A Weekly Update From Your Friends at the Red River Farm Network
Feels Like Spring — March is starting to feel a lot like April. After an unusually warm winter, the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest are enjoying beautiful March weather. Certainly, the weather can change quickly, but this week's forecast looks great. In the days ahead, the Red River Farm Network will broadcast from the International Sugarbeet Institute in Grand Forks. This past week, RRFN participated in the National Farmers Union convention, the CHS Ag Services Ag Industry Day, the Peterson Farms Seed weed resistance workshop, the North Dakota Ag Coalition meeting and a National Ag Week event in Bismarck.
Supply/Demand Numbers Updated — Despite the cuts in South America, USDA made no change in old-crop US soybean exports. The season-average price of beans is up 30 cents this month, to $12 a bushel. Global oilseed ending stocks are down 3.4 million tons from February. USDA made no changes in corn data in the March Supply/Demand report, and kept the midpoint, season-average price forecast at $6.20 a bushel. Global corn ending stocks are cut 800,000 tons. Wheat ending stocks for the current marketing year are down 20 million bushels from last month, as exports are up 25 million bushels. The price forecast is unchanged at $7.30. World wheat ending stocks are 3.5 million tons below last month.
Friendly Soybean Figure — Progressive Ag market analyst Randy Martinson says the most friendly number in Friday's USDA crop report came in the soybeans. “Brazilian soybean production was dropped to 68.5 (million), down from 78.2 (million), so that was friendly; Argentine soybeans were cut to 46.5 (million) down from 48 (million), so that’s friendly so the world numbers on the soybean side."
A Significant Cut in South American Production — USDA cut its South American soybean crop forecasts by 6.4 million tons from last month. That’s more than the grain trade expected. Brazil’s crop is five percent less than last month, at 68.5 million tons; USDA cut the Argentine crop three percent, to 46.5 million tons. USDA raised its forecast of Brazil’s corn crop one million tons from last month, and left Argentina’s estimate the same. USDA also raised its estimate of Australia’s wheat crop by more than a million tons.
Less Demand for Ethanol — USDA senior economist Larry Salathe forecasts reduced ethanol demand for corn. “We’ve seen quite a drastic reduction in fuel consumption in the US, and as a result, the amount of corn to reach that ten percent blend in gasoline blending is continuing to decline as a results that’s having some reduction in demand for ethanol.”
Corn Acres Expected to Double This Year in NW MN, NE ND — During CHS Ag Services Ag Industry Day, CHS Ag Services General Manager Gary Halvorson told the Red River Farm Network he expects a major expansion of the US corn acres to happen in his trade area. “We’re not going to get to 94 or 95 million acres of corn without new acres, at the end of the day, that’s just the way it works, and here, locally, in our trade area, corn acres are doubling this year and we anticipate them to double again," said Halvorson, "Over the next ten years, that growth curve could be as much as corn taking 30 percent of our acres." Halvorson says that creates opportunities and challenges "because our infrastructure isn’t built for corn today, whether it’s a grain elevator or the input business, and it’s our job to get in front of producers as they evolve.” Photos from the CHS Ag Services Ag Industry Day can be found at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150659947133826.422485.186261443825&type=1.
Informa Forecasts a 95 Million Acre Corn Crop — Informa Economics expects US farmers to plant 95.5 million acres of corn in 2012. That’s up from its previous estimate of 94.7 million. Informa also pegged soybean acres at 75.1 million, up from 74.5 million. Informa expects the all-wheat acres to be down slightly from 57.9 to 57.7 million acres.
Pro Exporter Offers Acreage Estimate — The Pro Exporter Network estimates US corn acreage at 93 million acres; soybeans at 77 million, and wheat acreage at 55.7 million acres. Pro Exporter also projects a high of $7.75 in July corn futures and a soybean high of $14.00 a bushel. At this week’s annual meeting, Pro Exporter analysts said there is a likelihood of a return to trend or better row crop yields this year, declining ethanol demand, expanding domestic energy production, and an absence of political consensus on reducing US entitlement spending. Pro Exporter forecasts a 184 million bushel decline in second quarter corn feed use compared to the previous year.
A Shift in Export Power — USDA says North America will lose its status as the world’s largest wheat exporting region over the next decade. In its long-term agricultural projections report, USDA predicts that Canada and the US will have a 27 percent share of world wheat trade by 2021-22, down from 33 percent in 2010-11. By contrast, the Black Sea region’s share will grow to 29 percent from 11 percent over the same time frame. The US will account for less than half the world’s corn exports for the first time, this year. Shipments are expected to ease to 46 percent of global sales, down from 52 percent last year. On the soybean front, Brazil is expected to export more than the US for the first time ever this year.
A More Difficult Marketing Year — Speaking at the CHS Ag Services Ag Industry Day Tuesday, Bower Trading President Jim Bower said this year will be a much more difficult marketing year for farmers. “I think everybody, in a general sense, had a really easy time (last year,) because the markets were good all the way across," said Bower, "At this price, with talk of more acreage, a slowdown in China in their economic growth, continuing problems with Europe, the dollar getting a little bit stronger and kind of holding back exports a little bit, I am absolutely emphatic that the producers not get over confident.” Bower is trying to get farmers in a position, early in the marketing year, to make enough sales to cover their basic input costs.
More Opportunity, More Risk — Commodity prices have been strong in recent years, but Rabo Agrifinance relationship manager Jerry Bly says growers are cautious. “Sometimes, I sit back and reflect and I’ve never seen guys this nervous," said Bly, "Ten years ago, you couldn’t make as much per acre, but you certainly couldn’t lose as much per acre; today, it’s different, there’s a lot of opportunity, but there’s a lot of risk." Bly says the biggest concern for most growers is the ability to manage their land base. "If you rent a fair amount of land, you are worrying about the rising rental rates and the ability to retain that land at reasonable levels."
La Nina Dissipates — The US Climate Prediction Center thinks La Nina should be gone by the end of April, but its impact will persist in much of the southern US. The CPC says La Nina is rapidly weakening and is expected to transition to neutral conditions by the end of next month. Drier than normal conditions are expected across Florida, the Gulf Coast and the southwestern US.
Wheat Breaking Dormancy — World Weather, Inc. reports the hard red winter wheat crop is breaking dormancy in much of the north, while crops in the south continue to be warm enough to sustain new crop development. Crop growth is likely to expand this week without much hesitation due to very warm temperatures.
Don't be in a Rush — Supplies of short-season seed corn remain pretty tight. "We're going to manage it right down to the bag this spring," said Tom Frappier, account manager, Pioneer Hi-Bred. Frappier’s message to growers is to be careful about putting the crop in this spring. “You’ve got a lot of acres so you want to do as good a job as you can, so don’t get in a rush and mud the crop in," said Frappier, "It looks like an early start, you don’t have to rush though it as much as we have the last couple, three years; look for good planting conditions.”
Biodiesel Vote — The Senate has agreed to take up an amendment to the highway bill that would extend renewable energy tax incentives, including the biodiesel tax credit. This amendment requires a 60-vote threshold to pass. There are actually two amendments that include the biodiesel tax credit and they are the first two scheduled for votes Tuesday. The National Biodiesel Board is asking for farmers’ help to get over the hurdle. Farmers asked to call or email their senators and urge them to support Amendment 1812.
Field Hearings Begin — House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas opened a field hearing in upstate New York Friday, saying the commodity title must give producers options so they can choose the program that works best for them. Lucas also said he is committed to a strong crop insurance program. Regarding conservation, Lucas is looking for input to simplify the process for farmer participation.
Wednesday Witness List Announced — Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow has announced the witness list for Wednesday’s hearing on risk management and commodity programs in the 2012 farm bill. Following Acting USDA Undersecretary Michael Scuse’s testimony will be two panels of farmers, including National Association of Wheat Growers President Erik Younggren, American Soybean Growers Association President Steve Wellman, and National Corn Growers Association first vice president Pam Johnson. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson and American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman will join National FFA President Ryan Best on a fourth panel. RRFN's Farm Bill Focus is sponsored, in part, by the North Dakota Grain Growers Association.
Farm Bill Action Expected This Spring — The farm bill process is moving forward. “We’re having hearings in the field and in DC on the farm bill," said North Dakota Congressman Rick Berg, "As you know, the Senate has started their hearings and hopefully will move toward the mark-up sometime possibly in April.”
Klobuchar Sees Difficult Road for Farm Bill — As the Senate Agriculture Committee begins crafting the 2012 Farm Bill, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar hopes the bill can pass at the committee level this spring, but says it may take more time for floor action. “Certainly the Senate bill can be done, it’s just can we get it to the Senate floor?" said Klobuchar, "It's been really difficult to get bills through the Senate; there’s a few members who seem to like to hold everything up, (Senator) Rand Paul is holding my synthetic drug bill right now, even though it went through the Judiciary Committee unanimously, so you have things like that happen all the time." Klobuchar says the farm bill could be a stand-alone bill or part of an omnibus bill during the lame duck session. "Most likely, it will be part of a larger deal at the end of the year; that was what we were trying to do last year with the super committee, that wasn't that super."
Crop Insurance Could Face More Cuts — In the current budget environment, crop insurance may face additional cuts. In 2010, the standard reinsurance agreement suffered a $6 billion hit. Pioneer Hi-Bred Industry Relations Lead Bill Even says those budget pressures remain. “Crop insurance, to some degree, has given at the office, right? And those cuts primarily came out of administration and overhead costs, so that the funding is still there for the farmers, but looking for some efficiency on the overhead is where they landed the last time.” Pioneer Hi-Bred is the largest crop insurance company in the country. While it doesn’t handle underwriting, Pioneer provides support for its seed sales force that also provides crop insurance. In addition to crop insurance, Even expects Congress to address additional protection for farmers. A shallow-loss program is one possibility.
Promoting the Administration's Conservation Agenda — After a stop at the National Farmers Union Convention last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack went next door to the Cabella's store to promote the Administration's conservation agenda. The Conservation Reserve Program has faced increased competition from high commodity prices, prompting USDA to take a fresh approach to CRP. "That's why we have increased the sign-up incentive by $50 an acre," said Vilsack, "With the hope that folks will be encouraged to participate in this program." With the end of direct payments likely, RRFN asked Vilsack if he envisions a day when conservation compliance will be tied to crop insurance. "I think there is a discussion about that, but I don't know that there is particular support for it; that's why we are looking at an incentive-driven system," said Vilsack, "We think we can make conservation programs, like CRP, attractive; that's why we are looking for ways to partner with agencies like the Department of Interior with the sage grouse initiative and partnering with states, like Minnesota, and their water certification program." RRFN's coverage of the National Farmers Union convention is sponsored, in part, by the South Dakota Farmers Union.
AFT Wants Conservation Compliance Tied to Crop Insurance — The American Farmland Trust has announced its support for making conservation compliance a requirement for getting subsidized crop insurance. AFT President Jon Scholl says conservation compliance is nothing more than an incentive for farmers with highly sensitive lands to follow a few basic conservation practices. Compliance was attached to crop insurance subsidies in 1985, but was later removed in 1996 to encourage producers to purchase crop insurance.
Too Much Rancor in Congress — While Congress may want to kick the can down the road and deal with the farm bill next year, Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson says this legislation needs to happen this year. Peterson is disappointed in Congress. "There's a lot of rancor out there; people don't want to agree because of the one upmanship on policy and people are tired of that." Peterson does expect urban lawmakers to demand conservation compliance with crop insurance. "I think you'll see that; if you're taking insurance and can guarantee $6 a bushel corn, but you're not having cross compliance on conservation, you can't sell that game very long to somebody who is an urban or suburban congressperson." RRFN's coverage of the National Farmers Union convention is sponsored, in part, by the Minnesota Farmers Union.
Election Year Politics May Impact Farm Bill — National Association of Wheat Growers 1st vice president Bing Von Bergen says the development of policy for the next Farm Bill is an ongoing process. Von Bergen says the wheat growers remains hopeful that Congress can get a farm bill done before the November election. “We’re aware that in an election year, especially a critical election year like this, where it’s the president and every House member and a lot of the Senate members, is difficult, we’re optimistic that something will be done."
NFU Promotes Inventory Control System — North Dakota Farmers Union President Woody Barth was pleased with action taken by delegates at this past week’s National Farmers Union convention. Barth says the Market-Driven Inventory System is an improved version of the old farmer-owned reserve. “It is to be used in times of surpluses and shortages to equalize supplies, controlled by farmers, and reserve triggers are different than before," said Barth, "There’s wide trigger bases, controlled by farmers through non-recourse loans.” RRFN's coverage of the National Farmers Union convention is sponsored, in part, by the North Dakota Farmers Union.
Sugar Industry Takes Message to DC — Hallock, Minnesota farmer Kelly Erickson, who serves as president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, was on Capitol Hill this past week. “We’ve just finished up our second week, sugarbeet and cane farmers, we visited over 300 offices," Erickson told RRFN, "Our main message is that this is a no-cost program to the American taxpayer; we produce an affordable, safe, abundant supply of sugar to the United States."
Seeking Support for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers — Wilmot, South Dakota farmer Jason Frerichs participated in the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher program in Washington, DC this past week. Frerichs was one of four young farmers who shared their story to House and Senate staffers. “We try to be very realistic in our approach; we want them to know that any effort they can make to put a focus on beginning farmers and ranchers through any of these programs is appreciated," said Frerichs, "My focus was on the conservation title, but it also could include the credit side to make sure that there are loan guarantees."
Boe Represents Rural Youth on Capitol Hill — State FFA President Jodi Boe is back in North Dakota after spending much of the week in Washington, DC. Boe was one of 100 FFA, 4-H and other rural youth leaders chosen to participate in the National Agriculture Week event. Boe met with the North Dakota congressional delegation, promoting issues vital to beginning farmers and ranchers. “It’s really important to make it possible for people that want to go back to production agriculture, that they have that opportunity," said Boe, "They're looking at some programs that will help make it less expensive for new farmers get started, and I think, as a young person in college, it’s really important that lawmakers make the right choices so they are able to go into production.” During her time in DC, Boe also helped teach a group of middle school metro students about agriculture and participated in a ceremony with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Deadline Approaching for COOL Appeal — The United States has until March 23red to appeal a World Trade Organization ruling against the US country-of-origin labeling law. Mexico and Canada challenged the labeling law with the WTO. It’s not certain if the Obama Administration will seek an appeal.
NAFTA is Working, Says CRA Leader — Mexico has become an excellent market for US high fructose corn syrup. Corn Refiners Association President Audrae Erickson says NAFTA has resulted in two-way trade of sweeteners. “USDA estimates that use of high fructose corn syrup in the Mexican market, which comes from exports from the United States as well as in-country production, will reach 1.6 million metric tons," said Erickson, "That's very sizable given that their market for sugar consumption overall is about five million metric tons, and then they’re shipping some sugar north, as well; the price for sugar north and south of the border remains very high, so the NAFTA is working.”
USDA Trade Mission to China — USDA undersecretary Michael Scuse will lead an agricultural trade mission to China at the end of this month to strengthen partnerships between US and Chinese businesses. This will be the USDA’s largest trade mission to date, with more than 40 US agribusinesses and representatives from six state agriculture departments set to accompany Scuse to two of China’s largest cities. Last year, China became the largest market for US agricultural goods, purchasing $20 billion in US farm exports.
China Trade Mission Planned — South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard will lead a group of South Dakota business leaders on a trade mission to China in a couple weeks. Daugaard says a State Trade and Export Promotion grant the state received last year is making the trade mission possible. Joining the Governor on the trip will be two of his Cabinet members, including Agriculture Secretary Walt Bones, and officials from four companies that hope to benefit from increasing exports to China. The trade mission is scheduled for March 24-29.
Argentine Government to Change its Corn Export Rules — Argentina’s government is changing its unpopular corn export system, scrapping incremental quotas that farmers say depress prices. The government will keep a cap on total exports, however, to ensure domestic needs are met. Argentina’s agriculture minister estimates the corn harvest at 21 to 22 million tons, and says eight million tons would be set aside for local consumption. That leaves 13 to 14 million tons for export.
Support for Oil Alternatives — During a speech in North Carolina Wednesday, President Barack Obama said he supports the development of fueling stations that offer alternatives to oil, such as mid-level ethanol blends. Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis is welcoming that strategy. Buis said ethanol is the only commercially-viable alternative to foreign oil and consumers should have more access to this fuel.
Energy Opportunities — Energy production is a key element of CHS’s business. CHS Chairman Jerry Hasnedl, who farms at St. Hilaire, Minnesota, says oil is just one aspect. “Right now, there’s a lot of production in the US that’s coming on line, in North Dakota, especially, but a lot of natural gas production all over the United States and that is where our real interest is right now, tracking the possibility that there may be a play for us to be involved in that in the future.” Hasnedl says natural gas has implications for CHS Inc. energy business and its fertilizer business.
ND Ethanol Sales Skyrocket — The North Dakota Tax Department says ethanol blended fuel sales nearly doubled in 2011, with a 97 percent increase over 2010. North Dakota Ethanol Council chairman Jeff Zueger says the increased use of ethanol has a lot to do with North Dakota’s blender pump program. “The key driver here is that we’re really focused on the accessibility of these types of fuels at the retail level; the blender pump program in our state has been really a leader." The sale of flex fuel vehicles is also helping drive the ethanol sales.
Cattanach Peeks into his Crystal Ball — American Crystal Sugar Company general agronomist Al Cattanach sees big changes in sugarbeet production in the next ten years. “I think we’ll see a 30 ton crop, for example, in the next five, six, seven years; that’d be unheard of if you look back just ten years," said Cattanach, "I think we’re going to see some tremendous differences in how we’re going to deal with technology, a lot of communication technology, in particular, all the smart phone applications and ways to communicate with growers.” Cattanach also sees more Roundup Ready resistance problems and says crop rotation will be critical.
Crystal is Busy Filling Jobs — American Crystal Sugar Company is getting a huge response to its help wanted ads. Speaking to an allied industry meeting this past week in Grand Forks, Crystal’s Chief Operating Officer Joe Talley said the company is hiring people at a very rapid clip, and has filled just under half of its full-time, year-round positions. These local employees are replacing workers hired by Strom Engineering, which contracted with American Crystal to run its five processing plants when union workers were locked out on August 1st. Talley said the lockout, which he called unfortunate but necessary, could last indefinitely.
Incognito Dry Bean Report — For this week's Incognito Dry Bean Report, visit http://www.rrfn.com/indepth/030512%20MANA%2076%20Week%205.MP3.
Chip Potatoes in Short Supply — Potato processors continue to look for potatoes that will fry. According to the North American Potato Market News, chip potato companies appear to have adjusted their operations sufficiently to compensate for the shortfall in storage supplies. They’re relying more heavily on potatoes from Florida and Texas this year. The central Florida chip harvest could get underway by the last week in March. However, dry weather and mid-February freezes make it unlikely Florida will have a bumper crop. Growers in Florida have increased acreage substantially, which should bridge the supply gap. Growers east of the Mississippi do not have enough potatoes to cover contract needs.
Diversify Weed Control — Speaking at a weed resistance forum in Fargo, Southern Illinois University weed specialist Bryan Young said some farmers in Illinois are out of herbicide options. Young recommends the use of pre-emergence and residual herbicides for glyphosate resistant weeds, but they won’t last season-long for species, such as waterhemp. “Don’t rely on any single tool, herbicide or mode-of-action control on some of these different weed species because that’s the band-aid approach," said Young, "A long-term approach is diversifying how we attack these weed species both chemically, culturally, as well as, mechanical, through the use of tillage, if possible.” Photos from the Peterson Farms Seed workshop can be found at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150663915853826.423037.186261443825&type=1.
Scout Those Fields — North Dakota State University and University of Minnesota Extension weed specialist Jeff Stachler says weed resistance issues are becoming more common. Growers are being encouraged to scout their fields. "We've got to scout," said Stachler, "We've got to know whether if those plants are surviving the glyphosate; if you see a dead plant that appears normal next to a plant that is injured and a whole contiuum of responses from dead to near-normal, you've got suspect that you've got glyphosate resistance going on."
Water Management Benefits Touted — North Dakota State University Extension agronomist Hans Kandel says the economic benefits of water management are very attractive to farmers. “Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the yield increase which, of course, is what’s driving the economics, but we have found over time that there are some additional benefits to having tile," said Kandel, "The soil is a lot mellower and therefore, the production costs per acre is going to be down.” Kandel also thinks land values will increase with an increase in productivity.
Making Progress on Petition Drive — The North Dakota Farm Bureau says it’s near the halfway point in its goal of getting 30,000 signatures on a petition to change the state constitution. NDFB President Doyle Johannes says the ballot initiative’s goal is to protect farmers and ranchers’ right to engage in modern farming and ranching practices. “We’ve seen what’s happened in Arizona and California where these industries are just going away; in Florida, the hog industry is gone and the chicken industry is going to leave California and we don’t want that to happen in North Dakota." Johannes is pleased with the support the petition is getting. “There’s very few people that we ask to sign a petition that don’t; we’ve got an awful lot of support here in North Dakota," said Johannes, "The Humane Society of the United States likes to come in and use emotion to try to pass laws and regulations that make it impossible to do what we do in our every day agriculture in North Dakota, so we’re trying to prevent that."
HSUS Shouldn't Come to ND to Dictate Animal Welfare, Says Gibbons — North Dakota livestock producers may be put in the unenviable position of opposing a ballot measure that would establish penalties for cruelty to animals. Jim Gibbons, owns a 6,000 head sow barn, producing about 160,000 pigs annually. Gibbons thinks the petition, which mentions dogs, cats and horses, will ultimately be pointed at animal agriculture. “We run an animal welfare program; we train all of our 40 employees that work in the barns to treat our animals humanely," said Gibbons, "We don’t make any money if we don’t take care of our animals, but we don’t think that the Humane Society of the United States should come out and dictate to us how we should take care of our animals; we think they’re a little bit sneaky and they’re beating up on the local humane societies that are taking care of the animals; there’s two different issues here and I don’t think the public is aware of all that stuff.”
Agri-Growth Study — The Minnesota Agri-Growth Council has released a study in conjunction with National Agriculture Week. President/CEO Daryn McBeth says the new research shows the impact agriculture has on the state. McBeth says Minnesota’s animal agricultural productivity is showing some very impressive growth, especially the pork and turkey businesses. “Specifically, with turkeys, we’ve seen the value of the industry increase from $507 million to $807 million since the last time we did the study" said McBeth, "In pork, that’s seen the greatest growth, nearly doubling in economic impact from 2003, now standing at $2.35 billion.” According to the study, animal agriculture supports nearly 35,000 direct employment jobs in Minnesota.
SBARE Recommendations Made — The North Dakota Ag Coalition will recommend the State Board of Higher Education appoint Leland “Judge” Barth and Keith Peltier to serve on the State Board of Agricultural Research and Education. Barth would serve a four-year term and Peltier would serve the remaining three years of North Dakota Farm Bureau President Doyle Johannes’ term. Peltier, who was nominated by the Northern Canola Growers Association, said research is very important. "It’s the fuel that fuels the engine for agriculture and I want to be part of being able to kind of prioritize that funding mechanism." Barth also looks forward to serving on SBARE. “One of the things, obviously, being nominated by the Food Grade Soybean Association, is we’re really concerned with making sure that we’ve got conventional soybean varieties that are competitive with the Roundup Ready varieties that are out there, and getting the proper equipment to make sure that testing is done on those varieties so that we can market those soybeans effectively overseas.”
Fertilizer Plant Being Considered in ND — The North Dakota Farmers Union is considering the feasibility of building a nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing plant. NDFU President Woody Barth says this project would use flared-off natural gas from the oil fields in western North Dakota. "We have this natural gas that is being flared off in North Dakota, can we create what farmers really need in North Dakota?" asks Barth, "Whether it's dry urea fertilizer, anhydrous ammonia or liquid nitrogen for their crops." Barth says this project, which would have a $1 billion price tag, is feasible. "That's due to one simple reason, the transportation cost of getting the fertilizer from overseas, manufactured there, up the Gulf and up to North Dakota." The feasibility study will be completed in another six months to a year. If approved, Barth says the project would take another four to five years to complete.
Consult with Input Suppliers Now About Fertilizer Needs — According to CHS business development specialist Bryan Strickler, the spring fertilizer supply is getting snug. The logistics within the fertilizer business are complex, especially with a 94 million acre corn crop expected. “We’re relying so much on imported fertilizer, greater than 50 percent of our needs are supplied by countries outside of the US, so not only do we need to take a look at what’s happening here locally, we need to plan 60 to 90 days in advance to make sure we’ve got product coming to the US in time for our US producers to consume.” Rail car availability is a significant challenge for input suppliers, but Strickler says demand for trucks in the North Dakota oil patch also creates logistical problems.
Crop Insurance Price Guarantees Announced — Crop insurance price guarantees for 2012 should encourage farmers to plant corn over soybeans. USDA’s Risk Management Agency set the guarantees, which act as the floor price for crop insurance policies, at $5.68 per bushel for corn; $12.55 a bushel for soybeans, and $7.84 per bushel for spring wheat. The corn guarantee is down 5.5 percent from last year; the soybean guarantee is down seven percent, and spring wheat is down nearly 21 percent from a year ago.
Special Assignment-Pizza — More than 600 4th graders from Walsh, Pembina and Grand Forks counties got an education on agriculture this past week. Grand Forks County Extension Agent Steve Sagaser says Ag Week provides the perfect opportunity to teach kids. “It’s called Experience Agriculture: Special Assignment Pizza; we send the kids off on a little assignment to act as detectives and find out where the food comes from, it's awesome that kids can identify with it," said Sangaser, "Everything that we put on pizza, we grow right here in the Red River Valley.”
SunOpta Suffers 4Q Loss — SunOpta Inc. reports a fourth quarter loss of $4.2 million, compared with net earnings of $2.6 million a year ago. For the year ended December 31st, SunOpta had earnings of almost $10 million, 27 percent below 2010. Last month, the company said it will restructure some of its underperforming segments and shed about six percent of its workforce.
Viterra Releases 1Q Results — The Canadian grain handler, Viterra, had first quarter net earnings of $77 million, down from $100 million, one year ago. Looking forward. Viterra officials said global demand for ag commodities remains strong and see positive fundamentals for the balance of the fiscal year.
Possible Takeover Bid for Viterra — Viterra officials have not given any details, but said it has received interest from other companies about a possible takeover bid. The Wall Street Journal reports Cargill is one of those interested. Britain’s Sunday Telegraph claims Glencore International is also considering a possible acquisition. Viterra is one of the three biggest grain handlers in Canada and the rumors about a sale sent Viterra’s stock value higher.
Ag Leader Expands — Ag Leader Technology, Inc., has acquired Soil-Max, manufacturer of the Gold Digger tile plow, and the assets of Gradient, Inc., a company that focuses on the control of tile plows with GPS controls. Gold Digger plows will continue to be manufactured in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Brazil, Indiana.
FMC and Kumiai Sign Herbicide Agreement — The FMC Corporation and Kumiai Chemical have come to terms on an exclusive agreement to evaluate new herbicide technology. Kumiai discovered this new chemistry and FMC will assist with development and commercialization.
RR 2 Extend in '14 — Monsanto announced its new Roundup Ready 2 Extend system at Commodity Classic. Monsanto regional agronomist Jared Liedberg says the new trait should be ready for the field in 2014. “That’ll be an enhanced dicamba and glyphosate herbicide premix, it’s going to help farmers manage weeds before planting, as well as an over-the-top application during the growing season." Liedberg says the new Roundup Ready Extend is the first ever Roundup Stacked trait.
Dow Enlist Unveiled — Dow AgroSciences has unveiled Enlist Ahead, a first of its kind management resource for farmers, and the newest component of the Enlist Weed Control System. Pending regulatory approvals, the Enlist Weed Control System will be offered in corn, soybeans and cotton, and will provide tolerance to Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. Enlist Duo herbicide is a proprietary blend of glyphosate and new 2,4-D choline.
Paradigm Approved — New Paradigm insecticide, from MANA Crop Protection, has received approval by the Environmental Protection Agency for its new state-of-the-art formulation for broad spectrum insect control in corn, soybeans, and other crops. A MANA press release says Paradigm’s advanced chemistry combines contact and ingestion activity for greater control of armyworms, cutworms, loopers, beetles and aphids.
Investor Meetings Scheduled for Grafton Project — Energae LP will hold investor meetings Wednesday in Grafton, North Dakota to raise money to refurbish the Alchem ethanol plant. The company hopes to reopen the plant this fall processing sugar beets, instead of corn, into ethanol. The plant has been closed since 2007.
PVPA Settlement — The North Dakota State Seed Department has settled with a Dunn County man for the illegal sale of a protected seed variety. This individual illegally sold nearly 400 bushels of Glenn spring wheat, which is protected under state and federal seed laws. A fine of $11,500 was levied. In addition, this farmer will pay the NDSU Research Foundation, which owns this seed variety, $18,000 for infringement of intellectual property rights.
Seihl Prize Laureates Named — The University of Minnesota has announced its 2012 Seihl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture laureates. The award winners are former agriculture commissioner Gene Hugoson, University of Minnesota professor Philip Pardey and Stephen farmer Bruce Hamnes. Hugoson was ag commissioner for 15 years in three different administrations. Pardey is co-founder of HarvestChoice, a Gates Foundation-funded initiative that addresses food needs in developing countries. Hamnes has had leadership roles with the Minnesota Wheat Council and Northwest Minnesota Foundation. The Seihl Prize ceremony will be held May 24th in the Twin Cities.
NIFA Selection Announced — President Barack Obama has announced his intention to appoint Dr. Sonny Romaswamy as the head of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Ramaswamy is the dean of the college of agricultural sciences at Oregon State University. Previously, Ramaswamy was an associate dean at Purdue and head of the entomology department at Kansas State University.
Magnus Will Retire From State Senate at the End of the Year — State Senator Doug Magnus, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, does not plan to see re-election this fall. Magnus farms at Slayton, in southwest Minnesota, and is a former chairman of the United Soybean Board.
ND Grower Included in Potato Leadership Institute — Larimore, North Dakota potato grower Michael Hoverson is one of 18 potato growers and industry representatives from across the country that are part of the 2012 class of the Potato Industry Leadership Institute. This is an annual program designed to identify, develop and cultivate new leaders within the potato industry.
New Northarvest Officer Team Installed — Penn, North Dakota dry bean grower Dan Webster is the new president of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association. The board of directors has also elected Joe Mauch of Hankinson, North Dakota as vice-president, and the treasurer is Grafton, North Dakota grower Tom Kennelly. All are two-year terms.
NAWG Foundation Restructured — Nine wheat farmers and longtime industry participants have been selected to lead a restructured National Association of Wheat Growers Foundation, doing business as the National Wheat Foundation effective immediately. Among the board members elected are three NAWG past presidents: Phil McLain, Dusty Tallman, and John Thaemert. Jimmie Musick, owner and operator of Musick Farms was elected chairman.
Minot Native Takes Over Leadership of DRC — The Dakota Resource Council has named Don Morrison as its executive director. For 16 years, Morrison held a similar position with the North Dakota Center for the Public Good. Morrison also published the Prairie Independent newspaper.
Leadership Training for Skunes — North Dakota Corn Grower Kevin Skunes was included in the National Corn Growers Association advanced leadership training program in Washington, DC. “Syngenta has had for probably 25 years, a leadership academy for soybean, canola, and corn growers," said Skunes, "Last year, they decided to go ahead and start an advanced leadership where it’s a smaller group; we only have six guys attending this nationwide." The training highlights the art of lobbying, speech writing and public speaking.
Hughes and Casper Join Growth Energy Board — Growth Energy has added two new members to its board of directors. Abe Hughes is the vice president of North American operations for New Holland Agriculture. Bob Casper is president of Ethanol Products, LLC, a subsidiary of POET Ethanol. Growth Energy represents 75 US ethanol producers and 63 associated companies.
25x25 Board Adds Olsen — The former president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau has joined the 25x25 national steering committee. Keith Olsen retired as the state Farm Bureau president in December. The 25x25 alliance believes America’s farms, ranches and forests can meet 25 percent of the nation’s energy needs with renewable energy by 2025.
Ag in Classroom Council Elects Chairman — The North Dakota Ag in the Classroom Council is moving in a new direction, but with familiar leadership. Kim Alberty, who manages Agassiz Seed and Supply, has been elected as chairman. Alberty was also council chair when the position was appointed. In 2011, the North Dakota Legislature reduced the size of the council from 20 members to six appointed members and one statutory member, the state superintendent of public instruction. The other council members are Nancy Jo Batemen of the North Dakota Beef Commission, Sheri Coleman of the Northern Canola Growers Association, Aaron Anderson of the state department of career and technical education, NDSU graduate student Wendi Stachler, Kirk Olson of McKenzie County Farm Bureau.
Miller Honored — University of Minnesota potato researcher Jeff Miller is the recipient of the Department of Horticultural Science’s 2012 Civil Service Award at the University of Minnesota. Miller works closely with U of M potato breeder, Dr. Christian Thill.
Career Changes at ADM — ADM has announced the planned retirement of two executives as well as several management appointments. Vice chairman John Rice plans to retire after a 36-year career at ADM, and David Smith, executive vice president, secretary and general counsel, will retire later this year, after 31 years with the company. Dwight Grimestad will assume a new role of vice president, Corporate Strategy. Joining ADM as vice president, Investor Relations, is Ruth Ann Wisener who previously worked for Tyson Foods. Mark Kolkhorst has been named president of ADM Milling. Scott Walker has been named president of ADM Cocoa, and Kris Lutt has been named president of Golden Peanut Company.
Lorensen Picked for Key Northern Beef Job — Northern Beef Packers has named its vice president of operations. For the last 25 years, Gary Lorensen held a similar post at the Tyson beef plant in Dakota City, Nebraska. The Aberdeen-based Northern Beef Packers is in the final stages of construction.
Nuxoll Moves to Western Growers — Dennis Nuxoll has been hired as the vice president of federal government affairs for Western Growers. Previously, Nuxoll was the senior director of federal policy for the American Farmland Trust. Western Growers represents growers, packers and shippers of specialty crops in California and Arizona.
North American Sales Manager Named — Martin Cook is the new North American sales manager for Topcon Precision Agriculture. For the past two years, Cook has been a regional manager for TPA. Cook is based in Winnipeg.
DeCramer Passes — A former state legislator and state director for USDA Rural Development has died. Gary DeCramer, who was 67, passed away Wednesday. In recent years, DeCramer has with the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Long-Time Minnesota Agriculture Leader Has Died. — A long-time Minnesota agriculture leader has died. Dr. Willard Cochrane, who was 97, joined the University of Minnesota Department of Agricultural Economics in 1951 and was dean of the Office of International Programs in 1965. Cochrane served as an agricultural advisor in John Kennedy’s presidential campaign and as an economic advisor at USDA in the early 1960’s.
Condolences to Watson Family — Former Minnesota Corn Growers Association President Curt Watson passed away Friday. Watson, who farmed at Renville, was president of the MCGA in 2006-2007 and continued to serve on the MCGA board. Watson was a passionate advocate for value-added agriculture and took an active role in farm policy issues.
This Week in Agriculture — For an audio version of RRFN's weekly recap of the top news, market and weather stories, go to http://www.rrfn.com/podcast/rrfn04.mp3.
Last Week's Trivia — Strawberries are the only fruit with its seeds on its outside. Northwood farmer and Pioneer Hi-Bred salesman Dennis McCoy is our weekly trivia winner. Ley Bouchard of The Valley Equestrian, Mathew Foster of FMC, Al Wimpfheimer of Simplot Grower Solutions and Windom veterinarian Dr. Mike Curley earn runner-up honors. The 'first 20' rounds out with Dean Aanderud of AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Kathy Noll of Noll's Dairy Farm, Northland College farm operations manager Shaun Beuclair, ND Ag Ed/FFA Supervisor Steve Zimmerman, Stutsman County farmer Richard Carlson, Larry Johnson of LLJ Consulting and Business Development, Kent Broscoff of Agrium, Harvey farmer Bill Ongstad, Laurie Hoffman of VistaComm, Bob Lebacken of RML Trading, Kristal Rick of SES VanderHave USA, Gene Kronberg of Channel, Crookston farmer Ron Lanctot, Bill Crawford of Preferred Capital Management, and Tim Stanislawski of Dakota Agronomy Partners.
This Week's Trivia — Dee Snider, Paul Teutul, Sr., Tia Carrere, Penn Jillette and Debbie Gibson are all participating in a reality television show on NBC. Can you name that show? Send your answer to email@example.com. Be sure to include your hometown and/or business. We'll recognize the earliest responses in next week's newsletter.
— MN Farm Bureau Campaign Management Seminar–Eagan, MN
— Midwest Poultry Federation Convention–St. Paul, MN
— International Sugarbeet Institute–Grand Forks, ND
— MN AgrAbility Project Fence Line Conference–St. Cloud, MN
— Ag Trends Conference–Mahnomen, MN
— Agricultural Youth Leaders Dinner with Trent Loos–Mahnomen, MN
— RRFN Coffee Shop Tour–Wadena, MN
— Why Export? Seminar–Bismarck, ND
— Aldrich C. Bloomquist Lectureship–Fargo, ND
— CRI Annual Meeting–Bloomington, MN
— PQA Plus/TQA Certification Training–Marshall, MN
— Employee Management Skills for Today Workshop–Northfield, MN
— Soybean Symposum–Chanhassen, MN
— NDSU Winter Wheat Webinar–
— TRF Radio Farm Appreciation Breakfast–Thief River Falls, MN
— AMPI Annual Meeting–Bloomington, MN
— Precision Ag Conference–Sioux Falls, SD
— Central Plains Dairy Expo–Sioux Falls, SD
— Cover Crops Workshop–Bismarck, ND
— Flax Institute–Fargo, ND
— Governor's Business Forum–Minot, ND
— CoBank North Dakota Customer Meeting–Fargo, ND
— ND Trade Office Global Business Connections Conference–Fargo, ND
— Women's Agricultural Leadership Conference–Chaska, MN
— MFU Spring Meeting–Crookston and Detroit Lakes, MN
— SD FFA State Convention–Brookings, SD
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