Red River Farm Network News

ND, MN & SD are Key to Acreage Shifts — At its annual agricultural outlook conference, USDA said corn acreage will decline by four million acres this year and soybean acres will increase 4.6 million. In a study conducted by University of Illinois agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey, the big changes may be happening in places like North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota. In the past five years, Schnitkey says there has been a move away from wheat production and an increase in acres devoted to corn and beans. Prevented plantings may be up in the area this year and the report says the amount of PP ground could influence any change in U.S. corn and soybean production. The report also identifies Texas as an area that could see a shift in acres with more cotton and less corn. 

An Acreage Battle — First Capitol Ag hedge consultant Jacob Burks thinks we are seeing somewhat of an acreage battle between corn and soybeans. “An acreage battle can happen on the way down. It doesn’t have to be fighting for acres on the way up. I think that’s part of it right now. We’re just trying to see with this bean market staying above $10 for so long. I think we could see a huge bean number.”

Perdue Advocates Trade During Confirmation Hearing — Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue appears to be on his way to an easy confirmation vote. Trade was a common theme during Perdue’s three-hour hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee. Perdue said he plans to be USDA’s chief salesman around the world. “Our farmers can’t wait very long. TPP had been around awhile and negotiated. A bilateral will take time. We need to get about the business of selling U.S. products. If confirmed, my first stop will be Mr. Lighthizer’s office door. We’ve already discussed some of this. He indicated to me 80 percent of what he had heard was about agriculture. I thought that was good news. We have to get on it.” Lighthizer is the nominee for U.S. trade representative. North Dakota Senator John Hoeven also quizzed Perdue about sugar policy. “I am willing to support the sugar program. For those who grow the beets as well as cane, they’ve come together with a pretty unified front.” Hoeven also invited Perdue to visit North Dakota, saying former Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns made numerous trips to the state. Perdue said he was ready to break Johanns’ record and get a firsthand look at what is happening with agriculture in the region.

ASAP — A date has not been set, but, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts is promising to schedule a vote on Agriculture Secretary-nominee Sonny Perdue “as soon as possible.” Once approved in the agriculture committee, Perdue’s nomination will be sent to the full Senate for a vote.

Important for Perdue to Be Approved — Jeff Harrison, who is with Combest, Sell & Associates, is anxious to see Sonny Perdue confirmed. “I’m told Governor Perdue should be confirmed before the end of this work period, around April 7,” says Harrison. “He’s got broad, bipartisan support by people I trust a lot in the world of agriculture. They say he’ll be a great secretary of agriculture and he’s going to be a champion of agriculture. It’s important to get him confirmed as quickly as possible.” Harrison agrees with House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson about the need to have Perdue approved as work on the fiscal year 2018 budget continues. “As we move forward in this budget process, agriculture needs a strong voice. Come May, the administration is going to have a comprehensive budget. Even though crop insurance wasn’t touched this go around and the Farm Bill programs weren’t touched, that’s not necessarily true come May.”

Focus on Good, Sound Policy — During the Agri-Pulse Farm Bill Summit in Washington D.C., farm leaders discussed the impact market prices played in writing the current farm program. International Food Policy Research Institute economist Joe Glauber said Congress shouldn’t consider current commodity prices when writing a farm bill.  “I think the takeaway is you shouldn’t pay attention to prices when you’re doing a farm bill. Just like you can get locked into an environment thinking high prices will stay forever, same thing with low prices. I think you need to focus on good, sound policy.”

Farm Bill Talks — Agri-Pulse hosted a Farm Bill Summit last week in Washington D.C. Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc., president Sara Wyant says there is an extensive discussion on conservation policy and the budget baseline. “Lots of conversation about ‘how do we move ahead on a Farm Bill given what we were able to achieve in the last Farm Bill?’”  Wyant says lots of presidents propose budgets and Congress doesn’t always follow the guidelines. There will likely be pushback on that budget. “Obviously, everyone wants to be budget conscious. Given the state of the farm economy right now, I think they will try to make the case we need more investments, not less.”

Seeking A Stronger Dairy Safety Net — Dairy policy took center stage on Capitol Hill Wednesday. National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern testified before the House Agriculture Committee, outlining the improvements needed in the Margin Protection Program. The NMPF proposal includes adjustments in the way feed prices and milk prices are calculated. There is also a recommendation to improve the affordability of the program premiums.

Baseline Spending Impact ARC and PLC — University of Illinois Ag economist Jonathan Coppess says Congressional Budget Office projections for baseline spending for the new Farm Bill may impact the ARC and PLC programs. “CBO just did a re-estimate in January, which is our most up-to-date guess or insight as to where they think the spending items in this Farm Bill may be going.” Coppess says lower commodity prices are decreasing the ARC-County payments and that will impact farmer decisions to switch to PLC in a new farm bill. “You have a run of lower prices that incorporates that into the revenue program, which phases out payments in that steady state of lower prices. That’s what’s happening with ARC-County. CBO is estimating while we have about 96 or 97 percent of corn and soybean base acres in the revenue program. CBO thinks about 83 percent of those corn acres will switch into PLC. And 50 percent of soybean acres.”

A SNAP Update — The Farm Bill is top of mind for the House Ag Committee this past week. Tuesday morning, the House Ag Subcommittee on Nutrition held a hearing to discuss nutrition distribution programs. In his opening statement, ranking member James McGovern told attendees SNAP benefits shouldn’t be cut and current benefits are inadequate. McGovern also said they need to maintain the structure of SNAP, increase benefits and boost anti-hunger safety net to reach those who are facing hardship.

Budget Challenges Ag Legislation — National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson says the budget situation is challenging for agriculture: spending cuts are being proposed by the administration, while some in the agriculture industry are asking for more money for the Farm Bill.  Johnson says there’s not a champion for agriculture right now in the White House, which could help in those tough discussions. "The 2014 Farm Bill was passed at a time of relative prosperity. We had high prices and relatively high net farm income. Today, prices and farm income are half of what they were four years ago. This is a time when the federal government needs to step up and put more money into safety nets instead of taking more resources away.”

Trade Uncertainty with Mexico — Dairy industry leaders traveled to Mexico to talk trade last week. National Milk Producers Federation president and CEO Jim Mulhern says there is a level of anxiety and uncertainty in Mexico over the trade relationship. “The message we delivered was, ‘as we look at renegotiating NAFTA, the focus should be on how we strengthen the agreement, not tear it down or do anything to damage the relationship, but improve it. Any agreement that’s been in place for 20 years can be strengthened and modernized.’ That’s the approach we’re taking.” Mulhern says the U.S. dairy industry has worked hard to build a partnership with Mexico. Mexico is looking at trade alternatives. Mulhern says there’s concern about a bilateral trade deal between the European Union and Mexico and if a trade relationship happens between the two, it would hurt the U.S. Mulhern will testify this morning in a House Ag Committee hearing on dairy policy.

Moving Forward with Keystone XL — In a reversal of the Obama Administration, President Donald Trump has formally given the go-ahead for the Keystone XL pipeline. President Trump calls the approval of the permit a new era of American energy policy. Trump says the pipeline will lower costs, reduce reliance on foreign oil and create thousands of jobs.

New Crush Plant 'Changes Game' on Biodiesel Availability — More biodiesel is being used in North Dakota, but Mid-Corp Director of Operations Lisa Pedderson says the state has been a little behind others like Minnesota on using higher blends. Pedderson says that’s due to availability. The proposed soybean crush facility at Spiritwood, North Dakota should change the game on availability.  “It’s not fuel distributors can’t get their hands on biodiesel in North Dakota. The further you’re away from the supply, it’s going to add cost in freight. Adding the crush plant will really help.” Pedderson says farmers should ask their fuel dealers to carry biodiesel. 

Negotiations Moving Slow — Negotiations between the U.S. and Mexico regarding sugar trade has been moving slow. Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association president Dan Younggren says part of the slow discussions is getting people in place in Washington D.C. to move things forward.   “We’ll see what happens. Time will tell. We remain hopefully optimistic this will be taken care of quickly so we can move ahead. There’s no question Mexico has put suppression on prices. We need to start moving up.” Younggren is also watching discussions on the 2018 Farm Bill. Sugar beet growers are pleased with the current programs. 

New State Agency Likely — The North Dakota House Energy and Natural Resources Committee has approved a bill that would create a new state Department of Environmental Quality. An advisory board will be part of this effort. The House bill includes three representatives for agriculture, representing livestock, crops and the agronomy/social science sector. The Senate version only has one representative for agriculture. If the bill moves forward on its current path, a conference committee will likely work out the differences.

Omnibus Agriculture Bill Advances — The Minnesota House Agriculture Finance Committee has passed the omnibus agriculture bill. The bill now goes to the House Ways and Means Committee. This agriculture appropriations measure calls for the establishment of voluntary farmer-led water management councils to develop best management practices. In addition, there’s money for avian influenza research and prevention, funding for farm business management programs and county noxious weed grants to deal with the emerging Palmer amaranth threat. There is also a requirement for the State Agriculture Department to notify the media when significant new weeds are confirmed for the first time in a county.

Sharing Concerns on Buffers — Minnesota Farm Bureau associate director for public policy Cole Rupprecht says having farmers tell their story and concerns about the Governor’s buffer plan may have made some inroads. “We had the northwest group from Minnesota District 7 and the Minnesota Wheat Growers join us and that was an issue that was well discussed. The groups had an opportunity on Thursday to meet with the Lt. Governor to share their concerns when it comes to buffers. No. 1 being the mapping issues with those private ditches. The Lt. Governor is beginning to understand those issues.” Rupprecht says its always helpful to have farmers telling their stories and voicing their concerns to lawmakers.  

Scandal Hits Brazilian Meat Industry — The Brazilian government is trying to pick up the pieces after a major scandal has rocked its meatpacking industry. There are allegations meat inspectors were bribed to allow tainted meat to be sold in domestic and export markets. Twenty countries have suspended imports from Brazil. That includes China, which is the biggest customer for Brazilian beef. Meanwhile, China is seeking other places to buy beef and has agreed to stop restrictions on Australian product. Brazil’s former treasury minister said this corruption scandal is “a disaster” for the industry.

National Wildfire Relief Efforts — USDA has designated $6 million in aid to help farmers and ranchers affected by recent wildfires in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. That money is available through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The funds will assist farmers and ranchers as they restore grazing lands, rebuild fences, rehabilitate landscapes and protect damaged watersheds.

Pictures Don't Tell the Story — St. James, Minnesota custom combiner Dean Karau is hauling hay and other supplies to the Ashland, Kansas area that was devastate by wildfires. Karau says farmers and ranchers in the Ashland area lost everything. “I hauled a load of hay down there last week and talked to them. They said it took three minutes to burn a building site down. That’s how fast it moved with 50-to-60 mph winds.” Karau plans on hauling more hay to the area. “There are plenty of places to donate. They are willing to take anything. Pictures don’t do it justice. I combine down in that area. That’s one of the reasons I’m doing this, to give back to the people we combine for and try to help them out.”

ND Ranchers Donate to Relief Effort — The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and NDSA Foundation are pledging $15,000 to the relief efforts in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. The NDSA and NDSF have established the “Rising from the Ashes” Wildfire Disaster Relief Program to connect with those who want to donate. People can send checks to the NDSF with “Rising from the Ashes” written in the memo. 

Promoting ND Farm Products in the Philippines — North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has wrapped up a trade mission to the Philippines. Seven state food companies were also part of the trip, promoting specialty crops and soybeans. Time was spent with food buyers and government officials. North Dakota also had a presence at a major food conference and expo.

Preparing for More Wet Conditions — American Crystal Sugarbeet Company General Agronomist Tyler Grove says the cool weather has improved beet storage this year. The potential wet weather in the spring is a little concerning. “North of East Grand Forks, in the Drayton district, there’s lots of concerns about wet conditions. It’s going to be another tale of two cities again with the weather and soil. There will likely be some earlier planting in the south and later in the north. Another challenging year. Talking to growers, they are pretty optimistic. Last year’s slate has been wiped clean and they look forward to getting in the field again.” Grove says growers should have concern about cercospora this year. “We have more pressure on our south end. We have to stay on top of this, because we have so much inoculant built up over the last few years. Conditions that favor sugar beet production greatly favor cercospora production as well. It’s unfortunate the two go hand-in-hand, but they do. We have to be aware of that.”

Hoping and Getting Spring Moisture — The eastern Dakotas and Minnesota shouldn’t be too worried about drought right now. However, South Dakota State University Extension State Climatologist Laura Edwards says western South Dakota is starting to get a little dry, hoping for spring moisture. “In the spring season, that’s what we look at to start with. On the opposite side, the NOAA flood risk for spring anticipates major to moderate flooding in the Devil’s Lake area. They expect record runoff into Devil’s Lake and it may rise three to four feet coming close to the record in June 2011.”

Farm Stress Hotline — University of Minnesota Extension has started a new program, offering one-to-one financial counseling to farmers. Extension agricultural economist Kevin Klair said financial experts are available to assist the farmer, including retired farm business management instructors, Extension educators and lenders. “The consultant will meet with them privately and individually, basically to look at their financial situation, help them understand it and look at options as for what they can potentially do.” This counseling service can augment the services currently available, including the farmer-lender mediation program. A toll-free farm information line is available at 800-232-9077.

A Slow Start — Regarding the Farm Bill, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said the Trump Administration is off to a slow start. “They haven’t put forward names for Number Two people. That makes it really hard to run an agency. That isn’t Congress’ fault in this case, we just haven’t had a lot of names.” The White House is proposing a 21 percent cut for Agriculture Department spending. Klobuchar says that would be devastating for Rural America. 

Beet Seed Making Way to Farms Soon — Betaseed vice president of sales and marketing Mark Schmidt says spring is here and beet seed will be moving to the farm soon. “It’s that time of year again. We have seed moving from our production facility in Oregon to the Midwest. We have about all of it delivered to our independent sales agents. Our new production facility has just finished a remodeling project. We’re looking forward to a good year.” Cersporia is a concern for beet growers. Schmidt has seen an increase in demand for cersporia resistant varieties. “Going forward, our breeders are taking the experiences into account. We’re looking to put more hybrids in the market to fit that need.” 

That's Gold! — Golden Growers Cooperative held its annual meeting in West Fargo last week. Executive Vice President Scott Stofferahn says farmers are dealing with low corn prices, just as they were when the co-op was formed, and the ProGold fructose plant was built in the mid-1990s. “It was those low-price circumstances that resulted in farmers investing in Golden Growers cooperative so they could get more value for that crop. It took a long time before they started seeing returns, but we’ve returned about 170 percent of their original investment to this point.” Golden Growers owns 49 percent of the ProGold plant, which is completely paid for. The second ten-year lease with Cargill expires this year. The Red River Farm Network’s Randy Koenen asked Stofferahn about the lease. “We’ve been working on lease negotiations and other alternatives. Until we have a deal that’s signed, we’re not in a position to announce anything. It could be in the next few weeks or awhile.” Golden Growers and the North Dakota Corn Growers Association have funded a project to evaluate corn wet milling marketing and Golden Growers has also received a value-added producer grant from USDA Rural Development to study possible future business ventures.

Waterhemp Moves North — North Dakota State University and University of Minnesota Extension Sugarbeet Agronomist Tom Peters says waterhemp continues to move north. “Our surveys indicate farmers south of Fargo-Moorhead, it’s the most important weed they have. Beyond that, it depends on where you’re at. Kochia is important. Common ragweed is important. Lambsqarters is important and palmer amaranth as well.” Peters says we don’t have palmer amaranth, but farmers also don’t want the weed. Peters want farmers to recognize if it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. “Since it’s not from around here, it grows very differently. It grows very quickly once it starts to grow. Waterhemp grows one to two inches per day. Palmer amaranth can grow twice that.” 

Dicamba Preservation — Weed scientists met in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho recently for the Western Weed Science Society annual meeting. One research report from Colorado got North Dakota State University Extension weed specialist Rich Zollinger’s attention. “Colorado has lots of range land, corn and small grain, where dicamba use has been prevalent. A researcher there reported somewhere around 20 percent of the kochia has some kind of resistance to dicamba.” A grad student at Montana State University conducting dose studies also found fairly high resistance levels in some weed bio-types. Zollinger says the take home message is the new dicamba products are not a silver bullet, and must be used correctly. “For those who may be thinking about dicamba resistant soybean technology, realize it’s just one tool in the toolbox. We need to use it judiciously and to accompany it with herbicides and other modes of action.”

Keep Those Plants Healthy — Producers are still making cropping decisions. Stoller USA Regional Manager Larry Lentner says producers pay good money for seed and the genetic potential in that seed needs realized. “Take advantage of every growing rebate you can in the Dakotas. If you don’t get an even stand, those plants that come up won’t contribute to yield.”  Lentner says once plants are up and growing, they need to make sure that plant stays healthy.  

MN Farmers Enroll Acres in Water Quality Program — The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says more than 200,000 acres of farmland have been enrolled in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program. MDA celebrated the milestone at a farm near Kimball, Minnesota. Since inception in 2014, 365 farms have been enrolled in the Minnesota Water Quality Certification Program.

Honey Production Increases — U.S. honey production totaled 162 million pounds last year. That’s up three percent from 2015. There were nearly 3 million colonies in which honey was harvested last year, up four percent from the previous year. North Dakota ranks first in the nation for honey production. The amount of honey produced in the state increased four percent in 2016. 

Tractor Sales Increased in February — The Association of Equipment Manufacturers reports tractor sales were up 13 percent in February, compared to a year ago. For the first two months of the year, tractor sales were up five percent. Sales of 4-wheel drive tractors were down 25 percent in February, while combine sales were up 29 percent.

NDSU Developing Disease Model for Sunflowers — North Dakota State University Extension plant pathologist Sam Markell is part of a group of researchers that have been awarded a $300,000 USDA grant to develop a disease forecasting model to manage phomopsis stem canker in sunflowers. “We’re really excited about this. Phomopsis stem canker has been a big problem in sunflowers, especially in the last five to seven years. We have chemicals that can help. The critical thing has been the timing. It doesn’t really line up with growth stages. It’s a multi-state effort.” Markell says goal is to have a working model at the end of the grant.  

BASF Secures License for CRISPR Technology — BASF has a licensing agreement for the use of the genome editing technology called CRISPR. This process is considered a more precise tool for making targeted changes to a cell’s DNA. CRISPR is seen as a way to improve agricultural genetics faster and less expensively than with other genome-editing methods. 

New Tools for Toolbox — MS Technologies and Bayer are collaborating to bring farmers a new tool for the toolbox: the Balance GT performance system. MS Technologies Brand Manager Lindsey Seitz says the Balance GT soybean is a double stack soybean, tolerant to all forms of glyphosate and a new herbicide, Balance Bean. “That’s the first time this mode of action has been used on soybeans. It’s a residual herbicide. It will stay in the soil and reactivate with about a half an inch of rain. It will do a good job combating against those glyphosate resistant weeds growers have issues with.” Seitz says the system offers good performance and control.  

New Weed Control Tool Launched — Invictis Crop Care has introduced a new post-emergence broadleaf weed control option for wheat and barley. STAVE is described as a strong tank mix partner when dealing with Russian thistle, morning glory and ALS resistant kochia.

Profit Picture Improves for Pork Processor — Operating profits for the WH Group increased by nearly 15 percent last year. The Chinese company, which purchased Smithfield Foods three years ago, said earnings from its Chinese and U.S. business hit new records. The WH Group reports a significant increase in profits from its fresh pork business. 

ProAg to Acquire International Ag Insurance — There’s a new acquisition happening in the crop insurance business. Producers Ag Insurance Group, or ProAg, has a purchase agreement to take over International Ag Insurance Solutions. International Ag Insurance is based in West Des Moines, Iowa and managed gross premiums of more than $67 million last year. The deal is expected to close in early April. 

Feed Manufacturing Plant Built in Virigina — Land O’Lakes, Inc. says it will build a state-of-the-art animal feed manufacturing facility in Roanoke, Virginia, with plans to open the facility in December 2018. Group Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Beth Ford says the southeast region is the single biggest growth opportunity for the Purina animal nutrition business. Although it had announced in November that Land O’Lakes had entered into a letter of intent to purchase the feed assets of Southern States Cooperative, Ford says the company is looking to move more quickly in this strategic market than the discussions with Southern States allowed. 

NAWG Hires New Communications Director — Beginning in April, Caitlin Eannello will take over as the communications director for the National Association of Wheat Growers. Eannello has been in a similar role at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. 

NDWC Election Results Announced — Dustin Johnsrud of Epping and Greg Svenningsen of Valley City have been reelected to the North Dakota Wheat Commission. Epping will serve his second term and Svenningsen was elected to his third term. This board is responsible for setting the budget and developing policy and programs for research, market development, domestic promotion, domestic policy and trade policy.

Revels and White Joins House Ag Committee Staff — House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway has added two new individuals to the committee staff, Stacy Revels and Trevor White. Revels will be responsible for issues including biotechnology, specialty crops, horticulture, organic agriculture and food safety. White will oversee commodity policy and crop insurance. Revels was the special assistant to the administrator at USDA’s Risk Management Agency. She also served as a policy advisor for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and worked for the National Pork Board. White was an associate at Combest, Sell and Associates and was a member of the agricultural advisory committee for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. 

MPC Outstanding Service Award Presented to Jurek — The president of the GNP Company has been given the outstanding service award from the Midwest Poultry Consortium. Steve Jurek spent nearly 20 years on the MPC board including time as board chair. Jurek joined GNP Company, which was then named Gold’n Plump Poultry, in 1977 and was named president in 2014.

Church Promoted — The Minnesota Beef Council has promoted Becky Church to the role of communications director. Previously, Church was the communications specialist. Church is a Hastings, Minnesota native.

Locken to Retire — Wheat Growers CEO Dale Locken plans to retire later this year. Locken has been in that role since 2002. As of August 1, Locken will be succeeded by Chris Pearson, who is the current chief operating officer for the Aberdeen-based farm cooperative.

New Potato Leadership — A partner in Black Gold Farms is the new chairman of Potatoes USA. John Halverson of Arbyrd, Missouri represents Missouri, which is in the north-central caucus along with North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and six other Midwest states. North Dakota and Minnesota each elected one new board member this year to fill expired terms. In North Dakota, Carl Hoverson was replaced by Tom Enanader, a foundation seed grower from Grenora and in Minnesota, Jennifer Borowicz of Crookston replaces Justin Dagen. Borowicz farms with HFC Inc. near Argyle.

MN Farm Leader Passes — David Haugo, 82, died on March 12. The Waubun, Minnesota farmer is the former president of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers and chaired the Minnesota Farm Service Agency State Committee during the Clinton and Obama administrations. 

ND Soybean Minute — Hear the latest North Dakota Soybean Minute from the North Dakota Soybean Council and the soybean checkoff. Learn about the annual 'See For Yourself Tour.'

Dry Bean Scene — The Dry Bean Scene is on the air, with information about the dry edible bean industry in the Northarvest region. This broadcast airs each Friday at 12:37 PM. 

Weed Management 101The special Red River Farm Network series, Weed Management 101, is on the air. In this week's edition, University of Illinois associate professor Aaron Hager says weed resistance is a reality. Listen to Weed Management 101. This series will air over the next ten weeks. Thanks to the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Peterson Farms Seed and BASF for their support of this education effort.

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Last Week's TriviaOf course, April showers bring May flowers. Ag lender Quinn Friesen, who is with CIBC, was the first to respond with our spring trivia question and is our weekly winner. Greg Guse of Paulsen, Kevin Schulz of National Hog Farmer, Mark Maris of Cargill and Mandy Kvale of Farm Credit Services of Mandan earn runner-up honors. The 'first 20' includes Bruce Miller of Minnesota Farmers Union, Brenda Kovar of Choice Financial, Mike Brinda of Columbia Grain, Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, Angie Skochdopole of AdFarm, Nick Sinner of MN-SD Equipment Dealers Association, Twyla Wulf of Clear Springs Cattle Company, Strasburg farmer Kenny Nieuwsma, Jerome Lensing of Minnesota Agricutlural Water Resource Center, Cokato farmer Harlan Anderson, Jon Farris of BankWest, Kathy Noll of Noll's Dairy Farm, Rolette County farmer Steve Grenier, Pete Carson of Carson Farms and Harvey farmer Bill Ongstad.