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A Weekly Update From Your Friends at the Red River Farm Network Monday, February 27, 2017

A Weekly Update From Your Friends at the Red River Farm Network Monday, February 27, 2017

Weekly News Highlights

Reporting Agriculture’s Business — Meeting season is finishing strong this week with Commodity Classic in San Antonio and the National Farmers Union annual meeting in San Diego. This this week’s FarmNetNews, you’ll find coverage from last week’s International Crop Expo. And check out the final stories from our National FFA Week coverage. A special thanks to everyone who shared their stories with RRFN! Follow the agriculture news stories that are important to you on your RRFN radio affiliate. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter. The RRFN team, Carah, Mike, Randy, Jay and Don are also on Twitter.

Watch Your Basis — As prices slide, Van Ahn and Company President Jim Emter says it is critical to keep an eye on basis levels. “If you bury your head in the sand and then come back on the stronger markets,” says Emter. “You need to look at the opportunities weakness can provide. If you’re sitting there without basis locked up, be attentive to the opportunities we may have here. Look for the holes and find a way to fill them. If you’re the last person selling corn this year, it may not be too kind to you.” Emter also says farmers tend to withdraw from marketing when prices move lower.

Decision Time — Thunder Seed District Sales Mangaer Travis Buchholz says the warm weather has resulted in some late sales.  “I think there are unspoken acres out there. All of our options are in place for farmers to start making decisions. With the sales we had in the last week, I’d say there are about 25 percent flex acres. Farmers are holding out to see what things will do closer to spring.”

’16 Bushels Will Influence APH — Farmers who had large yields in 2016 could see a bump in their Actual Production History for crop insurance.  AgCountry Farm Credit Services senior insurance specialist Jodi Laney says having the oldest year drop off the APH calculation should swing the average yield higher. “Clearly, the technology wasn’t there for us to produce yields like we can now back 15 to 20 years ago. Taking the yield off makes a big difference on the APH. We’ve seen corn APH go up about ten bushels, just based on the big corn yield this year.” Laney says a higher APH can impact your crop insurance options. “Your agent can look at the cost benefit and see where they can increase your APH without taking a lot of money out of your pocket, too.”

At Risk — More than one-third of U.S. farmers 34 years old and younger are “highly” or “very highly” leveraged. USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson reports young farmers are holding more debt and are vulnerable with continued low crop prices. One-in-five wheat, cotton, poultry and hog farms have debt-to-asset rations approaching 40 percent. That’s three times the national average.

Anxiously Awaiting Perdue Confirmation — House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway made an appearance at the Ag Outlook Forum. Conaway said he’s anxiously awaiting on Ag Secretary pick Sonny Perdue’s confirmation hearing. Conway also shared an update on 2018 Farm Bill discussions. Conaway said it’s important to get a Farm Bill done on-time. “The docket is probably pretty full moving forward, so I don’t anticipate being able to get at the Farm Bill until late fourth quarter into 2018. There’s no reason we can’t get it done.”

Awaiting Final Cabinet Confirmations — National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall says the focus in Washington D.C. right now is getting all of the Cabinet nominees confirmed. “The most recent one to be confirmed, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, is really exciting. He’s already started work looking at ways to start rolling back environmental burdens. A focus for all of us in agriculture is looking at how quickly we can get a confirmation hearing for Sonny Perdue. It’s probably well into March before that happens.”

First Farm Bill Field Hearing — The Senate Agriculture Committee held their first 2018 Farm Bill field hearing in Manhattan, Kansas Thursday afternoon. In his opening statement, Chairman Pat Roberts said no one understands the importance or the impact of the Farm Bill like America’s farmers and ranchers and rural communities. Roberts also said all of agriculture is struggling right now, not just one or two crops. Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow agreed. “Low prices have pinched margins and made it tough for many producers to make ends meet. It’s a tough time. Producers want us to take a look at cotton and dairy issues. I think our Senate Ag Committee members agree we need to focus on the needs of farmers and rural communities in the next Farm Bill and not arbitrary cuts. We created savings in the last Farm Bill. Now, I think it’s important to address agriculture’s needs.”

Campaign Launched to Engage Consumers in the Farm Bill Debate — The Environmental Working Group and the Food Policy Action Fund have launched a campaign to make consumers more aware of the Farm Bill and its impact on food policy. The ‘Plate of the Union’ has four main priorities. Number one, the two groups want prevent large-scale farms from receiving farm program payments. The EWG and Food Policy Action Fund also want to improve anti-hunger programs, increase investment in organic agriculture and expand programs to reduce food waste.

Anxiety on Trade Talk — National Potato Council president and CEO John Keeling says there’s lots of anxiety in the trade discussions. “There’s lots of uncertainty where things will go. We know we have to continue to export and can’t blow up trade policy. I think there has to be an education program go on with the new administration to understand the importance of trade agreements in agriculture. I think we’re seeing this beginning.” Keeling thinks USDA is ready to have an ag secretary so a process can be built moving forward.

Trump Sends Letter of Support — President Donald Trump sent a letter of support to those attending the National Ethanol Conference in San Diego. Trump said ethanol and the Renewable Fuels Standard are important to the rural economy. Trump also promised to address the regulatory burden on the renewable fuels business. In his words, the industry has “suffered from overzealous, job-killing regulation.”

Easing Regulatory Burden — President Donald Trump has signed a new executive order, requiring each federal agency to form a task force to review existing regulations. Wherever possible, these task forces are being asked to simplify and eliminate rules that harm the economy or job creation. A previous executive order required federal agencies to identify two rules to be repealed for every one regulation implemented.

Peterson Wants a Vote on Wolf Bill — Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson is urging House Speaker Paul Ryan to bring his wolf management bill up for a vote as soon as possible. Peterson’s bill would remove the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act and turn its management back to the states. In a letter to Ryan, Peterson said action is needed so farmers can protect their livestock.

Westrom Carries Bill to Delay Implementation of Buffer Law — This past week, the Minnesota Senate Agriculture Finance Committee and Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee held a joint hearing to get an update on the state’s buffer law. Ag Finance Committee Chair Torrey Westrom says he’s heard from a lot of farmers who don’t want to be taking good land out of production. “They have done many things to their farm and land already to protect it from erosion and runoff. They want to be viewed as good stewards of the land. They know best what works on their farm and topography.” Westrom says farmers want to be compensated for taking land out of production. “We have Clean Water Legacy funds and other sources at the state. We should be stepping up with financial resources as well and not expect landowners to fund this for the State of Minnesota.”

MN Farm Bureau Legislative Minute — Here’s the latest from the Minnesota Farm Bureau. In this report, get an update on what’s happening in the Minnesota legislature.

Buffer Bill Advances in SD Legislature — A bill in the South Dakota legislature would give landowners a tax break for keeping riparian buffer strips along streams, rivers and lakes. The bill would define a riparian buffer strip and assess it at 60 percent of its agricultural income value. The bill has passed the state Senate and is under consideration in the House. Riparian buffer strips eligible for the tax break would be 50 feet wide along a river, stream or lake.

COOL Bill Fails in SD Senate — A state-specific country-of-origin labeling bill was voted down in the South Dakota State Senate Tuesday. “I don’t think the country-of-origin labeling (bill) is ready for prime time,” said State Senator John Wiik, a Republican from Big Stone City. “I think it is a wonderful idea and I’m glad we were able to have the discussion, but I don’t think this particular bill is the way to go moving forward.” The COOL proposal would have required a label detailing the origin of the beef sold by the retailer.

Texas Bound! — The Red River Farm Network will be reporting from the Commodity Classic this week. This event is billed as “the nation’s largest farmerled, farmer-focused convention and trade show.” House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway will be featured in Friday’s general session. Commodity Classic also has a full slate of educational seminars and a massive trade show. Follow RRFN’s coverage on Facebook and Twitter or use #Classic17. Our coverage is sponsored, in part, by Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council.

Well Worth Your Time — Casselton, North Dakota farmer Joe Morken will be attending one of the many grower meetings in San Antonio. “We hear about anything new coming down the pipe that will affect us,” says Morken. “From the trade show side, whether it’s technology on data or GMOs, it’s all there. The education and networking that can be done at the Commodity Classic is well worth the time there.” RRFN’s coverage of the Commodity Classic is sponsored, in part, by the North Dakota Soybean Council. Join us as we visit with NDSC and NDCC LIVE on Facebook from the event. 

Learning from Other Growers — Oakes, North Dakota farmer Scott German will be attending the Commodity Classic this week. German says the NCGA will have their annual Corn Congress. “It really gives you a chance to visit with producers across the U.S. There are producers from Florida to Texas, Iowa to Illinois to New York,” says German. “You’ll visit with those farmers and find things that worked good on their farm or didn’t work good so you learn. I’ve made some real good friends with farmers across the nation.” Crop selections are likely a big topic of discussion next week. German says it all depends on spring weather. “If we get an early start in the Corn Belt, I think corn acres could hold last year or down only slightly, but if we have any weather challenges, I could see corn acres being down significant. There’s not much margin in corn.” RRFN’s coverage of the Commodity Classic is sponsored, in part, by the North Dakota Corn Council.

Cooler and Wet — Grand Forks National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Greg Gust expects the spring to be cooler and wet. “From that point on, late March into April, it should start trending toward normal. As we get into the May/June timeframe, warmer to warmer-than-normal, but we aren’t there yet. It will be cool for a while. That wet pattern, will likely persist through April.”

Preparing for Spring — The recent spring-like temperatures has some farmers starting to make plans for spring planting. WinField United regional agronomist Jason Hanson sees some changes for some of the major crop inputs. “Fertilizer had some downward pressure. I would imagine there has to be some with the lack of volume in the northeastern corner of the state,” says Hanson. “I think that market is strengthening. At least on the crop protection side, I haven’t heard very much. Most of the talk there has been on the constant label change of Xtend beans.” Hanson thinks farmers are somewhat cautious about planting the new dicamba-tolerant soybean varieties.

Looking for Bottom Line Boost? It’s All About Bushels — In the current price environment, bushels are needed to boost the bottom line. Helena representative Tim Stanislawski says weed control should be the first priority. “The next thing would be your nutrients. That’s key. You don’t have to put them on right away. There’s lots of products we have you can put it in with the herbicide when applying. Sometimes spoon feeding is the best ROI potential in getting bushels you need.” Even with the new dicamba tolerant technologies, Stanislawski still advocates the use of a pre-emergence herbicide. Stanislawski expects wheat acreage to be down this year, but interest is strong for soybeans, corn and canola.

Bayer Discusses Financing Plan for its Monsanto Deal — In regards to its planned takeover of Monsanto, Bayer will continue with its plan to raise $19 billion in equity before it deals with the bond market. The Wall Street Journal reports Bayer officials believe the $57 billion deal will be approved by U.S. and European regulators, despite current delays in the process.

APUC Awards Funds — The North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission has awarded nearly $192,000 in grants to fund four value-added projects in the state. Archer Daniels Midland in Fargo received $93,000 for engineering costs for a protein production facility to be located in North Dakota. Grand Prairie Agriculture in Devils Lake was awarded $45,000 for initial project engineering to produce a farrow-to-wean sow farm, focusing on gilt production.

New Alliance to Provide Precision Agriculture Services — Titan Machinery has formed a strategic alliance with Decisive Farming Corporation to offer a digital farm management platform to its customers. The My Farm Manager platform provides data management and expertise on GIS, agronomy and crop marketing. Titan Machinery is based in West Fargo.

AURI Update — In the weekly update from the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute. Learn more about the New Uses Forum.

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Source: Red River Farm Network