Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
It’s part of agricultural bankers’ job description: Work with borrowers and offer constructive insights into how to financially strengthen clients’ farming operations. Expect more -- possibly a lot more -- of that as area farmers and their lenders prepare for the 2019 crop season. Weak farm profitability, aggravated by poor soybean prices, will cause some lenders to ask tough questions that could require difficult decisions on everything from the timing of fertilizer purchases to potentially giving up farmland.
WASHINGTON — U.S. agriculture would be hurt if the U.S. Department of Agriculture follows through on its plan to move the Economic Research Service, or ERS, out of Washington, D.C., the American Statistical Association says. The relocation, announced in early August, "will drive a brain drain from a vital research component in the nation's $1 trillion food, agriculture and rural economy," the statistical group said.
If you've been around Upper Midwest agriculture as long as I have, you know a whole lot more than you want to about tough times. You've lived through the sky-high interest rates of the 1980s, you've experienced drought, you've suffered flooding, you've endured poor crop and livestock prices. You understand the economic pain that farming and ranching often brings, just as you know that ag brings good times, too.
WASHINGTON -- If the U.S. House version of the next farm bill is approved, the Upper Midwest would suffer nation-leading losses in federal funding for working lands conservation, according to a new report. The House farm bill proposes to eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program, or CSP, and fold some of its funding into an another ag conservation program. That would cut a total of about $5 billion in funding over the next 10 years, with the bulk of the loss in the Upper Midwest, according to the report from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
BROCKET, N.D. — The early summer afternoon is warm and windy, though not oppressively so, and contented "baas" ring out in the sheep barn. Luke Lillehaugen looks over the flock with an experienced eye and says, "Well, we like sheep. And we like some of the things happening in the sheep industry." Lillehaugen and his father, Maynard Lillehaugen, operate Lillehaugen Farms near Brocket, N.D. They raise small grains, cattle and sheep; about 180 sheep lambed this spring.
COOPERSTOWN, N.D. — Vernon Knudson is telling a story. The 84-year-old retired Cooperstown, N.D., veterinarian tells a lot of them. They almost always involve livestock or people and often both. A lifetime around animals and ranchers — driving hundreds of thousands of miles to and from area ranches, assisting in the birth of thousands of calves, saving the life of numerous sick and injured animals and forging countless friendships — makes his subject matter natural, even inevitable.
Wheat — which has long been losing ground, literally, to corn and soybeans — will stage a small comeback this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts. Both U.S. and Upper Midwest farmers will plant a little more wheat and a little less corn and soybeans this spring, according to projections in the annual Prospective Plantings report, released Thursday, March 29, by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The three key sets of statistics: • Corn planted for all purposes is pegged at 88 million acres, down 2 percent from a year ago.
Critics often raise concern that genetically engineered crops might harm the environment or people who eat them. But now a new study finds that farmers who plant Bt corn reduce crop damage and insecticide use in nearby fields of non-genetically engineered crops such as peppers and green beans. The Bt corn brings "positive impacts to growers, including organic producers," according to the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
FARGO — Lanny Faleide is a farmer turned technological pioneer whose work has been praised by NASA. For 24 years, his self-described "bleeding-edge" company has used space-age technology, particularly satellite imagery, to help agricultural producers better understand their fields and farm them more efficiently. But Faleide said greater interest in precision agriculture, including the use of satellite and drone imagery, doesn't mean he and his company, Satshot, have finally reached the promised land.
GRAND FORKS— The U.S. potato industry likes to describe its product as "America's favorite vegetable." But the industry acknowledges that critics have put potato marketing efforts "on the defensive," causing "us to say that it's OK to eat potatoes," said Blair Richardson, president and CEO of Potatoes USA, the nation's potato marketing agency. Now, his group is close to approving a marketing push that would put potatoes "on the offensive," with "us saying that you should be eating potatoes," he said.