A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Monday, February 05, 2024
Reporting Agriculture’s Business – At CattleCon, a fellow journalist gave FarmNetNews the ultimate compliment, describing this e-newsletter as “the gold standard.” Admittedly, the entire Red River Farm Network team takes great pride in our reporting. Journalism is the ability to share stories. Those stories this past week include visionary, empathetic and tireless agricultural leaders. Neil Rockstad, Nate Hultgren, Jake Thompson, Don Schiefelbein, Jason Leiseth and Clark Price are just a handful of the many ‘rock star’ leaders featured on-air and online this past week. National media is often seen as partisan and sensationalistic. That is underscored by a recent study by Aimpoint Research. This study found farm broadcasters are considered accurate, credible and timely. National media outlets did not fare as well. Reporting Agriculture’s Business is more than a tagline; it is a responsibility that is not taken for granted.
Time Becomes a Farm Bill Concern – Before the farm bill can advance, Congress needs to finish the appropriations process. There are many competing forces. “They’re dealing with this border problem, which is a priority; they’re off campaigning a lot so they’re not in town nearly as much,” said Luther Markwart, executive vice president/CEO, American Sugarbeet Growers Association. “The amount of legislative days is less than you would have in a regular year.” Markwart feels the House Agriculture Committee is motivated to move the bill in March or April, but time has become an issue. “Part of the issue is the (budget) baseline and if you get to May and you don’t have a farm bill close to being done and you get a new baseline with less money for agriculture, that doesn’t help us.”
Politics Will Likely Hinder Farm Bill Process – Kent, Minnesota farmer Pat Freese is a longtime board member for the Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative and American Sugarbeet Growers Association. Freese does not expect the farm bill to be passed this year. “Unfortunately, ag gets pushed to the back many times and now with the election process coming back that is what everybody is focused on.” In the current political environment, it is nearly impossible to find a compromise. “These other aspects are sucking the oxygen out of the room.”
Clorpyrifos Drama Continues – Chlorpyrifos has been an ongoing legal battle. At one point, the EPA took away the farmers’ ability to use this common insecticide on all food crops. The Eight Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the EPA rule in November. American Sugarbeet Growers Association President Nate Hultgren, who farms at Raymond, Minnesota, said his home state is not following the federal standards. “At this time, it is not labeled for use in Minnesota so that is our next step to get it in front of those folks and get it reestablished at the level it was before after all that court work we did to get it back.” The RRFN interview can be found online.
Beet Share Values – Last week, 87 American Crystal Sugar Company beet shares traded for an average price of $5,415 per share. “With few broker shares for sale right now, it will be interesting to see if prices trend up or more volume will hit the market,” said Jayson Menke, broker, Acres & Shares.
Support Remains for Voluntary Electronic ID – North Dakota Stockmen’s Association President Jason Leiseth’s phone was going off non-stop in the past week over the issue of electronic identification. With those policy committee meetings complete at the Cattle Industry Convention, Leiseth is pleased with how the issue was handled. “We had a very healthy discussion for the industry about the topic; there was none of the mention of mandatory things that were tossed around in those phone calls.” Leiseth said the final amendment encourages the advancement toward electronic animal ID for breeding cattle over 18 months of age, rodeo cattle, exhibition cattle and dairy cattle which lines up with what APHIS is expected to have when it submits a final rule.”
LRP is a Critical Safety Net – The farm bill is one of the priorities for members of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. NCBA Past President Don Schiefelbein remains doubtful about the passage of a new bill this year. “In an election year like this, everyone is politically posturing and nobody wants to let someone else get a win; it has been a struggle to get anything done.” Schiefelbein, who is a rancher at Kimball, Minnesota, acknowledged budgets are tight. However, Livestock Risk Protection needs to be refined to be on par with crop insurance. “In any industry where you have so many costs involved, if you don’t have a safety net put in place the consequences of a wrong decision can be disasterous.” In the Red River Farm Network interview, Schiefelbein also discusses animal identification and the cattle market.
Action Needed on Tax Provisions – North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Past President Dan Rorvig has chaired the NCBA Tax and Credit Committee for the past two years. The Mayville rancher said several significant tax provisions are scheduled to sunset at the end of 2025. “Currently, we’re at a $13 million (estate tax) exemption and if we do nothing it’ll revert to less than half that,” said Rorvig. “We all know what these values have done in the last ten years and we can’t let that happen.” Here is the RRFN interview.
Participate in the Policy Process – A voluntary electronic identification policy was passed Thursday at the National Cattlemen’s Association Convention. Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association President Jake Thompson’s phone was going off nearly nonstop during this past week with producers weighing in on this issue. “That’s why we really encourage people to come to our annual meeting in December, sit down at our resolutions meeting where we hash these out. If you’re local (cattlemen’s association) or you have some strong opinions on different issues, bring it to us and lets discuss it.”
Building Consumer Trust – The Beef Promotion Operating Committee is a group of 20 producers from across the country that make decisions on how Beef Checkoff dollars are invested. Maddock, North Dakota rancher Travis Maddock is part of BPOC. “In this particular year because of kind of tightening supplies and inflationary pressure, we’re really focusing on things like consumer trust and promotion.” Sustainability is a big part of that message. “With so much political pressure being put on climate change and there’s a lot of anti-ag groups out there that want to vilify beef production practices,” said Maddock. “The beef cattle industry contributes one-to-two percent of greenhouse gas emissions compared to all the other industries that are out there and it’s going down. We’re becoming more and more efficient all the time.”
Be at the Table – Clark Price has a commercial cow herd and also operates a small feedyard in Hensler, North Dakota. Price is wrapping up her term as chair of the Federation of State Beef Councils. “A dollar today compared to 1985 (when the Beef Checkoff was created) is about 33 cents so we have to stretch those dollars further,” said Price. “Our cow herd is going down in numbers so there’s less revenue coming in.” In addition to numerous roles in the cattle industry, Price has been in leadership at the state and national level with the corn growers. Why take on that level of involvement? “No one is going to do it for us; I’ve always said if you’re not at the table, you’re going to be on the table.”
MN Beef Update – The Minnesota Beef Update catches up with Minnesota Beef Council Chair Tom Olson. MBC is looking forward to continuing its partnership with the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the Beef Quality Assurance program.
At the Threshold of Very Interesting Times – Ray Erbele, who ranches at Streeter, North Dakota, is in his final year on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. Erbele has a unique viewpoint with his previous experience as an owner of Napoleon Livestock Auction Market. “When you’re in the auction business, you work with every sector in the beef business and it gives you a very broad perspective on what their concerns are and trying to make a livelihood.” The cowherd is at levels not seen in nearly 75 years. Erbele doesn’t expect that to change quickly. “The average age of the producer is such that it’s pretty hard to maintain a cow herd and we have an economic situation where it’s very difficult for the young people to get engaged so we’re at the threshold of some very interesting times.”
NASDA Urges Congress to Act Swiftly on the Farm Bill – The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture has released its legislative priorities for 2024. NASDA Senior Director of Public Policy R.J. Karney says the farm bill is at the top of that list. “We are keeping the pressure on and really calling on Congress to act now to make sure we can get a farm bill through Congress and to the President’s desk before the election cycle kicks into full swing.” Karney believes House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership is close to having a farm bill ready for prime time. “However, I don’t think either the House or Senate want to put the text out until they have certainty that there will be opportunity on the floor.” This will be the first trillion-dollar farm bill, but Karney said dollars will still be tight for this legislation.
Online Payments Now Available for USDA Loans – Farmers and ranchers can now make their USDA farm loan payments online. The Pay My Loan feature is one of the ways the Farm Service Agency is modernizing its farm loan program. To use this feature, producers must establish a USDA customer account and go through the electronic authentication process.
Stay Vigilant: New Corporate Transparency Law Impacts Farmers – The Corporate Transparency Law was passed in 2021 and is now in full effect. National Ag Law Center Senior Staff Attorney Elizabeth Rumley explains that businesses must now report Beneficial Ownership Information to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network or FinCEN. “Although there is a fairly long list of exclusions, there is no exclusion for agriculture, there’s no exclusion for small businesses,” said Rumley. The definition of beneficial owner is broad and includes those who own or control at least 25 percent of the company and those who exercise substantial control, including the president, CEO, general counsel, and board of directors members. Fines for non-compliance can add up quickly. “They’re looking at up to $500 for each day not in compliance with a maximum of $10,000 fine, and/or up to two years imprisonment.” Companies created before January 1st, 2024 have until the end of the year to comply. Newly created companies have just 90 days. In 2025, that window shrinks to 30 days.
Hoeven Hosts Ag Research Roundtable – At a roundtable session in Fargo on Friday, North Dakota Senator John Hoeven discussed opportunities for agriculture research in North Dakota and leveraging initiatives, such as the Food systems Adapted for Resiliency and Maximized Security (FARMs) project and the AgTech Cooperative Agreement. The event included USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education and Economics, Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, and Administrator of the Agricultural Research Service, Dr. Simon Liu. Listen to the RRFN report.
Support for Tax Bill – The American Farm Bureau Federation is applauding the passage of the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act in the House. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says the legislation will bring meaningful tax relief to the nation’s farmers and ranchers. Duvall is urging the Senate to act swiftly in adopting the measure.
Job Opportunities in Agriculture – Check out the Job Opportunities in Agriculture tab on the Red RIver Farm Network website. The Roseau County Farm Service Agency is hiring a full-time program technician. Applications are being accepted through February 12. Bayer is also seeking a field testing agronomist in the Devils Lake area. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how your business can reach potential employees through this service.
US, UK Respond to Red Sea Shipping Crisis – The ongoing Houthi attacks on commercial ships on the Red Sea have been met with retaliation by the United States and the United Kingdom. Strikes were carried out on Houthi military positions in Yemen over the weekend. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said this “sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will continue to bear further consequences if they do not end their illegal attacks on international shipping.” The Houthi violence on the Red Sea has disrupted global shipping since November, impacting cost and timeliness.
Supply Chain Transparency Sought – The attacks by Houthi rebels on the Red Sea have resulted in major ocean carriers rerouting around the southern tip of Africa, adding time and cost to global shipments. South Dakota Representative Dusty Johnson was part of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing Tuesday and voiced concern about the supply chain disruptions. “I have talked to some shippers; we’re a little concerned that these reroutes could create an opportunity for not just reasonable fee and rate adjustments, but perhaps unreasonable fee and rate adjustments. It’s really a process that doesn’t have a tremendous amount of transparency.” Johnson and Minnesota Representative Angie Craig are part of a bipartisan supply chain caucus. That group has sent a letter to the Biden Administration, asking it to secure Red Sea shipping lanes and restore safe passage of trade in the region.
What’s Hot, What’s Not in Markets – Martinson Ag Risk Management President Randy Martinson is featured in this week’s edition of What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets. Cattle numbers are at levels not seen since 1951 and “cattle continues to have some strength.” The grain markets continue to trend lower.
Linville: Fertilizer Market Trends – StoneX Director of Fertilizer Josh Linville says urea prices continue to push higher as spring approaches. “That has been more of a reaction to the international market moving higher than it has been to anything based in North America but, when it moves so do we,” said Linville. “UAN has been relatively steady; anhydrous has been steady; as has potash. Phosphate is still showing a little bit of strength out there just on very tight supplies.” Linville says phosphate prices are high enough that some in the fertilizer trade are questioning spring corn acres.
Brazil Beans Heading to the U.S. – According to Agricensus, three cargoes of Brazilian soybeans were sold to a U.S. soybean crusher on the East Coast. These shipments are expected to be delivered in late February. East Coast end-users have purchased Brazilian soybeans in the past, but that usually happens in May when the supply of U.S. soybean supply is tight. It is unusual for that type of business to happen this early in the year.
Movement Out of Port of Duluth-Superior Up in ’23 – The 2023 navigation season for the Port of Duluth-Superior finished the season up 4.5 percent year over year. Duluth Seaway Port Authority Executive Director Deb DeLuca says the Port posted tonnage increases in eight categories including a 22.5 percent increase in grain. Year-over-year durum tonnage nearly tripled. “Even though we’re still down from historic averages, we did rebound significantly from last year in terms of total grain tonnage and we are hopeful that means more good things to come.”
A Minnesota-Morrocco Trade Connection – A Minnesota trade delegation is home after a six-day trade mission to Morrocco. Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen said the Port of Duluth offers an opportunity to serve this growing market. “Last year, we sent three shipments of sugarbeet pulp to Morrocco and we’re hoping to build the wheat, corn, DDG and soybean meal market as they have a growing poultry sector.” Minnesota has a special connection with Morrocco. “Mohamed Sadiki, who is the minister of agriculture has his PhD from the University of Minnesota and is a big fan,” said Petersen. “Over 200 Moroccans have done an exchange where they have gotten a degree from the University of Minnesota so we met people throughout the trip that had that connection and that opened a lot of doors for us.” Petersen was joined by University of Minnesota Extension Dean Bev Durgan and representatives of the corn, soybean, and wheat commodity groups.
MFBF Minute – The Minnesota Farm Bureau is looking forward to this year’s Ag Day Gala. Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation Director Ruth Meirick says this event will celebrate the diversity, history, and future of agriculture in the state. Hear more in this edition of the MFBF Minute.
New LiDAR Data Rolled Out – The Red River Watershed Management Board has announced the availability of LiDAR data. Executive Director Rob Sip says this is the first update since 2009. “One major use of this data in the Red River Valley would be for farmers and landowners to use the elevation data when they’re doing drainage projects,” said Sip. “Not only farmers and landowners, natural resource managers, flood plain managers, and emergency response managers all will also be using the data for managing water here in the Red River Valley.” The accuracy of the old data was within six inches. The new LiDAR’s precision is within three to four inches. This project was paid for entirely by local tax dollars in the Red River Valley.
AURI Update – The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute will host a Webinar Wednesday to promote the resources available for scaling food businesses. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will provide information on available programming. AURI will also highlight its co-manufacturing toolbox. Listen to this AURI Update for more information.
AURI: A Results Based Approach – Minnesota’s Agricultural Utilization Research Institute worked on over 220 projects in the past year. AURI Executive Director Shannon Schlecht says that has resulted in over $260 million in new annual sales for businesses and entrepreneurs. AURI focuses on two primary areas, food and bio-industrial categories. Looking to the future, Schlecht sees many opportunities to expand markets. That includes hydrogen and its applications within agriculture. “We worked with Minnesota Corn on a project looking at ethanol-to-hydrogen in terms of (determining if) ethanol be a hydrogen carrier and utilize that infrastructure as we think about that transition.” The full interview can be found online.
Added Value Opportunities in ND – The State of North Dakota offers several programs to help farmers and ranchers add value to their commodities. Commerce Department Manager of Ag and Bioenergy Development Kevin Sonsalla suggests looking at a couple of options to get started. “There’s a couple of grant programs; the Ag Products Utilization Program, APUC, or the ADD (Agriculture Diversification and Development) fund. They’re a little more geared toward some of the early-stage companies.” The Commerce Department tends to focus on value-added businesses with out-of-state sales that generate new wealth in the state.
Casselton, ND Soybean Crush Project on Schedule – Progress continues on the new soybean crush facility at Casselton, North Dakota. North Dakota Soybean Processors Commercial Manager Bill McBee says marketing byproducts will be important. “Out of a bushel of soybeans, 20 percent of it is oil so 80 percent of it is soybean meal and soy hull pellets,” said McBee. “We have to find a market for those by-products as well.” What’s not sold in North Dakota will be sent to Minnesota, Canada, or exported through the Pacific Northwest. Construction remains on schedule. NDSP expects to begin crushing beans in August 2024.
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, MDA’s Jappa Kjaersgaard joins us to talk about the upcoming Nitrogen Conference to be held on February 13th in St. Cloud and the Nutrient Management Conference in Mankato on February 20th. Hear more details in this week’s Farming for the Future.
Vilsack Visits MN to Promote REAP – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in southeastern Minnesota Thursday to highlight USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program. REAP helps farmers and rural small businesses implement renewable energy projects and upgrade energy efficiency. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz joined Vilsack. “REAP allows our rural communities and our producers to have another revenue stream,” Walz told RRFN.
Pesticide Residue Data Updated – USDA’s Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary shows over 99 percent of samples tested had pesticide residues below the benchmark levels established by the EPA. Tests were conducted on 10,600 samples from 23 commodities including fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, nuts, and grains.
Strong Auction Sales Defy Market Expectations – Auction sales are seeing strong, sustained activity this winter. That’s especially true for land sales. “With interest rates the way they are and commodity prices where they are, land prices have been incredibly resilient,” reports Max Steffes, Steffes Group. “It’s a good market for a seller and as a farmer any time you get to buy land it’s a good thing.” Rising inventories are affecting farm equipment prices which Steffes says could lead to buying opportunities before the planting season starts.
Farmland Remains a Strong Investment – Despite record prices and rising interest rates, Bell Bank Senior Vice President of Agribusiness Development Lynn Paulson still views land as a strong investment for would-be purchasers. “The guys that are buying land are taking a long view to it; they’re not looking year-to-year.” Paulson does not expect land values to soften any time soon. “I would say don’t be afraid, but be prepared. Agriculture is a cyclical business and we have a lot of headwinds out there right now.”
Considering Expansion Carefully – AEI Managing Partner David Widmar served as the keynote speaker for the NDFB Farm and Ranch Conference. Widmar said the first things to consider when deciding to purchase farmland is if is the right investment for your operation at the time and if it is the right property. “If you could afford a certain price for a farm, you’re just going to look for a farm to satisfy that,” said Widmar. “You want to think about financing and affordability last to make sure you’re not just buying farms for the sake of buying them.”
Corn Matters – Minnesota Corn brings you Corn Matters. This week highlights online components of the Nitrogen College course implemented by the University of Minnesota Extension. U of M Extension Educator Brad Carlson says those who can’t make it to an in-person session can still access information.
A Snirt-Filled Winter – Warm temperatures and limited snow cover are a big change from what was seen in the last two winters. University of Minnesota Extension State Soil Health Specialist Anna Cates says this can impact the amount of wind erosion seen. “If we can hold soil in the field, we hold nutrients,” said Cates. “But, the less snow cover might mean an earlier, warmer spring which might be a great thing for farmers.” Soil erosion research can be tricky. “One thing about wind erosion is that soil can move a long way. Once it lifts off it can move hundreds of miles.” Having residue in the field in the form of wheat stubble, corn stocks or a living cover crop can be helpful in preventing wind erosion. Hear the full interview with Anna Cates here.
Exercise Caution With Pinto Bean Acreage Expansion – Despite a drop in acreage this past year, good yields resulted in “about average” production. In the NDSU Getting it Right in Dry Bean Production Webinar, Extension Crop Economist Frayne Olson offered a warning. “Moving forward into 2024, the industry as a whole has to be a bit careful. We want to increase our acreage base but not too much. We don’t want to stimulate too much production so that we end up with two or three years of inventory that takes quite a while to work through.”
Dry Bean Scene – In this week’s Dry Bean Scene, NDSU Crops Economist Frayne Olson reflects on the 2023 market for dry beans. The industry could be looking to add acres of pinto beans in 2024 by providing incentives to growers.
Northern Corn & Soybean Expo is This Week – Tuesday’s Northern Corn and Soybean Expo will be held in a new location this year, the Butler Building on the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo. “Our keynote speaker of the day is Peter Zeihan, he is a renowned geopolitical analyst and he will examine how economic, cultural, political and military developments affect our ag industry,” said Suzanne Wolf, communications director, North Dakota Soybean Council. “Peter has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Associated Press, Bloomberg, New York Times, CNN and Fox News.” The agenda also includes weather, trade and policy. Preregistration is advised.
NDFB Farm and Ranch Conference Builds Networks – The NDFB Farm and Ranch Conference brought together young farmers and ranchers from across the state. “We want to put the tools in their toolbox to help them on the farm and ranch and learn from their peers,” said Joey Bailey, director of organizational development, NDFB. Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee Chair Chance Kitzman said this conference helps young people build a network to learn and collaborate. “Whether it’s through our breakout sessions gaining insight, or building new friendships, you can learn from people across the state.”
LEAP Conference Highlights MFBF Policy – Minnesota Farm Bureau Director of Public Policy Pierce Bennett sees the district meetings as an opportunity to hear from members as he prepares for the upcoming legislative session. Bennett said this past weekend’s Leadership Education Advocacy and Promotion Conference was another chance to discuss these issues. A right-to-repair panel featured representatives from John Deere and Case IH. “We’re continuing to create a dialogue to make sure that if farmers’ needs aren’t being met or they need help understanding what they’re getting through the MOUs from their dealers, we’re there to help in that process,” said Bennett.
Cattle Herd Shrinks Further – Cattle numbers are at levels not seen since 1951. According to USDA’s semi-annual cattle inventory report, there were 87.2 million head of cattle and calves as of January 1. That’s down two percent from last year, but it is in line with trade expectations. The cattle inventory is down 4.6 percent in North Dakota, down 1.4 percent in South Dakota and down just under one percent in Minnesota.
Replacement Heifer Prices Surge – With a shrinking cow herd, American Hereford Association Field Representative Aaron Friedt is seeing an impact on production sales this winter. “Every one I’ve been to so far has been better than last year,” said Friedt. “These high quality replacement heifers coming out of these sales are just ringing the bell right now; we sold a set of commercial Hereford open heifers for over $2,400 a couple of weeks ago and we’ve got baldies for over $2,000.” Friedt is seeing a lot of competition between feedyards and replacement heifer programs at the auction barn.
Looking for the Bottom – Iowa State University Extension Livestock Economist Lee Schulz says cattle markets continue to be influenced by low numbers. “The question is where will we see the bottom in the inventory numbers and when will that be reflected in the highest prices,” While feed prices are somewhat lower, Shulz said other input costs are much slower to come down. Risk management remains a key.
Dairy Beef Providing a Positive Eating Experience for Consumers – With the popularity of the dairy/beef cross, Minnesota Beef Council Executive Director Kelly Schmidt says Beef Checkoff research is looking at muscle cuts and consistency. “We’ve seen the number of cattle that are dairy and beef cross increasing every year so with that, we’re learning more about where they fit in the market,” Schmidt told RRFN. “Every year we’re seeing more consistency and getting that good quality product we’re striving for.” The Schmidt interview can be found online.
A High Tech Business Continues to Evolve – During the Cattle Industry Convention, there were sessions on new technologies, like artificial intelligence. “I found that just incredibly interesting and a little bit overwhelming,” said Hillary Paplow, who is a member of the Minnesota Beef Council. “Our kids that are in elementary school, the jobs they may have not been created yet which is mind-blowing.” Paplow says technology is at work on her family’s cattle business in southwest Minnesota. “We use iPads to help us load and feed the cattle and we use a technology that monitors the health of the cattle so we’re using technology that my Dad couldn’t fathom when he started. It’s exciting to hear where we’re gonna go.”
Angus Genetics Ready for Rebuild – Catalogues are piling up as seedstock sales are ramping up across much of the country. American Angus Association CEO Mark McCully says calving ease continues to be a focus for those in the market for bulls. “I think it speaks to the shortage of labor across our industry and I think it speaks to folks wanting to keep a few more heifers back.” McCully has also seen more decisions based on carcass merit. When selecting replacement females, producers are urged to make sure the mature size fits their management style.
American Lamb Board Works to Limit Market Vulnerability – The demand for lamb increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. American Lamb Board Executive Director Megan Wortman says efforts are underway to keep that demand intact by educating consumers and limiting market vulnerability. “Inflation is impacting sales,” said Wortman. “Consumers are definitely having to make decisions to purchase premium meat less often.” In 2024, the American Lamb Board will focus on research and finding new ways to educate livestock producers about the benefits of diversifying their operations. Click here for the full interview with Megan Wortman.
Clean Air Technologies Being Evaluated in Swine Units – A new joint venture, Univox, is partnering with NDSU to research clean air technologies for confined animal feeding operations. Univox Managing Partner Merritt Hamilton Allen believes that these technologies could lead to better production and safer work environments. “We’re going to be following 32 litters of piglets with this air purification technology.” Univox researcher Curtis Olafson believes that the implications of these technologies could even benefit the environment. “It’s going to remove ammonia from the air,” said Olafson. “We have to believe that that’s going to make the pigs healthier. I think this study will also show that odor is being reduced from the surrounding area.”
Room for Optimism in the Hog Market – Easton, Minnesota pig farmer Dale Stevermer delivered the keynote address at the North Dakota Livestock Summit. Stevermer, who is a member of the National Pork Board, said the economy has been difficult for producers. “Demand in ’21 and ’22 went up and producers expanded to try to capitalize on that,” said Stevermer. Demand softened and pork supplies backed up in the system. Prices have remained below breakeven levels for 23 of the last 24 months. There is still reason to be optimistic about the future. “Come summer there is a pretty good chance of some profitability; there’s certainly been a reduction in the size of the sow herd.”
ND Pork Sector Ready for a Change in the Market Cycle – The last state legislative session was friendly to pork production. “We saw some of the restrictions with the cooperate farming law loosened up and saw some funds set aside for county site assessments for livestock-friendly county designations,” said Tamra Heins, executive director, North Dakota Pork Council. Expansion has been hindered by a difficult market environment. “We’re kind of in a reduction phase because we have more supply than demand so when that changes and it will because the cycles are pretty short, we’re going to be in a good place.” In the meantime, the NDPC is focusing on producer and consumer education.
NDSU @ CattleCon – NDSU was part of the CattleCon24 Trade Show in an effort to recruit students for its animal science program. “You get all the opportunities of a big program, but with the individualized teaching of a smaller program,” explained Erin Beyer, assistant professor, NDSU Meat Science. “We have programs within meat science with reproduction, physiology, and nutrition; some of the best in the country and you’re going to be with professors that know your name, know your background and care about you and your future.” Beyer is a Texas native and joined the NDSU faculty in June. “I am coaching the meat judging team at NDSU and the meat animal evaluation team trying to jumpstart some of those programs.”
Students Preparing for Little ‘I’ – The NDSU Little International Livestock Show will be held February 10. Little I Manager Kell Hellmuth is looking forward to this year’s competition. “The atmosphere in Shepherd (Arena) with the excitement, the clean chips, the streamers hanging, all the bright lights, the clean animals and everyone having a good time showing, it’s just really exciting.” Hellmuth feels the competitions is a good experience for the students. “Especially if they haven’t had a lot of livestock experience, it’s a good way for them to learn.”
Bayer Receives Approval for New Vios FX Herbicide – The EPA has given its approval for Vios FX. This cereal herbicide from Bayer combines Group 2 and Group 4 active ingredients. It provides control of tough weeds, including Group 1 resistant wild oats, foxtail and kochia. While Huskie Complete provides the convenience of broad-spectrum grass and broadleaf control in a single spray, Viox FX offers tank mix flexibility so farmers can customize their weed control to meet their specific weed challenges.
AGCO FarmerCore Model Require a Change in Mindset – AGCO has launched a new distribution model that it describes as “transformative.” FarmerCore will use tools that put dealers in closer proximity to farmers, both on-site and online. The one-size-fits-all outlet approach will be de-emphasized and moves to a hub-and-spoke model. The FarmerCore program includes mobile service fleets; alternative formats, like a parts-only store; and new digital tools. This effort is beginning in select locations and will expand throughout this year.
Deere and Corteva to Provide Customized Agronomic Solutions – Corteva AgriScience and John Deere have announced a partnership that combines the digital and onboard capabilities of John Deere with the agronomic expertise of Corteva. Farmers will be able to have access to Corteva’s agronomic recommendations through the John Deere Operations Center. Pilot programs will begin in the United States this spring.
Deere Launches New Tool – John Deere introduced a new telescopic compact wheel loader. This is one of the fastest-growing classes of agricultural equipment and can be used for a variety of jobs including stacking, loading, pallet transport and snow removal. The 326 P-Tier offers 16-plus feet of reach from its telescopic lift arm.
GPS Monitoring of the Cattle Herd – Technology is constantly evolving in agriculture. Fargo-based 701x is delivering real-time information to cattle producers with its smart ear tags. Founder and CEO Kevin Biffert says this system makes it easier to track the herd. “I’m an engineer by trade and used to run a company in Fargo that did automation,” Biffert said in an interview with RRFN. “I believe labor shortages is causing people to look to other things to help them get more done with the same number of family members that they have.” 701x uses data and artificial intelligence to provide critical information, such as health alerts. “The main thing is to put it on your bulls and monitor that they’re mounting cows to get your cows more pregnancy which gets you more revenue.”
New Automation for Hay Production – Case IH is bringing LiDAR technology to hay producers with a first-of-its-kind in large square hay baler automation. With the automatic adjustments and hands-free baling, farmers can put less experienced operators in the cab or spend their time in the cab focusing on other farm business.
Enhancing Efficiency Through Parasite Control – With the profitability seen in the cattle industry, Elanco Animal Health Technical Consultant Veterinarian Dr. Wayne Ayers is seeing an impact on management decisions. “Our markets are as high as they’ve ever been so if you can find a way to get a few more pounds here with a $3 five-weight calf that ends up a lot of money next fall.” Now is the time to treat for internal parasite control. “So when these parasites are starting to build up in late June when the cattle are on pasture, we’ve already blunted it.” Listen to the interview.
Disease Prevention, Reproductive Efficiency Needed for Heifer Retention – The beef cow inventory is at its lowest level in over 50 years. Boehringer Ingelheim Professional Services Veterinarian Dr. Lee Jones believes heifer retention depends on good pasture conditions. “You see on social media that people are running out of feed already and we still have a few more months of winter,” said Jones. “We owe our living to sun, rain and six inches of quality topsoil so we need Mother Nature’s cooperation if we’re going to stay in business and grow our herds.” With the current price of replacement heifers, it is important that prevent disease, accelerate growth and improve reproductive efficiency. “You deworm those heifers and keep parasites under control, they’re going to grow better and more of them are going to get pregnant on the front end of the breeding season.” The RRFN interview is online.
NDSU New Faculty Spotlight: Kirsten Butcher – Kirsten Butcher joined the NDSU staff as an assistant professor of soil health this past year. She received her undergraduate biology and environmental science degree from St Louis University and a Masters degree from NDSU in soil salinity. After NDSU, Butcher obtained her PhD in carbon and nitrate cycling from Utah State before returning to NDSU as a staff member. Her focus is on researching soil organic matter and carbon sequestration. “The idea is how can we add good carbon to the soil that gets sequestered and then what is the storage capacity of different soils?”
NDSU New Staff Spotlight: Kelsey Griesheim – Not long into her undergrad studies, new NDSU Assistant Professor of Soil Fertility Kelsey Griesheim, knew that she wanted to work in soil sciences. Griesheim received her undergraduate degree in crop sciences from the University of Illinois. Her studies continued at UI where she obtained a Master’s Degree and her PhD. Her position with NDSU is focused primarily on nitrogen management research, but does have some teaching responsibilities. “It’s a lot of fun and there’s a great benefit as a scientist to revisit some of the basic principles of what you’re studying. It forces me to look at things that I might not have looked at otherwise.”
NDSU New Faculty Spotlight: Lindsay Malone – Lindsay Malone was hired in August of 2022 as an assistant professor of climate smart approaches in agriculture. Malone grew up on a dairy farm just outside of Buffalo, New York and studied plant sciences at Cornell University before moving to University of Wisconsin-Madison for her Masters and doctorate degrees. Her position at NDSU is an 80/20 research/education role with a focus conservation practices. “A lot of what I’m thinking about with climate smart ag are cover crops and tillage, but in a data-driven sense.” Malone is looking for farmers to partner with on her research.
Wippler Receives MCIA’s Highest Honor – The Minnesota Crop Improvement Association has presented its highest honor to Roger Wippler. Wippler, who recently retired as manager of MCIA Foundation Seed Services, received the Achievement in Crop Improvement Award. The Premier Seed Grower Award was given to Scott Lee of Benson, Larry Riopelle of Argyle and Merle Schwenzfeir of Hallock. The Honorary Premier Seed Grower Award winners are MCIA Field Services Manager Kris Folland and University of Minnesota Vice Provost Dr. Eric Watkins.
NPGA Announces Award Honorees – The National Potato Growers Association will be presenting its Meritorious Service Grower Award to Brad Nilson of Hoople, North Dakota. The Meritorious Service Industry Award will go to Valley Potato Grower General Manager Todd Phelps. The awards will be presented during the Northland Potato Growers Association Annual Meeting and Chairman’s Award Banquet February 20.
IPSA Honors Carl Peterson – Peterson Farms Seed President Carl Peterson was awarded the ‘Independent of the Year’ by the Independent Professional Seed Association.’ This award recognizes Peterson’s contribution to the IPSA and his work in seed industry issues.
Another Term on the CBB Executive Committee – Mandan, North Dakota rancher Mary Graner has been re-elected to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board Executive Committee. Graner says the Beef Checkoff has an important role. “Right now, we’re being attacked by outside forces, animal activists who want to eliminate all of animal agriculture.” Graner encourages others to get involved in the Beef Checkoff process. “You can sit around and complain about things, but unless you step up and do something about it nothing gets done. CBB is always looking for fresh ideas.”
North Dakotan Named CattleWomen’s Educator of the Year – The American National CattleWomen’s Association has presented Kathy Tokach of St. Anthony, North Dakota with its Educator of the Year Award. Tokach is the co-owner of the Tokach Angus Ranch and is past member of the North Dakota Beef Commission. Tokach is also active in the North Dakota CattleWomen’s Association.
Bartholomay Kattle Kompany Earns Regional ESAP – A Sheldon, North Dakota cow-calf operation is one of six finalists for the Environmental Stewardship Award Program national recognition. Bartholomay Kattle Kompany was recognized for its conservation efforts, including rotational grazing, cover crops and no-till farming. Keith and Karl Bartholomay offered their reaction. “It’s quite an honor,” said Keith Bartholomay. “I know a lot of farms and ranches that deserve the honor, but nobody is going to appreciate it more than we do.” The national award will be presented during the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Legislative Conference in April. Listen to the full interview.
Offut Named to Farm Equipment Dealer Hall of Fame – Ron Offutt is part of Farm Equipment Magazine’s inaugural Dealer Hall of Fame. Offutt is the founder and chairman emeritus of RDO Equipment, based in Fargo. As reported previously, David Meyer and Peter Christianson of Titan Equipment are also being inducted into this hall of fame.
Award Winners Named at LEAP Conference – During the Minnesota Farm Bureau Leadership, Education, Advocacy, and Promotion Conference, Keith and Lori Aakre of Hawley were named Advocates of the Year. Katie and Brady Lee, East Polk County, received the Golden Pitchfork award for their efforts in supporting the Young Farmers and Ranchers program. The top eight Young Farmers and Ranchers discussion meet participants will move on to compete for the state title at the MFBF annual meeting in November. Jacob Runge of Ridgewater College won the collegiate discussion meet and will advance to the national competition in Omaha, Nebraska this March.
MN Pork Board Names ’24 Award Recipients – The Minnesota Pork Board will be honoring its former executive director Dave Preisler with its Distinguished Service Award. During the Minnesota Pork Congress, Jay Moore of New Fashion Pork will be recognized as the Environmental Steward of the Year. Aaron Hoffmann of Schwartz Farms is the Swine Manager of the Year. The MPB Family of the Year is the Anderson Family of Belgrade and the Pork Promoter of the Year is Nancy Hovel of Goodhue County. Minnesota Pork Congress will be held February 13-14 in Mankato.
Pellman Moves to Vice Chair – McClusky, North Dakota farmer Jim Pellman is the incoming vice chair for U.S. Wheat Associates. The board also elected Clark Hamilton of Idaho as chairman, and Gary Millershaski of Kansas as secretary-treasurer. These newly-elected officers will take their positions at the USW board of directors annual meeting in July.
Tesch to Chair MN FFA Foundation Board of Trustees – Julie Tesch is the new chair of the Minnesota FFA Foundation Board of Trustees. Tesch is the president/CEO of the Center for Rural Policy and Development. Tesch’s experience includes time as the executive director of the National FFA Alumni Association and executive director the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council.
Last Week’s Trivia-Las Vegas is the host city for the 2024 Super Bowl. Norm Groot of Monterey County Farm Bureau wins our weekly trivia competition. Runner-up honors include Stephen auctioneer Jason Rominski, Jacob Downing of Cargill, Norcross farmer Dwight Veldhouse and Kevin Schulz of The Farmer. The ‘first 20’ rounds out with Regent farmer Aaron Krauter, Strasburg farmer Kenny Nieuwsma, Danny Pinske of Bennett Houglum Agency, Mark Schmidt of KWS Seed, Derry Mackenzie of CHS Ag Services, Jim Altringer of Dakota Plains Ag, Erin Nash of National Association of Farm Broadcasting, Ron Claussen of Ag Media Research, Kevin Praska of Stone’s Mobile Radio, Bill Anderson of American Federal Bank, retired NDSU Extension Agent Morris Davidson, Brad Farber of Anglo American, Sara O’Toole of O’Toole Seed, Bob Lebacken of RML Trading and Ramsey County farmer Paul Becker.
This Week’s Trivia-What NHL hockey team was originally owned by the Disney Company with a name inspired by a Disney movie? Send your answer to email@example.com.
|RRFN Upcoming Events
|February 4 - February 6
|American Sugarbeet Growers Association Annual Meeting - Orlando, FL
|February 5 - February 6
|Nitrogen College - Morton, MN
|Northern Corn Soy Expo - Fargo ND
|Cow Calf Day - Starbuck, MN
|Alternative Beef Cow Systems Symposium - Huron, SD
|Sugarbeet Growers Seminar - Fargo ND
|Cow Calf Day - Pipestone, MN
|Agronomy on Ice - Devils Lake, ND
|Best of the Best in Wheat and Soybean Research - Grand Forks, ND
|North Central Seed Show and Ag Expo - Mohall, ND
|Best of the Best in Wheat and Soybean Research - Moorhead, MN
|AgCountry Virtual AgFocus Conference - Zoom
|AgCountry AgFocus Conference - Fargo ND
|February 9 - February 10
|NDSU Little International - Fargo ND
|February 11 - February 13
|MN Grain & Feed Association Annual Convention and Trade Show - Alexandria, MN
|MN Pork Producers Annual Meeting - Mankato, MN
|AgCountry AgFocus Conference - Jamestown, ND
|Nitrogen Conference - St. Cloud, MN
|Sugarbeet Growers Seminar - Grand Forks, ND
|Advocate for Landowner Rights and More - Pierre, SD
|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
|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.