A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Monday, September 20, 2021
Another Big Iron in the Books – The 2021 Big Iron Farm Show is in the books and was a huge success! This success wouldn’t be possible without the generous sponsors listed below. Thank you for supporting farm radio. The Red River Farm Network hosted daily seminars in our Issues & Events Center on the fairgrounds. Those seminars were live streamed and are available on YouTube. An album with photos from the event is also available on our Facebook page. Check out a host of stories from Big Iron below in this edition of FarmNetNews.
Hoping for the Stars to Align – Total Farm Marketing market analyst Naomi Blohm said the market could be setting up for a perfect storm of higher prices if the stars align. “But, you’re asking a lot of stars to align; you need lower yields this year; lower carryout in the quarterly stocks report and we’ll need a lack of snow this winter,” said Blohm. Discussions about the 2022 acreage mix are also beginning. While corn and soybeans usually are the focus, Van Ahn and Company market analyst Kristi Van Ahn said to not forget about wheat. “Some areas have got moisture recently and are planting winter wheat, all while the markets are at profitable levels. I think this is a real question you have to look at on the acreage breakdown.” Specialty crops grown in the Northern Plains will need to bid for acres as well in 2022. Stephen, Minnesota farmer Betsy Jensen is keeping a close eye on seed supplies. “I’m concerned about flax, durum and edible bean seed to name a few.” Blohm, Van Ahn and Jensen were part of a Market Outlook Seminar at the Big Iron Farm Show. View the discussion on YouTube.
A New Plateau? – For U.S. Commodities market analyst Don Roose there is a common theme to the questions he’s getting from farmers; are we in a new plateau for commodity prices? “We don’t know so that means you have to take advantage of what you have. You have carry in the market with new crop this year and next year both profitable for our producers.” On August 31st of last year, corn was trading at $3.07 a bushel. Progressive Ag Marketing President Ray Grabanski says the May contract went up to $7.70 per bushel. “That $7.70 corn if you held it until now is off the December contract at $5.30 so there has been quite a change in the market. Right now, we have new crop 2022 corn which is close to its all-time highs.at around $5.10.” Grabanski said there may not be enough corn in this area to meet demand and the basis could skyrocket. Roose and Grabanski were part of a market outlook panel at the Big Iron Farm Show.
Managing Through the Drought – To manage through this drought, NDSU Extension Crops Economist Frayne Olson is encouraging farmers to remain flexible and adjust as the situation changes. “Unfortunately, I know too many farmers that kind of shoot from the hip, waiting to see what happens and make a decision; sometimes, you’re forced to make a decision quickly without thinking through all the implications.” Olson wants farmers to consider various scenarios and have a strategy in place. During a Red River Farm Network forum at the Big Iron Farm Show, Innovus Agra President Bret Oelke said innovation comes from a position of discomfort. “Take the discomfort you’re experiencing now to sharpen your management and decision-making skills.”
Accurate Records Needed for Crop Insurance Claims – The drought will influence the number of crop insurance claims this year. AgCountry Farm Credit Services insurance specialist Joel Lysne expects to see more high-dollar claims as well. “We ask producers to keep accurate records,” said Lysne. “If you’ve got sale tickets or assembly sheets, make sure they are identified by location. If we have guys that still use load lots, make sure you indicate location, the number of bushels in that truck and the day it was harvested. Accurate records are absolutely crucial in a year like this.”
Potato News – Rain is bringing slight delays in the Red River Valley potato harvest, but the rains will improve soil moisture for digging. Hear more from farmers Tom Campbell and Allen Tucker in Potato News, made possible by Corteva Agriscience, Gowan USA and BASF’s Provysol Fungicide for early blight.
What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets – The grain markets continue to reach incredible levels as farmers prepare for 2022. Hear more from Advance Trading risk management advisor Tommy Grisafi in the latest edition of What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets.
Decent Harvest Marketing Opportunities Available – As corn and soybean harvest begins, there are good marketing opportunities. “We’ve heard about soybeans in the teens and up to 50 bushels/acre,” says Randy Zimmerman, grain merchandiser, West Central Ag Services. “We’ve talked to a number of people that may take out the corn before the soybeans. If farmers sold ahead and need to fulfill contracts, they should be in constant contact with their grain merchandiser.” There are green soybeans coming into the elevator, but Zimmerman says the Pacific Northwest wants the soybeans so bad, there haven’t been discounts for that in Ulen and Beltrami, Minnesota. Basis has improved greatly at local elevators. “Basis is some of the best it’s ever been at harvest. This is a great opportunity if you don’t want to bin the beans to at least put a basis contract on them.”
Early Soybean Harvest Begins in Red River Valley – Soybean harvest is getting started in North Dakota. At the Alton Grain Terminal in Hillsboro, Grain Department Manager Cory Tryan says the early soybeans coming in vary in size, but test weights and quality are ok. “The pods are moist. We’ve seen a green bean here and there, but it doesn’t add up to a discount or any problems with quality.” Tryan says early soybean moisture is around 10 to 11 percent. “Famers with the later maturing soybeans that weren’t hit with moisture as bad and the moisture is better.” Tryan says a few farmers in the region are already harvesting corn due to the drought, but at the same time, there are reports of soybean pods opening up and bean loss.
Dry Green Soybeans Before Putting Into Storage – NDSU Extension Agricultural Engineer Ken Hellevang is hearing about green soybeans being mixed in with mature beans at harvest. “With the rains we received and the characteristics of soybeans, that’s not surprising. However, it puts us between a rock in a hard spot. We can’t leave the beans in the field to turn, because we’re concerned about shelled beans.” Hellevang says plump, green soybeans mixed in with mature soybeans could cause issues in storage. “Depending on how much of the soybeans are green, we may need to think of drying the soybeans down. If we’re doing that in the bin, it takes lots of airflow in order to remove the moisture, but that is one option,” says Hellevang. “We will possibly see color change happening during the drying, but there will be a slightly green tone after about four months of storage.”
Dry Bean Scene – Dry bean harvest is underway in Minnesota and North Dakota. In this week’s Dry Bean Scene, hear from New Rockford, ND farmer Jeff Schafer and Stephen, MN farmer Betsy Jensen. This radio update is made possible by Sharpen from BASF, Johnstown Bean Company, SRS Commodities and Northarvest Bean Growers Association.
Hoping for Moisture Before Freeze-up – Fall is the time to replenish soil moisture levels. “There’s definitely a need for recharge and the sooner we get it done, the better we’ll be,” said Drew Lerner, senior ag meteorologist, World Weather Incorporated. “I don’t see bitter cold coming for a while so that will allow us to go several weeks and get some moisture for recovery.” During Thursday’s Red River Farm Network forum at the Big Iron Farm Show, Lerner said he does not expect a killing freeze for another ten days-to-two weeks.
New Palmer Amaranth Confirmed in Western North Dakota – Two new cases of Palmer amaranth have been confirmed in Grant and Sioux Counties in North Dakota. The noxious weed was found on two cattle operations. In Grant County, Palmer was confirmed in two pastures, along with a millet field and near two feed piles. In Sioux County, there was confirmed Palmer amaranth near cattle feed piles and pigweed cotyledons found in manure that had been spread on a field. According to NDSU Extension, the Palmer amaranth is likely from contaminated feed; sunflower screenings. Both counties have previously had confirmed cases of Palmer amaranth, but not on these farms.
Fall Cattle Run Comes Early in Western North Dakota – The General Manager of the Dickinson, North Dakota-based Stockmen’s Livestock Exchange, Larry Schnell, says it’s early for a fall cattle run. “Normally, we don’t sell a good number of calves until the second or third week of October. On September 16, we sold 2,000 calves. I can’t remember the last time we had 400 to 500 calves in all of September.” The movement is all drought related. Schnell also says many ranchers in the west are trying to determine how many cows they can feed. The recent rains have brought optimism for some North Dakota cattle producers, encouraging them to hold on to the herd. “Northwest North Dakota is a good example. In other areas, rain isn’t helping at all.” On Thursday, September 30, Schnell says Stockmen’s Livestock Exchange could move more than 3,000 calves. “It’s a pretty dire situation for many.” Hear the story.
Stepped-Up Basis Changes Not Included in $3.5 Trillion Budget Reconcilation – The House Ways and Means Committee has approved the budget reconciliation rules for the Budget Committee. This language does not include changes to stepped-up basis as had been feared by many in agriculture. House Agriculture Committee Chair David Scott released a statement, saying this decision will allow farmers and ranchers to pass on their operation from one generation to another and protect them from significant tax increases.
The Politics of Farm Policy Highlighted During Big Iron Forum – According to former House Agriculture Committee Collin Peterson, one of the biggest issues facing agriculture is there are no Democrats left representing farm districts in Congress. “You can’t do anything with one party, it just doesn’t stick,” said Peterson. Former USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey said numbers are a big factor. “The struggles in ag, in general, is there is fewer of us; we need to make people understand agriculture.” During the Red River Farm Network forum, Peterson said the budget reconciliation bill is over-the-top. “We have spent so damn much money already trying to deal with this pandemic.” In Peterson’s view, this $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package is a reaction to 2009-2010 when the Democrats had control of the White House, the Senate and the House and they squandered it. “Not only did they get nothing done, they lost the majority on top of it. They decided that isn’t going to happen again so they are coming together to get as much done with their priorities as they can with the understanding we probably won’t be back in the majority in the next Congress.” View the forum online.
A New Political Force for Midwest Agriculture Established – Former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson is behind an effort to create the Midwest Council on Agriculture. This group is being patterned after an alliance of agricultural businesses and farm groups, such as the Southwest Council on Agriculture and the Delta Council. Peterson is hopeful the Midwest Council on Agriculture will be a political force like those in the Southern states “because those guys have eaten our lunch policy-wise.” North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin will be represented. Former USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey is working with Peterson in the formation of the group. Howard Olson of AgCountry Farm Credit Services is the inaugural chairman.
Milk Pricing Considered in Senate Subcommittee Hearing – According to New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, federal milk marketing orders are confusing and an outdated pricing system. Gillibrand chaired a subcommittee hearing that considered the dairy market. Agriculture Committee Ranking Member John Boozman voiced concern about the steady decline in the number of dairy farms. Boozman also warned against using the budget reconciliation bill to change tax and policies.
FAPRI Updates Farm Income Forecast – The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute is projecting significant increases in farm income this year. Strong commodity prices and government payments will help net farm income to reach the highest level since 2013. FAPRI is also forecasting a drop in farm income in 2022.
Farmland Values Remain Strong – While the amount of farmland for sale has been limited, the market has been strong. “There has been a lot of pent-up demand and there has been a void of good quality land for sale,” said Kyle Nelson, Farmers National Company. “When commodity prices are strong, that also bodes well for optimism.” During the Big Iron Farm Show, Farmers National Company was part of a land seminar in the Red River Farm Network building. The proposed tax law changes were seen as one factor that has brought more land to the market. Technology, such as online bidding, was cited as a trend for the future. COVID is seen as something that accelerated the move toward technology. ‘The New Normal: What’s Next in the Land Market’ was the name of the sessions that took place Tuesday and Wednesday. These programs can be found online.
Costs Escalate for Barge Freight – More than two weeks after Hurricane Ida, logistical problems remain at the Gulf. Delays in unloading barges at the Gulf is also resulting in a shortage of empty barges needed upriver to handle this year’s harvest. Barges on the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tennessee to Cairo, Illinois, were offered Wednesday at 750 percent of tariff. That’s up from 650 percent September 20. This dramatic uptick is in a market where moves of ten percent are the norm.
USDA Extends Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program Sign-Up – The USDA is extending the deadline for livestock producers to apply for the Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program. The new deadline to apply at the Farm Service Agency is October 12. That’s almost one month later than the original deadline. The PLIP program provides payments to producers for having to depopulate livestock or poultry during the COVID pandemic.
MSGA Prepping for ’22 Session – According to Minnesota Soybean Growers Association President Mike Skaug, this past year was positive for agriculture in the State Legislature. Work is already underway for 2022. “We’re going to bring forward a bill to deal with the low carbon fuel standard in the State of Minnesota,” said Skaug. “We want to have something that will be beneficial to growers and limit risk when it comes to carbon sequestration.” MSGA also hopes to expand the biodiesel market and defend the right to use crop protection products during the next session.
Policy Priorities Promoted – The Minnesota Legislature invested in the biofuels industry during the ’21 legislative session. “They dedicated $6 million to a biofuel infrastructure, thanks to the Minnesota Corn Growers Association,” said Marlene Dufault, district field director. Dufault highlighted the importance of membership in commodity groups, like the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. “A lot of the things we have done including work with the University of Minnesota Center on Projects to replace petroleum-based products.”
Seeking Property Tax Fairness – As Minnesota rural school districts upgrade facilities, the tax burden fell disproportionately on farmland. Clay County Farm Bureau President Mark Harless says the Ag2School effort has helped spread the tax consideration throughout the districts. “It’s been a little bit more fair to the ag taxpayer,” said Harless. “The ultimate goal would be if we paid the same property taxes as most people in town which would be on the house, garage and one acre, but we’re not there yet. In 2021, we get about a 55 percent property tax credit on ag land and that’s going to ramp up to about 70 percent in 2023.” Harless says other tax inequities will be brought up in the 2022 legislative session. Minnesota Farm Bureau co-sponsored RRFN’s coverage from the Big Iron Farm Show.
Seeking a More Deconsolidated Packing Industry – Packer concentration has been an ongoing discussion point in the livestock industry. “During the pandemic, we saw the risks with a highly consolidated supply chain; we had plants go offline because of COVID and all of a sudden the boxed beef price skyrocketed and the cattle price plummeted,” said North Dakota Farmers Union Government Relations Director Matt Perdue. “We are focused on the enforcement of antitrust laws and providing support for local and regional processors so we can have a more deconsolidated sector.” Perdue praised the Biden Administration for its work on this issue.
Fresh Potato Shipments Expected to Lower in 2021 – Fresh potato shipments from the 2021 crop are expected to be lower this year. It’s due, in part, to a decline in the Minnesota and North Dakota crop, because of drought conditions. Folson Farms Sales and Marketing Manager Casey Folson says there are lower yields being seen in the fresh potatoes being harvested near East Grand Forks, Minnesota. “The quality of the crop is nice though. We’re thankful for quality.” Folson says shipping season should pick up pace in the next few weeks. “I think the crop will be light, which makes things interesting when supplies are tighter. Freight is also tough. Trucks are more expensive this year and there aren’t as many around. That will be another challenge in moving the crop.”
Local Potato Industry Celebrates Ahead of Potato Bowl – The Northern Plains Potato Growers Association hosted celebrations in conjunction with the 55th Annual Potato Bowl over the weekend in Grand Forks, North Dakota. About 1,500 to 2,000 people showed up for potato chips and hot dogs on Thursday, slightly lower than previous years. Due to COVID, this event replaced the annual French fry feed for 2021. There was also a good turnout for Saturday’s tailgating before the football game as well as a parade in downtown Grand Forks on Saturday morning.
CP and KCS Have a Deal – The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Kansas City Southern have a deal. CP will pay $27.2 billion in a cash-and-stock agreement. Canadian National was not able to win regulatory approval and dropped its bid. The combination of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern creates the first railway that connects Canada, the United States and Mexico.
CF Shuts Down Two UK Plants – Fertilizer prices were already high and now supplies are tightening further. CF Industries has announced it is shutting down operations at two of its United Kingdom manufacturing plants. The high cost of natural gas was cited as the reason. CF did not offer an estimate for when production will resume at those facilities.
The Latest Technology Comes to Grand Farm – A Chicago-based robotics company has donated an autonomous tractor to the Grand Farm at Fargo. Sabanto already has autonomous tractors deployed across the Midwest. Grand Farm hosted its Autonomous Nation Conference Thursday.
Cass County Farm Bureau Takes On A New Role at Big Iron – For the first time, the Big Iron Farm Show had a title sponsor–Cass County Farm Bureau. “It is a great honor,” said Cass County Farm Bureau President Brandon Lindstrom. The county group also sponsors the Ag Education Building at the Red River Valley Fair. “Unlike 80 years ago, very few people are involved in agriculture now so we can help kids understand what we do on the farm and it is as educational for adults as it is for kids.” In addition, NDFB was a sponsor of RRFN’s coverage of the Big Iron Farm Show.
A Reporter’s Perspective – The Big Iron Farm Show was blessed with good attendance, especially during the first two days. The drought was top-of-mind for those at the show, but veteran Agweek journalist Mikkel Pates didn’t see a comparable situation as other disasters. “It’s not the same desperation I’ve seen at other times with droughts and issues before,” Pates told RRFN. “I went through the 80s when cattle guys in the northern part of the state didn’t have rain at all and didn’t have anything to feed. Now, the corn changed its genetics and is more drought resistant so there is more things to pull together for feed.” As a result, Pates says there seems to be more optimism at this time.
Margin Protection – Due to the drought, numerous crop insurance claims are anticipated this fall. Reed Ihry of Ihry Insurance says those claims must be filed on a timely basis. In addition, the multiperil margin protection program is a relatively new policy that is being offered. “We just got done pricing the average price for corn, wheat and soybeans August 15th through September 14th.” Margin protection insurance provides coverage against an unexpected decline in the operating margin. The coverage is area-based, using county-level estimates of average revenue and input costs to establish coverage and indemnity payments. Margin protection insurance for the 2022 crop must be purchased before September 30.
Analyze Planter Performance Behind the Combine – It’s harvest time and farmers want to maximize the number of bushels coming out of the hopper. Troy Amundson, who is with Premium Ag Solutions, says that job begins with the planter. “The key to yield no matter what crop you’re growing is getting it planted right. One of the best times to analyze the planter pass is after the combine goes in the fall.” Premium Ag Services is a premier Precision Planting dealer. PAS also customizes planters and “we can go a whole bunch of different routes to create the planter of the future for any grower.”
The Benefits of Air – With many short soybeans in the field, farmers are losing a lot of the crop off the cutter bar. “This is the year with the best return on investment, we can save two-or-three bushels per acre with the air reel or wind system,” said Tim Nelson of Crary Industries. Yield potential has been hurt by the dry conditions and losses can be amplified by poor feeding or shattering at the cutting bar. The Crary Wind System and the Crary Air Reel add high velocity air to keep the crop moving quickly into the header.
A Commonsense Approach – Proseed is celebrating 30 years in business. “We’re what I’d call a commonsense seed company,” said Jeff Hamre, sales manager. “We focus on our area and don’t have to wait for someone in St. Louis or somewhere else telling us what to grow.” Despite the drought, Hamre said Proseed will have plenty of seed for next year. Proseed is a family-oriented company that concentrates on North Dakota, northern South Dakota and western Minnesota.
NASDA Meets This Week – The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture is holding a hybrid annual meeting this week in Louisville, Kentucky. This morning, American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall and EPA Administrator Michael Regan will give remarks to attendees. Later this week, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack will also address NASDA. Agriculture commissioners from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota are expected to attend in-person.
Minnesota Wheat Minute – The Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers annual Marketing Seminar was held on September 15. Find out more from Executive Director Charlie Vogel in the latest Minnesota Wheat Minute.
McKinney to Lead NASDA – The former USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Ag Affairs, Ted McKinney, will now lead the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. In a statement, NASDA President Ryan Quarles said McKinney’s experience advocating for U.S. agriculture will bring strength to NASDA’s federal partnerships. McKinney will begin the new role on September 27. Read the press release.
USDA Nomination Announced – Margo Schlanger has been nominated as USDA’s assistant secretary for civil rights. Schlanger now teaches at the University of Michigan School of Law. She previously served in civil rights positions in the Department of Homeland Security and as an attorney in the Justice Department.
From USDA to AFBF – As of October 4th, Dr. Roger Cryan will take over as the new chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation. For the past nine years, Cryan was the director of the economics division for the dairy program at USDA. Cryan previously served in a similar role at the National Milk Producers Federation.
Economic Expansion Council Appointed – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has established the new Governor’s Council on Economic Expansion. Fifteen state leaders will be part of this group, providing recommendations on expanding the state’s economy. Former Hormel CEO Jeff Ettinger is co-chairing the Council. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President and CEO Neel Kashkari is also a member. Labor, business and non-profit leaders are also represented.
New SBARE Members and Leaders Selected – The North Dakota State Board of Agricultural Research and Education met this week to elect a new members and board leaders. Sarah Lovas is now the chair of SBARE. Jim Bahm was elected to vice chair. Both will serve a two-year term. One new board member was elected and that’s Mark Urquhart with Cavendish Farms. Urquhart replaces Brian Leier.
SDPPC Hires Effling – Cagney Effling is joining the South Dakota Pork Producers Council staff as its director of programs and communications. Effling is a Highmore, South Dakota native and recent graduate of Kansas State University.
Honorary Doctorate to be Awarded to Taylor Brown – Montana State University will award farm broadcaster Taylor Brown with an honorary doctorate later this year. Brown owns the Northern Ag Network and is a past president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. In addition, Brown operates the family ranch at Lewistown, Montana and served two terms as a state senator. The Red River Farm Network congratulates Dr. Taylor Brown for his work in agriculture and the media. Thanks for sharing your vision and mentorship.
Last Week’s Trivia- When we see www in our internet browser, we’re referencing the world wide web. Mike Trosen of Meadowland Farmers Cooperative was the first in with the correct answer and is our weekly trivia winner. Jordan Hulm of Farm Credit Services of Mandan, Dave Gehrtz of Proseed, Jim Altringer of CHS Dakota Plains Ag and Todd Good of AgCountry Farm Credit Services earn runner-up honors. The ‘first 20’ rounds out with Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, Dianne Bettin of LB Pork, Randy Knudsvig of First State Bank, Sara O’Toole of O’Toole Seed, Kevin Praska of Stone’s Mobile Radio, Erin Nash of National Association of Farm Broadcasting, Val Dolcini of Syngenta, Keith Rekow of Dairyland Seed, Bob Nielsen of UFC-Hamburg, Twyla Wulf of Clear Springs Cattle Company, Harvey farmer Bill Ongstad, longtime Bayer territory manager Mark Haugland, retired banker John Stone, Lawton farmer Dennis Miller and Nick Revier of SES VanderHave USA.
This Week’s Trivia- What cocktail is made with vodka, tomato juice, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and spices? Send your answer to email@example.com.
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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.