Weekly News Highlights
Reporting Agriculture’s Business Ahead of this current weather system, farmers across the Red River Farm Network made excellent planting progress. We share the stories this week’s FarmNetNews. Each Tuesday during the spring and early summer, RRFN hosts the Crop Watch broadcast at 12:37 PM on the radio. Those updates are available on the RRFN smartphone app. RRFN’s Randy Koenen also provides a Facebook Live update for #CropWatch17. There is plenty of news happening in agriculture policy circles, too. Find out more in this e-publication and listen on your RRFN radio affiliate. You can also find RRFN on Facebook and Twitter. The RRFN team: Carah, Mike, Randy, Jay and Don are also on Twitter.
No Big Surprises for Supply/Demand Report In its first Supply/Demand outlook for the 2017/18 marketing year, USDAs ending stocks estimates for wheat, corn and soybeans are below average trade expectations. USDA forecasts U.S. wheat ending stocks will decline to a three-year low. The season average price forecast for wheat is $4.25, up 35 cents from this year. Due to fewer acres and a four bushel-per-acre yield reduction, USDA projects a smaller corn crop this year. The USDA estimate is more than one billion bushels smaller than last year. Corn ending stocks are down 185 million bushels from this year, and the season average price forecast of $3.40 is unchanged. Despite six million more planted acres, this years soybean crop projection is 52 million bushels below last year, as the average yield is down more than four bushels per acre. Bean ending stocks are up 45 million bushels, and the season average price forecast is down 25 cents, to $9.30.
Less Wheat USDA expects this years U.S. winter wheat crop to be 25 percent less than last year. The average yield forecast is down 6.5 bushels per acre from last years record, and harvested acres are down 16 percent to a record low. The hard red winter wheat crop forecast is 32 percent below last year. The Kansas wheat crop forecast is down 38 percent from a year ago; Oklahoma is down 35 percent, and Colorado is off 31 percent. USDAs forecast of South Dakotas winter wheat crop is 32 percent below last year, as harvested acres are down 29 percent.
Take Opportunities When The Arise Innovus Agra LLC President Bret Oelke reminds farmers to make sure they understand their cost of production and when there is an opportunity to sell profitably, do so. My biggest frustration is the fact the market doesnt seem to be responding to the fundamental conditions of delayed planting and drown-outs regarding spring wheat and corn. Were set up for a less-than-stellar crop this year. Oelke says anything less-than-bumper yields will likely increase the pressure on the bottom line this year. There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty. How many corn acres will actually be planted? How many corn acres will be harvested? I fear the soybean number may be larger than expected. I was surprised to see the spring wheat activity in South Dakota that I didnt expect due to prices.
Focus is Now 2017/18 Marketing Year INTL FCStones chief commodities economist Arlan Suderman thinks we may have already seen the biggest crop production numbers we will see this year. Because of the formula they use in calculating yields, which give too much of a bias to the upside, because we are seeing too much deteriorating conditions with heavy rains and snows, these may be highest production numbers we see. Suderman also thinks USDA will reduce its spring wheat acreage estimate. USDA will make that adjustment on June 30.
Disease Pressure in KS Wheat After the recent snow, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers CEO Justin Gilpin says crop insurance agents are evaluating fields to determine the damage. There are still lots of unknowns and lots of concerns, especially with disease pressure. Time will tell. Weve seen lots of stripe rust and wheat streak mosaic virus. There will be a pretty strong push for education programs as we move forward. Gilpin encourages wheat growers to make a good investment in disease management.
Midwest Crop Planting Struggles Farmers in northern Illinois continue to struggle to get the crop planted. Gulke Group President Jerry Gulke says the Rockford, Illinois area is bad. Ive been here 40 years and Ive never seen it as bad before, as far as the lack of progress, in doing anything on the ground. Anything north of I-80 to the Wisconsin border, 80 percent of the ground has been planted with something, probably corn.
A Good Start Farmers are off to a good start on planting in the Lakota, North Dakota area. During Tuesday’s Crop Watch broadcast, CHS Lake Region agronomist Travis Schmidt said farmers are are doing thier best to get the crop in the ground. We started on the corn, wheat and canola. A little bit of everything. We need some good sun and wind.” Crop Watch is sponsored, in part, by Syngenta Sugarbeet and Hilleshog.
The Waiting Game Southwest of Larimore, North Dakota, farmers have been in the field, but progress is spotty. Dennis McCoy farms and sells seed. McCoy expects farmers to stand pat on maturity and variety selections for now. Some of the long maturity corn for this area, theyll probably switch to something earlier. Some folks are going to hang on. The question in my mind is how late do you want to go for wheat? If you get rid of some wheat acres, do you add beans? Crop Watch coverage is sponsored, in part, by DuPont Pioneer.
ND Wheat Link Hear the North Dakota Wheat Commission’s Wheat Link. Learn more about getting it right when it comes to quality testing.
Working With Wet Conditions Grafton, North Dakota farmer Tom Campbell says potato planting is underway, but theres lots of sub-soil moisture right now. Were working fields and some twice, because of the moisture. We have to work it and come back a few days later. You have to plant potatoes deep. We had about 45 inches of rain last summer from May 20 until the end of the summer, so we are wet. Its drying up, so were moving along well. Farmers in the northern Red River Valley are watching moisture levels. The sugarbeets could use some moisture, but Im not sure if much rain is needed for us up here. I have to watch what I say, because last year, about May 20, we thought the drought was coming back.
More Talk of Prevent Plant Northeast of Johnstown, North Dakota, there has been too much moisture. Dylan Karley, who farms and manages Johnstown Bean Company, said each passing day there is more talk of Prevent Plant. If we were to get any amount of precipitation, I think youll see farmers checking the boxes for PP on corn. As far as edible beans, farmers are still hopeful. Crop Watch is sponsored, in part, by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council and the Soybean Checkoff.
Dry Bean Scene The Dry Bean Scene is on the air, with information about the dry edible bean industry in the Northarvest region. This broadcast airs each Friday at 12:37 PM.
Last Minute Decisions Michigan, North Dakota farmer Greg Daws says spring planting has been very slow. Hes still deciding what to plant. One of the fields I was going to plant corn in was all caught up by wet drainage ditches so we may change that field to canola and plant another field to corn. We are going to plant about 200 to 300 acres of corn. I really havent decided. Crop Watch is sponsored by AgCountry Farm Credit Services.
ND Soybean Minute Hear the latest North Dakota Soybean Minute from the North Dakota Soybean Council and the soybean checkoff. Learn about pre-emergence herbicides and good weed control.
Planting Progress Good Near Grand Forks In the Reynolds and Thompson area of North Dakota, excellent planting progress has been made. Tim Schumacher has the update from his farm. Were in the process of planting soybeans. If the weather holds, we will finish up most of the soybeans. After the system goes through, well start planting dry beans. Emergence is also going well. Wheat and corn are both emerging. In all, were pretty happy. We dont need three-to-four inches of rain in the next week. I dont think anyone in the Valley needs that.
Cercospora Leaf Spot Recommendations SipcamRotam account manager Jeff Pewitt says there has been an enormous amount of progress in recent days in the Red River Valley for corn and sugarbeet planting. Pewitt, who is based in Finley, North Dakota, says cercospora leaf spot was a significant issue last year. The sugarbeet companies are now asking sugarbeet growers to un-couple the fungicide application from the herbicide application. “The convenience of doing one application is going to make the disease control suffer some so we’d like the guys to be more proactive.” Due to the threat of cercospora, growers are encouraged to tighten up their spray schedule. “I realize there isn’t a farmer on the planet that wants to haul more water to the field, but if he is really concerned about controlling Cercospora Leaf Spot, he really should look at higher gallons with a flat-pan style nozzle.”
The Sugarbeet Report Sugarbeet growers made some planting progress before the cooler, damp weather set in last week. Listen to a crop update across the Red River Valley. The Sugarbeet report is sponsored, in part, by SES VANDERHAVE and Dow Agrosciences.
Regional Economic Issues Surface The farm economy in the Tenth Federal Reserve District weakened in the first quarter of the year. Conditions varied from west-to-east with bigger challenges in the western portion of the Kansas City Fed district. That includes western Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. The quarterly survey of agricultural credit conditions found profit markets and cash flow tight throughout the seven states in the Tenth District. The report said financial stress has become more of a regional issue with conditions worsening in the west and stabilizing in other areas.
Farmland Values Hold Steady Across the ‘I’ States Farmland values are holding steady in the a large portion of the Midwest. The Chicago Federal Reserve Bank says the price for good cropland in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana is unchanged from last year. Repayment rates on farm operating loans are down when compared to a year ago.
Weed of the Week: Waterhemp Have you seen any waterhemp in your fields lately? The weed germinates and emerges in mid-May and continues into August. Waterhemp is common in southern and western Minnesota, along with eastern North Dakota to the Canadian border. Waterhemp thrives in wet areas of fields, but has adapted to a variety of conditions. Waterhemp is a member of the pigweed family including redroot pigweed and palmer amaranth. Waterhemp cotyledons are more egg-shaped than the narrow, linear cotyledons of redroot pigweed. First true leaves are generally longer and more lanceolate than redroot pigweed. Seedlings are hairless with leaves that are dark green with a waxy or glossy sheen. There is great genetic diversity with waterhemp which has led to herbicide resistance including ALS inhibitors, triazine, PPO inhibitors and glyphosate. Thanks to Tom Peters of North Dakota State University/University of Minnesota and Richard Zollinger of NDSU for assisting with this project.
USDA Reorganization Plan Announced Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has announced a reorganization plan for USDA. The highlight of this plan includes the establishment of an undersecretary position that will focus on trade. A report has been sent to Congress that also seeks to make other changes at the Agriculture Department. The title of the undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services would change to the undersecretary for farm production and conservation. The Natural Resources Conservation Service would come under the purview of that undersecretary. In this proposal, the undersecretary for rural development would be eliminated, but the head of rural development programs would report directly to the agriculture secretary. The Administration is seeking public input on this plan on the White House website.
Censky, Northey and Others in the Mix for USDA Positions High-profile agriculture leaders are apparently being considered for key jobs at USDA. Within the Washington Beltway, there is speculation Steve Censky will be selected as the deputy secretary. Censky is a Minnesota native and CEO of the American Soybean Association. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey is expected to be the undersecretary for farm production and conservation with authority over the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service. Indiana’s state agriculture director Ted McKinney is reportedly the pick for the newly created undersecretary of trade position. McKinney previously worked for Elanco Animal Health and has a close working relationship with Vice President Mike Pence.
Building a Good Team Combest, Sell and Associates consultant and lobbyist Tom Sell says Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is working on building a good team at the USDA. I think its consistent with the Trump administration. They are being deliberate and slow in this process to get the right people. With the list of names out there, they have good reputation in the agriculture industry.
Lighthizer Confirmed On an 82-to-14 vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Trumps pick to serve as U.S. Trade Representative. Robert Lighthizer was Deputy U.S. Trade Representative under President Ronald Reagan and has worked on trade issues as a lawyer representing manufacturers and high-tech companies.
Moving Forward Now that Robert Lighthizer is U.S. Trade Representative, National Association of Wheat Growers CEO Chandler Goule is hopeful to get some details on the parameters around Lighthizers job description so bilateral trade agreements can move forward. Once Robert Lighthizer has the opportunity to get settled into USTR, well be asking for a meeting. Well be pushing for the announcement of the first country we want to move forward with a bilateral negotiation so we can begin supporting the agreement.
U.S. Beef to be Exported to China No Later Than July 16 President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met last month and promised to take action on beef trade. In a White House briefing Thursday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said trade deals normally take a number of years to complete, but this agreement was put together in tens of days. Following one more round of technical meetings, China will begin accepting U.S. beef as soon as possible: no later than mid-July. National Cattlemens Beef Association President Craig Uden said it is impossible to overstate how beneficial this will be for U.S. beef producers.
Good Demand The U.S. Meat Export Federation vice president of communications Joe Schuele says its hard to project the impact of the export opportunity in China. There are unknowns. However, Schuele says the demand is there and the U.S. will likely be able to meet their demand. How much of our beef supply is eligible for China? Until we know that, its very hard to project. Its definitely a fast-growing market. The extent to which we will have eligibility has yet to be determined. The technical discussions are set to wrap up by July. Schuele thinks more details will unfold in the next few weeks. Other areas of opportunity for U.S. beef includes a potential bilateral trade agreement with Japan. Schuele is hopeful the bilateral trade agreement would reduce tariffs similar to those proposed in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Talking Export Opportunities Koreans officials are optimistic about opening more trade with the U.S., particularly in the beef sector. Thats according to Cattlemens Beef Board chair Brett Morris, who traveled across Japan and South Korea this past week to talk about exports. We talked to officials at the embassy. They noted there could be future negotiations to go into North Korea. This was just his perspective, a wait-and-see thing. Morris says the bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Japan hasnt come up in the groups conversations. When it comes to the U.S. opening up trade access with China, Morris notes there will be more hurdles to jump to get into the country.
Biotech Breakthrough In addition to the beef announcement, China has agreed to accelerate its process for approving U.S. biotechnology products. With this agreement, China will finalize science-based evaluations of eight pending biotechnology applications by the end of this month. For any product that does not pass internal standards, Chinas National Biosafety Committee will provide a complete list of information necessary to complete the safety assessment.
Exports Deliver ROI During the upcoming Farm Bill debate, there are proposals to double the amount of funds available for the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program. These USDA export promotion programs are combined with private investments to enhance agricultural sales overseas. North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp says every dollar spent on exports brings a tremendous return-on-investment. When you look at economics, youre looking for new wealth creation. What creates new wealth in your country? Exports. Im going to push for every dime of export support. Heitkamp says research also needs attention in the next Farm Bill. For many of our specialty crops, they cant afford a research program. Were going to keep pushing for those dollars as well.
Corn Matters Hear the Minnesota Corn Growers Association’s Corn Matters program. Learn more about World Trade Month.
Estate Taxes to be Addressed in Tax Reform Plan Tax reform is expected to be on the summer schedule for Congress. With a tax bill, South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem wants the estate tax to be eliminated. The death tax is an unfair tax. Its a double tax. Its included in the House Republican tax reform package. The White House also included a complete repeal. Im excited the message has gotten through and the death tax needs to be eliminated. 1986 was the last time major tax reform legislation was passed. Noem says it is time to push this important issue across the goal line.
Defining WOTUS In an attempt to rewrite the definition of Waters of the United States, two federal agencies are asking for input from governors in all 50 states and five territories. One of the issues EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt stressed in congressional hearings leading up to his confirmation was a need to restore what he called cooperative federalism, where the states and federal agencies work together on developing regulations.
EPA Grants Extension on Pesticide Applicator Rule EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has announced a 12-month extension for the implementation of the revised pesticide applicator rule. Pruitt said the agency received feedback that more time and resources are needed for the industry to come into compliance with the rule. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture praised the move, saying the new timeline will ease some of the logistical challenges.
Icahn Investigation Urged A group of Democratic senators, including Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, are asking for an investigation into the dealings of Carl Icahn. Icahn is the majority owner of the refining company CVR Energy and serves as a special advisor to President Trump on regulatory reform. Allegations of conflict-of-interest and insider trading are being made. The lawmakers claim Icahn may have benefited illegally from his involvement in the market for Renewable Identification Numbers.
Frederickson Disputes ‘Anti-Agriculture’ Criticism Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed five bills Friday, including the ag finance bill and the environment and natural resources bill. Even before the veto was issued, House Agriculture Finance Committee Chairman Rod Hamilton called Dayton anti-agriculture. Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson says thats not the case. “I think people that know me would know that I wouldn’t stick around here if that was the case. The Governor is very positive about agriculture, but he also realizes there are over five-million people that live in this state and we have to take everyone’s issues into consideration as we move forward.” Frederickson said there was a big difference between Dayton’s plan and the bill passed by the Legislature. Daytons budget proposal invested nearly $10 million in general funds and $2.5 million in dedicated funds for the state agriculture department over the next two years, while the House/Senate bill left spending levels unchanged. “Their bill is actually less than zero because we have to come up with a little over $2 million in inflationary costs so we’d start to $2 million in the hole before we even get to zero.” Policy, like pollinators and the issue of verification of need, have been a sticking point in the ag finance bill. Agriculture groups have been fairly united in their opposition to Daytons position on these issues, but Frederickson says policy issues should not be part of any finance bill. The session is scheduled to expire one week from today.
Frustration The Minnesota legislative session must wrap up by May 22, but the Governors Office and legislative leaders are far apart on the budget bills. AgriGrowth executive director Perry Aasness says there is growing frustration from the ag sector. “What heightened the frustration is the rhetoric coming from the Governor’s Office this past week on what should be some non-controversial provisions in the ag finance bill such as reaffirming the farmer’s ability to continue to use crop protection products as long as they follow the label. There’s been a lot of misleading information put out that many of felt needed to be challenged and that only added to the frustration and lack of trust with this administration on some of these issues.” Last year, the session ended without a tax bill, a transportation bill or a bonding bill. Aasness says that could be happen again.
Birr Encourages Farmers to Speak Up The agriculture finance and environment and natural resource bills arent typically very controversial, but those two bills are part of the standoff between legislative leaders and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. Minnesota Corn Growers Association Executive Director Adam Birr encourages farmers to reach out to lawmakers and the Governors office on issues like property taxes and buffers. “The deadlines coincide with one of the busiest times of the year for our guys, but take a few minutes and reach out. It always helps to hear from constituents and we want them to meet these deadlines.”
MN Farm Bureau Legislative Minute Here’s the latest from the Minnesota Farm Bureau. In this report, we get an update on the Minnesota legislative session.
Ag Groups Urge Dayton to Support Buffer Implementation Delay The implementation of the buffer law is one of the policy issues that remains a question mark. Lawmakers have passed language delaying the implementation for up to two years, which Governor Mark Dayton says he will veto. A large coalition of Minnesota farm groups has sent a letter to Dayton seeking support for a delay. This letter said agriculture is not asking for the repeal of the buffer law, but more time is needed before this new law can be implemented successfully. The letter was signed by Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, the Minnesota AgriGrowth Council and commodity groups representing everything from corn to soybeans, sugar to turf grass. Numerous county commissioners also signed off on this letter.
BWSR Includes an Additional Buffer Law Alternative Practice Option The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources has released an additional alternative practice within the buffer law. The state guidance now includes more flexibility for public ditches located in the flat Glacial Lake Plain areas of the state. This is in addition to the alternative practices announced last month.
Field Hearing Focus A field hearing hosted by the U.S. House Transportation Committee was held in New Prague, Minnesota Thursday. Minnesota Grain and Feed Association executive director Bob Zelenka says water and highway transportation were the focus. It was more of a fact-finding mission for a few committee members getting feedback from people in the industry and non-ag as well. Zelenka says funding for upgrades to the nations waterways was also discussed.
Canadian Trade Talks North Dakota Ag Commissioner Dough Goehring has been traveling quite a bit lately, with a focus on building relationships with buyers abroad. Those travels include trade missions to the Philippines and Peru. More recently, he visited Canada. Goehring explains the Canada meetings. We are going to work through trade issues with Canada. They agree we can find common ground to move forward. Theres no reason to disrupt this relationship. Theres an effort to heal those broken feelings with cereal grains and milk. Goehring plans to meet with Canada a few more times this summer.
Bovine TB Summit Planned USDA is planning a summit to highlight bovine tuberculosis in late July or early August. There has been a recent bump in bovine TB cases in recent months with cases reported in five states including South Dakota. USDA Chief Veterinary Officer Jack Shere is considering ways to modernize the TB program and eventually eradicate the disease. Bovine TB was confirmed in northwestern Minnesota in 2005 and after an extensive surveillance and control effort, the state attained TB-free status in 2011.
MN Beef Update Hear from the Minnesota Beef Council and the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association in their weekly MN Beef Update.
Organic Livestock Rule Delayed USDA is proposing a delay to the implementation of the organic livestock rule until mid-November. The effective date for this rule was originally in mid-March, but that was pushed back to May 19. This proposal would require organic poultry to live outdoors. Humane Society of the United States President and CEO Wayne Pacelle said this delay is unwarranted and is a subversion of consumer preferences.
California Judge Rules on Neonic Case A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled the Environmental Protection Agency violated the Endangered Species Act when it approved nearly 60 neonicotinoid seed treatment products. Judge Maxine Chesney determined EPA should have consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about these products and their impact on endangered species. Steve Ellis, who is a beekeeper from Barrett, Minnesota, is the lead plaintiff in this lawsuit. The judge also found groups like the Sierra Club and the Center for Food Safety have standing to participate in this lawsuit. The EPA will now be asked to submit a response. Bayer, Syngenta and Valent have released a joint statement, saying the judge determined there was no imminent hazard to the environment from using these products. The crop protection companies said they will review all options as the case moves forward.
Case Could Impact Product Availability Ag Retailers Association President/CEO Darren Coppock says the remedy phase for the neonic case isnt here yet, but the central issues are the anti-pesticide groups continue to run to court, demanding the EPA consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service for registration on every product. Thats a ridiculous expectation. The volume of work that would take is incredible. The outcome of that case could have a significant impact on product availability. On another topic, China has agreed to speed up and streamline biotech approvals. Coppock would like to see European biotech approvals improve. Coppock says he is uncertain what future bilateral trade agreements could mean for other biotech approval processes, but is encouraged with future trade discussions.
Obama Points the Finger at Agriculture for Climate Change Former President Barack Obama discussed climate change in his first speech since leaving the White House. The speech took place at food conference in Italy. Obama said agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The agriculture lobby was blamed for the inability to pass significant climate change legislation in the U.S. Obama said Democrats and Republicans from agriculture states work together to protect farmers making it difficult to pass what he called rational policy.
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Comment Period Extended USDAs Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is extending the comment period on its preliminary decision to extend deregulation to Bayers biotech canola until May 30. This action will allow interested persons more time to prepare and submit comments.
To Secure Deal with Monsanto, Bayer to Sell Liberty Brands To gain regulatory approval for its deal with Monsanto, Bayer will spin off its Liberty herbicide and LibertyLink seed business. The move was required by the South African Competition Commission. Similar demands are expected from U.S. and European regulators. LibertyLink is used primarily in the soybean, canola and cotton industries. A potential buyer for this Bayer business segment has not been identified.
DowDuPont Plan will be Reviewed After receiving questions from shareholders, Dow Chemical and DuPont Company will launch a comprehensive review of its plan to eventually separate into three companies. There are plans to form an agriculture company, a commodity company and a special materials company after the merger is complete. Dow and DuPont also announced Andrew Liveris will serve as the executive chairman of the merged DowDuPont until April of next year. Liveris, who is currently Dows CEO and chairman, was expected to retire this summer, but will stay on to get this merger finalized. The DowDuPont merger is expected to be close by September.
AgReliant Genetics to Unite Its Regional Brands Beginning in the summer of 2018, AgReliant Genetics will bring its regional companies into a new LG Seeds brand. For this region, Wensman Seed and Producers Hybrids will be impacted. Wensman Seed is based in Wadena, Minnesota and serves the tri-state region. Nebraska is home for Producers Hybrids, but the seed is also sold in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Golden Acres Genetics, which is based in Texas, and Michigans Great Lakes Hybrids will also transition over to LG Seeds. AgReliant Genetics was created in 2000 as a joint venture between KWS and Limagrain. It is now the third largest seed corn company in North America.
Tyson Foods Profit Declines 21 Percent Tyson Foods reports net income of $340 million in its latest quarter. Thats down from $432 million one year ago. The Florida attorney general is investigating Tyson Foods and another chicken processor for allegations of price-fixing. Fires at two Tyson chicken plants were also blamed for the declining profits.
Sound Credit Quality Reported AgriBank is reporting first quarter net income of $129.5 million. Thats up more than $5 million from the same period last year. Interest income topped $143 million, up more than $3 million from last year. Despite a tight farm economy, AgriBank said credit quality is sound. AgriBank is one of the largest banks within the Farm Credit System and is based in St. Paul.
Chinese Company Hopes to Takeover U.S. Yogurt-Maker Chinas largest dairy company, Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, is making a bid for a major U.S. producer of organic and Greek-style yogurt. Stonyfield Farm is based in New Hampshire and is a subsidiary of the French dairy company Danone. According to information filed with the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the Chinese company would pay $850 million for Stonyfield Farm.
ND Dairy Farm Featured in WDE Virtual Tour Eight dairy farms have been selected for World Dairy Expo virtual tours. These virtual tours are presented daily at the huge dairy event in Madison, Wisconsin. A Carrington, North Dakota dairy farm is one of the operations that will be featured. Thats VanBedaf Dairy, which is a first-generation U.S. dairy farm with 1,400 cows. World Dairy Expo will be held in early October.
Top Jobs Being Filled in the Office of the Agriculture Secretary Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is beginning to put together his inner circle at USDA. Heidi Green has been named the USDA chief of staff. Green previously worked for Perdue when he was Georgias governor. Green also worked in the private sector at Deloitte. Chris Young is the deputy chief of staff. Most recently, Young was with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. Before that, Young was director of international affairs for the State of Georgia.
CFTC and USAID Nominations Made President Donald Trump has sent two more nominations to the U.S. Senate. Christopher Giancarlo has been picked to chair the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Giancarlo is already the acting chairman at the CFTC. Former Wisconsin Congressman Mark Green has been asked to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Ambassador Branstad On a voice vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved Iowa Governor Terry Branstads nomination to be the U.S. ambassador to China. Branstad is in his sixth term as governor and is friends with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The pair met in 1985 when Xi led an agricultural trade mission to Iowa.
New Air Force Secretary Resigns From Raven Industries Board The newly confirmed Secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson, has been a member of the board of Raven Industries. Raven Industries is a precision agriculture company based in Sioux Falls. Wilson was a member of the board for the past year. The resignation takes effect immediately.
Harper Takes New Role with FMC FMC Agricultural Solutions has named Mike Harper as its industry relations manager. Harper has been a retail market manager for FMC.
FMC Adds Three to its Marketing Team FMC Agricultural Solutions has added three individuals to its marketing and communications team in Philadelphia. Christina Coen is the new marketing manager for the U.S. and Canada. Previously, Coen worked for Dow AgroSciences. Lisa Homer is the new senior communications manager for the U.S. and Canada. Most recently, Home was an account director for Stephens & Associates Advertising. Julie Boss is the new product manager for insecticides and new technology. Previously, Boss was an account manager for DuPont Crop Protection.
NDFB Announces Myers as Director of Organizational Development Joey Myers is the new director of organizational development for NDFB. In this role, Myers will oversee the NDFB field representatives and serve as the staff liason to the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee and the Promotion and Education Committee. Myers has been on the NDFB staff since 2011.
Soil Health Grants Awarded Two North Dakota State University soil health researchers have received a North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program grant for a cover crop project. Abbey Wick and Caley Gasch received a $29,488 grant for their evaluation of the benefits of using cover crops in rotation and getting that information in the hands of farmers using Extension programming. North Dakota farmers Ross Lockhart of Grandin, Clint Severance from Hunter and Nick Vinje from Gardner, also received sustainable agriculture grants.
Ransom Receives National Volunteer Award North Dakota State University Extension agronomist Joel Ransom has been awarded the Presidents Volunteer Service Award. This award is presented by the Presidents Council on Service and Civic Participation, a group created by former President George W. Bush. Ransom has given more than 100 hours of service to the Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Senegal. With this international experience, Ransom has assisted womens groups on the best practices for the use of corn and millet in food production.
Opportunity for Young People in Agriculture The American Soybean Association and Valent USA have created a new program for young people interested in agriculture policy. The first class of the Soy Leaders of the Future will be held July 10-13 in Washington, D.C. Applications will be accepted until June 9.
Last Week’s Trivia Pinto beans are typically used to make refried beans. Angie Skochdopole of AdFarm came through first with the correct answer and is our weekly trivia winner. Tracy Clow of SESVANDERHAVE, Marshall Erickson of First International Bank and Trust, Nick Sinner of MN-SD Equipment Dealers Association and Dennis Sabel of Minnesota Farm Bureau get a ‘shout out’ for their runner-up honors. The ‘first 20’ recognition also goes to Keith Rekow of Dairyland Seed, Todd Good of AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Bruce Miller of Minnesota Farmers Union, Juanita Reed-Boniface of Boekenhauer Cattle, Mark Dahlen of Benson County FSA, Jim Altringer of Columbia Grain, Brian Rund of Nufarm Americas, Greg Guse of Paulsen, Alvarado farmer Jared Sands, Duane Maatz of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, Mark Bernard of Agro-Economics, Harvey dry bean grower Bill Ongstad, Gary Fuglesten of Central Valley Bean Company and Burleigh County farmer Jim McCullough.
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Source: Red River Farm Network