Mikkel Pates / Forum News Service
BISMARCK, N.D. — The North Dakota Industrial Commission on Monday, March 9, approved spending $8.3 million for an upgrade in the scales in the truck unloading facilities at the North Dakota Mill and Elevator in Grand Forks. Vance Taylor, president and chief executive officer, says the project will speed up four pits. “We unload about 200 trucks a day,” Taylor said. “This should reduce the waiting time on average about 35% per day.”
FARGO, N.D. — North Dakota State University agricultural economist David Ripplinger wants everybody to get one thing straight: hemp is a niche crop. U.S. hemp acres are less than one-tenth of national sugar beet acres, also a specialty crop. Total U.S. total production is equal to only 10 average-sized North Dakota farms (1,500 acres average each). But Ripplinger says it could get bigger, and government actions may play a role.
DICKINSON, N.D. — Who would ever have thought farmers would have unharvested 2019 wheat crops left in southwest North Dakota fields, say nothing of the corn and sunflowers left standing. And what will farmers do to plant their 2020 crops? Kurt Froelich, NDSU Extension agent for Stark and Billings counties, which includes the areas around Dickinson and Medora, said the unharvested acres will affect 2020 production practices — and beyond.
EDGELEY, N.D. — Mike Brandenburg says this is the first year his family has had to dry almost every bushel of soybeans and corn they’ve produced on their farm near Edgeley. For farmers, the difference between the past and today is corn, Brandenburg points out. Ten years ago, the Dakotas and northern Minnesota raised an average of 100- to 150-bushels per acre corn. Today, many farmers are raising 150- to 200-bushels per acre. “With the genetics that are coming into play, I could see us, on a consistent basis, going to 200- to 250-bushel (per acre) corn,” Brandenburg says.
FARGO — U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., huddled with farm group leaders in Fargo to look ahead to implementing disaster payments and potential crop insurance issue nuances to help get past weather disasters that started in 2018, worsened in 2019, and could linger into 2020. “The idea is to make sure these things work,” Hoeven said Friday, Dec. 27, taking testimony from about 20 commodity and farm group leaders. Federal payments have had a huge impact on farmers’ bottom lines in 2019, with poor cropping conditions against the background of trade disruptions.
WASHINGTON — As expected, Minnesota and Dakota members of the U.S. House of Representatives all voted in favor of the historic U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade that passed 385-41 on Dec. 19, the House Committee on Agriculture confirmed. Among House members in the Dakotas and Minnesota, only Rep Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minneapolis who represents Minnesota’s Fifth District, voted against it. Democrats voted for it 193-38; Republicans were for it 192-2; and one independent voted in favor.
WASHINGTON — North Dakota native Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, is stepping down from the position. Johnson says he told his board last week that he is not planning on running in the election that will be March 1-3 in Savannah, Ga., at the group's annual meeting.
BISMARCK — Hunter Hanson "totally destroyed me, financially," said Leon Schmaltz, who farms near Harvey in central North Dakota. Schmaltz was one of four victims who testified Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the sentencing hearing for Hanson, 22, who pleaded guilty in July to wire fraud and money laundering charges after his grain dealing scheme unraveled, leaving farmers and elevators being owed millions of dollars. U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland sentenced Hanson at the top of a sentencing guideline range, eight years in a federal prison, plus three years of probation.
MINNEAPOLIS — Federal prosecutors in the Jerry Hennessey fraud case recommended to the court how the $5.3 million in restitution should be split among victims of the former elevator manager, which will be a fraction of percentage of what is owed. Hennessey, 56, is serving an eight-year prison sentence for the many years he spent defrauding the Ashby Farmers Cooperative Elevator in western Minnesota. The fraud, with much of the money spent on big-game hunting trips around the globe, was discovered in September 2018.
MOTT, N.D. — An ambitious man from Mott was an early victim of the 1980s farm credit crisis and would play a key government role in getting money back in the hands of farmers. Milton J. “Milt” Hertz ran a 26,000-acre farm, with 750 beef cows. The farm had up to 30 full-time and seasonal employees and ran five of the iconic Steiger tractors that were made in Fargo. His son, Shane, graduated high school in 1980 and was at his side.