A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Monday, March 29, 2021
Tune in to Top Stories – Each morning, the Red River Farm Network team delivers our Top Stories of the day on Facebook and Twitter. The Minnesota Corn Growers Association sponsored these headlines for the past six months. This morning, RRFN welcomed a new sponsor, Advance Trading Risk Management Advisor Tommy Grisafi from Mayville, North Dakota. Never miss an update by getting alerts when RRFN has a live video update. On our Facebook page, click on the three dots in the top right-hand corner, select “follow settings” and then “turn video live video notifications on.” Feel free to reach out with any questions on how to get these notifications on your smartphone, tablet or other device.
USDA Unveils New Plan for COVID Relief – After reviewing existing COVID-19 relief, USDA will take a new approach for distributing additional assistance to farmers and ranchers called Pandemic Assistance for Producers. USDA will rewrite rules for this relief, placing a larger emphasis on small and socially disadvantaged farm operations, specialty crop and organic producers and support for the food supply chain and renewable fuels. The existing Coronavirus Food Assistance Program will fall within this new initiative and parts of CFAP may be refined to address farmer needs. USDA will reopen CFAP 2 sign-up for 60 days starting on April 5. Read more.
New USDA Assistance Plan Includes Further Funding for Crop and Cattle Producers – The Pandemic Assistance for Producers plan from USDA includes cattle top-up payments for ranchers who sold into a depressed market after the first Coronavirus Food Assistance Program deadline of April 15. These payment rates vary depending on the class of cattle and was included in the year-end legislation passed in December 2020. Eligible livestock producers will automatically receive these funds, estimated to total $1.1 billion. It also includes assistance for crop farmers. Crops under the price trigger and flat-rate categories from CFAP 2 will receive $20 per acre for a total of $4.5 billion. Some of the eligible crops include alfalfa, barley, canola, corn, flax, hemp, oats, rye, soybeans, sugarbeets, sunflowers and all classes of wheat. The Farm Service Agency will automatically issue these payments to eligible acres reported in CFAP 2 applications. Get more information on eligible commodities here.
USDA Did Not Adjust Payment Limits in COVID Relief – Following the USDA’s COVID relief announcement, Pro Farmer Policy Analyst Jim Wiesemeyer thinks the biggest takeaway for farmers is the top-up payments for livestock and crops. Those are being run through already existing programs. “USDA can mail out checks without taking additional applications.” However, USDA is not increasing payment caps, something farm state lawmakers wanted. “Previously, it was estimated the livestock top-up would require $2 billion and now, the USDA is only estimating $1.1 billion will be spent. That’s about 45 percent less than Congress tells me they intended.” There is criticism from larger livestock groups on the payment limits. Wiesemeyer thinks the USDA could have adjusted the payment rates. USDA may have also decided to go this route to give money to other areas that hadn’t previously received COVID aid.
Supply Chain and Biofuels COVID Relief Still Being Developed – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says putting together the COVID-19 relief initiative wasn’t easy. “It took us a bit of time to get our arms around the need, how much resources are available and try to put together a comprehensive plan,” says Vilsack. “We are using resources from previous COVID packages and more traditional USDA programs.” In addition to the direct payments to row crop farmers and livestock producers, the USDA wants to help areas of the supply chain in need including specialty crop growers, livestock producers who euthanized animals and the biofuels industry. Not many details are known at this time on how this portion will be distributed. A rulemaking process is required. “We’ll get additional input from all factors involved in this $6 billion. We may also supplement with money with other programs.”
Congress Extends PPP Deadline – Legislation extending the Paycheck Protection Program signup deadline to the end of May is awaiting President Biden’s signature. There were early misconceptions about who qualifies for PPP, but that has changed. First State Bank Market President Tom Capouch says there is renewed interest in the program. “For sole proprietors, look at your Schedule F and use Line 9 which is gross income versus net profit and that was a game-changer for a lot of folks.” According to national figures, less than five percent of farmers and agribusinesses signed up for PPP this past year. Capouch, who is based at Mayville, North Dakota, says more farmers now qualify. “When they moved it from net profit to gross income, it made a lot more folks eligible.” PPP funds can be used for payroll costs, land rent and utilities.
USMCA Summit Planned – U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai has asked Mexican Economy Secretary Tatiana Clouthier to participate in a U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade summit. Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng has already accepted the invitation.
Mexico Has No Plans to Change its Ag Policy – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador made that point in response to nearly 30 U.S. farm groups who complained about the trade relationship with Mexico. The issues include Mexico’s proposed ban on glyphosate and biotech corn, a potato export ban and market access for U.S. dairy and meat products. In reference to the glyphosate ban, Obrador said he would not allow his people to be “poisoned.”
Trade Coalition Wants Trump Era Tariffs Removed – A coalition of agriculture and business groups is asking the Biden Administration to eliminate the Section 232 and Section 301 import tariffs. The Tariff Reform Coalition includes the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Farmers for Free Trade and the National Pork Producers Council. The coalition said retaliatory tariffs have hurt U.S. agricultural trade.
New USTR Staying Engaged with U.S. and China Trade Relationship – Bryant-Christie Vice-President of Global Access Matt Lantz thinks one area where U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai could shine is helping the U.S. navigate the trade relationship with China. “Tai speaks Mandarin Chinese and she formerly worked at the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office looking at China’s actions and sanctions. This will be valuable. It’s a very challenging situation.” Lantz says Tai will be engaged with China issues. “The mid-March talks between the U.S. and China were challenging, to say the least. I think that was our administration showing they aren’t going to be weak on Chinese issues and will push hard. I’ve done a lot of negotiating with the Chinese and you have to come from a position of strength. I think this was our opening round and we’ll see what comes out of it.”
Rural Perspectives – USDA’s Quarterly Stocks and Planting Intentions Reports will be released this Wednesday, March 31. “Quarterly Grains Stocks is always important, but because the balance sheets are so tight, the market is sensitive,” says Katie Tangen, market education specialist, AgCountry Farm Credit Services. “Is 90 million acres of soybeans in the Prospective Plantings enough? We won’t know until further into the summer. Corn at 92 million acres is okay.” Tangen says planting intentions typically do change, especially if dry conditions in the Northern Plains persist. These numbers sets the grain trade up for the next month or so. Hear more about the upcoming reports, the new Pandemic Assistance for Producers plan and more in the Rural Perspectives podcast.
Infrastructure Bill on Deck – With the $2 trillion coronavirus assistance bill signed into law, the White House is now working on its next major initiatives. This proposal will focus on infrastructure issues, like roads, bridges and broadband. The Biden Administration also plans to include tax increases in the infrastructure bill. The preliminary plan calls for an increase in the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent. An increase in taxes on capital gains is also part of the discussion.
Infrastructure Proposal Talks Bring Cautious Optimism for Ag – More details about the infrastructure proposal and what it means for agriculture are expected to unfold in the next few weeks. “Roads and bridges need to be improved,” said Mike Steenhoek, executive director, Soy Transportation Coalition. “Our port system for inland waterways and all of those segments require significant degrees of investment. We’ve made progress lately, but more needs done.” Rural broadband and clean energy may also be part of the proposal. “Our hope is whatever is produced, it tends to the needs of Rural America.” The challenge will be how to pay for the legislation. “At some point we have to remind ourselves we’re not talking about Monopoly money.”
Vilsack Seeks More Participation in CRP – During a National Press Club event, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said USDA is looking for ways to encourage more participation in the Conservation Reserve Program. Responding to a question about climate change, Vilsack said wants to work with states and find creative ways to boost enrollment. There is a 25 million acre cap on CRP acreage, but less than 21 million acres are currently enrolled.
Trump Administration Regulations Under Review – EPA Administrator Michael Regan is asking his agency to review Trump Administration policies to determine if politics interfered with science-based decisions. The New York Times is reporting nearly 100 situations where science was allegedly compromised. The 2018 registration of dicamba is cited as an example, saying the decision was influenced by politics.
Biofuels Coalition Prepares for Supreme Court Case – A biofuels coalition is getting ready to make their case in opposition of small refinery exemptions in front of the Supreme Court next month. The coalition, made up of four groups including the American Coalition for Ethanol and the Renewable Fuels Association, filed a response brief to the court on Wednesday. The coalition argues only small refineries are continuously exempt from the Renewable Fuel Standard and last year, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. The EPA also filed a brief in favor of the Tenth Circuit Court ruling. Oil refineries have until April 16 to reply and the oral arguments will be heard on April 27.
House Ag Committee Hearing Highlights Diversity Needs at USDA – The House Agriculture Committee reviewed the state of black farmers in the U.S. on Thursday. In an opening statement, Committee Chairman David Scott said the hearing is a very public way to address the deep mistrust farmers of color feel toward the USDA and to make sure no talent or ability is ignored. Black farmers make up less than two percent of all farmers in the U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack testified in the hearing. Vilsack said USDA will readdress systemic discrimination and the USDA will examine opportunities to increase equity for all underserved populations.
Large Container Ship Blocks Suez Canal For Nearly a Week – The large container ship that has been blocking the Suez Canal for most of the past week has been fully dislodged. This ship blocked “essentially 12 percent of global trade and about 30 percent of all container ship trade in the world; this is a big deal,” said Mike Zuzolo, president, Global Commodity and Analytics. These delays are expected to increase freight rates, which are already sky high due to a shortage of containers.
Congestion at Brazil’s Largest Port Worsens – Brazil normally starts shipping soybeans out of Santos in January, but that window was pushed back due to a late planting and harvest season. Shipments of the new sugar crop are expected to begin in early April. The soybean and sugar markets are both strong and the international demand for these commodities is high. The logistical snag will likely result in ships waiting for weeks before being able to dock at Santos. Meanwhile, shipowners have raised the daily fee for port delays from $18,000 per day to $30,000 for shipments out of Brazil.
What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets – A huge container ship has shut down the Suez Canal and that’s one of the big stories today. Advance Trading Risk Management Advisor Tommy Grisafi also looks at the stocks/planting intentions report in this week’s edition of What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets.
Prepare a Market Plan Before the Upcoming USDA Reports – As the grain markets drift sideways ahead the USDA’s Planting Intentions and Quarterly Stocks reports, Cornbelt Marketing market analyst Larry Clay is advising farmers to do some market planning and lock in a floor under theses grains. “I think always the cautionary tale for producers has to be the funds have a long position that once liquidated, it won’t make a difference what the numbers are if they decide to exit. That has to be something to note in the back of your mind,” says Clay. “The funds are the bull in the China shop In fact, they are the China shop.”
Wheat Market in a Downward Trend – Recent rains have improved moisture conditions for the winter wheat crop across the Southern Plains. RML Trading President Bob Lebacken says the wheat market is now in a down trending market. “We had a double top sometime ago and since then, we pulled the rug out and it doesn’t seem to bounce much at all. The Northern Plains into Canada is witnessing dryness. Will that get to be an issue with the Minneapolis wheat? We’ll see.” Lebacken says the spring wheat doesn’t seem to want to buy acres right now either. “The world wheat numbers have come down a little bit, but nothing significant. We won’t likely run out of wheat unless we have some big weather issue.”
More Public Investment Sought for Ag Research – According to a new report from the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Farm Journal Foundation, the entire U.S. food system is threatened by the level of public funding for agricultural research. The U.S. has traditionally been a global leader in agricultural innovation, but Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says that advantage may be slipping away. “We have to be able to participate in markets, whether it is the carbon market, conserving water or whatever it might be. That research must be done regionally and it needs to be done through our land-grant colleges.” COVID-19 created huge challenges for the agricultural supply chain. Farm Journal Foundation CEO Tricia Beal said that should be a wake-up call for more publicly-funded research to address unexpected shocks to the system.
Increased Demand for Farm Real Estate Loans – Farm loan balances at commercial banks reached a five-year low in the fourth quarter of 2020 and there was a shift to farm real estate loans. A quarterly report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City says farm real estate loans account for nearly 60 percent of total loan volumes which is the highest share for real estate loans on record. Total farm debt declined at the fastest pace since the 1980s.
Ag is an Economic Power – The Feeding the Economy coalition has released an economic impact study. It found nearly 41 million jobs are linked to the food and agriculture sector. That’s equal to 20 percent of the U.S. economy and 25 percent of all jobs. According to the state breakdowns, 77,000 direct jobs in North Dakota are connected to agriculture. There are 369,000 jobs in Minnesota and 90,000 jobs associated with food and farming in South Dakota. A wide-ranging coalition of commodity groups and farm organizations sponsored this study.
U.S. is Not Ready to Lift Chinese Import Tariffs – In her first interview since being confirmed, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the United States is not ready to lift tariffs on Chinese imports. U.S. businesses have been hurt by the tariffs, but Tai said these tariffs also shield companies from subsidized foreign competition. Tai said the U.S. would also lose leverage in its negotiations with China if the tariffs were removed.
Drought Conditions Creating Nervousness Among Cattle Producers – Farmers and ranchers are nervous as spring nears as drought conditions have not receded in many areas. Near New Rockford, North Dakota, that dryness is very concerning for Rhein Valley Farm’s Jeff Schafer. Schafer, who runs a 400-head Angus cow-calf operation and a backgrounding and finishing feedlot with his family. It has made for a unique calving season. “My dad always said if you can calf without overshoes or Muck boots it could be a long year. We’re hoping to get timely rains in April or May that’ll make green grass to sustain our herd.” In a typical year, Schafer raises corn, soybeans, pinto beans and seed oats. This year, that plan may change. “Personally, I think we’re going to be proactive and put more forage crops in because I’m nervous about hay supplies. A lot of our river bottom grass got drowned out last year and hasn’t really come back.” Schafer has more in this Red River Farm Network story.
Extreme Drought Conditions Expand in North Dakota – While drought conditions in Minnesota and South Dakota remain unchanged from the previous week, extreme and severe drought conditions are expanding in North Dakota. According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, extreme drought conditions stretch upward from Billings County into Towner County, North Dakota. The drought conditions in Walsh, Grand Forks and Nelson counties are worsening to severe drought. Minnesota is mostly in abnormal to severe drought conditions. The majority of South Dakota is in moderate to severe drought conditions. Graphic: USDA National Drought Mitigation Center
Managing Weeds in Dry Conditions – WinField United Regional Agronomist Kyle Okke says farmers planning to grow soybeans may question whether or not to use a pre-emergence herbicide in dry conditions. “If it’s going to be dry, will this be worth my money? Will I get enough control out of that? My response is if we get the right conditions, we’ll definitely need these pre-emergence herbicides,” says Okke. “We need any help we can get to keep waterhemp or kochia from getting too large before post-emergence herbicide application.” The level of weed control with pre-emergence herbicides may not be seen if rains do not follow an application, but that doesn’t mean the herbicide doesn’t work. “You may only get 50 percent control, but that’s still 50 percent more control than you would have had if you didn’t do anything at all.”
Pay Close Attention to Seeding Rates at Planting – The prospects of a drier than ideal spring planting season has WestBred Wheat Account Manager Chad Brockstadter advising farmers to pay close attention to seeding rates to optimize yields. “We spent a lot of time talking to our customers about optimal seeding rates and trying to make them aware of how important it is to plant the right population. We are really committed to that effort.” Because of better agronomics, Brockstadter says single use variety wheats are gaining popularity. “The single use variety approach is catching on. Our program, Certified Seed Only, is well adopted.” Hear the story.
Adapting to Dry Planting Conditions – Heading into planting season, a survey conducted by Pioneer revealed farmers are concerned about having too little moisture, too much moisture and fertility. If the primary concern is little or no moisture, Pioneer Agronomy Science Manager Dan Berning says the first step is to plant varieties suitable for dry environments. “Select hybrids with reliable drought tolerance, adjust seeding rates for yield potential and recognize we may have short subsoil moisture at the beginning.” Soil fertility should also be adequate so there isn’t additional stress impacting the crop.
North Dakota Acreage Decisions Are Firming Up – Pioneer Seeds Field Agronomist Larry Lunder thinks there will be more soybean acres planted in North Dakota this year compared to 2020. “I think that will be the biggest increase across the board when it comes to final acres planted. However, I’m not hearing of any big acreage switches. We’ve seen more acres go to corn and soybeans.” Lunder says there’s also strong demand for sunflowers and canola. “Canola is getting good prices at the elevator. There’s been strong demand. The sunflowers have held really good prices that started last year. If farmers can get sunflowers germinated, this crop will withstand the drought. There is a lot of positivity from a commodity price outlook this year, but rain would really help boost things in western North Dakota.”
Dry Bean Scene – Farmers are starting spring fieldwork in the region. How are the dry conditions impacting that? North Star Ag owner and agronomist Scott Edgar answers that question in the Dry Bean Scene, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.
North Dakota Legislative Report – A funding increase for rural roads and bridges is currently being considered by the state lawmakers. Learn more in the North Dakota Legislative Report, made possible by the North Dakota Corn Growers Association, North Dakota Soybean Growers Association, NDFB, North Dakota Farmers Union, North Dakota Wheat Commission and North Dakota Grain Growers Association.
State Lawmakers Consider How to Fund ND Infrastructure Needs – The North Dakota Legislature is considering the state’s infrastructure needs. Representative Jared Hagert, who farms at Emerado, says there is a desire for improvements and different ways of getting it done. “It’s like squeezing a balloon, we can move some over to one side to get funded what is needed.” At issue is how much North Dakota can afford for infrastructure improvements. The state’s revenue forecast changed in mid-March and federal COVID funding may be an option. Hagert says these discussions may continue through the end of the session, but agriculture won’t be forgotten. “There is an opportunity to add $30 million for rural infrastructure. There are townships all over the state reeling from the effects of the mid-summer rain last year.”
What Does a State Budget Surplus Means for Minnesota Agriculture? – A budget surplus in Minnesota means there’s more money for agriculture. House Agriculture Committee Chair Mike Sundin says it’s not much, but an $11.5 million boost for the first year of the budget can do something, like increase the biofuels investment. “It’s nice to produce all of the biofuels, but it has to be sold and distributed. That’s part of the puzzle.” There will be federal COVID relief available for Minnesota and Sundin thinks the Legislature will get to decide how that money is spent during this current session. “There are deadlines of when the money is delivered and it takes time for the Legislature to allocate it. If we don’t, the governor gets to do it. I think the state lawmakers are fully equipped to make the decisions for all of Minnesota.”
MN Budget Discussions Resume Next Week – When the Minnesota legislative session resumes on April 6, budget work will be the priority. Ag lobbyist Bruce Kleven says budget bills will need to be out of their divisions by the end of next week. The agriculture budget is straight-forward. “There are a few new initiatives the ag department put forward on international trade and meat processing. We expect the House to include those in their budget and we’ll see what the Senate does.” Another component of the budget will be pandemic relief. Minnesota will receive federal aid, about $4.8 billion, shared between local and state governments. “The question to be resolved this session is who gets to allocate that? The federal stimulus money issued before was done by the Walz administration, but lawmakers will want a say. It’s a fairly sizeable amount of money.”
Emerging Farmers Gain Support in MN House Ag Committee – A bill has been laid over for inclusion in the Minnesota House omnibus agriculture bill. This proposal would establish an emerging farmer office within the Department of Agriculture and hire an outreach coordinator. Janssen Hang represented Hmong farmers during the hearing. “By supporting this bill, we’re also building a stronger Minnesota and a next generation of Minnesota farmers with names like Vang, Yang, Gomez, Rodriquez and Santiago.” This bill provides $500,000 in grants to the Hmong American Farmers Association and the Latino Economic Development Center and $400,000 for emerging farmers of color and emerging farmer organizations led by people of color. An amendment was also approved that appropriates $10 million for urban agriculture initiatives dealing with fresh food access and food deserts.
MFBF Update – It’s all about the numbers right now in St. Paul as budget discussions continue to take place. Learn more from Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation Associate Director of Public Policy Josie Lonetti in the MFBF Update.
Walz Puts Focus on Agricultural Workforce Issues – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has established the Governor’s Committee on Safety, Health and Well-being of Agricultural and Food Processing Workers. The committee will be cochaired by Minnesota Department of Agriculture Deputy Commissioner Andrea Vaubel and Department of Employment and Economic Development Deputy Commissioner Hamse Warfa. Committee members include Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap, Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish and Minnesota AgriGrowth Council Executive Director Tamara Nelsen.
Co-op Day Concentrates on Rural Development and Economic Stability – Minnesota farm cooperative leaders met virtually with officials from the state agriculture department and the legislature Wednesday. Cooperative Network outlined legislative priorities, including tax conformity and broadband infrastructure. Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen addressed the group, saying mental health issues are still a concern. “You have to remember that before prices were good this year, we went through five or six years of down prices and farmers ate into their equity. We have over 1,000 farmers in mediation and that leads to quite a bit of stress.”
Noem Signs Legislation Funding a New Events Complex – South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has signed a Senate Bill into law that funds the Dakota Events Complex, known as the DEX, on the South Dakota State Fairgrounds. In a statement, Governor Noem said the new DEX will help attract regional and national livestock and horse events to Huron. The project is valued at $20 million and will be completed by the 2022 State Fair. Other ag-related bills recently signed by Governor Noem include the design and construction of a $15 million dairy research farm at South Dakota State University and funding for a $20 million bioproducts facility at the Brookings research park.
What’s Next for the South Dakota Ag and Natural Resources Merger? – The South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Department of Natural Resources will officially merge in a matter of weeks. Hunter Roberts will oversee the merged agencies and says the new department will be a one-stop spot for agriculture. “Everything from pesticide complaints to CAFO permits will come from the merged agency.” Earlier this year, Governor Kristi Noem issued an executive order for the merger. An effort to overturn the merger in the state Legislature was defeated and starting April 19, the two departments become the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden will serve as the state’s agriculture ambassador, but Roberts wants farmers and the agriculture industry to know there is an open-door policy. “Let’s have a discussion, talk about ideas and real solutions for better outcomes for the state.” Hear the story.
SD Farm Bureau Optimistic About Ag Department Merger – On April 19, the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and the Department of Natural Resources will combine to form one department. The South Dakota Farm Bureau is supportive of the merger. “This streamlines saving money and tries to consolidate visits to farms and they’ve already started cross-training inspectors,” said Scott VanderWal, president, South Dakota Farm Bureau. “They’ve incorporated the feedlot permit program and the ag inspection programs. That’s one of the things we’ve talked about a lot and we think they’ll meet the goals they’re setting as part of the merger.”
Noem Signs Broadband Legislation – A bill providing $75 million for rural access to high-speed broadband has been signed into law by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. This funding leverages $25 million in CARES Act funding, along with other federal and private dollars, to finish connecting the state to broadband. Governor Noem also signed legislation for rural access infrastructure improvements.
Tuberculosis Confirmed in South Dakota Beef Herd – For the first time since 2017, bovine tuberculosis (TB) has been found in a South Dakota beef herd. In a statement, state veterinarian Dr. Dustin Oedekoven said the infected cow was identified in January by meat inspectors at a Minnesota packing plant. The cow was then linked to a ranch in Corson County, and since then TB has been confirmed in additional animals. Oedekoven stresses that TB is not a current threat to food safety in the U.S. because of milk pasteurization and meat inspection programs. The State Veterinarian’s Office is working with the owner, area ranchers and others to mitigate further spread of the disease.
Minnesota Beef Update – There Minnesota Cattlewomen’s Association is gearing up for a fun event on April 17 near Kimball. Find out more from President Jennifer Schiefelbein in the latest Minnesota Beef Update.
Feeder Cattle Run in the Dakotas Getting Lighter – North Dakota and South Dakota auction barns are seeing a lighter stream of feeder cattle. There is good demand for light weight feeders to go to pasture. Kist Livestock at Mandan, North Dakota had 2,400 head at their Wednesday sale. Feeder steer prices were steady, with 650-to-700 weights averaging $149 per hundredweight. The feeder cattle string at Napoleon Livestock was 3,100 head, with feeder steers 500 pounds and over $1-to-$5 higher. In Dickinson, 2,800 head traded $3-to-$7 higher and 500-to-600 weights sold at $177. Hub City Livestock in Aberdeen, South Dakota sold 4,300 head on Wednesday, with 700-to-750 pound steers bringing $145 dollars per hundredweight. The Thursday sale at Mitchell Livestock Auction featured 3,600 head, with feeder steers 650 pounds and over selling $6-to-$9 higher.
Seeking Transparency in the Cattle Market – Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and Montana Senator Jon Tester have introduced a bill that would require large U.S. meat packers to purchase half of their weekly cattle volume on the open market. Co-sponsors on the bill includes North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds and Minnesota Senator Tina Smith.
Calf Care and Quality Assurance Program Launched – Calf Care and Quality Assurance is the latest addition to the quality assurance program lineup supported by national beef and dairy organizations. This program provides guidelines on calf health and welfare for producers and helps consumers understand the care given to beef and dairy calves. Beef Quality Assurance program director Chase DeCoite says this new addition certainly does fill a missing link within the quality assurance scheme. “It helps assure customers and consumers that animals are being raised responsibly from pasture to plate. This also helps our industry add confidence to those buying both dairy and beef products.” CCQA was based from a study done by the University of Wisconsin that looked at existing calf care and management guidelines. DeCoite acknowledges that each farm or ranch is unique in how animals are raised. Find out more about the CCQA program in this Red River Farm Network interview.
Pandemic Results in Changes for American Lamb Purchases – Traditionally, lamb relied heavily on upscale restaurant sales, but that was impacted by COVID-19. To make matters worse, the pandemic began in the midst of the peak holiday demand. A checkoff-funded report commissioned by the American Lamb Board and put together by the American Sheep Industry Association says 2020 slaughter lamb prices were down ten percent from the previous year. However, lightweight lambs did well in the ethnic and direct-to-consumer markets. There is optimism for the slaughter lamb market in the year ahead with supplies are at their lowest level since 2017.
Friendly Numbers for the Swine Industry – After seven straight years of growth, there’s a small pullback in U.S. hog numbers. According to USDA’s Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report, the total inventory is down two percent from last year. The breeding herd is down three percent and the market hog supplies are down two percent. “I don’t see this as just a mildly bullish report,” said Joe Kerns, CEO, Partners for Production Agriculture. “This is the reprieve pork producers have been looking for in quite some time.” PRRS is resulting in higher death loss, which was reflected in the report.
What is Your Legacy? – While every day is special for those in agriculture, the community showed extra appreciation and support during National Ag Week. Minnesota FFA Foundation Executive Director Val Aarsvold says there are endless career opportunities in agriculture. “We enjoy have career connections and conversations in classrooms across the state.” Aarsvold says the foundation has enjoyed celebrating the legacy of James Tracy, a farmer from the Northfield, Minnesota area. “This scholarship program is for high school students going on to study agriculture. That’s just the beginning of this legacy.” Mr. Tracy’s gift has already impacted nearly 100 students. “Others have supported the Foundation in many different ways and through many different gifts.” Learn more.
Syngenta Building New Crop Protection Headquarters – Syngenta is investing $68 million in a new office complex at its Northern American Crop Protection headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina. The new building will feature renovated lab facilities to support 750 local workers. Construction is planned to begin later this year and expected to be completed in 2024.
New Syngenta Fungicide Treatment Receives U.S. Approval – Vayantis, a new fungicide seed treatment from Syngenta, is now registered for use in the U.S. This product is developed to protect and soybean seedlings from blight disease and damping-off diseases. Registration in Canada is expected later this year.
Corteva Agriscience Launches Rezuvant Herbicide – Wheat and barley growers will have another tool available for post-emergence weed control this year. The new cereals herbicide is called Rezuvant with Arylex active, from Corteva Agriscience. The herbicide combines three active ingredients to keep fields clean from kochia, marestail, common ragweed and more. Read more about the herbicide.
Two New Global Brand Names from Corteva – Corteva is launching two new global brand names, Qalcova and Jemvelva. Together, these two naturally derived active ingredients will provide farmers with insect control options for more than 250 crops, including soybeans and corn. Both ingredients were recognized with the U.S. EPA Green Chemistry Challenge Award.
Short Stature Corn Highlighted as the Next Big Innovation – During a National Corn Growers Association podcast, Bayer CropScience Chief Operating Officer Brett Begemann outlined the latest developments in its technology pipeline. Short stature corn was at the top of that list. “It changes the way we can grow corn,” said Begemann. “From how we can access the crop with ground-clearance equipment, how we can manage fertility, insect control, disease control and weed control.” The short stature corn will be available commercially this year.
Distribution Partnership Inked Between Ceradis and WinField United for CeraMax – Ceradis Crop Protection, which is based in the Netherlands, has formed a distribution partnership with WinField United for its CeraMax biological seed treatment. WinField United plans to focus on soybean production areas impacted in the past by Sudden Death Syndrome and is available for the 2021 season.
Limagrain Cereal Seeds Announces New Regional Strategy – Limagrain Cereal Seeds has closed its Midwest and East breeding program and partnered with Northern Star Integrated Services of Lafayette, Indiana to manage LCS accounts and genetics in the region. The dollars generated from this move are being reinvested in LCS’ Northern Plains, Central Plains and Pacific Northwest regions. LCS will launch spring wheat lines in the Northern Plains in 2022 using its CoAXium technology. The CoAXium Wheat Production System combines elite varieties with an ACCase-inhibiting herbicide with its non-GMO herbicide tolerance trait.
A Different Approach to Soybean Breeding – Peterson Farms Seed soybean breeder Dennis Schultze has been in the business for 25 years, a time of big changes. CRISPR gene editing technology and marker assisted breeding are now used. “Breeders are basically front-loading all of this neat stuff into new varieties before they even start yield testing.” It still takes time to develop new varieties, but the industry is more efficient. Schultze is most excited about the new Enlist soybean varieties this year, but they are moving quickly. Hear more about available varieties.
Compass Minerals-ICL Brasil Deal Valued at $418 Million – Compass Minerals is selling its South American plant nutrition business to ICL Brasil. This deal is expected to be finalized in the third quarter of this year. According to officials with Compass Minerals, this sale is designed to pay down debt and strengthen the company’s balance sheet.
Dry Bean Grower Survey Results Released – Frost was the most commonly reported production problem in dry edible beans last year. The dry bean grower survey conducted by NDSU Extension said 22 percent of the survey respondents had frost damage. White mold was the biggest disease problem, affecting nearly half of the acres in the Northarvest region. Kochia was the most commonly reported weed problem, impacting 23 percent of the dry bean acres.
USMC Rail Network in the Works – The first rail network connecting the U.S., Mexico and Canada is in the works. Canadian Pacific Railway and Kansas City Southern have come to a merger agreement worth $29 billion. The two railroad systems come together in Kansas City and will connect customers via single-network transportation offerings. While there are generally concerns about a merger like this, Soy Transportation Coalition Executive Director Mike Steenhoek says right now there is little service overlap between the two rail companies.
U.S. Sugar Makes a Deal for Imperial Sugar – U.S. Sugar, which is the largest sugarcane producer in the country, is buying Imperial Sugar from the Louis Dreyfus Company. Louis Dreyfus says this deal will allow it to concentrate on its global sugar trading business. The sale is expected to be completed later this year after an antitrust review is completed.
No Feedstock Flexibility Program Sugar Purchases Expected – Based on crop and consumption forecasts, no sugar purchases or sales are expected under the Feedstock Flexibility Program for crop year 2020. When faced with the likelihood of loan forfeitures, USDA is required to purchase surplus sugar under this program and sell it to bioenergy producers to support sugar prices. Federal law allows sugar processors to obtain loans from USDA when sugarcane or sugarbeet harvest begins. The Feedstock Flexibility Program was reauthorized by Congress in the 2018 Farm Bill as an option to avoid sugar forfeitures.
U.S. Firm Invests in China’s Demand for French Fries – Lamb Weston plans to build a new french fry processing plant in China. This facility will have the capacity to produce over 250 million pounds of frozen french fries and other potato products per year. The plant is expected to cost about $250 million and will be completed in early 2024.
Angus Association Reaches 20 Million Registrations – The American Angus Association has reached 20 million registrations after 138 years as an organization. During that time, the Association averaged more than 144,000 per year. The ten million marked was reached just 42 years ago in 1979.
Holz-Clause to Temporarily Lead Morris Campus – University of Minnesota Crookston Chancellor Mary Holz-Clause will be the Acting Executive Chancellor for the campuses at Crookston and Morris for a two-year term. This news comes as Morris Chancellor Michell Behr plans to retire this summer. The search for the Morris campus’ next leader will begin in spring 2022.
New ND Corn Council Leadership – Finley, North Dakota farmer Jason Rayner will serve as Chairman of the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council. Also recently elected to new positions are Tysen Rosenau of Carrington as Vice Chairman and Terry Wehlander of DeLamere as Secretary/Treasurer.
Emerging Prairie Adds Peterson to Staff – Fargo-based Emerging Prairie has added Dana Peterson as Chief Strategy Officer. In this role, Peterson will implement and oversee the strategic vision for the company. Peterson was previously with USDA in Rural Development and at the Farm Service Agency.
Newton Leaving Farm Bureau for Senate Ag Committee – American Farm Bureau Federation Chief Economist John Newton will be the Chief Economist for Ranking Member John Boozman on the Senate Agriculture Committee. In a statement, AFBF President Zippy Duvall congratulated Newton, saying he will serve in an important role for agriculture. AFBF has not confirmed their search plans for a new chief economist.
Gronberg Kolell Moves to American Ag Credit – A Climax, Minnesota native is the new chief brand officer for American Ag Credit in Kansas City. Sarah Gronberg Kolell has been with Rabo AgriFinance for the past eight years, most recently as its senior vice president of marketing, communications and sustainability. Gronberg Kolell previously was a public relations director for AdFarm and was a reporter/anchor at WDAZ-TV.
Little I Names Agriculturalists of the Year – The South Dakota State University Little International Agriculturalist of the Year honors goes to to Kevin Vander Wal of Volga, South Dakota and Donna (Schmidt) Moenning of Hayfield, Minnesota. Vander Wal manages the SDSU Cow/Calf Education and Research Facility and maintains the family’s registered shorthorn herd. Moenning is a speaker and trainer for The Center for Food Integrity. Previously, Moenning worked in farm radio, for the Midwest Dairy Association and the National Livestock and Meat Board.
Last Week’s Trivia – The 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball championship game will take place on Monday, April 5 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Todd Good of AgCountry Farm Credit Services wins our weekly trivia contest. Gary Sloan of BMO Harris Bank, James Altringer of CHS Dakota Plains Ag, Monterey County Farm Bureau Executive Director Norm Groot and Northland Community and Technical College Farm Business Management instructor Josh Tjosass earn runner-up honors. Also submitting correct answers are: Ag Media Research’s Ron Claussen, Mark Haugland of Bayer CropScience, RML Trading’s Bob Lebacken, Harvey, North Dakota farmer Bill Ongstad, Dakota Farmer/Nebraska Farmer Senior Staff Writer Kevin Schulz, Mark Bernard of Agro-Economics Inc., Karlstad, Minnesota farmer Justin Dagen, Northland Community and Technical College Farm Business Management instructor Ron Dvergsten, Evonne Wold of Crookston, Minnesota, Keith Bjorneby of Lone Wolf Farms and Sacred Heart, Minnesota farmer Mickey Peterson.
This Week’s Trivia – The founder of Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford, was instrumental in the development of charcoal briquettes. That led to the launch of a charcoal brand that now has 80 percent market share in the U.S. What is that brand? Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|RRFN Upcoming Events|
|April 1, 2021||Beef Quality Assurance Certification - Online Webinar|
|April 1, 2021||MN Corn Growers Quarterly Marketing Webinar - Online|
|April 11, 2021 - April 13, 2021||SD FFA Convention - Rapid City, SD|
|April 14, 2021||Tackling Wheat Digestibility Webinar - Online Webinar|
|April 15, 2021||Carbon Sequestration in Soil – Is Carbon “Farming” the Future? - Online Webinar|
|April 16, 2021||SDSU Extension Ag Economic Dialogues - Online Webinar|
|April 17, 2021||“Pulling Through Calving” Event - Kimball, MN|
|April 19, 2021 - April 23, 2021||MN FFA Convention - Virtual|
|April 21, 2021 - April 23, 2021||Exploring Sustainability in Animal Agriculture Conference - Virtual|
|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.