Mikkel Pates / Forum News Service
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.
FARGO — Ken Knudsen would just as soon forget the farm stress of the 1980s, but he hopes today’s ag lenders remember its lessons. Knudsen, 63, had a front seat to the farm credit crisis of the 1980s, when one in four farms failed because of economic losses. He says that today he isn’t seeing the restructuring and a shake-out of farm numbers in the Upper Midwest that he did back then.
FARGO — The impact of the U.S. trade war with China on farm commodity prices is bad, but it is not clear whether low prices and a lack of markets will turn into a credit crisis like the one that crippled the ag industry in the 1980s. The Steffes family’s auction business in the Fargo and Arthur, N.D., areas served farmers and lenders as they dealt with the decade-long 1980s crisis. The times and challenges were instrumental in growing the Steffes Group into a multistate auction name.
WEST FARGO, N.D. -- U.S. Department of Agriculture checks to farmers will play a vital role in economic survival in 2019, a year of devastating wet conditions and marketing losses due to a tariff trade war with China. Most of the money that flows to farmers comes through the USDA’s Risk Management Agency. The USDA’s Farm Service Agency delivers most other support programs, including Market Facilitation Program payments to offset the farm effects of a tariff war.