A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Monday, June 22, 2020
Agriculture Voices Support for Farm Radio- This past week, a coalition of agriculture groups sent a letter to congressional leadership to tout the importance of local radio stations. The letter said “our communities rely on the vital information they provide on a daily basis and their continued operation is vital as we navigate these extraordinary times.” The Red River Farm Network is proud to partner with 20 wonderful radio partners to deliver critical information to the rural and agricultural market.
MDA Denies Extension Request for Dicamba Application – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has denied a request from the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association for a 10-day extension to the June 20 dicamba application cutoff date. Early last week, Executive Director Joe Smentek submitted the request, but on Friday, the Minnesota Ag Department clarified the cutoff date would be Saturday, June 20. Minnesota Soybean Growers Association Drift Task Force Chair Bob Worth expressed disappointment in the decision. Weather has delayed some herbicide applications, but other products may be used to control weeds moving forward. Read the press release.
ASA President Responds to Dicamba Litigation – American Soybean Association President and Worthington, Minnesota farmer Bill Gordon got most of his dicamba applied before the June 20 cutoff, but others weren’t as lucky. “The weather and court ruling has definitely been frustrating and adding stress to farmers.” Gordon is closely watching the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ dicamba case. “We could have back-and-forth for a long time,” said Gordon. “The EPA has really stepped up. We’re not always on the same page, but this administration will push back with common sense.” Gordon said the ASA is also focused on the label re-authorization of XtendiMax, Engenia and FeXapan herbicides and having conversations with the EPA on the future use of these herbicides after the 2020 growing season.
Ag Coalition Responds to Dicamba Ruling – A coalition of national grower trade associations including the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association and others are getting involved in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ dicamba case. On Tuesday, the coalition filed an amicus brief, otherwise known as a friend of the court brief. Later in the week, the court approved the request to file the brief, which means the coalition could add to the defense and provide actual details to the court in this on-going court case.
New COVID-19 Relief Negotiations to Pick Up in July – Ag lobbyist Jim Callan says discussions on a new COVID-19 relief package will likely pick up in July. “I think many in Congress, particularly Senate Republicans, want to see the impacts of the previous COVID-19 related relief package take effect, because a lot of money was already put into the U.S. economy.” Callan says North Dakota Senator John Hoeven is having high level discussions on additional funding for agriculture. “I think there’s bipartisan support to have more money for agriculture. How that manifests itself right now is unknown. However, there are several different ways they can do it. The HEROES Act passed by House lawmakers has $16.5 billion for direct payments for producers,” says Callan. “I think what others want to do is add more funds to the Commodity Credit Corporation, at least $50 to $60 billion.” According to Callan, lawmakers are also considering the haying and grazing of cover crops and the USDA is still on track to provide more details on quality loss provisions in the WHIP+ program in July.
Peterson Says Lawmakers Prepping for Future Ag Emergencies – According to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, lawmakers are putting together a plan to use Commodity Credit Corporation funding for future challenges in agriculture, not just the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m not sure if we’ll ever have another COVID-19 situation, but the USDA needs to be ready to face any emergencies that come up,” said Peterson. “I’ll be working with the Trump administration and other lawmakers to look at putting emergency things on the shelf and ready to go whether it’s avian influenza or African swine fever.” Peterson said research has already begun on the effort and there could be a hearing on the subject this summer.
Crop Watch – Crops in the Minto, North Dakota area are off to a good start. According to Minto Ag Center owner and agronomist Trevor Slominski, the timely rains helped. “Some crops got a little more moisture than farmers wanted, but overall, the rains have been good.” Slominski said the crop mix is close to originally planned. “However, there are little more dry edible beans and sunflowers planted this year.” Pesticide and weed control applications have been slowed by windy conditions near Crystal. “We are limited on the time we can spray, but we can cover a lot of ground relatively quicky,” said Brian O’Toole. “Weed control is going well and the crop is coming up fairly easy. The one exception is the dry edible beans that are coming up a bit slower.” In the Langdon area, the crops are all over the board due to the long planting window. “The early stuff looks good and the later stuff may get healed with the rain,” said Kevin Waslaski. There’s lots of things happening at once. “We also have some flea beetles in the canola and we’re trying to stay ahead of that. It’s been a challenge, like everything else this year.” Listen to the segment.
Some ND Herbicide Applications Delayed – Weed management is top-of-mind for farmers. Windy conditions have kept some post-emergence herbicide applications on hold. “I hope farmers continue to be patient with the wind. Spray drift isn’t something we can handle right now,” said Sarah Lovas, owner and agronomist, Lovas Ag Consulting. “There are weeds that need to be controlled. The pre-emergence herbicides are working really well, but it’s time to get into fields and take care of weeds.” Waterhemp and ragweed are popping up and Lovas is a little surprised with the amount of kochia being seen. “Normally, I think of that being a weed that’s a little further west.”
Wind Limits Weed Control Applications – University of Minnesota Extension Agronomist Seth Naeve says it’s been unusually windy during the spray season. “There hasn’t been good conditions for farmers. There are big swaths of the state where the total time available to spray some of those products in the first part of June has only been a handful of hours.” Naeve reminds farmers to have an alternative weed management plan in place. “It’s cliche, but weed control is a lot of little hammers. We just don’t have that big hammer anymore in glyphosate,” says Naeve. “Corn and soybean farmers need to think more like the beet farmers of old and look at this very complex situation as a system where they’ll have to make multiple passes with a variety of products and diversify with tillage.” Read more details in a University of Minnesota Extension report.
The Late, Tough ND Corn Harvest Continues – Farmers in Barnes County, North Dakota continue to harvest the 2019 corn crop. According to NDSU Extension Agent Randy Grueneich, farmers are progressing, but equipment is getting stuck and the recent storms knocked down some stalks. “The gifts from 2019 keep giving and the latest gift was the wind from a rain storm that downed a lot of corn.” Farmers still need to get the field back in workable condition. “I’ve noticed some farmers have also baled stover on some of the stuff that got combined this spring.” Grueneich said farmers are trying vertical tillage and chopped to get a cover crop on it in mid-July.
Tan Spot Reported in Northern MN – Tan spot is being found in the fields growing wheat on wheat. University of Minnesota Extension Agronomist Jochum Wiersma says early tan spot infections often feature a yellow discoloring of whole leaves. Research from North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota have shown the early onset of tan spot can reduce yields by four-to-five bushels per acre.
A Divided Spring Wheat Crop in ND – The spring wheat crop has a decent stand across much of North Dakota, but there is a divide. “In the west, the topsoil moisture has been challenged by hot, windy days. That’s starting to take a toll,” said Neal Fisher, administrator, North Dakota Wheat Commission. “Producers are worried about many their crops, including wheat.” There may already be some yield loss. “We’ve seen some early heading. This starts to be alarming, because it usually that means the crop doesn’t reach the stature it would otherwise.”
Flea Beetle Pressure Noted in Canola – Flea beetle pressure is being seen in Langdon and Minot, North Dakota area canola fields. “The seed treatment residual is gone now so when we have a late flush of flea beetles coming out from overwintering, it can cause quite a bit of damage to the canola,” said Jan Knodel, entomologist, NDSU Extension. “Once the canola reaches the four-to-six leaf stage, it can usually compensate for flea beetle feeding.” Knodel said later planted canola should be monitored closely. “
Peak Sugarbeet Root Maggot Fly Happening Now – Sugarbeet root maggot fly activity is at peak in the upper Red River Valley. NDSU Extension Entomologist Mark Boetel says the wind and heat is spreading out peak fly activity. The wind is also impacting fly counts. “We’re not getting a true reflection on what is actually out there, but we do know it’s peak time.”
Be Ready to Prevent Cercospora Leaf Spot – Sugarbeet growers will soon be spraying for cercospora leaf spot. “Farmers in the Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative area will start their spray program likely in the last week of June, which is right around the corner,” said Ken Deibert, technical service representative, BASF. “Cercospora recommendations have been tweaked. We’ve learned a lot over the years and the more preventative farmers can be in managing cercospora, the better success they’ll have at the end of the day.” BASF has a new fungicide called Provysol to help growers prevent cercospora. “There are a few components that make this fungicide different from others and we’re excited to have this product in the marketplace.” Hear the story.
The Sugarbeet Report – Farmers continue to weight their weed control strategies across the Red River Valley sugarbeet growing area. Learn more in the latest Sugarbeet Report, made possible by Provysol from BASF, Premium Ag Solutions, Corteva Agriscience, SESVanderHave, Vive Crop Protection, H&S Manufacturing and Syngenta
Lighthizer Talks USMCA at House Ways and Means Hearing – U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testified before the House Ways and Means Committee last week. The trade ambassador answered questions on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, noting that the agreement goes into effect on July 1. Lighthizer said biotechnology will be addressed. “The reality is that Mexico hasn’t approved any biotech products in the last two years. Our view is that’s not right. My own sense is that it’s one of those issues where the administration down there has a very strong view and I think the only way we’ll get that to change is first by consultations and then, by action,” said Lighthizer. “We will have formal consultations once the agreement goes into effect.” Lighthizer said the Trump administration is closely watching Canada’s dairy provisions. “They have a period of a few months to get rid of class six and class seven. If there’s any shading of the benefits to American farmers, we’ll bring a case against them.” Lighthizer also discussed the U.S. and China phase one trade deal.
A Request to Push Forward on the Phase One Deal – The North American Meat Institute and other agricultural organizations penned a letter to President Donald Trump on Tuesday, calling on the administration to continue the implementation of the phase one trade deal. In the letter, the groups said China offers unprecedented export opportunities for American agriculture, especially in the current challenging times. The group asked the Trump Administration to ensure China meets its full commitments under the phase one trade deal.
U.S. Dairy Groups Express Frustration on Canada’s Tariff Rate Quotas – The U.S. Dairy Export Council and National Milk Producers Federation are criticizing Canada’s allocation of tariff rate quotas under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The dairy industry says the allocations undermine the intent of the USMCA’s dairy provisions. They are urging the U.S. Trade Representative to immediately raise the issue with Canada and insist that the country adheres to the letter of commitments under the USMCA and to its spirit as well. The USMCA goes into effect on July 1.
CFAP Sign-Up “Going Okay” for MN Dairy Farmers – According to Minnesota Milk Producers Association Executive Director Lucas Sjostrom, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program sign-up is going okay for dairy farmers. At the beginning of the sign-up, more clarification was needed on dairy beef, but Sjostrom says that’s since been clarified. “After those first few days in the program, I haven’t received any calls. I take that as people are pretty pleased with how things are going,” says Sjostrom. In its third week of sign-up, the USDA Farm Service Agency processed 1,012 dairy applications and more than $27 million for Minnesota dairy farmers. Based on previous government programs, Sjostrom expects up to 2,500 total dairy applicants in the state for the program.
2021 Dairy Margin Coverage Sign-Up Begins in Fall – The Dairy Margin Coverage program sign-up for 2021 will begin on October 12 and run through December 11, 2020. The Farm Service Agency is encouraging dairy producers to sign up for the program. So far this year, the DMC has already triggered payments for two months for producers who signed up for 2020 coverage.
Ethanol Markets Improve, But Regulatory Challenges Remain – As the ethanol market begins to improve, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said it will be a long road to recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s going to be very patchwork as every community is going to be opening at different rates. Just know, fuel demand will track in parallel with that national experience,” said Skor. “We have to get through the crisis, get our footing back and gain some momentum. We also have three categories of conversation ahead: industry stabilization, fulfilling (regulatory) promises and demand drivers.” The ethanol industry continues to watch how the EPA handles small refinery exemptions. “The EPA is delaying applying a court decision to effectively shutdown waivers until after the November elections,” said Jon Doggett, CEO, National Corn Growers Association. “This is scaring us to death. Additional waivers will continue to hurt corn farmers and rural communities at a time when they really need to see the markets and economy turnaround.” Skor, Doggett and others were part of a Congressional Biofuels Caucus virtual town hall.
CoBank Forecasts U.S. Ethanol Industry Transformation – Excess ethanol production capacity and reduced demand may force the U.S. ethanol industry to change its business model. According to a new CoBank report, the ethanol industry will need to diversify beyond fuel to include higher margin co-products. The COVID-19 pandemic and other factors impacted the industry in 2020 and while export growth could help reduce the excess capacity, it’s not very likely. Ethanol plants that struggle will likely close their doors or consolidate with others. In the next five years, CoBank is forecasting larger, more financially stable U.S. ethanol companies with more diversified offerings.
Potato News – In this week’s update, Northern Plains Potato Growers Association Marketing and Communications Director Ted Kreis talks about planted potato acres and Associated Potato Growers Incorporated CEO Mike Torgerson covers the fresh potato crop. Potato News is made possible by Corteva Agriscience, Bayer, Sipcam Agro and BASF’s Provysol fungicide, the new standard for early blight.
Climate Prediction Center Releases Summer Outlook – The updated three month forecast for July through September from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center calls for slightly above normal temperatures and normal precipitation for the Northern Plains and far western Corn Belt. The eastern Corn Belt is forecast to have above normal temperatures and precipitation.
Clean Water Rule Takes Effect Today – A federal judge in California has denied a request to block the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule and the Trump Administration rule takes effect today. This rule replaces the controversial Waters of the U.S. rule. There are more legal challenges for this policy, including cattle producers who claim the new rule exceeds the authority of the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers.
Dry Bean Scene – Farmers in the state of Michigan had more timely planting window for this year’s dry edible bean crop. Michigan State University Extension dry bean systems specialist Scott Bales describes planting conditions as “nearly ideal”. Hear more in the Dry Bean Scene, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association, Johnstown Bean Company and SRS Commodities.
TransFARMation: Celebrate the Small Victories in Agriculture – From low commodity prices to weather extremes, there are many things coming at farmers and ranchers right now. North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says there also are milestones that should be celebrated each season. “Although the work is never done, we have incremental victories here and there. You get equipment ready. You get planting done. You get spraying done. You get harvest done. At some point it all comes together.” Goehring goes on to say these small victories make them feel like they’ve accomplished something. “There are things to celebrate in agriculture. That helps. It’s like when you finish calving. When that last heifer or cow drops her calf it’s a sigh of relief. A lot of worry goes away.” Hear more from Goehring in the latest TransFARMation podcast.
Oil Refineries Seek Retroactive Small Refinery Waivers – Oil refineries are asking the EPA for more small refinery exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard. According to the agency, 52 new petitions have been received. This time, the requests are retroactive, ranging from 2011-2018. In response, biofuel supporters said these are gap year waiver petitions; oil refineries are trying to get around a Tenth Circuit Court decision from earlier this year that set a precedent on limiting small refinery waivers. The Renewable Fuels Association also said if the EPA approves all of the waivers, it would amount to two billion gallons of ethanol waived. The National Biodiesel Board called on the EPA to immediately reject the petitions.
Proposed Clean Cars MN Rule Criticized – The Walz Administration is in the midst of the rule-making process to impose California emissions standards on Minnesota. Minnesota Auto Dealers Association President Scott Lambert says a draft rule is expected to be released in late August. “Rule-making is a freight train that is very difficult to stop.” If enacted, Minnesotans will be required to drive a different type of vehicle. “About 82 percent of the vehicles that Minnesotans buy is trucks; California rules are skewed to get people out of trucks and into smaller cars.” Lambert is encouraging calls to Governor’s Office and state legislators regarding any plan to fast track the California emission standards on Minnesotans.
Special Session Ends in St. Paul – The Minnesota Legislature wrapped up its special session early Saturday morning without resolving major issues. The bonding bill and the tax bill did not get done, which means Section 179 expensing was not addressed. Both chambers adjourned without a specific date to return. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz was upset in a Saturday news conference, but did not indicate if another special session will be called.
Emergency Relief Extended for MN Livestock Transportation – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed an executive order on Friday to extend emergency relief for motor carriers and truck drivers transporting livestock in Minnesota. Walz said there is still disruption in the meat supply chain due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The executive order is effective immediately and will stay in place for the next month.
MFU Minute – There are still policy priorities for agriculture that did not get done during the recent Minnesota legislature special session. Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish has more in the latest MFU Minute.
Eat Your Veggies – The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has released its draft report with federal nutrition recommendations. The report calls for higher consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and low-or-nonfat dairy products. Americans are being told to reduce consumption of red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains. A final report will now be submitted to USDA and Health and Human Services.
Bayer Stops Construction of LA Dicamba Plant – Bayer is abandoning plans to build a $1 billion dicamba plant in Louisiana. The production of the XtendiMax herbicide will continue at a different plant in Iowa. Bayer officials said this decision is unrelated to the latest court decision vacating the registration of the dicamba products. Bayer says it still supports the use of dicamba, but the investment in the project is less attractive due to global overcapacity in the production of the weedkiller.
Syngenta Group Launched – Syngenta Group has been launched, bringing together Syngenta AG, ADAMA and the agricultural activities of Sinochem. There are four business units now under a single entity. Syngenta Crop Protection, Syngenta Seeds, ADAMA and Syngenta Group China. The former CEO for Syngenta AG, Erik Fyrwald, becomes the chief executive officer of Syngenta Group. Chen Lichtenstein, formerly CEO for ADAMA, becomes the Syngenta Group CFO.
Syngenta Launches Digital Platform in Brazil – Brazil will be the initial market for Syngenta’s new digital services platform. This system includes software and satellite imaging of crops, Syngenta acquired a Brazilian ag tech company two years ago, making it the natural choice for the launch. This platform will be available later this year in the U.S., Russia and Ukraine.
New Tank Mix Option for Soybean Growers – Valent USA has a new option for postemergence weed control. A new FIFRA 2(ee) recommendation has been made for a tank mix of Cobra herbicide, Perpetuo herbicide and glyphosate.
New Biological Approved – Plant Health Care has been given EPA approval for its new biological product called PHC398. This is the first active ingredient in the company’s technology platform that has been approved for registration. Plant Health Care officials said this is the first in a series of peptides that it plans to commercialize over the next two-to-three years.
China Suspends Imports From One Tyson Plant – China has suspended chicken imports from a Tyson Foods plant in Springdale, Arkansas. China’s General Administration of Customs cited the number of coronavirus cases at this facility. On Friday, this Tyson plant had nearly 500 employees testing positive for COVID-19, which is 13 percent of the workforce at this location.
Farm Progress Show Will be Held in ’20 – Numerous events have been postponed or canceled due to coronavirus, but one major trade show will go on as scheduled. The Farm Progress Show plans to move forward this year at Boone, Iowa. This big trade show will be held September 1-3.
MN Beef Update – Summer is the perfect time to fire up the grill. Get some tips from University of Minnesota meat specialist Dr. Ryan Cox in the Beef Update from the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association and the Minnesota Beef Council.
Dufault Joins Prairieland Ag – After a 30-year career with J.R. Simplot, Dave Dufault has joined Prairieland Ag as its director of crop protection. The Fargo-based Prairieland Ag partners with 50 local cooperatives in the Upper Midwest for group purchasing of fertilizer and crop protection products. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision on dicamba has been making headlines, but Dufault sees a bigger concern. “Manufacturers are spending hundreds of millions of dollars developing these products and to potentially have it yanked out from under them is really concerning.” Dufault is an Argyle, Minnesota native who retired in April as the vice president of wholesale sales for J.R. Simplot in Boise.
Latham Takes Over Leadership of ASTA – The American Seed Trade Association has elected John Latham of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds as its chair. The first vice president is Brad May of BASF and the second vice president is Jim Schweigert of Gro Alliance.
Gerlt Joins American Soybean Association – The American Soybean Association hired Scott Gerlt as its first ever economist. In this new role, Gerlt will provide insight on agricultural economics and analysis of current and future ASA policy. Gerlt previously worked as an agricultural agronomist for the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.
Growers Edge Financial Hires Linbo – Tracy Linbo is the new executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Growers Edge Financial. Most recently, Linbo was the senior vice president of agronomy, communications and marketing for the Agtegra Cooperative. Previously, Linbo spent ten years with Pioneer.
33 Individuals Appointed to EPA Advisory Committee – The Environmental Protection Agency has named its Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee. Committee members from this region include East Dakota Water Development District Watershed Coordinator Barry Berg from Brookings, South Dakota and North Dakota Grain Growers Association President Dennis Haugen of Hannaford, North Dakota.
Turkey Industry Leader Passes – Ted Huisinga, 95, passed away Wednesday. The Willmar, Minnesota man was a leader in the turkey industry, receiving the lifetime achievement award at the state and national level. Huisinga was also awarded the Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture. Huisinga joined Willmar Poultry in 1951 and enjoyed a 70-year career in the turkey industry.
Last Week’s Trivia – Jay Pritchett, Phil Dunphy, Mitchell Pritchett and Cameron Tucker are ‘TV dads’ on the Modern Family sitcom. California EPA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Val Dolcini wins our weekly trivia challenge. Todd Good of AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Kevin Praska of Stone’s Mobile Radio, Twyla Wulf of Clear Springs Cattle Company and Dean Nelson of Kelley Bean Company earn runner-up honors. Special recognition also goes out to Jim Altringer of CHS Dakota Plains Ag, Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, Dennis Sabel of Minnesota Farm Bureau, Kevin Schulz of National Hog Farmer, retired controller Evonne Wold and Harvey farmer Bill Ongstad.
This Week’s Trivia- What is the term for an adult, mated female bee that is considered the mother of the hive? Send your answer to email@example.com.
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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.