Red River Farm Network News
Leadership Continues to Work on the Farm Bill — The four leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have narrowed their list of differences. In an interview with the Red River Farm Network, House Agriculture Committee chairman Frank Lucas said three big questions remain--how many dollars and reforms are there in nutrition?; will there be supply management in dairy, and if so, how long?; and in the commodity title, how to determine what acres can participate? Lucas thinks it is possible to reach agreement on the farm bill before Christmas. "So far, good folks with good intentions have had very different policy perspectives, but ultimately, we have to have a farm bill." The RRFN interview took place this past Tuesday.
The Will is There, So Let's See It — North Dakota Senator John Hoeven addressed the joint annual meeting of American Crystal Sugar Company and the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association. Hoeven said an agreement is at hand among farm bill conferees. “There has got to be a will to finalize it and take it to the floor. I think all the options in terms of getting agreement under the different titles are there. Whether you’re talking base versus planted acres, there’s options that work for both the House and the Senate. On food stamps, same thing. Everybody’s saying the will is there. Let’s see it. Let’s get this thing out of conference and to the floor and let’s do it over the next several weeks.” Hoeven told sugarbeet growers he thinks conservation compliance will be tied to crop insurance, but he’s hopeful he can get some trade-offs.
Sooner Rather Than Later for Farm Bill — South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem believes progress is being made and the farm bill will be done sooner, rather than later. However, that timeframe may spill into early next year. “Having a law that’s signed before we get to the end of the year, might be a bit of a challenge because of the crunched timeframe that we’re operating under, but hopefully we’ll be able to say that we’ve got an agreement, that we know where we’re at and that we’re going to get this five-year farm bill completed.”
Boehner Standing Firm on Recess Date — While agriculture committee leadership indicate progress is being made on the new farm bill, House Speaker John Boehner isn’t satisfied. During his weekly news briefing, Boehner said the current farm bill should be extended for one month. Boehner is also standing firm on plans for a mid-December recess. “I made it clear that the House is going to leave Friday. You all know me pretty well. I mean what I say and I say what I mean.”
USDA Urges Continued Farm Bill Negotiations — USDA Communications Director Matt Paul has released a statement, saying farm bill negotiations should continue until congressional leaders have an agreement. Paul said both sides have said progress has been made and the “country deserves continued work” on this legislation.
In-fighting Not Good for Farm Bill — North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp told Red River Valley sugarbeet growers Thursday that she’s optimistic about the farm bill. “The good news for all of you is no one is talking about sugar. Both bills have sugar, so breathe a sigh of relief." Heitkamp said there is one not-so-optimistic note. "There’s been a lot of discussion about the commodity groups not working cooperatively on a farm bill. That is not a trend that is going to get us a long-term, stable farm policy and we’re going to have to bring that back together.”
Farm Bill Conservation Issues Highlighted in USDA-DU News Briefing — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is again saying he wants a farm bill done and “done quickly.” During a news conference with Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall, Vilsack said USDA is preparing for the possibility of permanent law, but hopes that is not needed. During that same news briefing, the Ducks Unlimited official said a farm bill extension would put conservation programs at risk. DU also supports tying conservation compliance to crop insurance.
Ag Groups Oppose Tying Conservation Compliance to Crop Insurance — A letter signed by more than a dozen farm organizations in the Northern Plains urges leaders of the farm bill conference committee to reject tying conservation compliance to crop insurance. The groups say resurrecting such a policy threatens the actuarial soundness and viability of crop insurance by discouraging participation in the program. Among the groups signing the letter were North Dakota corn, soybean, wheat, barley, sunflower, canola, sugarbeet and dry bean producers, as well as the North Dakota Farm Bureau.
Possible Short-term Extension for Dairy — Sources say the House could take up legislation this month that would provide for a short-term extension of current dairy policy in an effort to avoid the need for USDA to implement permanent law which would result in significantly higher milk prices. Permanent law requires a relatively high price support level and tight supply management for dairy products as well as for a number of so-called basic commodities such as wheat, corn, cotton and rice.
School Nutrition Bill — A new school nutrition bill has been introduced in Congress, which would reduce federal mandates on school lunch standards. The bill is designed to give schools more flexibility. South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem is one of the lawmakers introducing this bill.
RFS Comments Heat Up — Some heated discussion at the EPA’s public hearing on its proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard Thursday. National Chicken Council chairman Mike Brown said he’s not leaving the Hill until his problem is fixed. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association past president Steve Foglesong said the RFS gives the ethanol industry an advantage over livestock feeders in purchasing corn. Michael McAdams, with the Advanced Biofuels Association, testified that the EPA’s proposed rule is very draconian, and if it holds up, it will devastate any future investment in biofuels. Growth Energy spokesman Chris Bliley highlighted the resounding success of the RFS and said cutting it next year would cause severe harm to farmers, the biofuels industry and the nation’s economy.
RFS Comment Period Open — The EPA will be taking public comments on its proposal to scale back the Renewable Fuel Standard until January 28th. Last month, the EPA proposed cutting the RFS by three billion gallons, including a reduction of 1.4 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol.
Argentina Gives Boost to Biofuels Sector — Argentina will require a ten percent biodiesel blend in fuel burned for power generation in a bid to boost the struggling biofuels sector and increase the use of green fuels. The blending requirement for biodiesel used to run local vehicles will also be stepped up two percentage points to ten percent in January. Argentina’s 11 biggest biofuel producers spent about $500 million to built biodiesel plants in recent years.
China Still Evaluating — China’s Ag Ministry says they are still evaluating whether to approve the strain of genetically-modified corn that caused it to reject some US imports this week. The Ag Ministry says China was committed to maintaining its 95 percent rate of self-sufficiency in grain, but would take greater advantage of international markets to guarantee supply. “Incomplete test data” is cited as the reason for delay on approval of MIR162. Syngenta last month resubmitted an application for MIR162 to be allowed in China after an earlier application was rejected because it was incomplete.
Major Scientific Journal Retracts Biotech Study — A controversial study of Roundup Ready corn has been withdrawn. This research, which claimed the biotech corn caused tumors in rats, did not meet scientific standards and has been retracted. The study was conducted by a French researcher and published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal in 2012. The publication said the results presented in the study were inconclusive, which resulted in the retraction.
Sugar Growers Show Resilience — “Resilience” was the theme of American Crystal Sugar Company President and CEO David Berg’s speech to shareholders at their annual meeting Thursday in Fargo. Despite the drastic decline in sugar prices and beet payments, Berg says shareholders are not giving up, and remain focused on the long-term. “Total grower payments are down by more than $300 million. Obviously there’s a multiplier effect for the entire Red River Valley because money that doesn’t wind up in farmers’ pockets doesn’t get spent in the towns around here.” Berg blames Mexico for the collapse in sugar prices. Mexican sugar exports to the US have nearly tripled in five years. Berg says shareholders will lose “hundreds of dollars” per acre on this year’s crop, and will likely lose money next year, but expects sugarbeet acres to stay about the same. Thursday's meeting marked the 40th anniversary of American Crystal Sugar Company.
Managing Sugar Supplies — USDA’s job of managing sugar supplies has become much more difficult as Mexico has increased its shipments of sugar to this country. Kevin Price, director of government affairs for American Crystal Sugar Company in Washington, DC, thinks USDA has a tough situation and is doing all it can. “USDA is using the tools it has to improve communication and to try to suggest ideas for the Mexican government that would do something that would bring balance back to the market. Mexico has every right to do that. They could put in place policies or programs similar to those we have in the US. We’ve encouraged them to do so.”
Mexican Sugar Imports May Decline in '14 — The director of the Mexican Sugar Chamber says the government of Mexico may stop exporting sugar to the US market next year and shift those exports to regions outside the NAFTA region. The Mexican government says it’s studying the possibility of not exporting to the US from the government’s own sugar mills, and that it would export 650,000 to 700,000 tons to the world market. Currently, the Mexican government owns nine sugar mills which together account for 20 percent of the country’s sugar production. It’s only sugar produced by the government mills that would be affected by this proposal being considered.
Losses Anticipated for Beet Growers — The $38 sugarbeet payment projection for American Crystal Sugar Company shareholders will lead to losses on this year’s crop of beets. North Dakota State University Extension farm management specialist Andy Swenson projects losses as high as $500 an acre. "For those people who are in joint ventures, you're taking at losses probably in the $400-to-$500 range."
Joint Venture Partnerships Getting Special Attention — According to the Forum News Service, American Crystal Sugar Company will hold two special meetings Wednesday to discuss joint venture partnerships. The meetings are closed to shareholders but open to legal counsel who assist shareholders with joint ventures. Shareholders have an obligation to market beets through American Crystal, regardless of whether or not they lose money. In recent years, shareholders have received $300 to $400 an acre from renters to grow beets. With the lower beet payment, some growers want shareholders to pay them to grow their beets.
Breaking All-Time Records — As expected, Statistics Canada has raised its crop estimates for all crops in its final crop production summary, but Bruce Burnett, CWB weather and crop specialist, says no one expected this kind of increase. "To say the report is surprising is probably an understatement." The all-wheat crop at 37.5 million tons, and hard red spring wheat at 22.1 million, are both long-standing records. The average spring wheat yield is 51 bushels per acre, almost 10 bushels above the previous record. Canola production is also record-large, just shy of 18 million tons, up two million tons from the October forecast and four million more than last year. The average canola yield exceeded 40 bushels for the first time ever and is nearly five bushels better than the previous record. Burnett's complete analysis is available online.
Less Wheat in Argentina — The new estimate from the Argentine government projects the wheat crop at 8.5 million tons, compared with 9.5 million tons last year. This is a dramatic decrease for a country that has produced an annual average of 14.6 million tons over the last decade. The news follows a mid-October government projection of and 8.8 million ton crop. Four days later, an Argentine official said the estimate was erroneously low due to a mistake in compiling the data but did not revise the forecast. Other trade estimates put Argentina’s wheat crop at 10 to 11 million tons.
Back in the Rotation — At the annual Ag Horizons Conference in Pierre, South Dakota Wheat Commission Executive Director Randy Englund said more wheat will be harvested next year. “We are seeing an increase in our winter wheat plantings this year. We had some ideal planting conditions unlike last year. With corn prices doing what they’re doing, there’s a little more incentive to get back into some traditional rotations."
Fed's Beige Book Considers Ag Conditions — The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book says agricultural conditions were generally favorable this fall, and banking conditions were largely stable. Strong crop yields were reported while commodity prices fell and drought conditions stabilized or improved. The Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco Districts indicated strong demand and increased profitability in livestock due to lower feed costs. The Minneapolis Fed reports a slight contraction in agriculture. 28 percent of lenders reported that farm incomes decreased from the second quarter, and nearly half expect incomes to decrease in the final three months of the year.
Difficult to Show a Profit — Lower commodity prices are leading to some tough outlooks for the 2014 growing season. Northland Community and Technical College Farm Business Management instructor Ron Dvergsten says next season could be a challenge. “The analysis that we’ve been doing with the farms enrolled in the program, it’s been difficult to show much of a profit for most crops going into 2014." Dvergsten says the economics right now favor more soybeans.
Protect 2014 Profits — Advance Trading commodity research analyst Brian Basting says farmers need to keep a close eye on cost of production and lock in profits whenever they can going into 2014. “We’re looking at some producers with cash rent situations maybe locked in for a year or two that may be challenged in 2014. The key is to be a very good marketer when you’re able to. Be a disciplined marketer. Any producer who doesn’t have any protection for 2014 is really taking some risk because there is no protection for 2014 at all, in any form, until crop insurance is set and that’s not till February.”
Corn Indemnity Payments Being Made — The advantages of revenue insurance products are being seen this fall. According to Ihry Insurance Agency owner and agent Reed Ihry, indemnity payments are being paid due to the decline in the corn market. "We ended up dropping corn from a $5.65 spring price to a $4.39 fall price which ended up being a 22.3 percent loss," said Ihry, "Our clients that buy the 80 percent policy can buy raise their APH and still have a loss from the revenue product." As an example, those with a 130 bushel per acre APH with 80 percent coverage have a 104 bushel guarantee. With a $4.39 harvest price, the indemnity loss payment is $17 per acre. Ihry says the revenue protection products offer many advantages to the grower.
Watching Expenses — Dairyland Seed district sales manager Keith Rekow says farmers are adjusting seed purchases following last season’s difficult spring and harvest. Rekow says farmers are monitoring their expenses. "They know seed booked at this time of the year is ten percent cash which helps keep costs down," said Rekow, "We also see guys looking at, maybe, not the higher end seed corn hybrids, but going with conventional corn or straight Roundup Ready to keep costs down." At this point, Rekow said growers have not backed away from corn.
Seed Sales Pick Up — Due to the late harvest, the seed sales season was pushed back. According to seed representatives at the Northern Ag Expo, there has been an increase in sales activity over the past two weeks. "They finished up in the field and now they are making decisions," said Jeremy Frie, Asgrow/Dekalb, "Supply has been tight in recent years and they remember that; it is better this year, but they want to get the right variety and the right hybrid so they are making some decisions." Northstar Genetics district sales manager Scott Younggren says business has cranked up. "I run the northern (Red River) Valley and east and west in Minnesota and North Dakota and business has been pretty fair," said Younggren, "Soybeans have been moving fair; corn has been slow with corn still in the countryside, but I've had optimism with a good percentage of corn sales in the last week or so." Younggren says many northern growers have made the commitment to corn with purchases of grain dryers.
Planning the Year Ahead — With the 2013 harvest behind us, it is time to start thinking about the year ahead. DuPont Pioneer agronomy research manager John Shanahan says that planning process includes a focus on tillage. He says plant population recommendations depend on the hybrid and yield targets. The northern corn grower has one more consideration. “The short season hybrids tend to do better at higher population because you have less growing season so you want to capture as much sunlight as you can.”
Custom Rate Info Delayed — Farmers hoping to settle up with their neighbors for various custom work they’ve traded are still waiting for custom rates. Dwight Aakre, North Dakota State University Extension Farm Management Specialist, hopes to have those rates soon. "The federal shutdown delayed the survey and the word I have, that one should be out the week before Christmas."
Red Potato Shipments Up — Red potato shipments increased by almost 14 percent in November, compared to last year. The North American Potato Market News lists shipments out of the Red River Valley at 566,000 hundredweight, up 22 percent from a year ago. However, shipments from this year’s crop are still 16 percent below last year. Wash plants in the Red River Valley are selling Size A reds for $15 per hundredweight, $5 more than this time last year. Seed certification agencies have accepted a little over 11,000 acres of Norkotahs and Norkotah line selections for certification this year. That is 30 percent less than last year. North Dakota accepted 38 percent less Norkotah seed this year.
NDFB Weighs in on Property Tax Reform Task Force — Shortly after the North Dakota Farm Bureau announced plans to seek a ballot initiative on property tax reform, Governor Jack Dalrymple created a property tax reform task force. NDFB executive vice president Jeff Missling welcomes more dialogue on property tax reform. "It certainly makes us happy that the Governor is acknowledging that we need to do something about this issue." Agriculture was noticeably absent from the list of members on the Governor’s task force. "It was surprising to us that our organization was not included in some format, just due to the fact that we've been researching this issue and worked so hard over the last couple legislative sessions on that issue."
Lack of Farm Bill Progress Not Weighing on Commodity Markets — Depending on what is or isn’t included, the farm bill may have a large impact on commodity prices once the bill becomes law. Until there is a bill, Stewart Peterson Senior Market Advisor Jacquie Voeks doesn’t think the on-going negotiations are playing into the markets. “The big thing that we had heard about the farm bill was that the food stamp situation that was holding everything up. Now we’re finding out that it’s actually arguing that’s going on between the corn and soy associations and the cotton and rice producers. In fact that’s where the talk about maybe a two-year extension is coming. That’s where the talk of maybe decoupling from the current acreage formula is coming. That would not be a good thing because that could cause problems with world trade.”
Northern Plains Nitrogen Seeking Investment — Northern Plains Nitrogen is continuing its series of investor meetings. This goal of this project is to build a world-scale fertilizer plant in Grand Forks, North Dakota. "This region is even more dependent upon imports than other parts of the country," said Darin Anderson, president, "Sixty percent of the US nitrogen fertilizer is imported, but this region is 70 percent-plus." NPN organizers hope to complete the equity drive for the $1 billion-plus project by mid-2014. Construction would likely take place in 2015 and 2016.
ND Ag Department Hosts Meeting for Retailers — Nutrient issues, water quality, the proposed risk management plan for anhydrous ammonia, amd proposed changes to the fertilizer rules, and ag chemical recycling were some of the many issues discussed at a forum for pesticide and fertilizer dealers this week in Fargo. North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says he’s getting a lot of questions about the proposed fertilizer rule changes. "Primary containment was discussed and has been put into a proposed rule; we encourage people to look at that and secondary containment for fertilizer facilities." The primary containment applies to both farmers and fertilizer facilities. The secondary containment applies only to the fertilizer facilities.
Leaders of In-Furrow Technology — West Central, Incorporated has launched an education program, highlighting the benefits of in-furrow fertilizer application. The program is called LIFT or Leaders of In-Furrow Technology. Product Development Manager Brian Keuhl says this program is all about proper nutrition for the plant. "Especially, here in the north country where we have such a short growing season, it takes advantage of the entire growing season," said Keuhl, "Rather than watching your crop struggle through the early part of the season where you have cool, wet conditions, your plant is not struggling, it's not yellowed, it is utilizing nutrition right away." In addition to a series of webinars, West Central, Inc. promoted the LIFT program at the Northern Ag Expo.
ND Takes Leadership Role in Trade Event — North Dakota had the largest presence of any state at the USA Pavillion at the recent Agritechnica farm show in Germany. "We've got a good group of companies here that have gotten more experience over the years and are spreading their wings, taking leadership, even nationally, more than other companies from around the country," said Heather Ranck, international trade specialist, US Commercial Service. The five North Dakota companies that participated in the huge Agritechnica show were Butler Machinery of Fargo, Grouser Products of West Fargo, Summers Manufacturing of Devils Lake, Superior Manufacturing of Kindred and WCCO Belting of Wahpeton.
Trade Retaliation Delayed — Brazil’s foreign trade policymaking body has delayed action on whether or not to adopt trade retaliations against the United States for terminating payments to Brazil’s cotton industry in October. The dispute dates to the 1990s and the charge by Brazil that US cotton subsidies and exporters disadvantaged Brazilian growers. Brazil won its case against the US through the WTO in 2002 and in 2004 won a judgment that US subsidies were illegal.
Recent Weather Foreshadows Winter — At the annual Ag Horizons Conference in Pierre, South Dakota State Climatologist Dr. Dennis Todey said the outlook for the first part of this winter looks much like what we’ve seen this week. “We’re still unsure what’s happening in the way of precip for the winter. But at least into mid-winter, it looks like staying on the cold side overall. Our bigger chances for precipitation come later in the winter, early part of the spring so right now we don’t have a whole like of guidance on those but you probably want to plan on staying bundled up a little this winter.”
Keep Cattle Warm and Dry — Frigid temperatures have arrived and North Dakota State University Extension beef cattle specialist Carl Dahlen reminds cattle producers to try to keep their cattle warm and dry. He says that can be as simple as fresh, dry bedding. “It doesn’t have to be inside, it just has to be dry with something to block the wind. As this weather gets colder and colder, those cattle are going to need more energy just to maintain their current body condition and temperature. So we need to bump up the feed that we’re delivering to our cows a little bit.”
TB Confirmed in ND Heifer — State and Federal veterinarians are investigating a case of tuberculosis in a young, non-lactating heifer from an Oliver County, North Dakota dairy herd. State Veterinarian Susan Keller says the case was discovered after an employee tested positive for TB. “We found one animal and she has been removed from the herd. Fortunately she was not lactating at the time so she was not in the milk supply. I want to make sure the public knows there’s a reason we pasteurize and this is one of them. So, the milk supply is safe.” Keller says the herd will be closely monitored for further signs of TB. Keller says this is the only herd that has been quarantined and there are no other movement restrictions.
Record Crop — Argentina’s soybean crop is expected to set a record. The US ag attaché says Argentine farmers will harvest 57.5 million tons of beans, which is four million tons above USDA’s official crop forecast. That would surpass Argentina’s current record by three million tons. The ag attaché puts Argentine soybean plantings at 20.5 million hectares, about 800,000 more than USDA’s estimate.
MN Agencies Provide Report to Legislature — According to a joint report from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Commerce Department, there was a ten percent decrease in transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions in the state from 2005 to 2010. The increased use of biofuels was cited as a reason for the decline. In the agriculture sector, this report claims Minnesota greenhouse gas emissions increased nine percent. The principle reasons for the increase were the rise in energy usage and livestock.
Crop Budgets Do Not Favor Corn — Crop planning budgets for next year are showing negative margins for corn. Jack Davis, South Dakota State University Extension crops business management field specialist, says based on $4 corn and $10.80 soybeans, crop margins are negative $35 for corn following soybeans, negative $95 for corn-on-corn, and plus $36 for soybeans following corn. Davis estimates total costs of raising corn next year at $635 per acre. Davis says the two key direct costs for both corn and beans are seed and fertilizer. He says the budgets show no incentive for farmers to plant as many acres in 2014 as they did this year.
Second Crop Soybeans May Boost Brazilian Production — Brazilian agribusiness consultant Kory Melby was in Mato Grosso a week ago and says the soybean crop is in very good shape. "We hear reports about the helicoverpa catepiller in certain spots, but in Mato Grosso, it is a non-issue," said Melby, "There's been enough rains, they've sprayed and until we get to reproductive stage for the soybean crop, nobody is worried about them." The Minnesota native says the market assumes an eight or nine percent increase in soybean acreage in Mato Grosso, and a six to seven percent increase nationally. What may not be expected is the amount of second-crop soybeans that producers say they’ll plant, due to the very cheap price of corn and the disincentive to plant a second-crop of corn. "The Brazilian producer is ready to plant, maybe, produce a million to a million-and-a-half hectares of second-crop soybeans; if everything goes smoothly, Brazil could probably crank out 92 million tons by April or May next year."
Port Chaos — Delays at Brazilian ports promise to be worse than ever when the new soybean crop arrives starting in February. With an expected eight million ton increase in production from last year’s record crop and no appreciable expansion in port capacity, the system may enter into partial collapse, says Luiz Fayet, an infrastructure specialist in Brazil. Last year, ships waited at port for up to 80 days to load beans, delaying delivery and prompting a number of buyers to switch orders to the US.
Trade Mission Planned — Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson will lead a trade delegation to Southeast Asia December 10-18. The trade group will visit Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Bangkok, Thailand. One-on-one meetings with feed companies are planned. The Minnesota corn and soybean checkoff programs are helping to fund this trade mission.
CHS Marks 80th — CHS Inc. is celebrating its 80th anniversary. CEO Carl Casale says this was the second best financial year ever for CHS. “Financially we’re performing very, very well. We protect the balance sheet. Our debt to equity system that we use internally, we’ll only take on about half as much debt as our banks will allow. So we manage debt very conservatively with the company.”
Meeting Needs of Members Includes Nitrogen Plant — CHS Inc. CEO Carl Casale says the primary mission of the cooperative is to meet the needs of its members. One of those needs is the proposed nitrogen fertilizer plant at Spiritwood, North Dakota. “We’re spending $25 million right now on what’s called a FEED study. That gets all the details of the plant down. Then you try to get your cost down to plus or minus ten percent so you know what the feasibility of the project is and you know with better certainty what it’s going to cost you to build it.” Casale says that study will be done early in 2014 and a recommendation will be made to the board following a review of the study. You can hear the entire interview with Casale.
Continually Evaluating to Remain Relevant — At their annual meeting, CHS Inc. second vice chairman and Rugby, North Dakota area farmer Steve Fritel said CHS continues to strive to add to farmers bottom lines. “We continue to look at logistics whether its grain origination or placement of crop nutrients facilities, we’re trying to be relevant to the producers out in the countryside. We're continually evaluating the presence we have in the countryside. We try to take advantage of situations and provide value back to the producers that we serve.”
Bunge Declaring Dividends — Bunge Ltd’s board of directors has declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of 30 cents per common share. The dividend is payable on March 3 to shareholders of record as of February 18, 2014. Bunge’s board also declared a quarterly cash dividend of nearly a dollar and 22 cents per share on its cumulative convertible perpetual preference shares payable March 1 to shareholders of record as of February 15th 2014.
MN Enjoys Record Export Year — 2012 was a record your for agricultural exports in Minnesota, with sales of $8.2 billion. That’s a 14 percent increase from 2011. Soybeans were the top export product. Last year, Minnesota sold $2.2 billion in soybeans with China being the number one customer. Corn and pork products were ranked second and third and $941 million and $814 million, respectively.
White Oak Has Winning Bid in Northern Beef Packers Auction — A California investment firm had the winning bid in the Northern Beef Packers bankruptcy auction. White Oak Global Investors had already loaned the project millions of dollars and was the primary creditor. White Oak’s bid was $39.5 million in credit and $4.8 million in cash. American Foods Group was the only other company bidding for the Aberdeen, South Dakota beef plant.
GROWMARK Invests in Propane Infrastructure — Another company is making an investment to secure propane supplies. Illinois-based GROWMARK has acquired the Canton, South Dakota propane terminal from Magellan Pipeline Company. GROWMARK officials indicate this deal will strengthen the company’s presence in South Dakota and help provide a reliable supply of propane to its customers.
Potash Corp Makes Budget Cutting Move — Potash Corp is cutting jobs and closing some mines in a cost-cutting move prompted by challenging market conditions. The world’s largest potash producer says it will cut 18 percent of its workforce, equivalent to more than 1,000 jobs. The cuts have been prompted by a sluggish environment that Potash Corp blames on soft demand among emerging market customers.
Titan Machinery Reports 3Q Income — Titan Machinery reports a one percent increase in third quarter revenue. Net income was down 59 percent to $5.7 million. Equipment sales declined three percent in the third quarter. Parts sales rose 12 percent and service revenue was up 21 percent. For the first nine months, Titan Machinery’s net income was $9.1 million, down two-thirds from the same period last year.
Bobcat Brings Tier 4 Loaders to the Market — West Fargo-based, Bobcat Company, has launched its first Tier 4 loaders. The seven medium-sized machines are designed to reduce the amount of particulate matter, meeting federal regulatory standards. These new units also feature increased torque and cold weather protections.
Record Auction Sale — Richie Brothers may have set a world record at a farm equipment auction this past week in Saskatoon. A total of more than $43 million of equipment was sold in the one-day sale. More than 4,300 bidders from 27 countries participated.
New Agronomy Retail Center Opens — Aberdeen, South Dakota-based Wheat Growers has opened an agronomy retail center in Kimball. A new sales agronomist, Tyler Kroupa, has also been added to the team at the new Kimball location.
Irrigation Firm Adds Theft Deterrent Products — Valley Irrigation is adding the innovative Proof Positive Span Cable to its line of cable theft deterrent products. Copper theft is a global epidemic and agricultural irrigation equipment is particularly vulnerable to copper theft. Proof Positive Span Cable is a traceable, theft-deterrent span cable that provides proof of ownership.
Machinery Pete Business Sold to Farm Journal Media — Farm Journal Media has reached an agreement to purchase a majority interest in Machinery Pete. Greg Peterson operates this business and is recognized as a leading authority on used equipment values and trends. Peterson, who is based in Rochester, Minnesota, will continue as the key manager of the Machinery Pete business.
Land O'Lakes Buys Geosys — Land O’Lakes has announced its purchase of a technology firm that provides satellite imaging for agriculture. Geosys has more than 50 employees in multiple countries. The precision agriculture tools will likely be part of the line-up for WinField, which is a division of the Land O’Lakes cooperative.
Bayer Signs Purchase Agreement — Bayer CropScience officials have signed an agreement to purchase an Argentine soybean company. FN Semillas was established in 2010 and specializes in soybean breeding, production and marketing. Terms of the acquisition were not released.
Livestock Investment Grants Available — One-million dollars in grant funds are now available to Minnesota livestock producers for on-farm improvements. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture Livestock Investment Grant program is designed to help farmers stay competitive and reinvest in their industry. Since the program began in 2008, nearly 240 grant recipients have invested $75 million in upgrades to their operations.
Cochran Running for Re-election — Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran will run for re-election next year. There has been speculation Cochran would retire after six terms in the US Senate rather than face a primary challenge. Cochran is the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Sutley to Exit White House Environment Post — White House Council on Environmental Quality chair Nancy Sutley has announced her intentions to leave that job. Sutley will continue at the White House until February. In a statement, President Barack Obama praised Sutley for her environmental accomplishments. Previously, Sutley was a deputy mayor in Los Angeles.
National 4-H Council Welcomes New Board Members — The National 4-H Council has named Alison Lewis of Johnson & Johnson as the first woman to chair the board. New board members are John Amaya, who is with Walmart; Jeff Goodwin, who is with Colorado State University; Cathann Kress, who is with Iowa State University Extension and Kip Tom, who manages Tom Farms.
USB Appointments Made — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has appointed 35 members and three alternates to the United Soybean Board. Jared Hagert from Emerado, and Joel Thorsrud from Hillsboro were appointed to represent North Dakota. Lewis Bainbridge, from Ethan, South Dakota was also appointed, along with Robin Hanks, from LeRoy, Minnesota, and Jim Willers, from Beaver Creek, Minnesota. All appointees will serve three-year terms.
MN Man is New USB Chairman — Madison, Minnesota farmer Jim Call is the new chairman of the United Soybean Board. Call sees this as a good time for the soybean industry. “I think we’re 93 percent sold into this marketing year and we’re only three months into it. That tells me that somebody wants a lot of soybeans. I think they’re projecting higher acres for 2014. So I think we’re going to be sitting really good for next year.” High oleic soybeans got support at the USB meeting with an investment of another $8 million approved.
ASA Elects New Officer Team — Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser is the new president of the American Soybean Association. Wade Cowen of Texas is the first vice president. Wyatt Whitford, who is from Texas is the new secretary. Delaware soybean grower Richard Wilkins will serve as treasurer. Minnesota farmer Bob Worth is one of four ASA vice presidents. Worth is joined by Kevin Hoyer of Wisconsin, Bob Henry of Kansas, and Ron Moore of Illinois.
MN Dairy Elections — The Minnesota Dairy Research and Promotion Council is holding elections for board members. Dairy elections are broken down by districts at the county and township level. Ballots will be mailed to producers January 10, 2014 and must be returned with a postmark no later than January 27, 2014. Ballots are available from the Council or the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
MMPA Names its Producer of the Year — The Minnesota Milk Producers Association has honored Krause Holsteins as its 'Producer of the Year.' Owned and managed by Charles Krause of Buffalo, the farm was recognized for its commitment to the dairy industry and its focus on the environment and cow comfort.
Poppe Presented Award at Midwest Dairy Expo — Representative Jeanne Poppe is the Minnesota Milk Producers Association Legislator of the Year. Poppe chairs teh House Agriculture Policy Committee. Poppe is a DFL'er from Austin.
NAAE Awards Presented — A longtime Minnesota farm business management instructor, Clifford Vrieze, has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Agricultural Educators. During the NAAE Convention in Las Vegas, Ford also presented the Teachers Turn the Key Scholarship to young teachers from throughout the country. Recognizing the shortage of qualified teachers, this scholarship is designed to encourage ag teachers to remain in the profession. Scholarship recipients include Caitlin Holm and Jenny Vandehoven of North Dakota, Gena Lilienthal and Amber Seibert of Minnesota and Dani Herring and Noelle Rist of South Dakota.
MMPA Honors Krause — The Minnesota Milk Producers Association has named Krause Holsteins Minnesota’s 2013 Producer of the Year. The announcement came Tuesday at the Midwest Dairy Expo in Saint Cloud. Owned and managed by Charles Krause, Krause Holsteins is the 13th producer to receive this annual honor.
Nelson Make Career Change — After nearly five years, Kelly Nelson is leaving Ag United to join the the staff at South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council and South Dakota Soybean Association. Nelson will be working on membership and producer programs.
Young Leaders Class Starts — Representatives from 22 states and Canada have started participation in the ASA DuPont Young Leader Class. Among the class members are Michael Petefish of Minnesota, Joe and Rachael Ericson and Scott Biskeborn of South Dakota and Rob and Cindy Foster of Canada.
Weisser to Retire — Bunge Ltd. executive chairman Alberto Weisser will retire from the Bunge board December 31. Weisser’s exit is in line with his retirement plan that was put in place last summer. Weisser has served as executive chairman since June and previously had been chairman and CEO since 1999. L. Patrick Lupo has been appointed to succeed Weisser as non-executive chairman. Lupo has been a board member since 2006 and currently serves as deputy chairman and lead independent director.
Carlson Retiring — The longtime director of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Livestock Development Division is retiring. Wayne Carlson has announced his retirement effective April 11, 2014. Carlson has been NDDA’s Livestock Development Director since 1993. North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says Carlson will be missed by his department and by North Dakota’s entire livestock sector.
ND Ag Leader Passes — Bismarck rancher Bill MacDonald, 67, passed away December 3. MacDonald is a past president of the American Salers Association and was recognized with the North Dakota State University Outstanding Agriculturalist Award in 2011.
Last Week's Trivia — In the movie, 'A Christmas Story,' Ralphie wanted a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. Amy Durand of AgStar Financial Services was the first to respond and is our weekly trivia winner. Mandy Kvale of Farm Credit Services of Mandan, Dan Filipi of American Federal Bank, North Dakota State FFA Advisor Steve Zimmerman and Jim Altringer of Columbia Grain earn runner-up honors. Our 'first 20' list rounds out with Jerry Harrington of DuPont Pioneer, Lyle Orwig of Charleston Orwig, Joe Bridges of AGCO, Dennis Duvall of Dakota Environmental, Mark Bernard of Agro-Economics, Marc Kimbal from Senator Franken's staff, Joan Hoovestol of the North Dakota Beef Commission, Diana Beitelspacher of the North Dakota Soybean Council, Mary Deboer of West Polk County FSA, Jeanne Miller of JL Farmakis, Edgeley farmer Richard Schlosser, Nick Sinner of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, Ron Claussen of Ag Media Research and South Dakota State Representative Mary Duvall.