Red River Farm Network News

Dakota Cattle Drive Raises $151,000 for Wildfire Assistance — The NDFB Foundation and county Farm Bureau organizations have raised over $151,000 to assist farmers and ranchers hurt by wildfires in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Most of this money came from the NDFB Dakota Cattle Drive with rollover auctions in Rugby, Devils Lake, Mandan, Napoleon and Dickinson. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the victims of the wildfires.

Back-and-Forth Over U.S.-Canada Trade — President Donald Trump has imposed a preliminary tariff of about 20 percent on softwood lumber coming out of Canada. This action comes just days after Trump challenged Canada’s new dairy pricing strategy. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the dairy and lumber disputes are connected during the negotiations process. Canadian President Justin Trudeau’s office released a statement reinforcing “the importance of stability and job growth in trade.”

Keep That Winter Jacket Out — University of Illinois Meteorologist Eric Snodgrass says a branch of the upper level jet stream is responsible for the ugly weather we’ve been seeing in the Northern Plains. Snodgrass says this unsettled weather pattern could hang around for a while. “I expect this to continue. The latest long-range model projections says there’s a system reinvigorating soon. Following that, there’s another system coming middle of next week.”

A Slow Start — USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report shows 17 percent of the U.S. corn crop is planted, up from six percent last week, but one point behind the five-year average. USDA meteorologist Mark Brusberg says the slower start cannot be compared to last year. “They’ve had showers recently and have made reasonably good progress. This year, they are ahead of average, but not as good as last year.”  USDA’s first update on soybeans shows six percent planted, twice the average pace. Thirty-six percent of the sugarbeets are planted, well behind last year when 58 percent were planted by this date. Winter wheat crop conditions are unchanged at 54 percent good to excellent, five points below last year. Thirty-two percent of the crop is headed, nine points ahead of average. Spring wheat planting is 22 percent complete, 12 points behind the five-year average.

Cold, Wet Weather Concerning for Crop in Ground — North Dakota State University Extension agronomist Joel Ransom says the cold wet weather is a concern for the corn that is already in the ground. “One of the things we are concerned about is a chilling injury which occurs shortly after the seed is exposed to moisture after planting. I think most of our soils have been moist.” Seedling vigor is also a concern in the cold, wet weather. “We have two problems: potential for chilling injury and slow emergence likely to take place. Slow emergence means the seeds are more susceptible to pests and other diseases.”

Rest Assured, Corn is Likely Ok — A limited amount of corn has been planted across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest. The cold temp will have some farmers questioning that decision to plant. DuPont Pioneer field agronomist Clyde Tiffany downplays those worries. “For the most part, I think soil temperatures were high enough when people put corn in the ground the last few days, it will probably be okay. It’s the first 24 hours, if it’s really cold, that’s when it’s hard on seed membranes. But we have some cold-tolerant seed products right now.” Tiffany is based in Spicer, Minnesota and covers the western side of the state. One year ago, there was a lot of corn in the ground by the end of April. “Yet, that was really early. I think this year is more typical of the upper Midwest. You have to be poised, ready to go. Those windows can close up fast. That first week of May will be important for us.” Tiffany says there may be a small increase in soybean acreage this spring, but most farmers are sticking to their normal rotation.

Good Planting Progress for Eastern Corn Belt — Farmers are making good planting progress in the eastern Corn Belt. In Freemont, Ohio, Sunrise Cooperative Vice President of Grain Craig Haugaard says next week’s crop progress report will be a better indication of any late planting. “Certainly, we’ve seen producers have an amazing ability to get grain in the ground rapidly. In Ohio, we were off to a slow start, but now, we’re moving.” Haugaard says field conditions in his trade area have improved. “We’re sitting in great shape for moisture. Now, it’s been drying up. Sub-soil moisture is really good as well. It sure looks to me just about as perfect as you can start.”

What's Next? — South Dakota State University Extension Business Risk Management specialist Matt Dierson says South Dakota producers want to know what’s next with the corn crop. “Across the country, corn seems to be on track with planting pace. Not necessarily in the Dakotas. It doesn’t look like we’re in any situation where we will have a short planting year for corn. Looking forward, will there be a pricing opportunity on corn? That’s yet to be seen.” Dierson says an increase in corn and bean acres means fewer acres going toward hay production in South Dakota. Fewer hay acres doesn’t bode well for the expansion of the cattle herd.  

Mixed Signals — Wet weather continues to slow corn planting progress in the Northern Plains while other areas of the Corn Belt continue to make good planting progress. Gulke Group President Jerry Gulke told a weekend market report the grain market continues to tell farmers not to plant corn. But Gulke says the market is sending mixed signals. “We can plant corn up until the third week in May and not suffer in yield loss. One of these years, that is going to happen, where we suffer a yield loss. Who knows if this will be the year? The market is sending mixed signals to us, especially in corn.”

Agriculture Needs an Advocate — Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts says the agriculture industry needs an advocate, now more than ever. “Our farmers and ranchers have been long waiting for this important role to be filled," says Roberts. "I know Secretary Perdue will put the needs of U.S. farmers and ranchers, along with rural America, first. And lead us in both the House and Senate to implement a productive trade policy and economic recovery in rural America.” Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow backed Perdue’s confirmation, even while criticizing President Trump’s budget proposal. “For months, rural America hasn’t had a voice in this administration. Frankly, it shows. President Trump’s budget proposal makes it clear rural America isn’t a top priority for his administration. His proposal cuts USDA funding by 21 percent.”

Removing Obstacles at USDA — On Sonny Perdue’s first full day as agriculture secretary, the former Georgia governor met with USDA employees. Perdue touted his experience as a farmer and explained what that means. “We as USDA want to be obstacle removers, not obstacle placers enabled to do that within the law and sound environmental policy.”

Regulatory Reform for Agriculture — In a rare White House event for farmers, President Donald Trump signed an executive order providing regulatory reform for agriculture. “I’m directing Secretary Purdue to work with other members of my Cabinet. To identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations that hurt our nation’s farmers and rural communities.” The executive order also creates an inter-agency task force on agriculture and rural prosperity, which will be led by new Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. During the roundtable discussion with 14 agriculture leaders, Trump also criticized Canada for its trade policies. That includes the new dairy pricing policies that has left some farmers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York without a market for their milk.

Heitkamp's Approval — North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp says now that Sonny Perdue is confirmed by the Senate, she will make sure Perdue understands North Dakotans’ serious concerns about the president’s budget, which would slash USDA funding. In a recent interview, Heitkamp said she was impressed with Perdue. “We’re excited to see what he brings to production agriculture and rural America.”

Trump Meets with Farmers — President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue met with 14 farmers and ranchers at the White House Tuesday to discuss agriculture issues. This select group of farmers included American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, former California Agriculture Secretary A.G Kawamura and a young woman from southeastern Minnesota. Valerie Earley is the National FFA Central Region vice president. "I think they wanted a young farmer perspective on the panel," Earley told RRFN. "Around the table, we talked about big-picture issues like labor and immigration, trade, regulatory reform and infrastructure." Earley says the White House meeting also focused agriculture’s next generation and what can be done to encourage young people to go into farming or a related career. It is believed this is the first time a diverse group of farmers met with a U.S. president this early in the administration since 1981 and President Reagan. "It was quite a day. I'm really thankful for the FFA jacket and the tradition behind it that allowed me to be in that room and learn so much."

Confirmation Hearing Scheduled for Branstad — Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will face the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday. Branstad has been nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to China. President Donald Trump nominated Branstad in early December, but, it has taken this long to get the confirmation hearing on the schedule.

Delvo Transitions From AgriGrowth to Connect the Grey — Mary Kay Delvo has taken a new position with Connect the Grey, a new company bridging the rural-urban divide and focusing on food, energy and water issues. Delvo will be the Catalyst and Director of Ideation at Connect the Grey. For the past three years, Delvo has been the director of strategic engagement and operations at AgriGrowth. In her new role, Delvo will be based in Minneapolis.

Weed of the Week: Biennial Wormwood The increase in soybean and dry edible bean production has contributed to an increase in biennial wormwood
populations in Minnesota and North Dakota. Biennial wormwood is most prevalent in moist environments in both conventional and no-tillage systems. Biennial wormwood grows slowly after emergence, remaining as a rosette until midsummer, when plants bolt and growth becomes rapid. Biennial wormwood has natural tolerance to many soil-applied and post emergence broadleaf herbicides such as some ALS Inhibitors (SOA2), dinitroanilines (SOA3), PPO inhibitors (SOA14), acetamides (SOA15) and HPPD Inhibitors (SOA27). Post-emergence herbicides such as growth regulators (SOA4) should be applied when biennial wormwood is less than 3 inches in height. While biennial wormwood is glyphosate sensitive, control often is inconsistent and may require a repeat application, especially when size is greater than three inches. Thanks to Tom Peters of North Dakota State University/University of Minnesota and Richard Zollinger of NDSU for assisting with this project.

Weed Management 101 The special Red River Farm Network series, Weed Management 101, is on the air. In this week's edition, Learn more about the importance of applying a pre-emergence treatement on this week's Weed Management 101. Thanks to the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Peterson Farms Seed and BASF for their support of this education effort.

Lawmakers Urge Administration to Purchase Surplus Beans — North Dakota Senators Hoeven and Heitkamp and Minnesota Senators Klobuchar and Franken are asking USDA to purchase surplus pinto and kidney beans and remove the oversupply from the market. In addition to supporting dry bean farmers, North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp said the food purchases will be useful in school lunch programs and international food assistance.

Extending the Biodiesel Tax Credit — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley has introduced a biodiesel tax credit bill. The legislation would extend the current expired credit. “It would convert the traditional $1/mixture into a production credit. In addition, the ten cents per gallon, a small producer’s credit is what we call it, that would be extended. Both credits would be extended through 2020 to give the industry more certainty.”

The Future of Renewable Fuels — As Trump administration Cabinet members are slowly confirmed, Renewable Fuels Association Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper says there are also a number of agency appointments that need to be filled. “A lot of the new Cabinet folks have been confirmed. There are also a number of other appointments that are easy to overlook. There’s still lots of empty positions at key agencies, the EPA being one of those.” Cooper says there is also quite a bit of discussion and concern of budgetary items. “As far as the RFS goes, we aren’t terribly concerned the RFS will be impacted by potential budget or personnel cuts. The RFS doesn’t really cost the American taxpayer anything.”

Busy Season for Farmland Sales — Red River Land Company has just finished a very busy season of farmland sales. President John Botsford explains. “It’s been an exceptionally busy year, probably second only to 2012.” Botsford says there are a lot of different reasons for the increased land sales, but no red flags. Botsford also says nearly all the land buyers are active, local farmers. Land values seem to have stabilized. “Values have pulled back since they peaked in 2012 and 2013. In general, values are off 25 or 30 percent in most areas, but they seemed to have flat-lined now.”

Prepping for New Building — While the funding process for the South Dakota State University Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Lab is now underway, SDSU is preparing for the new building on campus. Construction is scheduled to start this summer or fall. That’s according to hopeful SDSU Extension veterinarian Russ Daly. “There are things that need to be squared away before they start moving some earth. If action doesn’t happen this fall, we hope it will happen next spring.” The new lab will improve efficiencies so producers can get timely results on testing. Daly says a good example of that is the avian influenza outbreak. 

Significant Challenges — Margins are tight as the 2017 growing season begins. Keith Olander, who leads the Minnesota farm business management program through AgCentric, says there are some significant challenges. “We still have farms that don’t have operating loans at this point, which is a dire situation. While it’s not all gloom and doom, we know there are things that need to be dealt with.” Olander says dairy farmers are also struggling. “We had one good year in 2014 and we’ve had a number of years in negative.”

Something for EveryoneMinnesota has nearly 11,000 members with almost 4,000 students in attendance at the state convention.  State Sentinel Joe Ramstad says FFA has something to offer everyone. “I didn’t come from a farming background. I’ve grown so much through the FFA. It has the potential to shape anyone, no matter their background. I think that speaks to the power of agricultural education. Agriculture is in everything. We have to make sure we advocate for that. There’s no better way to do that than teaching agriculture.” Reflecting on the current agriculture industry, State FFA Treasurer Clay Newton says farmers are learning to do more with less. The Red River Farm Network’s coverage of the Minnesota FFA Convention is sponsored, in part, by AgCountry Farm Credit Services.

Wanted: Boots on the Ground — University of Minnesota College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science Dean Brian Buhr, who is also an economist, says agriculture is a cyclical business. Buhr says agricultural companies need boots on the ground coming from land grant universities. As an example, agronomists are in high demand. “We re-introduced an agronomy track. Our students initiated that. Employers said having agronomy was an important part for students. We have that coming back online.” Buhr sees strong demand for young people in livestock production systems. At this Minnesota FFA Convention, we’re also hearing about the need for ag teachers. “We haven’t had enough teachers. I hope students can see that opportunity as they attend convention.” RRFN's coverage of the Minnesota FFA Convention is sponsored, in part, by Associated Milk Producers Incorporated.

New MN State FFA Officer Team NamedThe new slate of officers for Minnesota FFA is in place. Katie Benson of Staples Motley FFA is the new state president. Emily Pliscott of Kenyon-Wanamingo is vice president. The secretary is Kylee Kohls of Litchfield FFA. The treasurer is Spencer Flood of Dassel-Cokato and the reporter is Eleora DeMuth of Grand Rapids. The new sentinel is Maddie Weninger of Howard Lake Waverly Winsted FFA. RRFN's coverage of the Minnesota FFA Convention is sponsored, in part, by Minnesota Farm Bureau.

Stars Named — A Thief River Falls FFA member is the Minnesota Star in AgriScience. Brandon Kasprick was recognized for his research in the area of plant systems. Samuel Moenning of the Triton FFA Chapter has been named the FFA Star in Production Placement. Moenning works on three different farms and owns his own herd of Simmental cattle. The Star in AgriBusiness is Logan Schoon of Menahga, who works as a construction foreman. The Star Farmer is Karla Nelson of Pipestone, who rents and farms her own land raising corn, soybeans and sweet corn.

Honorary State FFA Degrees Presented at MN Convention — Twenty-two individuals received honorary degrees from the Minnesota FFA Association. That list includes Jean Johnson of AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Greg Harder of the Minnesota State Fair, Dale Nordquist of the University of Minnesota, Bob Rick of Central Lakes College and Ada-Borup agriculture instructor Abbie Savage.

The Growth is Fun to Watch — There are now 84 FFA chapters across South Dakota. Three new chapters were added last year. Former South Dakota FFA vice president Caitlyn Schnietkel says the growth is fun to watch. “It’s cool to see. FFA has been established a long time, but yet we still have that growth. It’s good to have those people recognized here at convention.” South Dakota FFA Foundation Executive Assistant Gretchen Sharp says there will be more FFA programs added this year. That includes Aberdeen Central in Aberdeen, South Dakota. “At Aberdeen Central,more than 300 students are interested in the program. We are pleased to have hired a teacher. It will start in the fall. They are offering four different classes and hopefully, an FFA program with it.”  

New South Dakota FFA LeadershipSix new FFA officers will lead the South Dakota FFA for 2017-2018. The new state president is Dalton Larson from the West Central FFA Chapter, the state vice-president is Clayton Sorum from the Canton FFA, state secretary is April Hamilton from the Hitchcock-Tulare FFA Chapter, Avery Gilchrist from Winner FFA is the state reporter and Elle Moon from Wall FFA is the state sentinel. The interview process was life-changing for many of these officers, including the new state treasurer Aaron Linke from the Sanberg Central-Woonsocket FFA. Linke thinks the opportunities are endless for FFA members. “Growing themselves to the organization’s growth. To spread the passion for agriculture and advocate for the industry I love so dearly.” The retiring state officer team has some advice for those new officers. Former state sentinel Sydnie Peters says those officers can do anything they set their minds to do. “You can do it. Don’t be scared. Trust the process. It’s a great one.” What’s next for those retiring officers? Many want to continue serving others either through the FFA or agriculture industry. As of this time, no one on the former officer team is applying for a national FFA office. RRFN’s coverage of the SD FFA Convention is sponsored, in part, by the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council.

South Dakota Student STAR Award Winners — Five FFA members were recognized for their Supervised Agricultural Experience projects during the third session of the South Dakota FFA Convention. The 2017 STAR FFA Greenhand is Kayla Smeenk from the Harrisburg FFA Chapter. Kadon Leddy’s project focuses on the farm-to-school program and surveying. Leddy is from the Millbank FFA Chapter and is the 2017 STAR in Agriscience. The Star in Agribusiness is Clayton Keck from the Miller FFA Chapter. Kleck’s custom mowing, grain cleaning and baling has evolved into a passion for auctioneering, too. Caleb Wobig from the McCook Central FFA Chapter works on his family’s diversified farm: cattle and crops. He is the South Dakota Star Placement. Cole Schock from the McCook Central FFA Chapter is the South Dakota Star Farmer. He works with dairy cattle. RRFN’s coverage of the South Dakota FFA Convention is sponsored, in part, by the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council.

Preparing to FarmThe farm economy is tough right now. Younger farmers like former South Dakota state FFA treasurer Andrew Streff understand that and still want to return to the family farm after graduating college. “Grain prices aren’t where we’d like them to be," says Streff. "That’s why I’m pursuing a degree in Agribusiness Management, so I can learn to make a profit or breakeven on the family farm. It’s my passion to return to the family farm. I want to ensure I have the knowledge and education to do that to the best of my ability.” The Executive Director of the South Dakota Farmers Union Karla Hofhenke says the organization is looking for ways to help growers out during tough times, especially young farmers. “They just haven’t been in the business long enough to build up that cushion or equity they need to stay in business. All of the farmers we’ve visited with at FFA Convention has a strong interest in coming back to the farm, but when they say our net farm income for farmers this year is $13,000, that’s a lot of hours they are putting in to get that small return on the dollar.” RRFN's coverage of the South Dakota FFA Convention is sponsored, in part, by the South Dakota Farmers Union.

The Sugarbeet ReportSugarbeet growers made some planting progress before the cooler, damp weather set in last week. Listen to an update from sugar beet cooperatives across the Red River Valley. The Sugarbeet report is sponsored, in part, by SES VANDERHAVE and Dow Agrosciences. 

Syngenta Lawsuits Continue — The first of several lawsuits against Syngenta is underway. Syngenta is facing dozens of lawsuits that claim their sales of Viptera corn depressed corn prices four years ago. The Viptera trait was not approved for export to China and was found in shipments to China. Syngenta denies that China’s rejection of its biotech corn harmed farmers in any way, saying it was the huge corn crop in 2013 that pressured prices. In June, Syngenta faces trial in a class-action lawsuit brought by Kansas farmers seeking $200 million, plus punitive damages. Another trial involving Minnesota farmers claiming $600 million in damages is set for August. 

Cargill Sells Feedlots to Green Plains Cattle Company — Cargill is selling its two cattle feedlots in Kansas and Colorado to Green Plains Cattle Company for nearly $37 million. For these two sites, there is a total capacity of 155,000 head. With this deal, there is an agreement made that the Green Plains cattle will be marketed through the Cargill meatpacking plants. This sale still needs regulatory approval.

A Boost from Last Year — DuPont reports a nine percent increase in first quarter earnings per share, compared to last year. Sales increased five percent, with agriculture sales up four percent reflecting benefits from local price and volume. Pricing growth was driven by double-digit gains in Latin America, the launch of new soybean varieties in North America, and increased sunflower sales in Europe. Agriculture’s first quarter operating earnings were up 12 percent from the first quarter last year.

Caterpillar 1Q Earnings Lower — Caterpillar is reporting first quarter earnings of $192 million, compared to $271 million one year ago. Revenue increased to $9.8 billion from $9.4 billion, For the year, Caterpillar is predicting adjusted earnings of $38 to $41 billion.

Two ND Co-op Elevator Companies Become One — Two North Dakota grain elevator companies are merging. The shareholders of Clifford Farmers Co-op Elevator and Galesburg Cooperative Elevator Company approved the merger.

Arysta LifeScience Announces New Jobs for Effertz and Thornton — Chad Effertz has been named the new head of research and development for Arysta LifeScience. Most recently, Effertz has been the marketing manager for U.S. herbicides. Sam Thornton is the new business manager for seed treatments at Arysta LifeScience. Thornton joined the company last year as a technical sales specialist in the Northern Plains.

Boswell Takes Job at USDA — American Farm Bureau Federation farm labor and immigration specialist Kristi Boswell has accepted a job at USDA. Boswell will be a senior advisor to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Boswell has been with AFBF for five years.

Land O'Lakes Promotion Announced — Bill Pieper has been promoted to senior vice president and chief financial officer at Land O’Lakes. Pieper has been with Land O’Lakes since 2005 and takes the CFO role following the pending retirement of Dan Knutson.

Blue Bell Ranch Recognized — The South Dakota Cattlemen have awarded the 2017 South Dakota Leopold Conservation Award to Blue Bell Ranch of Clear Lake. The Leopold Conservation award honors South Dakota landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.

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. 

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ND Soybean MinuteHear the latest North Dakota Soybean Minute from the North Dakota Soybean Council and the soybean checkoff. Learn about successfully managing weeds.

MN Farm Bureau Legislative MinuteHere's the latest from the Minnesota Farm Bureau. In this report, we get an update on the Minnesota legislative session.

MFU Legislative MinuteCheck out this update from the Minnesota Farmers Union on resuming the legislative session.

MN Beef Update — Hear from the Minnesota Beef Council and the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association in their weekly MN Beef Update. Learn more about the University of Minnesota Ag Awareness Day. 

ND Wheat LinkHear the North Dakota Wheat Commission's Wheat Link. Learn more about research funding for wheat. 

Corn Matters — Hear the Minnesota Corn Growers Association's Corn Matters program. Learn more about the Minnesota United promotion. 

AURI Update — In the weekly update from the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute. Visit for updates. 

Last Week's TriviaJennifer Aniston is the actress that portrayed Rachel Green on the TV sitcom Friends. Bruce Miller of the Minnesota Farmers Union was the first to respond with the correct answer.  Crookston farmer Ron Lanctot, Todd Good of AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Mandy Kvale of Farm Credit Services of Mandan and former Farm Service Agency Administrator Val Dolcini earn runner-up honors. Recognition also goes to Nick Sinner of MN-SD Equipment Dealers Association, Randy Knudsvig of First State Bank, Kevin Schulz of National Hog Farmer, Laurie Hoffman of VistaComm, Jim Altringer of Columbia Grain, Harvey farmer Bill Ongstad, retired AI instructor Lloyd Friske, Phyllis Meidinger of Farm Credit Services of Mandan and Calli Feland of DuPont Pioneer.