A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Monday, October 19, 2020
Business as Usual – There’s no ‘business as usual’ in today’s COVID-19 world. For most of us, the work place changed with the beginning of the pandemic. However, farming was deemed essential to food security during the coronavirus pandemic. Crops were planted, nurtured and we’re now winding down the harvest season. Crop insurance is a tool to protect those crops and serve as a safety net. The Crop Insurance Professionals Association is meeting this week, highlighting these issues. CIPA has adjusted to COVID-19 and CDC recommendations, with social distancing and more. There is also a virtual component of the meeting. The Red River Farm Network and R&J Broadcasting are assisting CIPA with a live streaming option and expanded coverage for the balance of its membership. Listen to RRFN and follow our Facebook page for updates.
Advocating for Crop Insurance – USDA says net farm income will total nearly $103 billion this year, up 23 percent from $84 billion in 2019. Thirty-six percent of that income this year is from the federal government. “It’s because of the combined impact of MFP; a lot of those dollars were paid out in FY 2020,” said Tom Sell of Combest, Sell and Associates. “And there’s CFAP 1.0, WHIP+ for 2018 and 2019 crops; there’s no baseline associated with any of that.” There is uncertainty with ad hoc spending. “Crop insurance is one thing that we do know will be there, it is certain.” CIPA has had a role in bringing improvements to crop insurance, including trend yield adjustments and the APH yield exclusion.
Election and Ad-Hoc Payments the Focus at Crop Insurance Meeting – With a presidential election two weeks away, meeting attendees are pondering what changes the election will bring to agriculture. Crop Insurance Professionals Association board member and Ohio crop insurance agent Jason Williamson is looking forward to hearing from ProFarmer policy analyst Jim Wiesemeyer and others about it this week. “To hear from them what they’re seeing in Washington D.C. firsthand, I don’t know how you can replace that.” AgCountry Farm Credit Services Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs Howard Olson says ad-hoc payment discussions are also a big part of the meeting. “We’ve been trying to get away from ad-hoc disaster programs and while they were needed this year, we will probably have to go back to work really hard to discuss the importance of crop insurance heading into the next farm bill.” A few of the day’s speakers include North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, Pro Farmer’s Jim Wiesemeyer and USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey. Watch our coverage.
CFAP 2.0 Payments at $4.5 Billion in Third Week – Three weeks into the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2.0, the USDA has paid out more than $4.5 billion. The top three U.S. commodities for payments include corn, cattle and soybeans. So far, North Dakota farmers have received more than $111 million in the program. South Dakota producers received more than $229 million and Minnesota farmers have received more than $333 million.
What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets – The grain markets are opening higher to start this week’s trade. Milk prices are also starting to hold their own. Hear more from Advance Trading Risk Management Advisor Tommy Grisafi in this edition of What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets.
Need to Recharge the Soil Moisture – The fast pace of harvest and a stronger market has been welcome news. “The only other conversation around here is everyone is hoping for rain, said Pat Tronson of Tronson Grain in Doyan, North Dakota. “We’ve gone quite awhile without measurable precip and an inch of rain-plus would be welcomed by everybody for fall tillage, fertilizer and whatnot.”
A Dry Corn Crop – In the far southern Red River Valley, Scott Gillespie has wrapped up his corn and soybean harvest. Gillespie says the corn was dry, much of it under 14 percent. “To put it into perspective, we burned a little over 30,000 gallons of propane last year and we put in a new propane bullet to try and be more efficient on a price point. This year it looks like all of corn acres will take about 4,000 gallons total.” Gillespie is based at Johnson, Minnesota and says this fall is dramatically different than last year. “If we had a year like this every year, there’d probably be only two farmers in each county because you could farm a lot of land with weather like this.”
What a Difference One Year Can Make – One year ago, Erika Kenner was figuring out how to get the soybeans harvested and cattle fed with 25-plus inches of fresh, wet snow. A lot has changed from then until now. “At this time last year, all of our soybeans were still in the field. Some people even had wheat left to harvest. This year, we have all of our wheat, barley and soybeans harvested. We’ve even started corn,” says Kenner. “In 2019, we harvested a little bit of corn in November at 31 percent moisture just so we had a place to winter our cattle. We then waited until March to harvest the rest.” Kenner says there are certainly lessons that can be learned from the past year. One of those is learning to adapt to change. “Every year is different, and we have to learn to roll with the punches. You can try to be prepared as possible, but Mother Nature really is in control.” Kenner operates Kenner Simmentals near Leeds, North Dakota. Hear more in this Red River Farm Network interview.
A Variable Corn Crop for Buffalo, ND Farmer – Buffalo, North Dakota farmer Randy Melvin is harvesting corn. Crop moisture ranges from 13.5 to 15 percent. “I’m hoping it’s not my worst field, but we have a few fields coming up that may have had too much moisture. It may be a variable crop, but it’s starting off on the right foot.” Melvin says it’s nice to get corn harvested in October. Last fall’s corn was harvested in early 2020. “I’m hoping we can be done in about one week. As long as the weather holds, I think the 2020 corn harvest will be ok.”
Rural Perspectives – A trifecta of farm programs are on the short list of agriculture producers right now. According to AgCountry Farm Credit Services Vice President of Insurance and Commodity Marketing Education Rob Fronning, those include WHIP+, CFAP 2.0 and ARC/PLC. Hear more from Fronning in the latest edition of the Rural Perspectives podcast from AgCountry FCS. Listen now.
SD Winter Wheat Crop Could Use a Drink of Water – Winter wheat seeding is mostly complete in South Dakota. “We’ve been down in acreage the last few years due to severe moisture issues. That’s hampered the acres available to plant, but this fall has gone perfectly,” said Reid Christopherson, executive director, South Dakota Wheat Commission. “Harvest is wrapping up quickly and price is showing a rebound. Farmers are thinking winter wheat.” Drier conditions are slowing the final seeding and rain would be appreciated. “There’s spotty emergence at this time. In many cases, the crop is still dormant and we could use a rain to freshen that up and get roots established.”
Dry Conditions for the Northern Plains Heading Into Winter – Conditions are dry as harvest wraps up in the Northern Plains. The dry conditions are opposite from the wet field conditions last fall. USDA Midwest Climate Hub Director Dennis Todey says the variability in the region can make things frustrating. “It’s unfortunately the way it is. Last year, it was the wettest two years on record for Minnesota and South Dakota and now, we’ve flipped.” According to Todey, a soil moisture recharge may not happen in the Northern Plains before winter sets in. “A few things are at play including not much fall rain and depending on where you are, the outlook for winter and early spring aren’t as optimistic for precipitation to get back in that soil moisture profile. That’s beginning to become a concern, too.” Some moisture is possible in the active weather outlook, but the frozen soils won’t help as much in recharging soil moisture.
Dust in the Wind – Kansas Wheat Vice President of Research and Operations Aaron Harries says it’s too dry. “A lot of places in Kansas haven’t had measurable rainfall in months. It doesn’t look like there’s much in the short-term forecast. The problem is there’s strong winds shifting from the south one day to the north another day and we’ve had some dust storms in western Kansas. It’s a little taste of the 1930s coming back.” Harries says the wheat that’s up is getting sandblasted by the dust storms. “It’s windy enough it could blow the plant out of the ground.”
Mother Nature Gets in the Way of Fresh Potato Harvest – Local potato growers are trying to finish harvest, but Mother Nature is getting in the way again. The dry fall and cooler temperatures are challenging farmers like Kelly Grotte from Thompson, North Dakota. “It’s an unreal opposite of 2019. Last year, from September 11 to October 11, we had 10 inches of moisture and after that, we had another five inches. This year, we’ve had one-tenth of an inch the entire month. When the moisture shut off, soil lumps got hard and some people haven’t dug any potatoes yet.” Associated Potato Growers Incorporated CEO Mike Torgerson says potato harvest is about 70 percent complete for the cooperative. The remaining 30 percent is mostly in the Grand Forks area. “We’ll see how things play out. The lower, cool temperatures aren’t looking real promising.” Potato yields have been good, but yield doesn’t really matter if the potatoes get nicked or bruised in the process, because they won’t store well.
American Crystal Sugar Company Harvest Campaign Comes to a Quick Finish – Sugarbeet harvest has wrapped up for American Crystal Sugar Company. It was one of the shortest harvest seasons ever for the co-op. East Grand Forks, Minnesota grower David Thompson finished his beet harvest on October 4. “It was phenomenal with good conditions. Tonnage probably wasn’t what we were looking for, but sugar content is better than year’s past.” American Crystal Sugar Company general agronomist Joe Hastings says it could be fastest harvest since 2015. “It’s a big deal to have a smooth harvest for growers.” The dry conditions helped with the sugar content, but lowered the overall tonnage.
Southern Minn. Farmers Experience a Very Different Harvest This Fall – Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative Vice President of Agriculture Todd Geselius says harvest conditions have been a significant improvement over last year. “I don’t know exactly where we’re going to end up, but we’re expecting the yield to be around 29.5 tons per acre with the sugar around 17 percent, give or take.”
Dry Bean Scene – This year, most of the crops are in the bin and there is ample opportunity to get fields back into tip-top shape. According to NDSU Extension soil specialist Dave Franzen, soil sampling should also be a priority this fall. Hear more in the Dry Bean Scene, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association, Johnstown Bean Company, SRS Commodities and BASF.
Strong Soybean Cash Prices Remain – It’s not common to have markets rally and the basis narrow at the same time, offering farmers a decent cash price. Van Ahn and Company market analyst Kristi Van Ahn says a strong cash price in soybeans continues this week. “A lot of times, especially for North Dakota, the posted bid isn’t what you’re getting. If you call them up and talk to them about what you have on hand, a lot of times a much better bid could come your way for soybeans. That’s what we’ve been seeing.” Van Ahn says it’s important to take advantage of good marketing opportunities. “The market is telling you they want those soybeans right now.”
MN Legislature Passes Bonding and Tax Bill – The $1.36 billion bonding and tax bill passed by the Minnesota Legislature on Thursday will provide $200 million in tax breaks for farmers, including Section 179 conformity. “I think there was some concern about getting the tax bill done before we enter the next biennium in January, after the election and a new Legislature convenes,” said Bruce Kleven, ag lobbyist. “Lawmakers have been working on this for months and they’ve had chances in special sessions over the summer. It’s better late than never.” The bill is a little different than what was proposed in early 2020. “What was being considered earlier this year was a more comprehensive tax bill including other provisions. This bill has been streamlined to be just a Section 179 conformity bill,” said Kleven. “Essentially, the language has a retroactive component to the like-kind exchanges in calendar year 2018 and 2019 and then, the full expensing for all properties in 2020.”
MN Ag Groups Glad for Section 179 Conformity – The Minnesota Legislature passed a bonding and tax bill on Thursday. Full Section 179 conformity is included in the legislation and Minnesota agricultural groups are pleased the effort is at the finish line. Minnesota Soybean Growers Association President Jamie Beyer says it’s been a huge worry for the association to get this fixed. “It was sort of like the Department of Revenue was reaching back in time and squeezing farm and businesses for additional taxes they didn’t know they’d have to owe,” says Beyer. “The rules were changed after the fact. Unfortunately, we had so much commitment to getting this fix done in February and then, COVID-19 came along and shifted the focus.” Minnesota Farm Bureau Director of Public Policy Amber Glaeser says Governor Walz has been supportive of the issue. “Hopefully, we’ll get it signed into law and put this behind us.”
MN Corn Matters – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made a recent appearance in Minnesota. Get the full details from Minnesota Corn Growers Association President Tim Waibel in the latest Corn Matters.
NCBA Releases Framework for Fed Cattle Price Discovery – USDA has spent many months looking at and analyzing two major events that shook the cattle markets. It all started last fall when a packing plant fire broke out in Kansas. Then, the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic were felt by cattle producers when the slaughter pace slowed. As a result, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has created framework for fed cattle price discovery. This approach lays out a plan to increase negotiated trade and incentivize each of the major packers’ participation in such negotiated trade. The framework explains in detail what NCBA is calling the “75% Plan,” which is designed to provide negotiated trade and packer participation benchmarks for the industry to strive toward. A Subgroup will evaluate the weekly negotiated trade information for each of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s cattle feeding reporting regions on a quarterly basis in arrears. Eventually, the Subgroup will include in its evaluation an analysis of packer participation data, but this information is not yet published under Livestock Mandatory Reporting. Review the full plan here.
East Coast Native Has Big Plans for North Dakota Beef – John Roswech is on a mission to direct market North Dakota beef to consumers. For many years, the east coast native worked in the technology industry selling e-commerce software. Roswech first became familiar with the state 20 years ago on a pheasant hunting trip. Eventually, he made a permanent move in 2011 and purchased a farmstead with pastureland. After the move, Roswech asked himself on simple question: How can I provide for my family? That’s how South 40 Farms came to be. “When I started purchasing cattle a year ago, I did the math on 100, 200 and 300 head. The math didn’t work.” That’s when Roswech had the idea to build a local beef processing plant to sell northern raised beef to consumers in the coastal states. “I penciled out the math, again, and it started to add up if I could become vertically integrated. The other part of this plan to partner with local ranchers to help them sell directly to consumers.” The new 5,500 square foot beef processing facility broke ground on September 30 and will eventually be able to process over 150 head per day. The federally inspected facility hopes to open its doors on March 1, 2021. Learn more about South 40 Beef in this Red River Farm Network interview.
Export-Import Bank CEO Visits ND – North Dakota Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer hosted Kimberly Reed, the president and CEO of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, for a town hall meeting Wednesday. The Export-Import Bank provides export credit insurance, working capital guarantees and commercial loan guarantees. Cramer said this is an important financing tool for small exporters.
Enbridge Completes Line 3 Project in ND – Enbridge has wrapped up its Line 3 replacement project in North Dakota. As a whole, over 1,000 miles of pipeline and facilities are being replaced in Canada, North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The work is complete in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin. “We are poised once we get all final permits to start constructing Line 3 in Minnesota,” said Barry Simonson, who oversees the project in the U.S. Dave Hodek managed the Enbridge replacement effort in North Dakota and says the focus is now on restoration of farm ground. “We’re working in probably one of the richest agricultural areas in the world with the Red River Valley,” said Hodek. “It is very important to us to return that land back to the same productivity that it had before we came in to install the pipeline and we take that very seriously.” An event recognizing the completion of the North Dakota portion of the project was held at the Pembina County fairgrounds.
ND Specialty Crop Grants Awarded – North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has awarded 27 specialty crop grants totaling over $3 million. The largest grant is $339,000 for the National Agricultural Genotyping Center to evaluate blight detection in pulse crops through molecular diagnostics. The projects cover the full scope of specialty crops in the state including dry beans, potatoes, field peas, sunflowers and fruit crops.
Mayville State University to Offer Agribusiness Degree – Mayville State University is launching a new agribusiness program. “We have a couple classes that we will offer in the spring of 2021 and we’ll go full throttle ahead in the fall quarter,” said Ted Stoa, who is coordinating the new degree program. “We feel there is a niche out there for what we’re going to offer.” Murray State University agriculture dean Tony Brannon is serving as a consultant to Mayville State on this new agribusiness degree. “We’re trying to meet the needs of this local area and the needs of the agricultural industry, to provide people an education that can go into these many jobs,” said Brannon. Mayville State officials met with farmers and representatives of the agribusiness world Tuesday to discuss the opportunities with this new degree program.
Rural Mainstreet Index Rises – The recent improvement in commodity prices and federal government support has resulted in more optimism within agriculture. The Rural Mainstreet Index has reached its highest level since January, before the start of the pandemic. Creighton University surveys bankers in ten states, including North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota, for this monthly report. The farmland price index increased in the Dakotas, but declined in Minnesota.
September Was a Good Month for Farm Equipment Sales – According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, U.S. tractor sales increased nearly 22 percent in September compared to 2019. Combine sales increased more than eight percent. Year-to-date, tractor sales are up about 15 percent and combine sales are up 4.3 percent from last year.
Annual CRP Payments Issued – USDA is issuing nearly $1.7 billion in Conservation Reserve Program payments. There are approximately 22 million acres enrolled in the program. CRP will be celebrating its 35th anniversary in December.
October is Co-op Month – National Co-op Month celebrates the impact cooperatives have on our daily lives. One out of every three Americans are members of a cooperative and there are more than 40,000 cooperatives nationwide. With the cooperative movement, farmers leverage their combined influence for the good of all. This October Co-op Month message is brought to you by the North Dakota Farmers Union and Associated Milk Producers, Incorporated.
DOJ Accepts Plea Agreement in Price Fixing Scandal – Pilgrim’s Pride has accepted a plea deal to settle price fixing and bid rigging allegations. The chicken processor will enter a guilty plea and pay a fine of $110 million. Current and former employees of Tyson Foods, Claxton Poultry Farms, Perdue Farms and Koch Foods are also under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.
Taking Sustainability to Commodity Grain Production – Truterra, which is the sustainable business at Land O’Lakes, has entered into a new collaboration with Ag Growth International. AGI provides equipment solutions for agricultural bulk commodities, including seed, grain and fertilizer. The goal is to take sustainability transparency to a larger scale and offer farmers a way to market grains as identity-preserved based on sustainability metrics without making changes in the existing infrastructure.
CIBUS Canola Traits Designated as Non-Regulated – Cibus has announced an additional 12 of its trait products has been designated as non-regulated by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. These canola traits utilize Cibus’ Rapid Trait Development System which makes targeted genetic changes without integrating foreign genetic material into the plant. These products include a pod shatter-reduction trait, resistance to fungal diseases and herbicide resistance. These traits should be commercially available within the next five years. In addition, Cibus has received approval for a high oleic acid trait in canola.
engAGe: Workplace Changes – The COVID-19 pandemic continues to change up the workplace. South Dakota State University Extension State Climatologist Laura Edwards says it’s tricky when face-to-face interactions have been limited for most of the year. “We are doing more online, which gives us flexibility to work from home. For both parents, managing home life can be difficult.” Edwards talks about setting priorities, working as a state climatologist and more in the latest engAGe: a series for women in agribusiness podcast episode. engAGe: a series for women in agribusiness is presented by AgCountry Farm Credit Services and Corteva Agriscience. Hear the latest episode.
AGP Names New CFO and Vice President of Operations – Ag Processing Inc has announced career moves for Kyle Droescher and Lou Rickers. Droesher, AGP vice president of finance, has been selected as AGP’s group vice president and chief financial officer. Droescher succeeds Scott Simmelink, who is retiring. Rickers has been promoted to vice president of operations and will succeed Ernie Kiley, who is retiring at the end of the year. Rickers has been AGP’s senior director of operations since 2018.
Patterson Promoted – Barbara Patterson is now the vice president for the government affairs consulting group, Michael Torrey Associates. Most recently, Patterson was the director of government affairs. Previously, Patterson had a similar role with the National Farmers Union.
Walz to Lead Midwest Governor’s Association – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has been appointed as the new chair of the Midwest Governor’s Association. There are a dozen governors represented in this group. Energy issues are the first thing on Walz’s agenda.
Changes Made in Noem’s Staff – Jason Simmons, who has South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s agricultural advisor, will move to the Department of Agriculture. Simmons will work on the merger of the agriculture and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Allen Cambon has taken over the job as the governor’s ag advisor. Previously, Cambon oversaw agriculture issues for Louisiana Congressman Ralph Abraham.
SD Corn Comments – This past week, South Dakota Corn and U.S. Grains Council hosted a virtual visit for trade teams from overseas. Learn more in the latest Corn Comments, a production of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council.
New Roles for Olander and Detloff – Keith Olander has taken a new role as the executive director of AgCentric and Agricultural Partnerships. Int his position, Olander will work on a statewide basis on farm business management and ag education. Cory Detloff takes over as the new director of the Ag and Energy Center and Farm Business Management at Central Lakes College.
SD FFA Member Finalist for National Star in Ag Placement – McCook Central FFA member Cole Schock from Salem, South Dakota is a finalist for the American Star in Agricultural Placement. Schock would like to have his own dairy farm one day, so he decided beginning a career in the dairy industry would be a good first step. He started his Supervised Agricultural Experience project on the family dairy in 2012 and then, earned his A.I. certificate in 2018, working in Colorado, South Dakota and Minnesota. He since returned to the family farm and works as a Select Sires A.I. tech. Schock will be competing against three others for the award. Star award winners will be announced during the fourth session of the virtual 93rd National FFA Convention on October 28.
Virtual National FFA Convention Starts Next Week – There may not be a sea of 70,000 blue corduroy jackets and guests flooding downtown Indianapolis this year, but there will still be a virtual 93rd National FFA Convention. National FFA CEO Mark Poeschl thinks the virtual event, October 27 – 29, has the potential to be the largest held to date in the United States. “We will have our live sessions presented live on RFD-TV, YouTube and the National FFA website. It’s during those live events the big awards will be handled.” The organization is also trying to move forward on ways to make agriculture education and FFA accessible to all, focusing on inclusion, diversity and equity. The National FFA Officer selection process is getting a revamp after a National FFA Officer was removed from his office position. “We want to assure these young people understand the service component and commitment they need to make and we’ve adjusted the process to include that.”
Last Week’s Trivia – Each state has two U.S. senators. That answers our last trivia question. Congratulations to Stephanie Larson of Rose-Oak British Whites for being the first to respond with the correct answer. Carver County feedlot officer Alan Langseth, Mark Haugland of Bayer, retired Hanley Falls farmer Roger Dale and Wayne Benbo of Fish’s Sporting Toys earn runner-up honors. The ‘first 20’ rounds out with Jon Cavett of Enderlin, Jim Altringer of CHS Dakota Plains Ag, Twyla Wulf of Clear Springs Cattle Company, Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, livestock management consultant Bruce Trautman, Kevin Schulz of National Hog Farmer, Dianne Bettin of LB Pork, retired insurance executive Kent Olson, Cokato farmer Harlan Anderson, Burleigh County farmer Jim McCullough, Alma dairy farmer Curtis Noll, Harvey farmer Bill Ongstad, Keith Bjorneby of Lone Wolf Farms, Sara O’Toole of O’Toole Seed and Renville County farmer Mickey Peterson.
This Week’s Trivia – What former U.S. president was a peanut farmer from Georgia? Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|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.