A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Monday, March 08, 2021
Feels Like Spring – It’s another beautiful day! We’re expecting a high of 58 degrees at the RRFN headquarters in Grand Forks today. That’ll smash the record for this date of 48 degrees. For all practical purposes, the snow is gone in the immediate area. That’s not the norm for early March. For the latest weather, listen to World Weather Inc. meteorologist Drew Lerner on your favorite Red River Farm Network radio station. The twice-daily forecasts can also be found online.
FSA Extends Quality Loss Adjustment Enrollment Deadline – The Farm Service Agency’s new Quality Loss Adjustment Program signup deadline is Friday, April 9. In an exclusive interview with the Red River Farm Network, FSA Associate Administrator Steve Peterson said additional time was needed for the signup. “We recognized the fact there was additional work and policy clarification that needed to be done.” Originally, the program called for documentation about quality loss and the discounts. Peterson said there has been widespread concern about that documentation process in North Dakota. “We are making an exception to the documentation to enable a producer to get a letter from the elevator or possibly have the elevator identify based on the date that they sold their feed wheat or feed barley what that price would have been if they would have been able to sell it for milling or malting.” More than 8,100 applications have been filed. FSA will make payments after the application period ends. Hear the interview.
U.S. Senate Passes $1.9 Trillion COVID-Relief Bill – On Saturday, the U.S. Senate passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan on a party-line vote. No Republicans voted for the bill. This latest round of COVID relief includes $1,400 in direct payments to Americans and more funding to states. The bill also allocates $4 billion to address disruptions in the food supply chain, $5 billion in debt relief for farmers of color and would reimburse rural hospitals for COVID-19 related expenses. Due to revisions in the Senate, the House will consider the bill again. The House is expected to vote on the bill on Tuesday and if it passes, President Biden is expected to sign the bill.
Stabenow: New COVID Relief Includes Help for Agriculture – Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow says there is more than $16 billion included for agriculture in the COVID bill, but no direct payments for farmers and ranchers. “There’s $4 billion to repair the food supply chain and deal with infrastructure investments, to build resiliency and protections for food and farm workers,” said Stabenow. “There’s also food donations for families in need and we give the USDA the flexibility to invest in infrastructure like cold storage and new processing plants.” Stabenow addressed the National Farmers Union Convention.
USDA Will Take More Time to Review COVID Relief – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted USDA priorities during the closing session of Commodity Classic. COVID relief is a top priority, including the pending Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments. “First and foremost, we wanted to do an evaluation at the USDA to determine precisely what the need is out there,” said Vilsack. “We know COVID relief is important, people are waiting and we’re going to try and get answers as quickly as we can.”
CFAP Payments Remain Under Review – The payout of more than $15 billion in CFAP payments remains on hold. During Commodity Classic, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said this program is still under review. “We’re in the process of completing that analysis here and I expect and anticipate within the next several weeks we’ll be in a position to let folks know, at least preliminarily, what our thoughts are as we go forward with this COVID relief packages.” Vilsack said USDA will also consider the latest COVID bill to determine the full range of resources available for agriculture.
Staffing at FSA County Level Limited to 25% or Less – COVID guidance restrictions from the Biden administration may limit how local Farm Service Agency offices operate in the near-term. Pro Farmer Political Analyst Jim Wiesemeyer says USDA is requiring all farm production and conservation facilities to maintain staffing at 25 percent or less. “There are county offices saying they can’t even keep up and now, there are more staff restrictions. USDA will have to extend program sign-ups across the board.” Wiesemeyer also says the Biden administration is moving quickly on priorities and this will be a very proactive USDA. “Vilsack keeps saying it’s a changed USDA, this is a changed Washington and he’s a changed person from the last time he was in town. I think that says a lot.”
COVID Bill May Trigger PAYGO Rules, Slashing Farm Programs – Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member John Boozman is warning the latest COVID-19 stimulus bill could trigger huge farm program cuts. Democrats are using budget reconciliation as the vehicle for the assistance package which could result in automatic spending cuts under the pay-as-you-go rules. Boozman says there is the potential this situation could zero out all farm program spending within the next five years.
Partisanship Remains in Washington D.C. – When President Biden took office, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President Chuck Conner was hopeful the partisan atmosphere in Washington D.C. would improve. Nearly two months later, Congress moved the new COVID relief package through without Republican support. “I’m still trying to remain optimistic. We were encouraged when Tom Vilsack was named agriculture secretary. He has a clear track record of wanting to work with farmers or anyone who wants to help farmers, whether they’re Republican or Democrat,” says Conner. “As we surveyed the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, there seemed to be the tradition of bipartisanship.” There are concerns how partisanship will play into other priorities, including climate change and infrastructure. “Both parties want an infrastructure package, but they aren’t fostering the bipartisanship President Biden campaigned on,” says Jim Wiesemeyer, analyst, Pro Farmer. Hear the story.
The EWG Wants Changes to Farm Program Payment Distribution – The Environmental Working Group wants Congress and the White House to change the way farm program benefits are distributed. In a new analysis, the EWG calls for means testing to prevent most of the payments from going to large farms. “Right now, farmers have an income limit of $900,000 per person or $1.8 million for a farmer and spouse, but if they make anything below that they still qualify for traditional farm subsidies,” said Anne Schechinger, Senior Analyst of Economics, EWG. “If we want a more equitable distribution of farm subsidies to the smaller farms, the income limit should be lowered.” The EWG is watching to see how the Biden administration handles future payments. “It will be interesting to see if the Commodity Credit Corporation funding will be used to pay farmers to for conservation practices.”
Senators Seek Continued Investigation of Ocean Carriers – A bipartisan group of senators, including South Dakota Senator John Thune and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, want the Federal Maritime Commission to continue investigating unreasonable practices by ocean carriers. In a letter sent to the commission, the lawmakers said the congestion at U.S. ports and record container volumes are challenging ag exports and vessels with empty containers aren’t helping. Instead, ships are transporting empty containers back to their origin. The Senators said this violates the Shipping Act and they forward to reviewing the findings of the investigation.
ITC Asked Not to Impose Duties on Phosphate Fertilizer – Eleven senators, led by Kansas Senator Jerry Moran, are asking the International Trade Commission not to impose countervailing duties on phosphate fertilizer imports from Russia and Morocco. In a letter to the ITC, the lawmakers said these duties will result in higher input costs for farmers and potentially limit supplies.
Cattle Market Transparency Act Introduced – Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden have introduced a bill to offer more market transparency for cattle producers. It calls for regional mandatory minimum thresholds for negotiated cash and negotiated grid trades and prohibit USDA from using confidentiality as the reason for not reporting market trends.
Comment Period Extended for Biotech Issue – USDA is reopening its comment period for the regulatory review of agricultural animals developed through genetic engineering. Comments will be taken until May 7. Former Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made the move in December to give USDA authority over genetically engineered animals produced for food. Food and Drug Administration Administrator Stephen Hahn refused to sign off on this policy change at the time, saying it was not supported by the FDA.
Farmers Union Prioritizes COVID Recovery, Climate Change, Biofuels and Livestock – Policy adoption moved quick in the National Farmers Union convention’s virtual format. After extending the 2020 policy for 2021, delegates accepted four special orders of business. “We tried to incorporate many decisions on policy issues in special orders to use as we lobby in Washington D.C.,” said Gary Wertish, president, Minnesota Farmers Union. The first special order of business considers how to move forward from COVID. A second special order on climate change wants the Biden administration to curb greenhouse gasses. There’s also a special order on biofuels and the final special order focuses on livestock and dairy issues. “We want increased transparency in the reporting of livestock prices. We want the USDA and federal justices to take another look at anti-competitive practices.”
A New Chance for Dialogue – Speaking at the National Farmers Union Convention, North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne said it is important to consider what happens to the farm safety net in a post-COVID world. “The fact that we put out that much money to get agriculture through the trade war and COVID is telling us the farm bill isn’t structured quite right because it should have been able to take care of the challenges.” Watne said the changes in the White House and on Capitol Hill provide a new chance for dialogue
Ag Leaders Kick Off Commodity Classic Opening Session – American Soybean Association President Kevin Scott, who farms at Valley Springs, South Dakota, spoke about the challenges seen with the pandemic. “One of our primary goals is to have face-to-face time with our legislators.” Scott said the ASA adapted by sharing photos and videos with congressional staffers during harvest season. These videos had more than 2,000 views. National Corn Growers Association President John Linder spoke about the transition to the Biden Administration and the focus on climate change. “The NCGA is making it a top priority to engage in this space.”
NAWG Advocates Voluntary Participation in Carbon Programs – As the Biden Administration and Congress consider climate change policies, National Association of Wheat Growers CEO Chandler Goule says the farm programs should begin as a voluntary effort. “We would never want to start any program being mandatory; ARC is not mandatory, PLC is not mandatory and crop insurance is not mandatory.” Goule prefers a phased-in, voluntary approach to give farmers time to assess the benefits and risks of a carbon-based program. NAWG is appointing a special committee to consider climate change and sustainability.
U.S. Spring Wheat Tariffs on Hold – A four-month agreement between the European Union and the United States to halt tariffs on airplanes will also stop tariffs on U.S. spring wheat imports. The U.S. wheat industry is pleased with the short-term tariff removal. U.S. Wheat Associates President Vince Peterson and National Association of Wheat Growers President Chandler Goule thanked the Biden administration and asked both parties to come to a long-term resolution.
Corn Matters – Higher blends of ethanol was one point of policy discussions during the virtual Commodity Classic. Learn more from Minnesota Corn Growers Association President Tim Weibel in the latest Corn Matters.
Crop Protection Executives Offer Industry Outlook – As the crop protection sector adopts new technologies, work must be done to build consumer trust in the farm and food business. At a Commodity Classic roundtable discussion, BASF Vice President of U.S. Crop Protection Scott Kay said transparency is needed. “Farmers have a great story to tell and what we’ve seen during COVID is the emotional attachment to food and that’s why farmers are essential.” Syngenta President of North America Seeds Justin Wolfe said agriculture needs to focus on the Millennial generation. “They’re the biggest segment and they are replacing the baby boomers; we need to figure out how to communicate with that segment that resonates and is believable.” Representatives from Bayer and Corteva Agriscience also participated in the roundtable discussion.
Ag Equipment Industry Outlook Highlighted at Commodity Classic – The major ag equipment brands were represented in a virtual roundtable discussion at Commodity Classic. AGCO Vice President Bill Hurley addressed the customer’s ‘right to repair.’ Hurley said the issue is complicated by emissions and safety standards. “If something is modified an incorrect way, who bears the liability for that?” During this same roundtable, John Deere Senior Vice President David Gilmore offered thoughts on the next 20 years in the farm equipment business. “The technology we implement is really going to be the ones that solve real-life problems for farmers and make their jobs easier.” Gilmore said that includes autonomous equipment, robotics and artificial intelligence.
New NPPC President Outlines Short-Term Policy Priorities – The National Pork Producers Council established key short-term policy priorities during the National Pork Industry Forum. The newly elected president, Jen Sorenson, says worker safety is especially important in COVID. “Meatpacking facilities alone have invested $1.5 billion to ensure worker safety. We must be careful to not unnecessarily disrupt the food supply chain with mandates designed to achieve worker safety outcomes already achieved.” Pork producers will also try to secure compensation for growers who euthanized hogs during the peak of the pandemic. Aside from the COVID pandemic, ag labor, disease preparedness and prevention and trade issues remain top-of-mind for U.S. pork producers.
Several Ag-Related Bills Reviewed in the ND Legislature – It was a busy week for agriculture committees in the North Dakota Legislative Assembly. The House Agriculture Committee reviewed a bill regarding the definition of location for animal feeding operations. It was amended to add an emergency clause to the bill and the legislation was moved with a do pass recommendation. Also taken into consideration was legislation relating to a pasteurized milk ordinance (SB 2049) and SB 2050 regarding the federal meat inspection revision. Another bill (SB 2053) entailed required uses of the agricultural products utilization fund. All three pieces of legislation received a do pass recommendation. The Senate Ag Committee considered a bill (HB 1145) that would redefine soybean districts in the state and the terms of office for members. This bill was passed with a do pass recommendation, along with HB 1197 relating to licensing, labeling and inspection fees for specialist fertilizers.
North Dakota Legislative Report – The ag research and extension bill goes before the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. Hear more from State Board of Agricultural Research and Education chair Mark Birdsall in the North Dakota Legislative Report, This update is 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.
Second Half of ND Legislative Session Begins – North Dakota Senate Agriculture Committee Vice Chair Janne Myrdal says one focus for legislative session is funding for rural infrastructure. “We have hope in the Senate to get funding to townships for the roads.” Bonding issues and the interest in the Legacy funds may take more time to address at the end of the session. Myrdal says state lawmakers will try to wrap up the session by mid-April. “We have to give ourselves eight-to-ten days because we have redistricting and the census coming up. That will require a committee and then, going to special session sometime late this fall. There are a lot of things like that.”
Walz: Opponents Spreading Misinformation About Clean Cars Rule – Public comments are being accepted through March 15 for Minnesota’s ‘clean car’ rule. This initiative is designed to address the issue of climate change, creating low-emission and zero-emission vehicle standards. There’s been substantial pushback on this rule. In an interview with the Red River Farm Network, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said climate change and the clean cars rule have become very polarizing issues. “It’s almost taken on a guns-like persona, but that’s not true. This needs to go hand-in-hand with E15. As we increase that blend and move to more electronic vehicles, there’s more opportunity for us to use the existing blends in existing vehicles.” After spending part of his day Tuesday calling legislators about the E15 bill, Walz said there is bipartisan support. Here’s the interview.
Minnesota Beef Update – A main legislative priority for the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association is proposed feedlot permit requirements. Find out more from Executive Director Allison VanDerWal in the Minnesota Beef Update.
MN House Considers Changes for Board of Animal Health – A bill designed to reform the Minnesota Board of Animal Health has been laid over by the House Agriculture Committee for inclusion in an omnibus bill. South St. Paul Representative Rick Hansen authored the bill to expand the board from five members to nine. It also calls for gender balance. “That diversity is strength,” said Hansen. Starbuck Representative Paul Anderson is opposed to this proposal, saying “change for just change’s sake, I’m not sure is the best way to go on this.”
Forever Green Initiative Advances in MN House – The Minnesota House Agriculture Committee has approved a bill dedicating $5 million in fiscal years 2022 and 2023 from the Clean Water Fund to the Forever Green Initiative. This grant program has been in place for 20 years, but it has seen more dollars in recent years from Legacy Funds. University of Minnesota agronomy professor Don Wyse highlighted one of the recent success stories. “We’ve been able to domesticate pennycress as a new oilseed crop for the state of Minnesota; a winter annual that fit between the corn and soybean systems to fill the ground in the fall.” Four legislators abstained from the vote, saying there wasn’t enough discussion to move forward.
SD Ag Groups Differ on Resolution of Disapproval – A resolution of disapproval for the proposed merger of the South Dakota Ag and Natural Resources Departments will be heard by the full Senate in the final days of the South Dakota Legislative session. South Dakota Farm Bureau Lobbyist Michael Held says the vote can happen as early as Monday. “The Senate will need an up or down vote by majority.” Farm Bureau is opposed to the resolution, saying the merger would make things more efficient. The South Dakota Farmers Union supports the resolution, because agriculture deserves a department in South Dakota. “This will be too complex. You’re going to drop the ball somewhere and we won’t have the resources,” said Doug Sombke, president, South Dakota Farmers Union. “Governor Noem won’t take this lying down. She wants this to happen. I’m happy, but the work isn’t done yet.”
Spring Crop Insurance Prices Encourage More Soybeans and Corn – Spring crop insurance prices are telling farmers to plant as many corn and soybean acres as possible. For revenue-based crop insurance programs, the spring base price for corn will be $4.58 per bushel and $11.87 per bushel for soybeans. Countryside Insurance owner Jennifer Otteson thinks there will be more soybean acres due to the higher price guarantee. “I think there will be a lot of soybeans planted out there compared to dry beans, depending on what farmers could get for contracts.” With the higher base price guarantee, Otteson thinks farmer may buy up an optional coverage level on their soybeans. “Some farmers increased their coverage from 75 to 80 percent, staying with the enterprise units.”
Off-Farm Grain Movement Starts to Slow – Grain movement off farms is beginning to slow as grain bins empty out. North Dakota Grain Dealers Association Executive Director Stu Letcher says we are seeing some clean-up movement. “We’re starting to see the end of it. The recent cold snap was hard on the railroad so they get behind. We’re starting to see some catch up from that, but once that moves, things will slow down.” Letcher hasn’t heard of any seed or fertilizer supply issues from grain elevators. “We’re ok on supplies and the price of phosphate increased over the winter. If farmers haven’t booked phosphate and go in to buy some, you’ll be surprised. Go ahead and check into that.”
Grain Market Holds Breath Ahead of March Supply/Demand Report – USDA will release the March Supply and Demand Estimate report on Tuesday. Total Farm Marketing Senior Market Advisor Brian Doherty says the market is holding its breath ahead of the report. “The general expectations are a confirmation of the tight soybean supplies and a slight decrease in the corn carryout. The soybean carryout was 120 million last month. I’ve tried to ask myself if there’s a surprise, where is it? With private estimates pushing up the Brazilian production another million metric tons, you wonder if there isn’t room for the USDA to raise projected bean carryout and lower exports.” USDA doesn’t really have a whole wiggle room. “It goes back to my original argument, there’s not much room to lower anything.”
USDA’s Planting Intentions Report May Overshadow March WASDE Report – U.S. Commodities President Don Roose expects traders to quickly digest the supply and demand numbers in Tuesday’s WASDE report and begin preparing for the planting intentions report at the end of the month. “On March 31, will we get enough acres to satisfy demand and what will the demand be? The report will be a big report and a market mover.” Weather will override everything. “While we are watching and hoping we get the acres we need, we’re watching the weather. The dry and drought conditions aren’t solved yet. There’s not enough confidence we have a big enough crop in the bin yet.”
What Global Protein Demand Growth Means for U.S. Soybeans – The U.S. Soybean Export Council is forecasting global protein demand growth in the next 10 years. United Soybean Board Vice President of Market Intelligence Mac Marshall says that’s an opportunity for U.S. soybeans. “China is a critical market and that’s where we see a lot of soybeans going this year, but once upon a time, China was a small market for soybeans. We have to look at other markets to understand the future of global soybean demand and where the U.S. fits in.” USSEC CEO Jim Sutter says the soy checkoff is developing tools to continue looking at what sets U.S. soybeans apart from competitors. “U.S. soybeans have a higher price and lower crude protein, but U.S. soy has superior traits to other soybeans. A well-known nutritionist in Spain confirmed quality has to do with origin.”
Farmers are Optimistic as Spring Planting Nears – Compared to last couple years, there is more optimism as farmers prepare to plant this year’s crop. Based at Britton, South Dakota, Full Circle Ag agronomy location manager Joe Gustafson says he hasn’t seen optimism like this in a while. That’s even despite coming off record prevent plant acreage in the Marshall County, SD/Sargent County, North Dakota area. “We’ve had last summer, fall and this winter to come out of that (wetness). Right now, it looks like we’re going to get more acres planted this year than we have for a few years,” says Gustafson. “We are concerned, but are currently welcoming the drought to get acres back into production. We are a no-till area and maybe can handle more drought here than in other areas.” As farmers prepare for the upcoming growing season, Gustafson says they are always looking for ways to become more efficient. That’s why Full Circle Ag offered their 2nd annual Ag Tech Summit, held Wednesday in Britton. Get the full story.
Finding the Right Acreage Balance – Finding the right acreage balance will be especially important this year. Given the current market prices and demand, NDSU Extension Crops Marketing Economist Frayne Olson expects an increase in corn, canola and soybean acres in North Dakota. “We had almost three million acres of prevent plant in 2020. A lot of those were from corn and I think they’ll go back into corn,” says Olson. “There’s also interest in soybeans. I recommend farmers forward price soybeans before planting.” Smaller market crops are trying to compete. “They need to hold acres from last year. Pinto beans had a substantial increase in plantings and can afford to have some slippage, but can’t see many acres diverted away.” Malting barley is in a similar situation. Olson will be watching for what USDA says in the March Prospective Plantings report.
Competing for Acres – Every year, market analysts talk about the need for one commodity or another to buy acres going into spring planting. What makes this year different is the number of commodities that need to compete for acres. “This year, the acreage battle expands beyond corn and soybeans,” said Jacob Burks, market analyst, Kluis Commodities. “The spring wheat and the cotton markets are also being challenged.” Specialty crops are getting in on the action, too. “There’s a battle coming from many different angles, which can help the producer and keeps prices low. There will be fun numbers to talk about and by the time we get to June, the battle probably doesn’t even matter. We’ll be watching the USDA’s planting intentions survey findings.”
Lack of Moisture Lingers in Farmers’ Minds – It feels like spring here at the beginning of March. This warm weather has woke farmers up, and agriculture retailers, agronomists and those alike. Based at Devils Lake, North Dakota, Rock and Roll Agronomy owner Jason Hanson says dryness continues to be the biggest concern. “I think we’d see more corn acres planted in my areas for sure if we had more subsoil moisture. But, it’s going to take a lot of moisture to get conditions where we need them.” In northeastern North Dakota, Hanson anticipates an increase in soybean acres and is more uncertain about wheat and corn acres. However, there is still time between now and when the planters start rolling in the Northern Plains. Hanson says farmers are asking questions like: I left everything in stubble and didn’t put any fall anhydrous on. How do I incorporate urea this spring? Should I include a nitrogen stabilizer? Hanson’s answers are, “Yes, yes and then let’s may attention to the moisture situation. Farmers may have to be more adaptable this year because they have to be.” Hear the full story.
NOAA Modifies La Nina Outlook – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has modified its La Nina outlook. The model is now expecting marginal La Nina conditions from April though June, followed by gradual intensification in the summer. According to World Weather Incorporated, this forecast is much closer to the company’s own outlook. This weakening La Nina forecast means continued potential dryness in the Upper Midwest, Northern Plains and southeastern Canadian Prairies during the late summer months of July and August
Drought Conditions Remain in the Northern Plains – The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows little change in drought conditions across the Northern Plains the past week. Sixty-eight percent of North Dakota is in severe drought which encompasses the western two-thirds of the state. The southeastern portion of North Dakota is mostly abnormally dry or in moderate drought. In South Dakota, the far southeastern corner is experiencing extreme drought conditions. The western half of the state is in severe drought with other areas moderately dry. The majority of Minnesota is abnormally dry, with west central and northwestern portions in moderate drought.
Livestock Producers Prepare for Drought – As dry conditions persist, livestock producers in the Northern Plains are preparing for those drought conditions as spring turnout nears. NDSU Extension rangeland and forage specialist Kevin Sedivec encourages those producers concerned about drought to start thinking about annual forage options early. “If you do need hay, grazing forage or both, you need to assess your cropland availability. Do you have availability for fence or temporary fencing where you are going to seed these?” If producers plan on grazing, Sedivec says water availability should be considered. Located at Grace City, North Dakota, Spickler Ranch South owner Nathan Spickler has had success using winter cereal rye during dry conditions. “Where our farm is located, we’re usually inches away from being in a drought before the rest of Foster County. Several years ago, we seeded rye as a way to capitalize on snow melt, early season rain and to jump start seeding warm-season cover crops mixes behind it.” This webinar series can be viewed here.
US-EU Trade Agree to Suspend Tariffs in Boeing-Airbus Dispute – The United States and European Union have agreed to a four-month suspension of tariffs related to a dispute over aircraft sales. This decision impacts agricultural trade, including a removal of the trade barrier on U.S. spring wheat imports by EU countries. The U.S. Wheat Associates and National Association of Wheat Growers issued a joint statement, praising this decision and asking both sides to find a long-term solution.
Farmers Prioritize Paying Off Debt at End of 2020 – Ag credit conditions improved in the final quarter of 2020 with the uptick in commodity prices and government payments. The Minneapolis district had a stronger loan repayment rate in the fourth quarter than other areas of the country. “The Minneapolis Federal Reserve District has a higher share of farm income and farm revenues coming from crops, specifically, those crops that had an increase in commodity prices,” said Cortney Cowley, economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. For the first quarter of 2021, there are stronger farmland values, lower interest rates and ag lenders are watching planting intentions. “Industry analysts expect planting and production for some of the major production crops to be high again. What will that do to markets and can demand keep up? We won’t know a lot until the second quarter.”
A Decline in Future Expectations Lowers February Ag Barometer – The February CME Group/Purdue University Ag Economy Barometer dropped two points from January 2021, mostly due to a decline in the Index of Future Expectations. Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture Director Jim Mintert says there’s been a decline in this area for the last three months. “Farmers are positive about what’s happening on their farming operations in the short-run, but concerned about what could happen down the road, after 2021.” Mintert says survey participants remain concerned about U.S. and China trade deal. “In June, 65 percent of people who took the survey expected to see a positive outcome with the trade dispute to China. Despite the ramp up in exports to China, the percentage of people expecting to see a positive result in the trade dispute is now at 37 percent.” Read more survey results.
What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets – In this week’s edition of What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets, Advance Trading Risk Management Advisor Tommy Grisafi looks at grain, crude oil and RBOB gasoline futures. These markets are starting the week higher. Inflation is also part of the current market story.
Preparing for the Season Ahead – There are reports of field activity beginning this past weekend in the region. Other farmers are fine-tuning plans for the busy season ahead. Corteva Agriscience Market Development Specialist Bridgette Readel encourages growers to work with retailers and have input supplies readily available. “Do you have what you need and are you going to have it in time for when you need it? Make sure you have it on the farm so you’re ready to go and don’t have any delays.” Despite dry conditions, Readel says it is important for farmers to utilize a pre-emergence herbicide on their corn and soybeans. “We’re coming out of prevented plant acres, we know that we’re going to have to combat marestail, waterhemp and kochia. They haven’t gone away.”
A Shift in Attitude – There’s concern about drought, but growers are generally optimistic going into the 2021 planting season. Pioneer Field Agronomist Larry Lunder made that observation during the KMOT Ag Expo. Show in Minot. “The attitude is a 180 degree shift from a year ago,” said Lunder. “We basically took off two crops in 2020 and from a seed aspect, it’s probably the best year we’ve had in about six years.”
Northern ND Farmers Cautiously Optimistic Going Into Spring – Proseed Sales Manager Dave Gehrtz says farmers at the KMOT Ag Expo are optimistically cautious heading into spring. “Everyone is optimistic and it will be dry. Dryness is somewhat concerning.” Yet farmer attitude going into spring is very good. “It looks like it will be a positive year. After coming off of last year, farmers were combining corn and soybeans at this time. Things weren’t so cheery and good. It appears it may be a fairly early spring.”
Canola Minute – Canola producers and crop advisors have an opportunity to learn about production issues during the 2021 “Getting it Right” virtual conference on Tuesday, March 16. Hear more from Northern Canola Growers Association Executive Director Barry Coleman in the Canola Minute.
Positive Vibes for the Canola Grower – The canola farmers attending the KMOT Ag Show had a bounce in their step. Northern Canola Growers Association Executive Director Barry Coleman says there is a lot of enthusiasm about the canola market. “We’re seeing both old crop and new crop prices at record levels.” Canola oil is trading at a premium to soybean oil, which is unusual. U.S. canola acres are projected to increase more than ten percent this year; Canadian acres are expected to be up five-to-six percent. “Even with that increase, they’re saying the ending stocks are going to stay at rock bottom levels right into next year.”
Crop Inputs Will be Tight This Spring – WinField United President Brett Bruggeman says this challenge will be seen for crop nutrients, crop protection products and some seed varieties. Logistical issues are being seen with ports that are jammed up and trucking being hampered by DOT compliance, the Amazon boom and COVID. However, there may be a bigger reason for supply issues. “We’ve never planted over 183 million acres of corn and soybeans.” A tug-of-war taking place for the remaining flex acres. If it is an early spring, Bruggeman expects to see more corn going into the ground. At the same time, Bruggeman says balance sheets are tight for other crops which could influence the planting mix. Hear more in the RRFN interview.
Dry Bean Scene – As farmers prepare to plant the 2021 crop, they remain optimistic about the dry bean market outlook. That message came from NDSU Extension crops economist Frayne Olson during BeanCon21. Hear more in this week’s Dry Bean Scene, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.
Strong Market Results in More Corn/Soybean Acreage in the Region – Peterson Farms Seed Lead Agronomist Rick Swenson says many farmers already have crop plans. “There’s an increase in corn and soybeans across North Dakota and a lot of that has to do with the prevent plant acres we had the last few years. There could be fewer dry beans in those areas, but moving across Minnesota, South Dakota and Minnesota, it’s a strong corn and soybean market.” Swenson encourages farmers to look into seed treatments, because this can help crops get a solid start. “It only takes a bushel to pay for the treatment. I’d rather farmers drop their seed populations enough to pay for that and protect their investment instead of risking the chance of a disease moving in.” Check out the entire series on seedling diseases. Hear the story.
Two to Three Weeks Until Barges Can Move Through Lake Pepin – Barge traffic on the upper Mississippi River is still a couple of weeks away. Army Corp of Engineers spokesperson George Stringham says Lake Pepin will determine when the shipping season will begin. “Lake Pepin has the slowest portion of the river and that’s traditionally where the ice hangs on the longest. Last week, there was still 23 inches of ice near Lake City, Minnesota. There are lots of places on the river where there is floating ice.” Stringham expects barge traffic to begin in about two to three weeks. “We still have locks closed and further downstream for maintenance. As far as when we could start to see boats come through, the ice is usually at 10 to 12 inches.”
US-EU Trade Agree to Suspend Tariffs in Boeing-Airbus Dispute – The United States and European Union have agreed to a four-month suspension of tariffs related to a dispute over aircraft sales. This decision impacts agricultural trade, including a removal of the trade barrier on U.S. spring wheat imports by EU countries. The U.S. Wheat Associates and National Association of Wheat Growers issued a joint statement, praising this decision and asking both sides to find a long-term solution.
Fresh Potato Court Ruling Delayed Again – The Mexican Supreme Court denied a vote on a draft ruling to overturn the ban to import fresh U.S. potatoes. This is the second week in a row the court postponed the ruling. According to the National Potato Council, if the delays persist, it will be obvious political interests within Mexico are encouraging the court to drag its feet on the ruling to avoid competition.
Feeder Cattle Continue to Move Through Auction Barns – North Dakota and South Dakota auction barns continue to market a steady stream of feeder cattle. There is good buyer demand and calves are coming in with light to moderate-plus flesh condition. Kist Livestock at Mandan, North Dakota had 4,300 head at their Wednesday sale. Feeder steers were steady-to-$4 lower, with 700-to-750 weights averaging $142 per hundredweight. The feeder cattle string sold at Napoleon Livestock this past week was 5,800 head. Feeder steers 500 pounds and higher were steady-to-$4 lower, except for 700-to-750 weights that were steady-to-$4 higher. Hub City Livestock in Aberdeen, South Dakota sold 7,500 head on Wednesday, with 600- to-700 pound steers mostly steady and bringing $148-to-$160 dollars per hundredweight. The Thursday sale at Mitchell Livestock Auction featured 5,600 head. The 600-to-750 pound steers unevenly steady and bringing $138-to-$147.
Calving Checks: How Often Should You Do It? – It is the age-old question: How often should you be checking cows during calving? A common rule of thumb is that cows and heifers should be check every 3 hours. Of course, that does change depending on the weather. South Dakota State University Extension veterinarian Dr. Russ Daly says while most producers have their own plan, many do not consider how their stocks’ physiology should guide this schedule. “The stage of labor that is underappreciated is the first stage. This usual lasts from two-to-six hours,” says Daly. “If stage one labor goes on too long, that’s were we see stillborn calves or coming out oxygen deprived. We don’t want animals messing around more than eight hours in this stage.” Once a calf is born, there are weather conditions, like snow, wind and rain, that make newborns more susceptible to infection or diseases. Daly’s advice for producers is to get those calves into a thermo-neutral environment. Hear more.
Activist Investor Cranks Up Pressure on Ag Companies – Starboard Value has increased its ownership stake in Elanco Animal Health and nominated three directors to the company’s board. This is the same investor group that nominated eight directors to the Corteva board in January and called for the removal of the company CEO.
Acuron GT Approved for ’21 – The EPA has registered Syngenta’s Acuron GT corn herbicide. The product is for post-emergence use in glyphosate-tolerant corn. It has four active ingredients and three sites of action to help manage difficult weeds longer into the season. Subject to state approvals, Acuron GT will be available this season.
Bayer Launches Huskie FX Herbicide for Cereal Crops – The new formulation combines three modes of action for broad-spectrum control of broadleaf weeds. Huskie FX has built-in resistance management and improved effectiveness against kochia.
Preparing for the Application of XtendiMax Herbicide – Bayer is offering free training options for the use of the XtendiMax technology, including live webinars every Wednesday in March. Self-guided online modules and limited in-person workshops are also available.
Corn Comments – Farmers are “thinking spring” as the weather warms up and they prepare for the upcoming planting season. Hear more in the latest Corn Comments, a production of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council.
UPL Releases TEPERA PLUS HD – The EPA has approved a new liquid fertilizer compatible fungicide and insecticide formulation called TEPERA PLUS HD. UPL says this product provides in-furrow protection from seedling disease and insect pressure.
Gowan Has Binding Agreement to Purchase All Isagro Shares – The Gowan Company has reached an agreement to purchase the controlling shares of Isagro. Isagro owns a handful of active ingredients from the crop protection industry, including tetraconazole. Gowan has partnered with Isagro since 2013. This deal is expected to be finalized later this year.
Digital Planting Guide Introduced by Two Corteva Brands – Pioneer and Granular have created a proprietary digital planting guide. Granular Marketing Lead Ken O’Brien says this simple tool can accept data from over 20 different manufacturers.”For the entire operation, the field-by-field level or the sub-field level, it allows the producer be able to understand the impact things like soil type, seeding rate, planting date, harvest date (and) product.”
John Deere Offers Integrated Tractor-Planter Solution – Deere and Company introduced a wide variety of new innovations this past week. That includes the first factory-installed, integrated liquid fertilizer delivery system on a tractor and planter together. These planters with increased capacities will come to market for Deere’s 2022 lineup.
Dispatch Pro Introduced – Raven Industries has released Dispatch Pro, giving ag retailers and farmers control over their fleets and make real-time dispatching decisions. The Sioux Falls-based company says Dispatch Pro will allow operators to view in-route, active and idle equipment status and assign jobs with a click of a button.
Cargill Invests in Soybean Processing – Cargill is expanding its soybean processing capacity to meet the increasing demand for food and fuel. Upgrades are being made at seven plants. The total investment is valued at $475 million.
Awards Presented in Soy Innovation Challenge – A company called Regrow won the $100,000 Soy Innovation Challenge grand prize. This company provide full crop cycle analytics for sustainable and profitable agriculture. The award recognizes innovation and ag technologies and is organized by the United Soybean Board, the Yield Lab Institute, Syngenta, Amazon and the ICL Group. The $60,000 runner-up award went to the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium, which creates a market to pay farmers for their land stewardship practices.
Open Spot on the USB Board – The North Dakota soybean checkoff board is now seeking to fill an open director position on the United Soybean Board. North Dakota Soybean Council Executive Director Stephanie Sinner outlines the commitment necessary for this board. “The board meets four times per calendar year, but that does not include the additional committee work or the opportunity that United Soybean Board members have to help out with industry partners like livestock production, biodiesel and international marketing.” If interested, soybean farmers must submit the required nomination form and ‘agreement to serve’ paperwork to the NDSC office by Friday, March 19. As soybean production increased in North Dakota, the state received its fourth seat on the USB in 2019.
Wick Receives NFU Agriculture Communications Award – National Farmers Union presented Red River Farm Network President Don Wick with the Milt Hakel Agriculture Communications award during their annual convention. This award is given journalists who go above and beyond to provide impartial, thorough and insightful coverage of the issues most relevant to Farmers Union members. Wick was recognized for his daily reporting and producing the TransFARMation podcast. More on the honor can be found here.
National Pork Producers Council Honors Deutsch – During the National Pork Industry Forum, Jordan, Minnesota native Al Deutsch was inducted into the National Pork Producer’s Council Hall of Fame. Deutsch worked for Automated Production Systems for many years and helped the council strengthen the bond between members and develop the Pork Alliance.
Buffalo Lake Farmer Earns Conservation Award – The American Soybean Association has recognized four regional Conservation Legacy Awards. For the Upper Midwest Region, the honors have gone to Brian Ryberg of Buffalo Lake, Minnesota. Ryberg transitioned the farm to strip-till and cover crops six years ago. In addition to conservation benefits, Ryberg said his investment in capital and labor was cut in half.
Two New USDA Appointments – USDA announced two senior appointments on Monday. Dr. Dewayne Goldmon is the new Senior Advisor for Racial Equity to the Agriculture Secretary. Goldmon was previously with the National Black Growers Council. Serving as the Senior Advisor for Fair and Competitive Markets is Andy Green, who was a Senior Fellow for Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress. Read more.
Cramer Named Subcommittee Ranking Member – North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer will serve as the Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. This subcommittee has jurisdiction over issues involving road projects and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water projects.
Northey and Brand to Advise Venture Capital Fund – Two former USDA undersecretaries have signed on as senior advisors to a venture capital fund called Big Idea Ventures. Bill Northey and Bette Brand will advise fund managers on the rural communities selected for new ag and food innovation businesses.
Fordyce Joins OBP Agency – Former Farm Service Agency Administrator and Missouri farmer Richard Fordyce is joining Osborn Barr Paramore as a business growth director. OBP Agency is a full-service communications agency located in St. Louis, Missouri. In this new role, Fordyce will lead business development growth for the agency in ag and rural sectors, focusing on strategic business development and represent the agency at ag industry organizations.
MN FFA Hall of Fame Announces ’21 Honorees – The inductees are Appleton ag teacher Wes Anderson, University of Minnesota Career Development Event Coordinator Dennis Bjorklund, Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council Executive Director Sarah Dornink, New Ulm attorney and Minnesota FFA Foundation Past Chair Michael Dove, Sleepy Eye ag instructor Mary Hoffmann, communications specialist and Minnesota FFA Foundation Past Chair Donna Moenning, AgCentric Director Keith Olander, West Central ag instructor Eric Sawatzke and Dekalb/Asgrow agronomist and Minnesota FFA Alumni Past President Harmon Wilts. These nine honorees join 213 members that have already been inducted in the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame, including RRFN’s Don Wick who was part of the inaugural class in 2004.
Last Week’s Trivia – Cirrus, stratus and cumulus are types of clouds. Gary Sloan of BMO Harris Bank takes top honors this week. Todd Good of AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Randy Knudsvig of First State Bank, Dan Skogen of the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute and Jacob Downing of Cargill earn runner-up honors. The ‘first 20’ rounds out with Erin Nash of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, Jim Altringer of CHS Dakota Plains Ag, Dianne Bettin of LB Pork, retired North Dakota Farmers Union economist Dale Enerson, Brian Rydlund of CHS Hedging, North Dakota State Representative Jared Hagert, Linda Schuster of the Carrington Research Extension Center, Curtis Noll of Noll’s Dairy Farm, Royalton farmer Darrell Larsen, Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, Kevin Praska of Stone’s Mobile Radio, Jon Farris of BankWest, California Department of Pesticide Regulation Director Val Dolcini, Ron Dvergsten of Northland Farm Business Management and Kevin Schulz of Dakota Farmer/Nebraska Farmer.
This Week’s Trivia – Jerk Chicken is a spicy, grilled meal found in the Caribbean. What island nation is most widely known for this meal. Send your answer to email@example.com.
|RRFN Upcoming Events|
|March 9, 2021||MN Soybean Spill the Beans Webinar - Online Webinar|
|March 9, 2021||SCORE Legacy Planning Workshop – Fargo - Online Webinar|
|March 9, 2021||Tater Talks Tuesday at Ten - Online Webinar|
|March 10, 2021||AgCountry FCS Winter Forum - Virtual|
|March 10, 2021 - March 14, 2021||North Dakota Winter Show - Valley City, ND|
|March 10, 2021||Living Roots Tools and Cover Crops Discussion - Virtual|
|March 11, 2021||Drought Planning Series: Herd Management and Reduction Strategies - Online Webinar|
|March 16, 2021||MN Soybean Spill the Beans Webinar Series - Online Webinar|
|March 16, 2021||Tater Talks on Tuesdays at Ten - Online Webinar|
|March 16, 2021||NDSU Extension Canola “Getting It Right” Workshop - Online Webinar|
|March 18, 2021||Farm Safety Webinar: Mental Health - Virtual|
|March 18, 2021||Drought Planning Series: Managing Stress During Drought - Online Webinar|
|March 23, 2021||Tater Talks on Tuesdays at Ten - Online Webinar|
|March 24, 2021||AgCountry FCS Winter Forum - Virtual|
|Contact RRFN||Don Wick
|RRFN Affiliate Stations|
|Aberdeen, SD – 105.5 FM||Ada, MN – 106.5 FM||Bagley, MN – 96.7 FM||Bemidji, MN – 1300 AM|
|Benson, MN – 1290 AM||Bismarck, ND – 1270 AM||Bismarck, ND – 1270 AM||Casselton, ND – 103.9 FM|
|Crookston, MN – 1260 AM||Devils Lake, ND – 103.5 FM||Fergus Falls, MN – 1250 AM||Fosston, MN – 1480 AM|
|Glenwood, MN – 107.1 FM||Grafton, ND – 1340 AM||Jamestown, ND – 600 AM||Langdon, ND – 1080 AM|
|Mahnomen, MN – 101.5 FM||Mayville, ND – 105.5 FM||Roseau, MN – 102.1 FM||Rugby, ND – 1450 AM|
|Thief River Falls, MN – 1460 AM||Wadena, MN – 920 AM|
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.