A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Monday, October 21, 2019
Reporting Agriculture’s Business- This past week, the Red River Farm Network was at a meeting hosted by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, Microsoft’s $1.5 million contribution to the Grand Farm in Fargo, an on-farm agronomy report and an event educating dieticians on soybean production. We also reported about the ongoing struggle with the 2019 harvest and market-sensitive news. At RRFN, we believe it is important to get out of the studio and report from the events important to our audience. In recognition of the 75th anniversary of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, a series of videos are being released to share a day in the life of a farm broadcaster. The first video in the series highlights farm broadcaster Carah Hart. Here at RRFN, we’re reporting agriculture’s business.
North Dakota Officials Looking at Crop Losses and Flooding Damages – North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring will be in Fargo, Grand Forks, Jamestown and Fessenden today. The team will visit these areas to look at damage and losses for federal disaster requests and better understand the impacts excessive moisture is having on harvest. At each stop, Burgum and Goehring will meeting with city officials, community members and farmers and ranchers. The final visit at Fessenden will feature a townhall meeting that begins at 5:30 p.m. View the full schedule.
Northern Ag Groups Push for “Appropriate Disaster Assistance” – A letter has been sent to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue seeking “the fullest appropriate disaster assistance” under the WHIP+ program and other USDA programs. This letter was signed by groups representing farmers in the Northern Tier states, including soybeans, wheat, barley, sunflowers, canola, dry beans, pulse crops and the National Farmers Union. Extreme moisture has resulted in quality losses, such as low falling numbers, sprout damage and mold. The WHIP+ regulations now exclude quality losses for everything but wine grapes. The farm groups said that puts grain producers in the Northern Plains at serious disadvantage.
Amidst a Tough Harvest, Agriculture Asks for Disaster Aid – “This is one of the most challenging harvests North Dakota farmers have ever faced.” Those words come from North Dakota Grain Growers Association President Dan Wogsland, who says conditions aren’t getting any easier. Extreme moisture has resulted in quality issues, such as low falling numbers, sprouting and mold. “Farmers sell quality. If there was a ‘silver bullet’ we could incorporate today, we’d do it” says Wogsland. “Unfortunately we don’t have that, so we’re taking the avenue of working with decision makers on securing disaster assistance.” Wogsland adds farmers should report any crops losses or other damages to their local Extension agent to aid in preparing a Secretarial disaster declaration. “No matter what do you with policy, it cannot replace a good crop and harvest weather.” Hear from Wogsland in the interview.
Peterson Hears from MN Farmers on Tough Harvest – On Saturday, farmers met in Thief River Falls to discuss tough harvest conditions with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson. Farmers told Peterson they are grateful for the help that’s been given, but would appreciate something more. Peterson challenged the group to consider what that looks like. He told the 55 in attendance another disaster aid bill isn’t likely, due to the push back of passing the last disaster bill, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to try to help. “I will look into whether we can do any kind of disaster aid, but I don’t know where we will get the money or a vehicle. I’ll talk to North Dakota Senator John Hoeven to see what we can come up with.” Farmers told Peterson they have a great crop in some fields and they can’t get to it. “I think there will be some farmers who won’t be able to harvest,” explained Peterson. “We’ll see how it sorts out, but it will be a bad winter I think.” Market Facilitation Program payments, U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement ratification and clarification on crop insurance were also addressed during the discussion.
Handle Flooded Fields Separately at Harvest – As farmers wait for snow to melt and water to run off fields, University of Minnesota Extension soybean agronomist Seth Naeve says flooded fields need to handled separately. Naeve says the big concern is the soybean pods that have been underwater. “When we get those harvested, farmers will want to stay out of the wettest areas first. When they get into the wet area of the field, they may have to keep headers up. Flooded beans may sprout later and can cause big problems for storage.” Naeve says if you have soybeans that are under water, contact your crop insurance agent first. “There’s a lot of details around this. There are questions about delayed harvest.”
Pioneer Agronomy Update – With the extreme wet conditions, stalk integrity can be an issue in corn. Pioneer field agronomist Jesse Moch wants growers to check out those fields. “The majority is coming from crown rot that moves up through the stalk and eventually that, either with a snow or a wind, starts to tip over. It is worth that typical years. We need to prioritize harvest in those fields that my have stalk rot.” The Red River Farm Network was at a Hillsboro, North Dakota plot for the Pioneer Facebook Live update Thursday, and moisture levels in the corn ranged from 24-to-28 percent. Due to maturity issues, test weights are lighter than normal.
Small Grain Seed Production Could Be At Risk – It’s too early to tell the quality and quantity of spring wheat seed in North Dakota for the year ahead. North Dakota State Seed Department Seed Commissioner Ken Bertsch says until the final certification process is wrapped up, there aren’t any definite answers. “We’ve run into this before where in certain areas of the state harvest conditions will be different from others. Seed can move. Some of the folks in the southwest part of the state are contacting growers in the east part of the state about moving seed.” A concern could be durum seed. “The bigger problem in North Dakota is durum seed production acres have fallen drastically in the last five years,” says Bertsch. “Last year, we had about 13,000 acres and we’re down from that again this year. Durum will be shakier than spring wheat when it comes to seed supply issues.” Listen to the story.
Rural Perspectives – There are important crop insurance dates coming up at the end of October. Based at Jamestown, North Dakota, AgCountry Farm Credit Services insurance specialist Chris Tofsrud has been fielding questions regarding the excessive moisture, crop losses and more. Hear from Tofsrud in this edition of Rural Perspectives, made possible by AgCountry Farm Credit Services.
ACSC Remains Confident About the Beet Harvest – It’s been a tough fall, but American Crystal Sugar Company Vice President of Agriculture Brian Ingulsrud remains optimistic the majority of the crop will be harvested. The number of workers available to farmers is shrinking and that will influence the pace of harvest. “Shareholders rely on a lot of truck drivers who take vacation and some of those individuals have run out of vacation time. That will undoubtedly slow the harvest a bit, but the wet conditions will slow it down anyway.”
A Window of Opportunity to Harvest Sugarbeets – Slowly, but surely, farmers found their way back into sugarbeet fields over the weekend. American Crystal Sugar Company piling stations in most parts of the Red River Valley were able to open and receive sugarbeets. “The middle of the valley is still pretty wet in that Crookston, Hillsboro, East Grand Forks area,” says ACSC general agronomist Joe Hastings. “This rain does plump up the beets a little more and may reduces the sugar content just a little bit. Sugars do remain the 17s, so that is still pretty good.” Hastings adds that the agriculture staff is looking at areas with beets under water for an extended period of time and verifying if the product can be stored. This Harvest Hotline segment is made possible by the North Dakota Mill, AgCountry Farm Credit Services and U.S. Custom Harvesters, Incorporated.
Minn-Dak Sugarbeet Harvest Moving at a Snail’s Pace – Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative Vice President of Agriculture Mike Metzger says Minn-Dak’s sugarbeet harvest is moving at a snail’s pace. “Mother Nature is a cruel mistress. Every rain cloud that comes overhead drops some form of precipitation. We’d like to get farmers back in the field.” Metzger says there will be a few fields that are flooded out, but most growers were able to manage that pretty well during pre-pile. “You’d be surprised on how many growers recognize that and target those fields during pre-harvest. It’s not going to make as much impact as one would think.”
Tough Outlook Ahead for Potatoes – Northern Plains Potato Growers Association Marketing and Communications Director Ted Kreis says it looks tough for potato growers. “Our growers are hoping to get enough extended dry, windy weather for harvest.” Kreis expects to see water damage to the potatoes. “Generally, if it’s not too saturated, there will be high ground to get the crop out. Right now, that’s not even in sight. We are going to pursue all angles for insurance coverage through the federal government. It’s in the early stages.”
Move Saturated Corn Fields Higher on the Harvest List – Corn and soybeans fields in east central North Dakota still have standing water in them. Page Seed and Agronomy co-owner Paige Elsner says while a lot of the corn in the Page area did reach maturity, but moisture content is still high. “I have been happy with test weight so far. There will be some heavy corn harvested with a phenomenal yield.” says Elsner. “It’s just too bad a lot of it is still standing in water right now.” Elsner does have concerns about stalk rot and recommends farmers walk those fields to conduct a push test. “When we are able to harvest, go after the more saturated fields first.”
Strategize Now for 2020 Season – Fall is normally a good time for tillage and a broadcast fertilizer application. That’s after the spring of 2019 where farmers did everything they could just to get a crop in the ground. “I think we’re going to feel the season of 2019 for a few years down the road,” said Steve Carlsen, crop enhancement manager, CHS Agronomy. “Anytime we have a chance to catch up or make the right decision, we need to do that.” Carlsen says many farmers are already making plans to adjust their fertility situation for 2020. That includes more focus on in-furrow fertility. Weed control will also be a concern next spring. Carlson says that strategy should include a burndown, an effective pre and the correct adjuvant. “It is amazing in some of those prevented plant fields and the monster weeds out there. We’re going to have to be on our ‘A game’ for the 2020 season.”
Canola Minute – The October USDA Crop Production report does show an uptick in canola production. Hear from Northern Canola Growers Association Executive Director Barry Coleman in the latest Canola Minute.
HRSW Export Prices Driven by Quality and Farmer Selling – Despite quality concerns with the late-harvested spring wheat crop, U.S. Wheat Associates says the United States is prepared to meet international demand in the new marketing year. In addition to quality issues, farmer selling has been minimal. In a report from U.S. Wheat Associates market analyst Claire Hutchins, the lack of farmer selling has resulted in higher export basis at the Gulf and Pacific Northwest. Those export prices are expected to increase until local cash prices rise enough to encourage farmers to sell wheat.
Grain Traders Wary of U.S. and China Trade Agreement – AgResource Company President Dan Basse says traders will be wary of a trade deal with China until they see a signed deal. “We’re waiting to see those purchases and when they come, we’ll react.” Basse says traders are very aware that China has a history of changing or cancelling contracts. “Our confidence in terms of an agreement that wasn’t inked is very low.”
Kudlow: USMCA Could be Ratified by Thanksgiving – White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow told reporters on Thursday he thinks there can be bipartisan backing on the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement in the United States by Thanksgiving. “Political differences exist. I get that, but they can still come together on something,” said Kudlow. “There’s almost a consensus view that USMCA is a good thing for America now and in the future. I remain optimistic. I’ve spoken to leaders in the House and Senate that say maybe we can get something by Thanksgiving.”
Dry Bean Scene – Snow and rain halted dry bean harvest in much of the Northern Plains. Some North Dakota counties are evening being considered for a disaster declaration. Get the details in the Dry Bean Scene, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association, UPL, FMC, Johnstown Bean Company, Central Valley Bean Cooperative and SRS Commodities.
What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets – Corn basis is hot at grain elevators right now. What’s not hot? Mother Nature continues to delay harvest in the Northern Plains. Advance Trading risk management advisor Tommy Grisafi has more in this edition of What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets.
Concern Seen Over Farm Economy – Minnesota Senator Tina Smith has been meeting with ag lenders about the current farm economy. “As one friend in farming said to me you can’t take your patriotism to the bank,” said Smith. “As I talk to farmers and lenders, they are really worried about what is going to be in store over the next few months.” Smith says these issues are very complex and impact every farm in a different way. “What I worry about the most are the younger farmers who don’t have a lot of equity built up.”
Ag Lending Activity Slows, Caution Remains – After nine consecutive quarters of year-over-year growth, the volume of non-real estate farm debt declined in the third quarter. In a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, there has been some deterioration in ag credit conditions, but the financial performance at agricultural banks remained sound. Ag lenders report the pace of weak credit conditions has slowed, but the current weather and delayed harvest situation could hurt going into the end of the year.
Balancing Farm Financials in Trying Times – Trade tensions, market volatility, Mother Nature; it’s a trying time in agriculture as farmers weather several storms, both figuratively and literally. With this uncertainty, NDSU Extension agricultural finance specialist Bryon Parman says it is hard to paint an accurate financial outlook right now. Making sound management decisions can help. “A lot of decisions on the margins wind up adding up, for example pre-pricing propane or fertilizer,” says Parman. “Having a clear cut marketing plan also helps determine where you can make a profit.” While financial planning can be difficult during uncertain times, Parman acknowledge there are options. In the short-term, farmers can take advantage of Commodity Credit Corporation loans or Market Facilitation Program payments to meet cash flow needs. Listen to the full conversation with Parman.
EPA Issues RFS Proposal – The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a draft rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard. The agency wants feedback on how the annual renewable fuel percentages are calculated. These percentages are used to determine the number of gallons to blend in fuel for compliance. At issue are small refinery waiver exemptions. In this new proposal, the EPA will seek comment on fuel exemptions for 2020 and says they will grant partial exemptions in appropriate circumstances. The EPA will hold a public hearing on October 30, followed by a 30-day public comment period. Read the proposal.
The Potential for Less Ethanol and Continued Hard Times – National Farmers Union Senior Vice President of Public Policy Rob Larew says the EPA is relying on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) recommended levels of waivers in the proposed biofuels rule and that’s not reality. “The reality is the EPA didn’t follow the department’s recommended levels, they went above them. By going with the DOE levels, you’re cutting nearly in half the amount of potential that can be reallocated.” Larew says the Trump administration is trying to make two sides happy. “They come out with a strong statement earlier this month on biofuels and when the details come out we see that’s been watered down more. We may continue to have less demand, less ethanol and continued hard times.”
Lawmakers Stand Up for CRP SAFE Initiative – A bipartisan group of senators is asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to prioritize enrollment and implementation of the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement initiative within the Conservation Reserve Program. The lawmakers said the decision to limit cost-share incentives in recent continuous sign-ups and excluding programs like this one will reduce the interest in CRP. The letter was signed by 17 senators, including Minnesota Senators Klobuchar and Smith, South Dakota Senators Thune and Rounds and North Dakota Senator Hoeven.
SD Corn Comments – South Dakota Corn annual report should be showing up in your mailbox, highlighting the farm bill, crop insurance and more. Get the details in this week’s Corn Comments, a feature from the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council.
Thune Seeks Improvements in Weather Forecasting – South Dakota Senator John Thune has introduced legislation to improve weather forecasting models and make NOAA’s current and future models more accessible to outside experts. Thune said farmers and ranchers depend on the accuracy of weather forecasts and it is important to improve those capabilities.
Grassroots Policy Development – In preparation for next month’s Minnesota Farmers Union convention, policy issues have been heard in the county meetings. MFU Government Relations Director Stu Lourey says a lot of good resolutions have come forward. “Some of them we’ve seen before on things like healthcare, broadband or spending on state agriculture programs. We also saw some new ones, including making easier for new meat processors to come in for folks pasturing hogs and that sort of thing.”
MN Corn Matters – Farmers need to be on the lookout for Palmer amaranth ahead of the combines this fall. Hear from Minnesota Department of Agriculture section manager Denise Thiede in this edition of Corn Matters, made possibly by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.
Palmer Amaranth Found in Sioux County, ND – A new case of Palmer amaranth has been confirmed in south central North Dakota. According to the state Agriculture Department, the plant was found in cropland in Sioux County. While it is limited to a single plant, the source of contamination is unknown. In 2019, Palmar amaranth has also been found in Morton, Grant and Emmons Counties, which all neighbor Sioux County. View all findings in North Dakota.
Kochia Management Survey Available – NDSU Extension Weed Specialist Joe Ikley is asking farmers to take a kochia management survey for the Western IPM Kochia Working Group. “Conducting the survey to monitor a farmer’s concern on kochia, if they’re aware of herbicide resistance on their operation and also, if they’re aware of the information available from other agronomists.” Ikley says the survey will take a couple of minutes to complete and is available here.
Celebrate Co-op Month this October – Did you know there are more than 40,000 cooperative businesses in the United States with 350 million members? October is celebrated as National Co-op Month, and the 2019 theme Co-ops: By the Community, For the Community fits well with this recent data. Listen for stories throughout October on your local RRFN station, made possible by Associated Milk Producers, Incorporated and the North Dakota Farmers Union.
ND Farmers Market and Growers Association Update – Farmers markets across North Dakota are still open for the season. North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association President Ross Lockhart encourages customers to check out the fall produce, canned items and baked goods in this update.
Census Workers Asking to Enter Livestock Barns – The Animal Ag Alliance is reporting incidents in several states of people affiliated with the Census Bureau asking to enter livestock and poultry barns. While Census workers are currently out gathering information, they should provide proper identification and not enter barns or other biosecure areas. Further information on identifying Census workers is available at census.gov.
Southeast Asia Trade Delegation Visits ND – A trade delegation from southeast Asia took a closer look at corn ethanol production in North Dakota this past week. The 20-member trade team toured a Buffalo, North Dakota farm and the Spiritwood ethanol plant on Thursday. North Dakota Corn Utilization Council Executive Director Jean Henning says the group got to see the process and learn about Dried Distillers Grains. Henning also says countries like Vietnam have market potential for U.S. ethanol. “Currently, Vietnam isn’t using corn-based ethanol. We’re trying to sell them on the benefits of corn ethanol versus sugarcane ethanol.”
Dieticians and Food Influencers Learn About Soybean Prodcution – A group of dietitians, nutritionists and culinary lifestyle marketers learned more about soybean production at Hillsboro, North Dakota. This was a part of a soyfoods and farm tour organization by the National Soyfoods Council. North Dakota Soybean Growers Association Executive Director Nancy Johnson, who led yesterday’s discussion with farmers, says these professionals see soy as a valuable protein resource. “We were able to help them relate to soybeans needing nutrition, just like their clients would, to explain how and why farmers control weeds and diseases,” says Johnson. Typically, the group would be able to see farmers harvesting soybeans at this time of the year. With the continued wet conditions, Johnson says working with the weather was a highlight of the conversation. Hear more in this interview.
Microsoft Invests $1.5 Million in Grand Farm – At an event at the Microsoft campus in Fargo, a new partnership was announced for the Grand Farm. Microsoft President Brad Smith touted this ag innovation center that introduces the farm of the future. “When we get excited about something; we put our energy behind it, we put our name behind it and we put our money into it,” said Smith. “We will spend $1.5 million as a company to bring Grand Farm to life.” Microsoft is partnering with Emerging Prairie for this project which was described as the intersection of agriculture and technology. Autonomous tractors, drones and artificial intelligence are all part of the Grand Farm vision. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, who once worked with Smith at Microsoft, was part of the Grand Farm announcement.
Cargill to Expand Soybean Crush Capacity – Cargill plans to invest $225 million to expand a soybean crush and refined oils plant at Sidney, Ohio. This expansion will increase the crush capacity and modernize operations at the facility. The project is expected to be finished by 2022.
Explosion Occurs at Cargill Beef Packing Plant – There was an explosion Thursday at a Cargill beef packing plant in Dodge City, Kansas. The explosion injured two employees and the plant is closed the rest of the day. In a statement, Cargill says they expect to be operational soon and will meet customer commitments.
Minnesota Beef Update – Registration is now open for the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association annual convention. Learn more from Executive Director Ashley Kohls in the latest Minnesota Beef Update.
Lamb Weston Expands South American Presence – Lamb Weston Holdings is forming a new joint venture with an Argentine company to sell frozen potato products. With this agreement, they will serve a two-billion pound South American market. With this new joint venture, Lamb Weston has 27 manufacturing facilities around the world.
Sanders Succeeds Broin at Growth Energy – For the first time since its founding in 2008, Growth Energy has a new chairman. Dan Sanders is the vice president of Front Range Energy of Windsor, Colorado. Sanders succeeds POET CEO Jeff Broin, who will remain as a member of the Growth Energy board.
AFIA Announces New President/CEO – The American Feed Industry Association has named Constance Cullman as its president and CEO. Before joining the organization in July, Cullman had a similar position at the Farm Foundation. Previously, she worked for Dow AgriSciences, the Corn Refiners Association and USDA.
Career Moves at Farmers National Co. – Farmers National Company President and CEO Jim Farrell will retire at the end of the year. David Englund, who now oversees the company’s farm management business, will succeed Farrell. Englund’s current position will be filled by Ken Schmitt, who is an area vice president in Iowa. FNC Chief Financial Officer Dave Knutson officially retired in July and has been replaced by senior vice president of financial services Julie Gerken.
Seed Company Hires New COO and Marketing Lead – Rob-See-Co has named Ken Nielsen as chief operations officer and Chuck Lee as chief marketing officer. Nielsen’s last role was with Syngenta as the seed operations specialist. Most recently, Lee was the head of strategy and business development for Syngenta.
Larson Joins Cooperative Network’s Legislative Team – Cooperative Network, which represents cooperatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin, has welcomed a new government affairs director for its St. Paul office. David Larson is a University of Minnesota grad. Larson’s most recent experience is with the Minnesota Senate Transportation Committee as its lead staff member.
MN Farmer/Businessman Enters Congressional Race – A new candidate has joined the race for Minnesota’s First Congressional District. Ralph Kaehler is a fourth-generation farmer with a background in trade and renewable energy. Kaehler said he’s not a politician, but decided it was time to take action. “I think everyone is tired of talk; let’s get something done.” In Kaehler’s words, it is about finding a common good, rather than a daily battle on TV and Twitter. “Instead of talking about trade and tariffs, two decades ago, we started writing contracts with Cuba. We went down with Governor Ventura, talked with (former Cuban President) Fidel Castro and wrote contracts for multiple things.” Similar success stories have been seen with Southeast Asia and Costa Rica. Dan Feehan, who ran for the seat two years ago, is also seeking the DFL nomination. The First District is currently represented by first-term Republican Jim Hagedorn.
Sunflower Industry Leader Passes – A longtime advocate for the sunflower industry has passed. Max Dietrich, Bismarck, worked for several seed and crop protection companies during his career and served on the staff of the National Sunflower Association.
ND Youth Win National 4-H Meats Judging Contest – The team from North Dakota took home national champion honors from the 4-H meats judging contest held in Kansas City. Hailing from Sheridan County, the team Rhea and Ryeleigh Laib and Evan Bornemann. Rhea was also the high individual and Ryeleigh placed third.
Last Week’s Trivia- Steve Harvey, Richard Dawson, Louie Anderson, Richard Karn, Ray Combs and John O’Hurley have all hosted ‘Family Feud.’ Harvey farmer Bill Ongstad wins our game! Congrats, Bill. Norm Groot of Monterey County Farm Bureau, UM Regional Extension Director-Retired Chuck Schwartau, Laurie Hoffman of VistaComm and Nick Sinner of Northern Crops Institute earn runner-up honors. The ‘first 20’ rounds out with Jim Altringer of CHS Dakota Plains Ag, Jamie Reed of Valley United Co-op, Brian Rydlund of CHS Hedging, ad agency veteran Greg Guse, Hilary Paplow of Graff Feedlots, Dianne Bettin of LP Pork, retired Peterson Farms Seed rep Rocky Schumacher, Mark Mettler of PreferredOne, Montgomery farmer Bill Rynda, Ron Dvergsten of Northland Farm Business Management, Cokato hay farmer Harlan Anderson, Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, Craig Kemmet of Kemmet Farms, Kevin Praska of Stone’s Mobile Radio and Kathleen Skiba of Diamond S Farm.
This Week’s Trivia- What iconic candy is known to melt in your mouth, not in your hand? Send your response 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.