A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Friday, September 30, 2022
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Biden Addresses UN General Assembly – The United States is investing nearly $3 billion to help address global food insecurity. President Joe Biden also spoke about the importance of providing relief to those in need. “We’re calling on all countries to refrain from banning food exports or hoarding grain while so many people are suffering,” said Biden. “Because in every country in the world, no matter what else divides us, if parents cannot feed their children, nothing, nothing else matters.” Biden praised the UN for its work in creating a humanitarian route for exports out of the Black Sea. The President also criticized Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. “Let me be perfectly clear about something, our sanctions explicitly allow Russia the ability to export food and fertilizer; no limitation.” The president blamed the Russian war for worsening food insecurity worldwide.
Odessa Attacked by Drones – The Ukrainian port city of Odessa was hit with another drone strike overnight. This is the latest in a series of Russian airstrikes to Odessa in recent days. Russia is adding 300,000 troops to its military force in Ukraine and has threatened the use of nuclear weapons. Referendums on the annexation of two Ukrainian territories is scheduled for tomorrow. The U.S. has called this vote “a sham.” Meanwhile, another six grain shipments left Ukraine over the weekend.
More Crude Coming Out of Strategic Petroleum Reserve – The U.S. Department of Energy has announced the sale of up to 10 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in November. This is part of President Biden’s effort to address high energy costs related to the war in Ukraine. This announcement brings the total to 165 million barrels out of the 180 million barrels authorized in March.
Federal Government Takes Action to Spur Competition and Protect Producers – The White House is taking steps to improve competition in the meatpacking business. USDA will publish proposed rules within the Packers and Stockyards Act to protect farmers and ranchers from abuse. There’s also $15 million being made available for the Agriculture Department to collaborate with State Attorneys General to investigate price-fixing and other anticompetitive practices. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is a member of the White House Competition Council, which met today.
White House Envoy Expects Rail Agreement to be Ratified – The White House special envoy on supply chain issues, Stephen Lyons, is confident union railroad workers will ratify the new labor contract. The tentative agreement was reached September 14, but at least one union is threatening to go on strike on September 29th. Speaking at a supply chain conference, Lyons said the unions have the obligation to sell this deal to the rank and file. Lyons is also monitoring a labor dispute between 29 West Coast ports and their labor unions, but said progress is being made in those negotiations.
Uncertain Fertilizer Outlook – While some fertilzer plants are cutting back due to high natural gas prices, others are restarting production. StoneX Group Director of Fertilizer Josh Linville believes government intervention may be needed to actually help offset high natural gas prices. Fertilizer prices are still very much in limbo. “If you don’t start up plants when it’s warm out, it gets very difficult in the cold winter months,” said Linville. “If the plants aren’t online in the next four-to-six months, our chances of having these plants restart anytime before next spring diminishes quite a bit.”
WOTUS Concerns Renewed – Republican members of the House Agriculture Committee have sent a letter to EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, raising new concerns about the Waters of the United States rule. The lawmakers are upset with regulatory actions taken by the agencies to expand their authority under the Clean Water Act.
USDA Under Secretary for Trade Gets Hearing – The nominee for USDA Under Secretary of Trade and Foreign Ag Affairs Alexis Taylor had a confirmation hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee last week. During Thursday’s hearing, lawmakers asked Taylor about new and existing trade deals. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar would like to see dairy provisions in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement enforced with Canada. “I applaud the U.S. for winning the USMCA dispute from earlier this year. It sent a strong message to our trading partners in initiating a second panel.” Taylor agreed to support the panel proceedings and the use of enforcement mechanisms. Taylor also committed to learning more about the biotech provisions with Mexico in the USMCA. The Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to vote on Taylor’s nomination on Tuesday.
NRCS Staffing Levels a Concern – During a House Agriculture subcommittee hearing, South Dakota Congressman Dusty Johnson cited a recent farm bill roundtable event in his state. Johnson said farmers and ranchers questioned the significant turnover amongst NRCS staff and the inability to provide the necessary technical assistance. National Association of Wheat Growers President Nicole Berg acknowledged the problem. “That’s one of the biggest complaints we hear is the lack of technical assistance,” said Berg. “When they do get boots on the ground, we’ve tried to approach them and say let’s get some of these new staff members out to the farm, let’s go kick some dirt and get them to understand the new technologies.” National Association of Conservation Districts President Michael Crowder said the demand for conservation programs goes beyond the available funds.
USCHI Urges Support for CDL Bill – U.S. Custom Harvesters Incorporated has endorsed legislation introduced by South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds that simplifies the process for hiring CDL drivers. The Rounds’ bill would allow states to offer a new small business restricted CDL and exempt agricultural employees from the federal CDL licensing requirements.
Fielding Questions: A Focus on Farm Safety – In the latest Fielding Questions podcast from AgCountry Farm Credit Services, we hear from Progressive Agriculture Foundation President/CEO Brian Kuhl about the hands-on, interactive, fun farm safety day programs. Hear more.
Promoting Biochar – South Dakota Senator John Thune, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Montana Senator Jon Tester have introduced legislation to study the effectiveness of biochar. Biochar is a carbon-rich material made from biomass. This bill would create a national biochar research network to test its impact across various soil types, application methods and climate conditions.
Protect Your Margins – It can be difficult to pull the marketing trigger with the volatility seen in the grain markets. Advance Trading Commodity Research Analyst Brian Basting says farmers need to protect margins. “In the history of corn and soybean prices, we haven’t seen prices this high at harvest with the exception of 2012. Of course, that was the drought year when we didn’t have bushels to sell. We’re going to have bushels to sell this year. Protecting the margin is important.” Consider looking at the 2023 crop margins, too. “There are always black swans, unpredictable events, out there. All we know today is where the markets are trading. We need to look at the different tools available.”
Well Grounded – Episode 15 – How big of a role should soil types and the Productivity Index play in land land values? In this edition of the Well Grounded podcast, NDSU Extension Soil Specialist David Franzen offers perspective on the Productivity Index and and the impact on land values. Well Grounded is a presentation of Acres and Shares and the Red River Farm Network.
Interest Rates Take Another Bump – The Federal Reserve raised the benchmark interest rates by 75 basis points and said more interest rate increases will be needed to deal with inflation. The next meeting for the Fed is November 1-2.
What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets – In this week’s edition of What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets, Martinson Ag Risk Management President Randy Martinson says the U.S. dollar is the big story in the markets. “There is a lot of things taking place in the world economy because of the fear of recession and that is playing into global demand.” The currency market is influencing all ag commodities. Listen to the update.
Disappointing Midwestern Soybean Yields – Northstar Commodity Chief Analyst Mark Schultz says the early soybean yield reports coming into his office have been disappointing. “From Iowa to South Dakota into Minnesota, yields have been not as good as we’d like. As harvest continues, I think there will be more harvest pressure.” Schultz thinks grain prices will struggle to move sharply higher. “I’m not sure we’ll go sharply higher until we start seeing a soybean yield fall one-to-two bushels less than the books.”
Feeling Good About the Rugby, ND Crop – Harvest for Rugby, North Dakota farmer Steve Fritel is rolling along. “The wheat and canola are wrapped up and we’re about halfway through the dry bean harvest. We’re pleased with how things turned out.” Fritel doesn’t think there’s much frost damage in Rugby area. “A few things might have got nipped, but it wasn’t a hard frost.”
Minimal Frost Damage – Most of the crop will not be affected by last week’s cold temperatures. “There’s still some pretty green beans out there, but I think for the most part on soybeans, we’re looking okay,” said Derek Pruitt, technical agronomist, Dekalb Asgrow. “Corn needs more time, but fortunately, it looks like we’ll get more time.” Pruitt has more concern about the corn crop because maturity is all over the board. “We’ve seen plenty that’s black layered already and some good weather through the first week of October. Conditions will be variable.”
Still Working on Wheat – Near Walhalla, North Dakota, Proseed agronomist Karmen Hardy does anticipate much damage to the corn and soybeans from this past week’s frost, but it may be a different story for the small grains. “There could be quality issues as that wheat continues to stand. All the way toward Cando, there’s plenty of wheat still standing in the countryside.”
Small Grain Harvest is a Wrap in Williston, ND – U.S. Custom Harvesters Incorporated President J.C. Schemper is back home harvesting in Nebraska after finishing up the small grain harvest in western North Dakota. “North Dakota had a great crop with 40 to 50 bushel durum. The durum had good test weight and folks were really happy with it,” says Schemper. “Canola was at 2,200 pounds with good quality. There was also good weather to get it harvested.” Schemper expects Nebraska to have an average corn and soybean crop.
Pleased With the ’22 Crop – The corn and soybean crops in the northern Red River Valley are moving closer to maturity. Despite the late start to the season, Crystal, North Dakota farmer Brian O’Toole says the heat and timely rains helped. “The fact that we seemed to have rain every week made this crop.”
Harvest Conditions Vary for North Central ND – Rock and Roll Agronomy owner Jason Hanson says the harvest results vary depending on crop. “Barley harvest was good all around; that crop usually handles a little less rainfall later on,” Hanson told RRFN. “Wheat has been average to slightly above average, but not to the potential it was in July.” The wide range in canola yields is being blamed on the cool spring. “Pinto beans look very good.”
Average Yields for American Crystal – American Crystal Sugar Company General Agronomist Joe Hastings says the pre-pile campaign has been going well. “Sugar content is coming up one percent per week. At pre-pile, we’re hanging around the mid-15s for an average. It looks to be a decent crop.” Hastings expects the average yield to be in the high 25-to-26 ton per acre range. “We’re hearing reports that are fairly optimistic for a late planted year.”
The Juggling Act of Sugarbeet Harvest – Pre-pile sugarbeet harvest continues at Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative. Vice President of Agriculture Mike Metzger says the juggling act continues. “Pre-harvest is always a challenge, because it’s a constant juggling act of Mother Nature, factory slice and a voluntary grower delivery system. Trying to get those things corralled and playing nice together in the same sandbox can be tough. Weather will cool down and we’re doing what we can to keep up inventory.” Sugar content is in the 17s and low 18s. Yields are respectable. “It’s a mixed bag. On the northern end of the district, we’re getting reports in the mid-to-upper 20s. Then, we get to the southern most district, they’re in the upper teens to low 20s and everywhere in-between.”
A Boost in Sugar Content Needed for Beets in Southern MN – Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative began pre-pile harvest on Monday. Vice President of Agriculture Todd Geselius says the beet crop is about as expected. “It’s variable. Some areas have really nice sugarbeets. Other areas were planted later, it was really dry and not quite as good. There are some really nice looking sugarbeets and less-than-great sugarbeets coming in, too.” Geselius is hopeful sugar content will rise. “Our last root samples were disappointing in terms of sugar content, but with the late planting, it makes sense. They have to get to a certain point in the life cycle to put on the sugar. We hope that will change now that we’ve started pre-pile.”
Dry Beans Fill Out Nicely – M.R. Consulting owner Mark Ramsey says farmers in northeastern North Dakota are making good harvest progress. “Wheat yields are average, at best, which is what you can hope for when you’re seeding in late May or early June. The quality has been very good.” Dry bean harvest is one-third complete. “Pinto beans needed the August rains to fill and they did.”
Sunflower Prices Announced – The Cargill plant in West Fargo is out with its 2023/2024 new crop sunflower prices. NuSun is quoted at $25.90 cash and $24.90 with an Act of God contract. High oleic sunflowers are at $27.15 for cash and $26.15 Act of God for October/November delivery.
Hawaii to Host IP Meeting – The Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance is hosting its inaugural Identity Preserved International Summit in Hawaii. The meeting will be held in January during the peak shipping season. The group said Hawaii is centrally located for attendees from the United States, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and throughout Southeast Asia.
NCI Hosts Grain Procurement Course for Importers – The Northern Crops Institute hosted an eight-day in-person Grain Procurement Management for Importers course, which ended Wednesday. There were over 30 participants from 13-plus countries. Time was spent at NCI and NDSU’s Commodity Trading Room. Topics also included U.S. Grain Grading Standards, Purchase Quality Specifications for Importers and PNW Exporter Perspectives. The international guests also traveled to Minneapolis and Duluth. Tour stops included the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, the CHS Export Grain Terminal, Buhler and Cargill. Information about NCI courses can be found online.
CBB Passes Beef Checkoff Budget – The Cattlemen’s Beef Board will invest $38.5 million in beef checkoff activities in the 2023 fiscal year. That’s down from nearly $39 million this past year. The budget, which is subject to USDA approval, includes $9.4 million for promotion. There’s $9 million for research and $7.5 million for consumer information.
Bateman Reflects on Beef Demand – North Dakota Beef Commission Executive Director Nancy Jo Bateman is retiring at the end of the year. Bateman says the past 38 years have shown her the importance of consumer perception. “If we took all the beef that we produce in one year’s calf crop to feed North Dakota consumers, it would take 17 years to eat that beef; we really need those customers around the world to eat beef.” Bateman believes consumer trust in livestock producers has grown during the time she’s been at NDBC.
NDSA Convention Discuss Problems and Priorities – A trade show, committee meetings, and general sessions were on the agenda at the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association annual convention. NDSA President Jeff Schafer refers to the policy meetings as the “meat and potatoes” of convention. “The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association is a grassroots organization and some of the problems that livestock producers bring here gives marching orders to the board for the upcoming year.” Farm bill priorities, support for the vaccine bank and emergency assistance programs were discussed.
Added Value with BQA – With feed prices rising higher, livestock producers are making every dollar count. NDSU Livestock Specialist Lisa Pederson says a premium price is available for Beef Quality Assurance certified cattle. “That’s the monetary value, but really healthier cattle that gain better is a win for all producers.” Setting high standards for livestock stewardship helps drive consumers towards beef consumption. “Consumers have an ancient contract with us where they expect us to give our greatest care to our animals.”
MN Beef Update – In the latest Minnesota Beef Update, there are a few more back to school beef meal ideas.
Looking for New MN Beef Ambassadors – There is an opportunity for young beef enthusiasts to promote beef. Minnesota Beef Ambassador Addison Hillman has served the industry for the past year and says applications are due soon. “Applications are due October 10th and the interview is October 22nd. There’s three parts to the interview; a media event, a consumer event, and a social media portion.” Hillman has been involved in the beef industry for years and believes that consumer education is an important part of advocating for your product. “I really love interacting with consumers and giving them accurate information.”
August Cattle on Feed Report as Expected – Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.3 million head on September 1, 2022. According to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service, the inventory is slightly above September 1, 2021. This is the second highest September 1 inventory since the series began in 1996. Placements in feedlots during August totaled 2.11 million head, slightly above 2021. Net placements were 2.06 million head. Marketings of fed cattle during August totaled 2.00 million head, six percent above 2021. Other disappearance totaled 53,000 head during August, 10 percent below 2021.
Monthly Milk Production Report Released – In the 24 major dairy states, milk production in August totaled 18.2 billion pounds. That’s up 1.7 percent from last year. South Dakota milk production is up a whopping 14.5 percent with an additional 22,000 cows added to the dairy herd. Minnesota milk production increased point-six percent with cow numbers declining by 8,000 head year-over-year.
Wean-to-Harvest Biosecurity – The Swine Health Information Center, the Pork Checkoff and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research are funding a new wean-to-harvest biosecurity program. The research program will focus on a significant biosecurity gap in U.S. swine production. This initiative will be implemented over the next two years.
HPAI Case Confirmed in ND – The North Dakota Department of Agriculture confirmed Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza was found in a back yard chicken flock in Ward County. The detection triggers suspension of poultry/bird events in Ward and its adjoining counties.
Ag Economy Depends on Off-Farm Income – Eighty-two percent of U.S. farm household income now comes from off the farm. A study conducted by the University of Missouri and commissioned by CoBank identified reliable income as the top reason for off-farm employment. Health and retirement benefits were also cited. The research said off-farm jobs are especially important for young and beginning farmers.
Housing Options Shouldn’t Be a Limiting Factor in Rural America – Attracting and keeping good help on the farm can be a challenge. Minnesota Senator Tina Smith says the lack of housing options should not add to the difficulty. “For many years, USDA helped provide low interest mortgages for rental apartments in exchange for keeping those apartments affordable for low income people. A lot of those units are going away, they’re not affordable anymore. People may want to move up the economic ladder and if they cannot find a place to live, it will be hard to do.”
Fraud Charges – The Justice Department is investigating a $250 million fraud case in Minnesota. Forty-seven people are facing criminal charges for conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and bribery. The founder and executive director of a nonprofit group called Feeding our Future was named in this case for stealing federal USDA child nutrition funds. During the pandemic, USDA waived some of the requirements for involvement in the federal child nutrition programs and the defendants allegedly abused the system.
High-Speed Internet Projects Funded – USDA has awarded over $500 million in loans and grants to provide high-speed internet to rural areas. Thirty-two projects in 20 states received the funding, including the Halstad Telephone Company for a fiber network in North Dakota’s Traill County. BEK Communications is also receiving funds to provide service to Barnes, Cass and Ransom Counties.
ND Grain Growers Association Will Not Rejoin NAWG – During a September board meeting, the North Dakota Grain Growers Association decided to not rejoin the National Association of Wheat Growers. In an e-mail sent Wednesday, the Grain Growers said they are willing to work with NAWG for the good of the wheat industry as they have in the past. NAWG confirmed receipt of the message, but has not been available for a comment.
Yara to Suspend Operations at Belgian Plant – One of the world’s largest fertilizer companies plans to shut down production at its Belgian plant. Norway-based Yara blames the sky-high natural gas prices across Europe. Last month, Yara said it planned to cut ammonia production by 65 percent and ammonium nitrate production by 35 percent.
Columbia Grain Acquires Grafton Farmers Co-op – Columbia Grain International acquired the Grafton Farmers Co-op Grain Company in Grafton, North Dakota. “We look at this as a very lucrative position to be in because it really accents our business operation at Crystal and Minto where we were already operating,” says Jeff Van Pevenage, CEO, Columbia Grain. “It gives us the ability to give us a dry bean handling facility there and yellow peas. It’s a good station to feed soybeans and corn up towards Crystal and wheat into the mill markets.” According to Van Pevenage, the Grafton facility’s biggest advantage is its ability to take in a diverse crop mix.
JBS Settles Lawsuit – JBS will pay $20 million to settle a price-fixing lawsuit. A federal judge in Minnesota has approved the settlement. Legal action is still pending against Hormel and Tyson Foods. A database company, Agri Stats, is also charged with sharing confidential pricing information with the pork processors.
Weller Moves to JBS – JBS has hired its first global chief sustainability officer. Jason Weller spent time as the chief of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Most recently, Weller worked on the Truterra agricultural carbon credit program at Land O’Lakes.
FNC’s Dickhut to Retire – Farmers National Company Senior Vice President of Real Estate Operations Randy Dickhut is retiring at the end of the week. Dickhut has been with FNC for over 20 years. Western Area Sales Manager Paul Schadegg will succeed Dickhut.
Correction – In last week’s edition of FarmNetNews, a story on supply chain issues contained an error in the name of Chris Wharam of Wilbur Ellis.
Rob-See-Co Adds Sick as Product Manager – Rob-See-Co has named Steve Sick as its product manager for alfalfa, soybeans and sorghum. Sick began his career in the mid-1980s with JC Robinson Seed Company. In recent years, Sick worked for Syngenta, NuTech Seed and the Farmers Business Network.
Zang Moves to American Sugar Alliance – Lillie Zang is the new communications director for the American Sugar Alliance. Most recently, Zang was the press secretary for Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow.
CropLife America Brings New Perspective to Policy Effort – CropLife America welcomes Peggy Browne as its new vice president of government relations. Previously, Browne worked for the Farm Service Agency and the Senate Agriculture Committee.
NPPC Hires Dolch – Mikayla Dolch has joined the National Pork Producers Council as its new manager of marketing and digital communications. Dolch comes to NPPC from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship where she was the deputy director of communications.
Kohls to Oversee MTGA/MTRPC Activities – The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council have named a new executive director. Ashley Kohls previously served as the executive director of the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association. Most recently, she was the vice president of government affairs for the Nebraska Cattlemen. Minnesota Congressman Brad Finstad previously led the turkey organizations.
Honorary Membership – The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association has recognized Nancy Jo Bateman, Fred Helbling and Jeff Schafer with honorary membership. Bateman is the longtime executive director of the North Dakota Beef Commission and ranches were her husband at New Salem. Helbling has a commercial Hereford operation southwest of Mandan and is part of the North Dakota Ag Coalition. Schafer raises Angus cattle at New Rockford and is the past president of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association. During Schafer’s presidency, the industry faced a historic drought and back-to-back record-setting blizzards.
Environmental Stewardship Recognized – The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association presented its Environmental Stewardship Award to Bartholomay Kattle Kompany of Sheldon, North Dakota. This is a diversified crop and cow-calf operation with a focus on soil health. Keith Bartholomay also mentors other cattle producers about environmentally-sound management practices through is his work on the National Grazing Lands Coalition board of directors.
NAMA to Honor Wilhelm and Hallowell – The National Agri-Marketing Association has announced the winners of its professional development awards. Bob Wilhelm, Bayer CropScience, is being honored in the marketing communications category. Lori Hallowell, Bader Rutter, is being recognized for public relations. The awards will be presented during the NAMA Fall Conference October 10-12 in Minneapolis.
Last Week’s Trivia-Mark Zuckerberg is one of the founders of Facebook. Kevin Praska of Stone’s Mobile Radio wins our weekly trivia challenge. Runner-up honors belong to Scott Roemhildt of Minnesota DNR, Lyle Orwig of Certified Agriculture Dealer, Nick Revier of SES VanderHave and Keith Finney of John Stewart & Associates. The ‘first 20′ includes retired NDSU Extension dairy specialist J.W. Schroeder, Al Wimpfheimer of Simplot, Dianne Bettin of LB Pork, Ramsey County farmer Paul Becker, Renville County farmer Mickey Peterson, Jim Altringer of Dakota Plains Ag, Ian Jensen of the North Dakota FSA State Office, Carrington farmer Charles Linderman, Todd Good of AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Harvey farmer Bill Ongstad, Peter Carson of Carson Farms, Regan farmer Jim McCullough, Keith Bjorneby of Lone Wolf Farms, Sara O’ Toole of O’Toole Seed and Kevin Schulz of Dakota Farmer/Nebraska Farmer.
This Week’s Trivia-Munich, Germany hosts an annual 16-day beer festival from mid-September to early October. Other cities around the world also hold similar Bavarian celebrations that are modeled after the original Munich event. What is the name of this celebration? 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.