A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Monday, May 27, 2019
Remember and Honor- Memorial Day is a time to honor, reflect and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Markets are closed today, but RRFN’s Country Morning and Agriculture Today programs are on the air. We hope you’ll also join us Tuesday as we broadcast from the new Valley United Cooperative.
New MFP Payments Based on a Single County Rate – The new round of trade-related assistance totals $16 billion with $14.5 billion going to Market Facilitation Program payments. Rather than different rates for the various commodities, USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey said farmers will now be paid based on a single county rate. “The team has gone through and looked at the trade damage each county is feeling and we then divide that by the acreage planted within the county and will have a single payment, no matter which of the crops you plant.” The direct payments will be made for a variety of trade sensitive crops, including soybeans, corn, wheat, canola, dry beans and sunflowers. In addition, dairy and hog producers will receive payments based on a system similar to what was done in the first round of assistance. This relief strategy is still being reviewed by OMB, but payments will be expedited. “The payments will come out in three different times of the year; we’re looking at a first payment coming out in July or August.” The second payment can be expected in November and the third will come in January. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said payments will likely be front-loaded, coming out shortly after the Farm Service Agency acreage reporting is wrapped up in mid-July. The first tranche of payments are the only ones guaranteed. The second and third tranches will be made if market and trade conditions are warranted.
Perdue Highlights Goals of New Trade Package – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue acknowledges farmers would rather have trade than aid. “Without the trade, farmers will need support from a profitability standpoint. We honestly and sincerely know and believe it is a food security issue, which leads to a national security issue,” said Perdue. “Our team at USDA reflected on what worked well last year and what we could have done better when we ran last year’s program. We redesigned this program to help farmers in the longer-term.” Perdue said one goal in this new round of trade assistance is to have farmers produce the way they would without the aid. “We don’t want to skew planting intentions.”
Northey Acknowledges Prevent Plant Challenges – USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey confirms with the Red River Farm Network the way the new Market Facilitation Program is structured requires a planting of acres to participate. Northey acknowledges other support available for farmers considering prevent plant, suggesting the disaster bill could help. “There’s a lot of folks in a lot of states growing different crops being impacted by the wet weather,” he says. “The Congressional leaders and members are hearing about it. There’s a lot of attention in Congress as they consider what they can do to help. We also want to be able to deliver whatever kind of program they put together.”
Crop Must be Planted to Receive MFP Payment – The prevented plant decision may be influenced by the new trade mitigation plan. USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson emphasized farmers will need to plant a crop this spring to be eligible for payments. “You will not receive a payment if you do not plant; the payments will be based on reported plantings at the county (FSA) office.”
Local Farmers Still Want Trade Over Aid – Kulm, North Dakota farmer Josh Gackle was at the White House for President Trump’s Market Facilitation Program announcement Thursday. He is grateful for the help from the administration, but like many farmers, would prefer trade to aid. Gackle participated in the first Market Facilitation Program. He says the cash infusion was a big help working with bankers going into 2019 and if the trade aid is there this year, he would likely sign up again. Right now there are still many unknowns. “I don’t know what the numbers will look like, how it will impact our farm and what we can receive per acre,” says Gackle. USDA also made it clear on Thursday prevent plant acres won’t be eligible for the new Market Facilitation Program. That’s because Commodity Credit Corporation funds can only be used to fund a planted crop. That concerns Gackle. North Dakota farmers are well behind on planting. Listen to the story.
MSGA Reacts to Trade Aid – With the new Market Facilitation Program payments, each county rate will be determined by the impact felt by the trade war. Minnesota Soybean Growers Association Vice President Jamie Beyer, who farms at Wheaton, says this should benefit areas that depend on exports. “Where we are in west-central Minnesota, our crops go by rail to the Pacific Northwest,” said Beyer. “We have a lot of folks in Minnesota and across the border in North Dakota in the same boat and our basis is really awful, too. An argument could be made that we’re impacted more directly and harshly.”
New MFP Better Than Previous, Still Unknowns – Following Thursday’s announcement from USDA on the Market Facilitation Program, North Dakota farmers are doing their best to digest the details. Hurdsfield, North Dakota farmer and North Dakota Grain Growers Association president Jeff Mertz explains his thoughts. “I think it was a step in the right direction,” he says. “It didn’t put one commodity group against another and it shouldn’t impact planting as much. It’s better than just having the three major commodities, though there are still lots of unknowns.”
NAWG Weighs In on New MFP Program – The National Association of Wheat Growers joined President Trump at the White House for the new trade mitigation package announcement. CEO Chandler Goule says he is glad the administration has potentially offered better payments in the new Market Facilitation Program. “There will be a county rate times a farmer’s planted acres certified for 2019. That will determine what support looks like,” says Goule. “There are other questions out there about wheat like what do we do about winter wheat planted in 2018 and harvested in 2019? Those are wheat-specific questions we don’t have the answers to at this time.” Goule says the association will continue to weigh in with the USDA and White House as they figure out the calculations.
Dairy Industry Waiting for More Details – Hog and dairy farmers will receive support through the Market Facilitation Program. Pork producers will receive a payment based on their inventory within a certain timeframe. For dairy farmers, the payment will be based on production history. National Milk Producers Federation spokesperson Alan Bjerga wants to see more information. “USDA gave a fair outline of where things may be going, saying a lot of the mechanisms will be similar to what was done with the trade mitigation payments last year,” Bjerga told RRFN. “You can know the mechanism is the same, but there are a lot of details within that so I think the responsible thing for the dairy industry to do right know is to withhold judgement and let the process play out.”
Market Development and Commodity Purchases Included in USDA Plan – In addition to the updated Market Facilitation Program, USDA will invest $1.4 billion to purchase commodities for the school lunch program, food banks and similar feeding programs. Another $100 million will be handled by the Foreign Agricultural Service to develop new export markets.
Canola Minute – Trade remains top of mind for agriculture, and the canola industry is asking the administration for relief. Hear more from Executive Director Barry Coleman in this week’s Canola Minute, made possible by the Northern Canola Growers Association.
USMCA Promoted in White House Event – In addition to the announcement on trade assistance, President Donald Trump addressed a variety of other issues in the White House briefing. That includes the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. “We’re fixing broken trade deals to open markets for American exports including the brand new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” said Trump. While Trump said many Democrats support USMCA, but “I don’t think (Speaker) Nancy Pelosi understands the deal.” Trump went on to tout the increased market access for U.S. beef in Japan and the year-round availability of E15.
Minnesota Beef Update – Cattle producers from Minnesota were in Taiwan and Japan recently. Hear more about the trip from Ashley Kohls in the Minnesota Beef Update, a production of the Minnesota Beef Council and the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association.
Trump on a State Visit to Japan – President Donald Trump is in Japan, meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. During a news conference, President Trump said the goal is to remove trade barriers to put the U.S. on fair footing with other countries in Japan. The two leaders agreed to speed up the bilateral trade talks but would not commit to the timing of an agreement. In a Sunday tweet, Trump said he expects any big trade moves to wait until after Japan’s election in July.
Pence to Promote USMCA in Ottawa – Vice President Mike Pence will soon be in Canada to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and seek adoption of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Pence will participate in a trade event in Ottawa on May 30. Pence has been traveling across the country in recent weeks to promote USMCA. That included a stop in Glyndon, Minnesota.
Trade and Mother Nature Both Causing Volatility – Agriculture is on its sixth year of lower net farm income, due to a combination of many factors. American Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President Dale Moore says add in Mother Nature and the recent trade negotiations and he can’t think of a more volatile time in the last 30 years. “The announcement from President Trump to lift the steel and aluminum tariffs is a major step to moving the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, but lawmakers need to pass it.” Moore says there is hope very soon the administration can transmit documentation to the Hill. “We need to get some of these trade fires put out. Getting USMCA done will certainly give us a chance to focus on other trade battles.”
Farmers are Weighing Late Planting and PP Options – Farmers in the Midwest are dealing with extremely wet field conditions, resulting in planting delays. Unless conditions improve soon, some may consider not planting a portion of their 2019 crops. When weighing the option of prevented planting, MinnStar Bank Senior Vice President Kent Thiesse says farmers should first talk with their crop insurance provider. “Find out what type of coverage you have as far as percentage of coverage, eligible acres and what those payments would be,” says Thiesse. “The next thing is to be aware of final planting dates for your region.” There are several factors involved when weighing the prevented planting option. Thiesse says a major player in the decision-making process is inputs. “If the fertilizer hasn’t been put down yet, that decision maybe gets a little easier. Also, be realistic about the expectations for yield. It’s good to talk with your local Extension agent or agronomist about yield potential.” Listen to more in this interview.
Analysts Forecast Lower Yields for Crops Planted – With planting difficulties in the Corn Belt, S & W Trading market analyst Andy Shissler forecasts yield to be down substantially. “We’re not going to hit trend line yield planting a crop in June. It’s insane,” he says. “The conditions have been so wet and cold, we didn’t have many growing degree days. This seems way bigger than 1993.” Shissler says some farmers muddied their corn in to get the crop insurance bushels for October. “It’s a better deal than prevent plant, provided farmers can get a crop into the ground.”
Market Analysts Try to Narrow Down PP Estimates – There is a wide variation in prevented plant acreage estimates among traders. INTL FCStone market analyst Mark Lucas says traders are trying to narrow that number down. “North Dakota is doing pretty well with planting, but when you get into southern and eastern South Dakota there are areas that haven’t turned a wheel yet,” says Lucas. “It’s more of the same in places like Indiana and Ohio.” He says it’s not unusual to have areas that can’t get planted, but this year is different. “There are several areas with major issues. We’re coming up on the insurance planting dates with corn. There are big questions on how much corn will go to prevent plant.”
Disaster Bill to be Addressed After Memorial Day – South Dakota Representative Dusty Johnson tells the Red River Farm Network the disaster bill will be held up until lawmakers get back into Washington D.C. “This is not the way we should be doing business,” says Johnson. “We do need a disaster bill for this country. We’ve got Puerto Rico, Midwestern flooding and more, the kind of things we need to address as a nation.” The Senate’s disaster aid bill makes prevent planting losses eligible for disaster payments, a concern for local farmers who are having a tough time getting the crop in the ground. Johnson says he will be working with the Trump administration on acres planted in the Market Facilitation Program. “We’ve think this MFP program should have been based on historical acres,” he says. “We are going to keep working on the administration to see if we can make allowance for prevent plant. We want to make sure this program works for South Dakota producers.”
Crop Watch – Fields conditions have been fit for farmers along Highway 2 to put the crop in the ground. “We will get to our intended acres, which 10 days ago I would have never though that,” says Petersburg, North Dakota farmer Dave Blasey. “Some of the very first wheat planted in April is starting to poke through.” Just down the road at Michigan, ND farmer Greg Daws says the crops sitting in dry dirt could use a shot of rain. “The area was dry last fall, too,” says CHS Lakota grain manager Darrel Klundt. “We’ve been fortunate on fertilizer supplies, but they are getting tight here at the end.” Wheat, canola corn and soybeans are in the ground near Webster, ND. “There is much better moisture further down, and guys are seeding deeper, but the ground is still cold,” says Rock and Roll Agronomy owner Jason Hanson. Listen to the full Crop Watch segment.
Watch for Wheat Disease this Growing Season – A new growing season means a new set of potential disease issues in crops. As wheat starts coming out of the ground, NDSU Extension plant pathologist Friskop encourages farmers to scout fields. Disease identification is an important first step, and weather can have an impact. “Areas with cool and wet weather have good conditions some of the seportia fungi, such as tan spot,” says Friskop. Areas with drier conditions won’t see fungal leaf spot disease take off right away. “Instead, you might see more root rots. However, like anything, the weather can change quite quickly.”
Dry Bean Scene – Farmers are making making dry bean planting progress at 23 percent in North Dakota and 14 percent in Minnesota. However, spot fertilizer shortages are starting to pop up. Get the details in the latest Dry Bean Scene, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.
Evaluating Seeding Rates in Late Planted Soybeans – University of Minnesota Extension Soybean Specialist Seth Naeve says there are two sides to seeding rates in late planted soybeans. “When you do the economics on it, we have a lower yield potential, because we are planting later. The seed costs becomes a bigger portion of total input costs,” he explains. “You could also argue farmers could reduce seeding rates and save money upfront, because of a lower potential yield. I tell farmers to hold.” Seeding rates are pretty flexible. “If farmers are really pinched and need to stretch their seed across more acres, they could probably thin things out a bit. If farmers have plenty of seed, they could probably keep their population or increase it a bit.”
Pioneer Agronomy Update – This week’s Pioneer Agronomy Update takes the Red River Farm Network team to Leeds, North Dakota. According to Pioneer sales representative Doug Dulmage, this is the third orf fourth year in a row area farmers have put the crop in the ground all at once. “This year’s dry conditions haven’t hurt emergence yet, but we could use some heat.” The area has only accumulated about 100 growing degree units as of May 21. “It typically takes 100 to 120 GDUs for emergence. Most corn seed with 60 to 70 GDUs is sprouting right now.” Even before corn has emerged, Fore says farmers can evaluate stands by spot checking seedlings. Watch the Facebook Live video here.
The Sugarbeet Report – According to NDSU Extension sugarbeet agronomist Tom Peters, it is not too early for farmers to be thinking about weed control in this year’s sugarbeet crop. Hear more in The Sugarbeet Report is made possible by SESVanderHave, Syngenta, Premium Ag Solutions, H&S Manufacturing and Corteva Agriscience.
Weed Management Strategies: Episode Ten – Corteva Agriscience market development specialist Bridgette Readel tells farmers to be ready for weeds when the weather warms up. “If I was a grower, I’d be thinking about when I’ll do my pre-emergence herbicides,” she says. “We need to know what is going to emerge, time it right and be flexible. That’s hard to do, because farmers don’t want to abandon their weed management plan, but Mother Nature is throwing us a curve so we’ll have to be flexible.” Presented by the North Dakota Soybean Council, Weed Management Strategies is a ten-part series exploring best management practices and the tools to help farmers take care of herbicide resistant weeds. Listen to the podcast here, on iTunes or download a podcast app on Google Play.
MFBF Update – During the final minutes the legislative session, the ag finance bill was tabled in the House. Associate Director of Public Policy Josie Lonetti explains what’s in the conference report in the MFBF Update, made possible by the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation. Listen now.
Omnibus Ag Budget Bill Passes in MN Special Session – The omnibus agriculture budget bill passed unanimously in the Minnesota Senate on Friday. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Torrey Westrom said there were a few key highlights to the bill including funding for a Soy Innovation Campus at Crookston, more funds to help with farmer mental health. The bill also included funding to help Minnesota dairies. Chair of the House Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy Division Jeanne Poppe said there was compromise to get through the special session.
MFU Minute – Minnesota lawmakers are heading into a special session. Government Relations Director Stu Lourey explains what that means for agriculture in this week’s MFU Minute, made possible by the Minnesota Farmers Union. Listen here.
MN Legislature Funds Soy Innovation Campus – The Minnesota Legislature approved $5 million to fund the Soy Innovation Campus at the University of Minnesota Crookston via the agriculture, rural development and housing budget. Minnesota Soybean Growers Association President Michael Petefish said the association couldn’t be more thrilled to see this project come to fruition. The funding will go into effect in the second half of the biennium budget starting July 2020.
MN Corn Matters – The ag finance committee report released by the Minnesota Legislature includes funding for AGREET. Learn more from Public Policy Director Amanda Bilek in Corn Matters, a weekly update from Minnesota Corn Growers Association.
Small Refinery Waivers Addressed in Peterson-Johnson Bill – Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson and South Dakota Congressman Dusty Johnson have introduced legislation that sets up a June 1 deadline for refineries to submit small refinery exemption requests from the Renewable Fuel Standard obligations. The bill also calls for increased transparency. In a statement, the American Coalition for Ethanol said this bill will put a stop to EPA’s “abuse” of the smaller refinery waiver process.
WOTUS Rule to be Updated in ’19 – The EPA expects to issue a new definition for ‘waters of the U.S.’ by the end of this year. That timeline was included in the latest regulatory agenda from EPA. The agency received over 600,000 comments about WOTUS.
Seeking a Merger Moratorium – A bill has been reintroduced in Congress to place an immediate ban on new acquisitions and mergers in the food and agriculture sector. Montana Senator Jon Tester said consolidation is one of the biggest threats to Rural America. “You have four companies that control that control 85 percent of the world beef market,” said Tester. “They can go play a round of golf and figure out what they’re going to pay for the beef.” Tester is working with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker on this effort. In a news briefing, Tester said this proposal does not impact recent mergers, like the Bayer-Monsanto deal. “What’s done is done, I don’t think there is a lot we can do about that.”
Preparing for Foreign Animal Diseases – Testifying before a House subcommittee, USDA Undersecretary Greg Ibach said Foot and Mouth Disease has been kept out of the United States for nearly ten years and he’s hoping for a similar track record with African Swine Fever. Ibach said it will take years before a vaccine is found for ASF. “We believe we may be as long as eight years from finding a vaccine that is effective.” At this hearing, Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson said livestock producers should take a cue from the 2015 avian influenza outbreak and support mandatory funding for disease preparedness.
Restoring Faith in the System – A government shutdown following the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill delayed implementation of the new Dairy Margin Coverage Program. Five months later, Associated Milk Producers Incorporated Vice President of Public Affairs Sarah Schmidt says AMPI members are starting to receive their letters from the USDA that spell out what they’ll receive in a Margin Protection Program refund. “That was another piece of the 2018 farm program; lawmakers recognized the MPP program didn’t work. Now, dairy farmers can decide if they want to take 50 percent of a refund in cash or use 75 percent of the refund and put it toward future DMC premiums. These aren’t big amounts of money.” Schmidt says dairy farmers will be making a decision about their DMC participation level based on this refund. “I think they’ll start seeing very quickly the DMC is the right thing to do.” Schmidt says it will take time for dairy farmers to regain faith in the USDA program. DMC sign-up begins mid-June and will be open for 90 days.
Milk Output Increases Slightly – In the 23 major dairy states, April milk production edged up a fraction of one percent. Milk production increased nearly two percent in South Dakota, helped by the addition of 4,000 cows to the state’s dairy herd in the past year. Minnesota milk production declined less than one percent. The number of dairy cows is down 5,000 head in Minnesota.
Cattle on Feed Report Mostly Market Friendly – Friday’s Cattle on Feed report was mostly friendly. On May 1, there were 11.8 million head in feedlots, just two percent above one year ago. This is the highest May 1 inventory since the series began in 1996. There were more than 1.8 million placements in feedlots for April. That’s nine percent above one year ago. USDA livestock analyst Shayle Shagam explains the April placement number. “There was a fairly wide range in trader’s expectations before the report,” he says. “The placement is not unusual, because a number of cattle on winter wheat pasture were probably put on feed in April.” Marketing of fed cattle in April was 1.93 million head, an increase of eight percent from one year ago.
SD Corn Comments – South Dakota corn exports to foreign countries total $490 million, including $190 million worth of ethanol and $162 million worth of distillers grains. Hear more in this week’s Corn Comments, a feature from the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council.
African Swine Fever is a Consideration for Hormel Sales – Hormel Foods reports second quarter earnings of $282.4 million, up from $237.4 million one year ago. Sales for the Minnesota-based company were at a record level, but Hormel officials warned African Swine Fever in China are impacting global hog markets. Profits for the Jennie-O Turkey Store declined, due to a large investment at its whole-bird facility in Melrose, Minnesota.
Raven Industries Reports 1Q Financials – Raven Industries is reporting first quarter net income of $13.2 million. That compares to $22 million one year ago. Raven, which develops and distributes precision agriculture systems, cited the downturn in the farm economy as a concern. The first quarter results were also impacted by an expense associated with a $4.5 million gift to South Dakota State University for a new precision agriculture center.
Alfalfa Genetics Agreement Announced – A new licensing agreement for alfalfa genetics has been signed. Corteva Agriscience and S&W Seed have a new agreement that replaces a 2014 deal between Pioneer and S&W. Pioneer will receive an exclusive license to produce and distribute certain S&W-owned alfalfa varieties. Pioneer also receives seed inventory from S&W valued at approximately $25 million. S&W also retains ownership of the assets acquired in 2014, including alfalfa varieties, germplasm, research and development capabilities and production facilities. The full terms of the agreement were not announced, but S&W will receive $45 million in cash at closing and $25 million in payments concluding in February of 2021.
Trade Award Presented to Minot Group – The Minot Area Development Corporation has been given the Service to Exporters Award from the North Dakota Trade Office. The MADC is working on a project to bring an intermodal facility to Minot, creating new transportation options for North Dakota shippers.
Spoo Promoted at USW – U.S. Wheat Associates has promoted Amanda Spoo to be the director of communications. Previously, Spoo was the assistant communications director. Before moving to USW, Spoo had a similar role at the Kansas Pork Association.
Little Moves to NAMI – The North American Meat Institute has named Sarah Little as the vice president of communications. Little is the longtime communications director for Senate Agricutlure Committee Pat Roberts.
Mahoney Announces Exit from Glencore – Glencore Agriculture CEO Chris Mahoney will step down from that role at the end of September. Mahoney has been CEO for the past 17 years. David Mattiske, who is now a regional director for the company. Glencore approached Bunge for a possible takeover this past year, but the offer was rejected.
Hoeven Hires New Ag Legislative Aide – Savannah Block has joined the staff of North Dakota Senator John Hoeven as the new agriculture legislative aide. Most recently, Block was a senior legislative assistant for the Russell Group.
Tonsager Succumbs to Cancer – Farm Credit Administration Chairman Dallas Tonsager has passed away. Tonsager is a South Dakota native who previously served an undersecretary for rural development at USDA. Tonsager is a former president of the South Dakota Farmers Union and was USDA’s state rural development director in South Dakota during the Clinton presidency.
Last Week’s Trivia- Evel Knievel is the American stuntman that jumped Ceasars Palace and the Snake River Canyon. Lawton farmer Dennis Miller is the first to respond with the correct answer and is our weekly trivia winner. Jason Rominski of Jason Rominski Auctioneers, James Altringer of CHS-Kindred, Al Wimpfeimer of Simplot and Norm Groot of Monterey County Farm Bureau earn runner-up honors. The ‘first 20′ includes Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, Mandy Kvale of Farm Credit Services of Mandan, Angie Skochdopole of broadhead, Pennock dairy farmer David Hallberg, Mark Haugland of Bayer, Dennis Sabel of Minnesota Farm Bureau, Carver County feedlot officer Alan Langseth, Lloyd Kuster of Bremer Insurance, Rich Strom of Minnesota-South Dakota Equipment Dealers Association, Keith Rekow of Dairyland Seed, Harvey farmer Bill Ongstad, Montgomery farmer Bill Rynda, retired AI instructor Lloyd Friske and California Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Val Dolcini.’
This Week’s Trivia- If you go to a Kansas City-style barbecue joint and order burnt ends, what kind of meat will you be enjoying? Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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.