A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Monday, March 02, 2020
RRFN Exclusive – The Red River Farm Network sat down with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this morning for an exclusive one-on-one interview. In that interview, Perdue outlines the new disaster assistance for sugarbeet producers, quality loss provisions, the farm economy and more. Farm Broadcaster Carah Hart is reporting from the National Farmers Union Convention in Savannah, Georgia where NFU delegates will elect a new president later today. RRFN’s Don Wick and Randy Koenen were in San Antonio this past week for Commodity Classic. RRFN’s Megan Ternquist also covered a disaster meeting with North Dakota Senator John Hoeven and the Local Foods Conference in Mandan. This week, RRFN will provide coverage from the National Pork Industry Forum in Kansas City, the Aberdeen Ag Expo, the North Dakota Winter Show in Valley City, the KKCQ Farm Forum in Fosston and the CHS Ag Services Ag Industry Day in Grand Forks. Here’s the RRFN interview with Secretary Perdue.
“Until China Buys, We’re Not Buying the Promise” – The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on U.S. and China trade Wednesday. Committee Chair Richard Neal said China’s purchase commitments as part of the phase one agreement may be hard-pressed to happen due to the coronavirus. “The potential economic consequences for an undiversified supply chain looks like it could be severe. In the meantime, the only strategy the president seems to have offered is a promise of more bailouts for farmers. The U.S. needs to obtain China’s commitment to a structural change that will make a real difference.” Farmers provided testimony on the trade war impact and Market Facilitation Program payments. Crookston, Minnesota farmer Tim Dufault told lawmakers the ag economy doesn’t live on promises. “Until China buys, we’re not buying the promise,” said Dufault. “While there are some good provisions in the phase one trade deal addressing non-tariff trade barriers, those are singles when we need a home run. Similarly, the administration’s trade mitigation payments, while a welcome to many struggling farmers including myself, they do nothing to alleviate the long-term consequences of this trade war.”
The Long-Term Benefits of the Phase One Trade Deal – American Soybean Association Vice President Kevin Scott sees long term benefits to U.S. soybean farmers from the phase one trade agreement. “We’ve thought the trade one deal would be a positive in the markets, but it’s been a challenge. There are many things buried in the details that will be good if we can hold them to the agreement.”
Optimistic that Trade with China Will Pick Up – American Soybean Association President Bill Gordon remains optimistic that trade with China will pick up, but it might take a while. “It’s never perfect, but if we can get these markets to respond positively, farmers will grow soybeans. We had a hiccup in 2019, but let’s get these trade agreements in place and move forward.” Gordon, who farms at Worthington, Minnesota, says the markets are waiting for China purchases.
One Black Swan After Another – Coronavirus is the latest in a series of setbacks for international demand for U.S. soybeans. “You might say this is a black swan event, but if you look back over the past three years, there’s been so dang many black swans that we need some white swans,” said Joe Morken, chairman, North Dakota Soybean Council. “Coronavirus and (African) swine fever, it all keeps compounding and you feel like it has got to get better and then there’s something else.”
Fed Responds to Economy and Coronavirus – Coronavirus has now infected nearly 90,000 people. There are more than 3,000 deaths associated with this virus, including two in the United States. Wall Street was hit hard this past week, prompting Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Jerome Powell to issue a statement saying the Fed is prepared to cut interest rates to buffer the global public health emergency and economic slowdown.
What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets – The economic news is coming fast and furious with Wall Street losses, coronavirus and China’s Purchase Managers Index. In today’s edition of What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets, Advance Trading risk management advisor Tommy Grisafi highlights these stories. Grisafi also outlines the long-term impacts for U.S. agriculture.
End-Users Sought for “Our Backyard” – There have been important developments on trade agreements, but growers are also taking ownership of the demand situation as well. “Our beans don’t have end-users in North Dakota; maybe a crush plant wouldn’t be a bad idea,” said Greg Gussiaas, secretary, North Dakota Soybean Growers Association. “We need to find an alternative destination for our beans other than the PNW. We need an end-user in our backyard so we have some place to go with our beans.”
MN Soybean is Staying Engaged in Drainage Conversations – As of late, the regulatory environment seems to be challenging. Minnesota Soybean Growers Association President Jamie Beyer says there are always developments, but no major improvements. At Commodity Classic, the association followed a resolution addressing when federal agencies acquire land. Beyer, who farms at Wheaton, says the agencies would maintain a guarantee of drainage. “That is a big issue for us in the Red River Valley,” says Beyer. “You might have the Fish and Wildlife Service come onto a property and now all of a sudden neighbors are being flooded out because the drainage isn’t being preserved.” Beyer goes on to say when people hear about water issues, they often automatically assume it’s related to drought. “That’s not the case in the Red River Valley. We often have too much water so it’s a matter of letting them know it’s a completely different problem.”
MFU Minute – The Minnesota legislative session is moving along, and the Minnesota Farmers Union continues to monitor issues important to members. Hear more from MFU Gary Wertish in the latest MFU Minute.
MN Lawmakers Considering State Ethanol Boost – Minnesota lawmakers are considering legislation to increase Minnesota’s biofuel standard to 15 percent ethanol. Minnesota Corn Growers Association Executive Director Adam Birr explains. “Certainly we’ve laid the groundwork with the infrastructure we’ve been building. E15 isn’t a new product. We’ve put the work down. There seems to be bipartisan support. Folks are looking for good news right now.” Birr says this is part of the discussion to reduce environmental footprint and it’s also a market for local growers.
Higher Ethanol Blends Sought – Ethanol is a big driver for the corn market and North Dakota Corn Growers Association Vice President Paul Thomas says that may include higher ethanol blends. “We’re looking at a low-carbon, high-octane fuel,” said Thomas. Rather than the E10 standard today, this proposal would push that to a 20 or 25 percent ethanol blend. “We have to keep this science-based, but there is a general awareness in the public about a vision for a greener society.” That would give agriculture a larger role in the discussion about climate change.
SD Corn Comments – South Dakota Corn board members attended the Commodity Classic this past week in San Antonio. Get the details in Corn Comments, a production of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council.
The State of National Farmers Union – During Sunday night’s State of Farmers Union address, retiring president Roger Johnson said goodbye to members. Johnson took time to reflect on farm policy, focusing on trade. “There’s lots of worry that phase one will be going back to square one with China. We don’t have a good history of holding China accountable. If phase one is all we get from the China deal, I would argue this clearly isn’t worth the disruption it created.” Trade aid was also discussed. Johnson says Market Facilitation Program payments are swamping payments coming through the farm bill. This will be Johnson’s final day leading the organization.
Additional Disaster Assistance Available from USDA – Additional disaster assistance is now available for farmers impacted by drought and excess moisture. Through WHIP+, USDA is helping with 2018-2019 losses from natural disasters. Farmers who’ve reported widespread crop quality losses from eligible disaster events resulting in price deductions or penalties when marketing that crop can apply. USDA is also entering into agreements with six sugarbeet processing cooperatives to distribute $285 million to grower members who experienced losses. Members can contact their local co-ops for more information on how the disaster will be administered. USDA’s Farm Service Agency will open signup for the program on March 23. More information is available here.
Perdue Talks Disaster Aid for Northern Plains Farmers – Ahead of the National Farmers Union Convention general session, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue sat down with the Red River Farm Network to discuss the recently announced disaster aid to sugar cooperatives and pending quality provisions for WHIP+. “Determining quality losses are subjective. It’s fairly complex. We need to get it right, rather than fast. Hopefully, by late spring or early summer we’ll have those rules out about how quality loss issues will be determined.” Hear the interview.
Questions Remain About Sugarbeet Disaster Aid – American Crystal Sugar Company President Tom Astrup says the breakdown of this WHIP+ program for sugarbeet cooperatives is different. “The traditional disaster program was designed for a farm level claim. With the cooperatives, especially all of the sugarbeet cooperatives across the country, the company is an extension of the farm. This really became a cooperative level claim that had to be worked out.” Astrup says the monies will be divided by each cooperative. At this time, it is unknown what that exact breakdown looks like between the three local cooperatives. “There’s 2018 and 2019 losses. For American Crystal, our loss was in 2019. There will be a breakdown of that money for each cooperatives for each year. Then, we’ll have to figure out how that gets distributed to shareholders on a fair basis.”
Disaster Aid Offers “Healing at a Banker’s Desk” – Ada, Minnesota farmer and Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association President Neil Rockstad says the disaster aid will provide some healing at the banker’s desk. “We’re so pleased with the efforts of local lawmakers and receptiveness from the USDA in implementing this program in a tight time. It will pay huge dividends up and down the Red River Valley.” Rockstad says this disaster program won’t make farmers whole, but will help.
ND Farmers Plugging Away at Corn Harvest – According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, North Dakota corn harvested is 61 percent at the end of February, an increase of 12 percentage points from January. State Statistician Darin Jantzi says the jump is a little surprising, but farmers are making progress when they can. Hannaford, North Dakota farmer Dennis Haugen plans to resume harvest once he got back from the Commodity Classic. “I have one neighbor that’s been plugging away at harvest the last few weeks. They harvested what they could,” he says. “Corn fields still have snow in them. Many farmers have not started harvest, waiting for the snow to go down a little. A few are jumping the gun a little bit.” Haugen says the corn is drying down. “The corn in our fields we tested was at 19.5 percent moisture and 49.5 pounds. It looks like we’ll make the 50 pound magic number. Many were concerned about test weights.”
Standing Corn – The standing corn across North Dakota and northwest Minnesota was an ongoing topic of discussion at Commodity Classic. Arthur, North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, who is the past president of the National Corn Growers Association, sees it as a very tenuous situation. “At the end of 2019, we probably had 40 percent or more of our corn left in the field; it was a million-and-a-half acres. Maybe, USDA is counting that as on-farm storage.” North Dakota Soybean Growers Association President Joe Ericson finished up most of his corn a week ago. “It feels good; we still have a little left with the drifts. The test weight never really came up and instead of waiting, we decided to get it done so we could start thinking about spring work.”
ND Sunflower Harvest Makes Progress – North Dakota farmers are also harvesting sunflowers. According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, 79 percent of sunflowers are harvested at the end of February. That’s an increase of 12 percentage points from January. Coleharbor, North Dakota farmer Paul Anderson is harvesting confection sunflowers this week. “They’re a little wet. Not bad, but we’re probably down to about 14 percent moisture. When we started sunflower harvest, the flowers were at 20 percent moisture.” Anderson says the trouble in harvesting is the back of sunflower heads. “It’s like a cereal bowl holding upside down. If you get a little bit of snow, it fills a bowl of water in the back of the head again. Then, it has to dry out. It’s been dry enough where the flowers are in decent shape.”
Wheat Quality Discussions Resume at Commodity Classic – The WHIP Plus program remains a priority for Minnesota wheat farmers. “We’ve been working heavily with the National Association of Wheat Growers on how we can access that for all of the quality issues and hurt going on in farm country. How do we help maintain farm profitability and sustainability long term?” asks Charlie Vogel, CEO of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers. “Falling numbers was a huge issue with wheat in Minnesota. The first half of the crop came off in superb condition. The next 25 percent was rough milling quality and the last 25 percent was feed quality. It’s hard to make $5 wheat profitable, but when you cut that in half for feed quality, there’s no way to do that math.”
TransFARMation: Farm Leader Says Healing Can Begin by Talking – Farmers are generally proud, independent and private people. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says we need to move beyond that. “We have to seize the potential in being able to heal ourselves by talking to someone,” said Duvall. “Whether it is a professional, a pastor or a friend, we need to find some way to let that out.” Zippy’s wife, Bonnie, passed away January 18, 2020 after a nine-year battle with cancer. “The first two weeks after that, I was holding it all inside and I was about to bust. All of a sudden, I started talking about it and it became easier.” Duvall shares his personal and emotional story in this TransFARMation episode and the importance of faith. You’ll also learn about AFBF initiatives dealing with farm stress and mental health.
MN Budget Forecast Calls for $1.51 Billion Surplus – Minnesota Management and Budget released its 2020 February Budget and Economic forecast. In that forecast there is a small increase to the general fund revenue, along with a similar sized reduction in spending estimates. That results in a project surplus of $1.51 billion for the Fiscal Year 2020-21 biennium. That’s $181 million more than the November estimate. An economic slowdown is in the forecast. Read more.
Is There a Silver Lining to Rain, Rust and Ruts? – The Northern Plains experienced rain, ruts and other challenges this past crop season. Is there a silver lining to 2019? USDA Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory soil scientist Dr. Mark Liebig can’t think of a direct answer to that question. But, there are ways farmers can manage these problems ahead of the 2020 growing season. “If you’re still trying to harvest now, try to get it done while the frost is still deep. One things thaw, do your best to stay off wet soil,” says Liebig. A drop test can be helpful when wondering what classifies as wet. “Take a soil sample from the three to six inch depth, mold it into a ball and drop it. If it breaks apart you should be okay. If it stays in a clump it is too wet.” Liebig goes on to say keeping soil disturbance to a minimum will help keep residue upright. That will help facilitate drying, which is another reason for being patient. Liebig spoke at the Farming and Ranching for the Bottom Line conference in Bismarck. A livestream of the event is available here.
NAWG Makes Budget Adjustments Ahead of FY21 – Budgets, research and trade were the main topics for the National Association of Wheat Growers at Commodity Classic. CEO Chandler Goule says budget adjustments continue. “The industry itself is still hurting with low commodity prices. We also continue to see inclement weather in the Upper Great Plains, but we have a balanced budget for FY 2021.” The NAWG budget took a hit in 2019 when the North Dakota Grain Growers Association withdrew from the national organization. Goule says the budget committee had a lot of challenges. “They are to put more money back into reserves and cut an additional $120,000 out of the budget, helping us maintain our staffing budget. I’m looking forward to the next fiscal year.”
Kenya Allows All U.S. Wheat – The U.S. Department of Agriculture says U.S. wheat may now be shipped to Kenya regardless of state of origin or port of export. This now includes wheat out of the Pacific Northwest like Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Risk of flag smut kept wheat exports from the PNW states into Kenya since 2006. Moving forward, APHIS will be working with stakeholders to watch for flag smut in wheat. Bigger picture, U.S. Wheat Associates says the restriction clears unresolved issues going into an Free Trade Agreement negotiation. U.S. Wheat says a tariff advantage is needed to compete and expand wheat market share in Kenya.
New Markets for Northern-Grown Soybeans – North Dakota and northwest Minnesota are very dependent on trade and export opportunities in the Pacific Northwest. North Dakota Soybean Council Executive Director Stephanie Sinner says there are beans moving. “We’re used to the floodgates opening and everything moving at harvest, but the last 18 months has been a slow trickle for trade.” With China on the sidelines, other countries have been more active. Those countries include Taiwan, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Soy Transportation Coalition Meets in Texas – Joel Scheurs represents Minnesota soybean farmers on the Soy Transportation Coalition, where he serves as vice chair. Rather than the barges we know today that move up and down the Mississippi, the STC learned about a new type of shipping vessel that could move containers. “There is a prototype of this vessel and it is the first of its kind worldwide.” Wolford, North Dakota farmer Chris Brossart is also a member of the Soy Transportation Coalition. To enhance shipping on the Lower Mississippi River, there are efforts to deepen the channel. “Five feet is what they’re looking at and that’s a big deal when you look at the weight on the barge. That will impact costs.” There may not be a lot of northern-grown soybeans moving down the Mississippi, but fertilizer does come this direction on the river, which would also benefit from a deeper channel.
MN Corn Matters – Farmers can keep up to date on the latest information from the legislative session in the Minnesota Corn Growers Association newsletter. MCGA Public Relations Manager Brent Renneke has those details in Corn Matters.
USDA Staff Called Back From China – Due to coronavirus, USDA is bringing most of its China-based employees back to the United States. Those USDA staffers will go through a 14-day quarantine once they return. Most of the Agriculture Department employees in China work on trade issues.
USDA Announces New Biofuels Grant Program – On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it would provide $100 million in competitive, cost share grants for the new Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program to help increase the number of fuel stations offering higher fuel blends. Ag Secretary Perdue also directed his department to acquire alternative fueled vehicles when replacing conventionally fueled vehicles.
Brazil Beef Ban Lifted, Lawmakers Concerned – A bipartisan group of senators is upset with USDA’s decision to lift the ban on Brazilian beef imports. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the lawmakers voiced concern over public health and animal health issues. The individuals signing the letter include North Dakota Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and South Dakota Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds.
2020 Calving Season Off to a Good Start for Barnesville, MN Rancher – Barnesville, Minnesota rancher Jake Thompson describes this year’s calving season as a nice change of pace. The calves started to come at Four Hill Farms around February 1 and there haven’t been too many extremely cold nights in between. Thompson says the bigger challenge may come in the next couple months when the snow starts to melt in the Red River Valley. “We’re trying to plan for some adequate pen space, maybe on hilltops, different field areas and even permanent pasture.” Thompson is also watching feed supplies closely because of the earlier-than-normal snow cover and delayed weaning. “So we had to try and feed those cows a little heavier to help them support that calf longer,” says Thompson. “We sell a lot of hay and that market has remained strong, so it’s hard to hold on to it.” Listen to the full RRFN story.
Canola Minute – Clubroot management is top of mind as farmers prepare for the 2020 growing season. BASF assistant canola breeder Sean Harder has more in the Canola Minute, made possible by the Northern Canola Growers Association.
A Link Between Nutrition and Breeding Back – It’s calving season for producers in the Dakotas and Minnesota. However, getting to this point didn’t come without a far share of obstacles. Purina beef technical specialist Amy Radunz says one ongoing problem is forage quality. “There has been a need for additional supplementation in 2020 than there might have been in the past.” Radunz adds the type of supplementation needed will vary from farm to farm. Additionally, Northern Plains cattle producers learn an important lesson in 2019 when pregnancy checking cows this winter to find a large percentage didn’t breed back. “Poor pasture quality did result in more open cows, thinner cows and lighter weight calves,” says Radunz. “If we’re starting with thinner cows coming off pasture, there is more (nutritional) catch-up to do.” Listen to the full RRFN story.
Dissecting and Navigating the Dairy Economy – There have been five years of marginal profitability for Minnesota dairy farmers. The second half of 2019 started to show an increase in the milk price, which put a little hope back into the market. Central Lakes College Farm Business Management instructor Nate Converse encourages farmers to explore the risk management strategies available. “The new product out there called the Dairy Revenue Protection Program is available through your insurance agent,” says Converse. “It’s a nice tool, especially if you know your cost of production. Since it’s based on futures, you need to follow the market and try to lock in a floor. However, DRP doesn’t limit your upside potential.” There are several lessons that can be learned from navigating a difficult dairy economy. Converse says farmers need to be aware of their tolerance to risk. Find out more from Converse in this RRFN interview.
Pilot Project Available in Prairie Pothole Region – USDA has announced a new pilot program for Prairie Pothole region to provide incentives for planting cover crops. The Soil Health and Income Protection Program is part of the Conservation Reserve Program and is available to landowners in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. The signup will be done through the Farm Service Agency and begins March 30.
Local Food Growers Focused on Controllable Factors – The North Dakota Department of Agriculture and North Dakota Farmers Markets and Growers Association hosted their annual Local Foods Conference this past weekend in Mandan. NDFMGA President Ross Lockhart says growers are focused on the factors that can be controlled. “Some of those things are having a strong business plan and managing your marketing activities,” says Lochkart. “The nuts and bolts pieces are also important. Producers are learning about how to evaluate plants and monitor them during the growing season.” Listen to the full RRFN story.
MFBF Update – The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation continues to watch policy priorities as the legislative session progresses. Hear from MFBF Public Policy Associate Director Josie Lonetti in the MFBF Update.
Do What You Love in Life – Former North Dakota FFA member Bailey Hawbaker is now an agriculture educator and FFA adviser in her home town of Stanley. The FFA helped prepare Hawbaker to teach agriculture in several ways. “I often think about when I traveling to the national livestock judging contest. We stopped at so many farms along the way and connected with so many people within the agriculture community,” says Hawbaker. “Also, all of the public speaking and events we planned have helped me now prepare my students.” Hawbaker goes on to say that when you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life. “In 8th grade I told my ag teacher ‘I’m going to be you when I grow up.’ I would say that is me right now.” More FFA highlights can be found on the Red River Farm Network Facebook and Twitter pages. Listen to Hawbaker’s full National FFA Week story here.
Believing in the Future of Agriculture – Farm Credit Services of Mandan Vice President of Operations Tom Williams III won’t forget the FFA creed. “I won the chapter creed contest as a greenhand. Then, I went on to win the district contest and placed second place in state. That got me excited and the competitive juices going.” The former Northwood, North Dakota FFA member is proud to be part of the FFA. He later become a state FFA officer and taught agricultural education. Williams encourages any student interested in bettering themselves to join the National FFA Organization. “Don’t worry if you didn’t come from a farm. The FFA offers many things to many students. Embrace it. Enjoy it. It’s a very exciting and fun organization.” Listen to the story.
Living to Serve – Northland Community and Technical College Farm Business Management Instructor Josh Tjosaas remembers serving as a Minnesota FFA State Treasurer in 1995 to 1996. “It was quite an accomplishment at that time and it led to subsequent officers coming from my home chapter,” says Tjosaas. “The year as an officer was an incredible opportunity for me to meet thousands of FFA members, impact their lives and they impact yours. You also make lots of lasting friendships through the FFA.” Hear the story.
Preparing FFA Members for Life – Wilmot, South Dakota farmer Jason Frerichs says FFA prepared him for many life experiences from serving in the state legislature to teaching agricultural education at Lake Area Technical School in Watertown, South Dakota. “I was part of the effort as we restarted the Watertown FFA Chapter. It’s still in existence today. It had been dormant for a few years when they cut the program.” Frerichs says many of his former students are still involved in agriculture. “Many of those former students are on the farm or working in their communities in agribusiness. It’s very rewarding and a great way to get involved right out of college. I’m very fortunate to have had the experience.” Hear the story.
FFA Brings New Learning Opportunities – Former North Dakota FFA state officer and member Kristi Tonnessen grew up on a cow/calf operation in the north central part of the state. However, Tonnessen became interested in dairy cattle through her Supervised Agriculture Experience. “My brother and I both started showing dairy cattle to give us a different learning opportunity. While I grew up in production agriculture, this was something I was not used to at all.” Tonnessen, whose mom is also a teacher, is now an agriculture educator and FFA adviser at Rugby High School. It’s been a rewarding experience. “I’ve been an FFA adviser for four years now. Eighth graders often come in kind of scared or maybe think there is nothing in the FFA for them,” says Tonnessen. “I’ve enjoyed seeing that mindset change the most; seeing them grow and all of the experiences they have through FFA.” More highlights can be found on the Red River Farm Network Facebook and Twitter pages. Listen to Kristi’s full National FFA Week story here.
Take Life Day By Day – Northland Community and Technical College Farm Business Management instructor Betsy Jensen had one experience with Minnesota FFA she’ll never forget. “I actually went to Siberia with FFA if you can believe it,” says Jensen. “At that time, Russia was looking to start an FFA program of their own. We visited with students there, saw their agricultural practices and visited farms.” Fast forward to the present day, Jensen’s advice for FFA youth is don’t try to plan the rest of your life; take it day by day. “When you’re 15- and 16-years-old, picking out a college and a career, all of those plans may change. Very few people follow a straight line, so enjoy the roller coaster.” More highlights from National FFA Week can be found on the Red River Farm Network Facebook and Twitter pages. Jensen’s full FFA story can be heard here.
A Little Extra Work Goes a Long Way – North Dakota’s State Soil Scientist Wade Bott doesn’t have to dig deep to recognize the impact FFA had on his 30-year career. “A few FFA members were interested in doing land judging. They needed one more to make up a team. I volunteered to be that third member. We ended up winning the state land judging contest and I was the overall high individual,” says Bott. “Ultimately, I’ve done soil-related things all of my career as a result of putting in a little extra time the summer of 1984.” The former Williston FFA member continues has an impact on agriculture education in the state. “I put together soil curriculum and workshops to help agricultural instructors.” Hear the story.
MN FFA Members Celebrate FFA Day in St. Paul – On Tuesday, Minnesota FFA members will be celebrating FFA Day at the Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota. “Students will have a rally in the rotunda starting at 8:30 a.m. There are about 150 students that come to this event. Throughout the day, they’ll go out and meet with their local lawmakers,” says Sarah Dornick, Executive Director of the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council. “Also, we’ll have opportunities for state officers to bring greetings in a few committees in the House and Senate.”
Governor Walz Proposes Farm Safety Funding for MN – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has proposed state funding in the amount of $250,000 for farm safety measures across the state. Walz says “too many families have lost loved ones to preventable farming accidents.” The proposal outlines three approaches to address farm safety. The dollars will relaunch the Tractor Rollover Protection Grant Program, create a cost-share or reimbursement program for grain bin safety equipment and conduct a farm safety outreach campaign. Get the full details in this press conference recording with Governor Walz.
Reminder: Be Careful When Working Around Grain Bins – NDSU Extension Ag Engineer Ken Hellevang reminds farmers to be cautious when working around grain and grain bins. “We’re looking at lots of wet grain in storage. That impacts us two ways: it greatly increases the potential for grain entrapment and other safety issues, so be aware of that working around the bin. Also, when we have wet grain and warming temperatures we are going to see more deterioration happen much quicker this year than a typical year.” A friendly reminder to lock out the control circuit before entering the bin, whether or not the grain is flowing, tell someone if you’re going to work around grain and have at least two or more with you and wear a harness when entering the grain bin. This farm safety reminder from the Red River Farm Network is made possibly by the North Dakota Wheat Commission, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and North Dakota Corn Utilization Council. More tips on safely working around grain bins can be found here.
Valent Launches New Soybean Postemergence Residual Herbicide – Valent USA has received EPA registration for a new postemergence residual herbicide called Perpetuo. “The product is positioned to be used as an overlapping residual,” said John Pawlik, product development manager. A strong foundation herbicide would get the crop off to a good start and “close to canopy when weeds begin to break, we apply Perpetuo which provides another post mode of action and the overlapping residual to keep weeds like Palmer amaranth at bay.”
Dry Bean Scene – As the 2020 growing season nears, farmers should be thinking about resistance weed management strategies. Get the details in the Dry Bean Scene, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Bean Growers Association.
Sunflower Association Funds 14 Research Projects – The National Sunflower Association board of directors has approved funding for 14 research projects in 2020. With a total of $345,107, the projects include studies involving insects, disease, weeds, production and more.
BQA Program Continues to Grow – The Beef Quality Assurance program continues to get bigger and better, but still retains the goal of raising consumer confidence through proper management to produce a quality product. BQA program director Chase DeCoite says a revamped online training platform was recently launched. “These are all brand new modules that producers can use, featuring new videos and new activities that hopefully make for an enjoyable BQA training experience,” says DeCoite. “However, nothing can replace the in-person trainings, which are still offered hundreds of times a year throughout the country.” Over its 30-year history, the components of the BQA program have continued to grow. The training program is now offered to not only cattle producers, but also industry transporters and feeders. Get the full details from DeCoite in this RRFN interview.
Cargill is Moving into the Plant-Based Protein Market – Cargill is entering the plant-based protein industry, announcing plans to sell patties and ground products to retailers and restaurants starting in early April. The offerings are part of the company’s “new approach” to the protein market, with Cargill predicting protein demand will increase by 70 percent over the next 30 years. Whether consumers are eating alternative or animal protein, Cargill global protein and salt business leader Brian Sikes says all protein options will be kept on the table.
2020 NAMA Marketer of the Year Named – Paulsen President Sara Steever has been selected as the 202 National Agri-Marketing Association Marketer of the Year. Steever has been with the Sioux Falls firm since 1991, taking over as president in 2014. Steever is NAMA’s president-elect.
ASA Honors Past Presidents – The American Soybean Association honored past presidents at their booth on the trade show floor at the Commodity Classic. “It’s special this year. There are people here I haven’t seen in a long time,” says Past President Rick Ostlie. “They’ve dedicated a good part of their life to this association and have made things better.” Ostlie farms at Northwood, North Dakota.
Sjodin Honored with NFU Meritorious Service Award – Former National Farmers Union member and Minnesota farmer Dennis Sjodin is one of two recipients of the National Farmers Union Meritorious Service award. Sjodin wore many different hats for Minnesota Farmers Union between 1966 to 2009, with the most recent being state vice president. Sjodin was recognized during the opening session of the National Farmers Union Convention, along with Iowa State Ag Economist Emeritus Neil Harl.
MN Beef Update – Beef was recently featured at the Minnesota Association of Family and Consumer Services convention. Minnesota Beef Council Industry Relations Director Royalee Rhoads shares more in the MN Beef Update.
NFU President Roger Johnson Bids Farewell – Turtle Lake, North Dakota native Roger Johnson is stepping down as the National Farmers Union President. Since 2009, Johnson served in the role. He tells the Red River Farm Network he’s most proud of maintaining the legacy of standing up for family farmers. “Farmers Union takes a different approach than other ag groups.” There are three individuals running for the position at the National Farmers Union Convention. That includes Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Communications Rob Larew, Kansas Farmers Union President Donn Teske and Pennsylvania Farmers Union Board Member Mike Eby. Johnson has advice for the next NFU President. “Simply understand that policy book and make sure you stay true to the policy wishes and demands to the membership.” Johnson hasn’t ruled out continuing to work in the agriculture industry in his retirement, saying he’s always willing to help those in need. Listen to the interview.
Bayer Chairman to Retire This Spring – Bayer Chairman Werner Wenning will step down in late April. Wenning originally wanted to resign last year after reaching the board’s recommended age limit of 72, but was asked to stay on. Norbert Winkeljohann, who is a member of Bayer’s supervisory board, will succeed Wenning.
A New FSIS Administrator – Paul Kiecker has been appointed to serve at the administrator of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Kiecker, who has been with FSIS for 30 years, will assume the role following the departure of Carmen Rottenberg.
MFBF Members Serving on Issue Advisory Committees – Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation leaders have been chosen to serve on American Farm Bureau Federation Issue Advisory Committees. Shayne Isane of Badger was re-appointed to the farm policy committee and Bob Roelofs of Vernon Center was appointed to the energy committee. MFBF President Kevin Paap serves on the federal lands committee.
Boehm Joins Northern Crops Institute – David Boehm is the new Technical Manager at the Northern Crops Institute. In the new role, Boehm will manage and assist the Institute’s technical staff and client services. Before joining the Institute, Boehm was the research and development manager for SESVanderHave Sugarbeets, responsible for research and breeding activities in the United States.
Vasichek Passes – The founder of Leading Edge Equipment James “Jim” Vasichek has passed away. Vasichek purchased the John Deere dealership in 1963 and spent 32 years in the industry. Leading Edge is based in Michigan, North Dakota and has stores in Devils Lake, Carrington and Hampden.
Last Week’s Trivia – A calendar year with an extra day in it is known as leap year. Erin Nash of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting was the first in with the correct answer and is our weekly trivia winner. Mark Mettler of PreferredOne, Harvey farmer Bill Ongstad, Twyla Wulf of Clear Springs Cattle Company and Jamie Reed of Valley United Co-op earn runner-up honors. The ‘first 20’ rounds out with Jody Saathoff of CHS, Marshall Erickson of Goose River Bank, Gary Sloan of BMO Harris Bank, retired NDFU economist Dale Enerson, Randy Knudsvig of First State Bank, Norm Groot of Monterey County Farm Bureau, Carver County feedlot officer Alan Langseth, John Zietz of Cargill, Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, Jon Farris of BankWest, Sara O’Toole of O’Toole Seed, James Altringer of CHS Dakota Plains Ag, Kevin Praska of Stone’s Mobile Radio, Hilary Paplow of Graff Feedlots and livestock nutritionist Bruce Trautman.
This Week’s Trivia- The mojito is a traditional rum cocktail from what country? Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your name and occupation or company name.
|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.