. DeBriyn was at the helm of AgStar for 26 years. He served on the Farmer Mac board and chaired the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council. Debriyn’s many honors include AgriGrowth’s Distinguished Service Award in 2014 and the Siehl Prize in 2011. DeBriyn, 65, was born in Thief River Falls and lived most recently in Florida.
Last Week’s Trivia – KFC has more locations in China than any other restaurant. Jeff Triebold of Prairieland Ag tops our trivia challenge. Paul Sproule of Sproule Farms, Stephanie Larson of Rose-Oak British Whites, Ron Claussen of Ag Media Research and Mike Trosen of Meadowland Co-op earn runner-up honors. Our ‘first 20’ rounds out with Norm Groot of Monterey County Farm Bureau, Kaitlyn O’Neal of Bayer North America Wheat, Jacob Downing of Cargill, Brian Brandt of AgriFinancial, Christopher Suda of Nutrien Ag Solutions, Brian Rydlund of CHS Hedging, Bruce Trautman of Living the Dream Consulting, Dianne Bettin of LB Pork, Sara O’Toole of O’Toole Seed, Harvey farmer Bill Ongstad, Kevin Praska of Stone’s Mobile Radio, Martin Kitsman of Kitsman Farms, retired Westbrook farmer David Van Loh, Al Wimpfheimer of Simplot Grower Solutions and Lawton farmer Dennis Miller.
This Week’s Trivia – What state was the last one to become part of the United States? Send your answer to email@example.com.
|Contact RRFN||Don Wick
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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.