THE LAND ~ Dec. 6, 2013 ~ Southern Edition
"Since 1976, Where Farm and Family Meet in Minnesota & Northern Iowa"
ÂŠ 2013 SOUTHERN EDITION (800) 657-4665 www.TheLandOnline.com theland@TheLandOnline.com P.O. Box 3169, Mankato, MN 56002 December 6, 2013 The DeKam twins of Ruthton, Minn., turned a childhood love of toy tractors into a serious hobby. Story on Page 6A 2 A THE LAND, DECEMBER 6, 2013 Be thankful for what you do have P.O. Box 3169 418 South Second St. Mankato, MN 56002 (800) 657-4665 Vol. XXXVII y No. XXIV 80 pages, 2 sections, plus supplement www.TheLandOnline.com facebook.com/TheLandOnline twitter.com/TheLandOnline COLUMNS Opinion Farm and Food File Calendar The Bookworm Sez In the Garden Cookbook Corner The Back Porch The Outdoors Milker’s Message Mielke Market Weekly Back Roads Marketing Farm Programs Auctions/Classifieds Cover photo by Richard Siemers 2A-4A 2A 18A 24A 26A 28A 30A 32A 35A-38A 35A 40A 1B-6B 4B 15B-40B STAFF << www.TheLandOnline.com >> Publisher: Jim Santori: firstname.lastname@example.org General Manager: Kathleen Connelly: kconnelly@TheLandOnline.com Editor: Kevin Schulz: editor@TheLandOnline.com Assistant Editor: Tom Royer: troyer@TheLandOnline.com Staff Writer: Dick Hagen: email@example.com Advertising Representatives: Kim Henrickson: khenrickson@TheLandOnline.com Mike Schafer: firstname.lastname@example.org Danny Storlie: theland@TheLandOnline.com Office/Advertising Assistants: Vail Belgard: vbelgard@TheLandOnline.com Joan Compart: theland@TheLandOnline.com Ad Production: Brad Hardt: email@example.com For Customer Service Concerns: (507) 345-4523, (800) 657-4665, theland@TheLandOnline.com Fax: (507) 345-1027 For Editorial Concerns or Story Ideas: (507) 344-6342, (800) 657-4665, editor@TheLandOnline.com National Sales Representative: Bock & Associates Inc., 7650 Executive Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55344-3677. 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Periodicals postage paid at Mankato, Minn. Postmaster and Change of Address: Address all letters and change of address notices to The Land, P.O. Box 3169, Mankato, MN 56002; call (507) 345-4523 or e-mail to theland@TheLandOnline.com. Holidays are times to spend with family, benign. and before you get sick of spending time For those of you who lost a loved one with them, you’re thankful to be with this year, be thankful for the time that them. you were given and cherish the memories Many of you readers may wonder what you shared. there is to be thankful for this — a year Hang on to those good times for as long that had a growing season that threw as you can, and your loved one will live on many twists and turns at growers. Hopelong beyond this holiday season. fully, you are able to look deeper and find I guess what I’m saying is a spin on the something that still makes 2013 a success old Stephen Stills song, that goes, “if you LAND MINDS and something to be thankful for. can’t be with the one you love, love the As Chris Messner, featured in the “From By Kevin Schulz one you’re with.” the Fields” reports throughout this year, If you can’t have what you want, be says in this year’s wrap-up on Page 5A, thankful for what you’ve got. “happy to get this year done.” He believes the year could have gone a lot Thankful for farmers better, but it could have also gone a lot Here at The Land, we of course are worse: “I don’t think anyone went broke this year or thankful for farmers. Without farmers we would lack made a ton of money.” the necessities for life. Further, without farmers, there would be no need for The Land to exist. Not that we can walk around with rose-colored glasses all the time, it doesn’t hurt to take a step back Our publication rides the ups and downs with you, and take the big-picture look at your situation. our readers. When you hurt, we hurt. Maybe you hate your job, but at least you have a job. I would like to thank this year’s “From the Fields” farmers for allowing Kristin Kveno to hound them on Maybe you were fortunate enough to welcome home a family member from the military. Maybe you a regular basis throughout the trying growing season of 2013. Answering the phone after a hail storm welcomed a son-in-law into the family. Maybe you can’t be easy. Thank you Danny Brandt, Scott Johnhave children who continually make you proud in their schooling and careers. Maybe your dad took you son, Chris Messner and Charlie Laubenthal. on a trip of a lifetime. Kevin Schulz is the editor of The Land. He may be reached at editor@TheLandOnline.com. y Maybe you got news that a loved one’s tumor is OPINION Big Ag hooking up with big data Every day, according to the coconut Yorker magazine, explains how. milk-drinking nerds in Silicon Valley, the The company, writes author Michael world generates 2.5 quintillion bytes of Specter, “hopes to transform the weather electronic data. business … into a system driven solely by Yes, 2.5 quintillion. Think two, comma, numbers. And there are a lot of numbers. five and then 17 zeroes. Company scientists process 50 terabytes” — 52.43 million megabytes — “of weather If a picture helps, picture this: If you information every day … The data include placed that data on iPads equipped with a eight years’ worth of soil, moisture and 32-gigabyte memory, you would need 57.5 precipitation records for each of the 29 billion iPads to hold it. FARM & FOOD FILE million farm fields in the United States.” Then you need another 57.5 billion Wait with the wows; there’s more. By Alan Guebert iPads to store tomorrow’s data. A Climate Corp. “algorithm divides the You get the idea. Big data is really big, country into nearly a half a million plots, then generand Big Ag is investing big bucks in what it sees is ates 10,000 daily weather scenarios for each of them. the next big thing on your farm or ranch. This information is used to create individualized In fact, on Nov. 1, Monsanto Co. completed its $930 insurance policies for corn, soybean and wheat farmmillion cash purchase of The Climate Corp., a San ers covering major perils…” Francisco-based tech company that, under Monsanto’s umbrella, hopes to change global farming. A See GUEBERT, pg. 4A profile, “Climate By Numbers” in the Nov. 11 New “Where Farm and Family Meet” INSIDE THIS ISSUE: 5A — From the Fields: Wrapping up the 2013 growing season 9A — Neighbor helping neighbor takes on a new dimension at auction 14A — Second Harvest providing food for children, seniors and families in need 9B-13B — The Land’s 2014 Seed Selection Guide ~ Soybean Edition THE LAND, DECEMBER 6, 2013 “Where Farm and Family Meet” << www.TheLandOnline.com >> 3 A 4 A THE LAND, DECEMBER 6, 2013 Big Ag on verge of going ‘all in’ on data collection, analysis GUEBERT, from pg. 2A Then, “When data show that a field is too wet, for instance, or that hot nights will interfere with the growth of a crop, an insured farmer simply gets a check. No claims, forms, adjusters or negotiations are required.” Now you can “wow.” Climate Corp.’s whiz-bang crop insurance scheme stands on two pillars. First, it lifts buckets of free weather and yield information from the National Weather Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and, second, Monsanto’s 2012 purchase of Precision Planting, an Illinois firm that specializes in on-the-go seed selection and placement. Together it’s Big Data meets Big Seed meets Big Iron and the pairings will drive your tractor, select and place your OPINION “Where Farm and Family Meet” << www.TheLandOnline.com >> seed (from personalized varieties) by the foot or meter and fertilize, irrigate and insure the crop while you’re monitoring it all from your kitchen or farm office. This isn’t a touch screen, agronaut fantasy. In July, Informa Economics floated an investment prospectus to underwrite a broad study of what it called “AgInformatics.” — www.goo.gl/E8r9pE. This “actionable information,” explained Informa, has Big Ag — the offer listed Deere, Dow, Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta — “on the verge of going ‘all in’ on data collection, analysis and operational planning.” (Deere & Co. already is in, betting on an open architecture — think iPhone and apps — to manage your data. Log on to www.goo.gl/fPRCYN for a long, warm, green look.) No one, however, will go boldly into a data-driven tomorrow alone. Everyone sees you and Uncle Sam as partners. Climate Corp. was approved to peddle heavily subsidized — and, very likely, expanding — Federal Crop Insurance three months before Monsanto bought it. Deere already owns a crop insurance arm. And, of course, none of this is free. Climate Corp. “charges roughly $40 per acre to insure crops,” notes the New Yorker, and Monsanto believes the $1 billion it spent on the company will yield $20 billion in the coming years. Curiously, that big money will be spent to do pretty much what smallfarm agriculture has done for millennia: grow better crops and livestock through small plot management using soil and weather knowledge gained over years of farming and ranching. But our quantified, digitized and monetized big-data future awaits and it can’t, or won’t, compute what these changes mean for farms, ranches, farmers, ranchers or rural America. Alan Guebert’s “Farm and Food File” is published weekly in more than 70 newspapers in North America. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. y From the Fields: Wrapping up the 2013 season By KRISTIN KVENO The Land Correspondent enjoyable 2014 growing season. “Some fields were good some were ugly.” That sums up how corn harvest went for Danny Brandt. The Land spoke with Brandt on Danny Brandt Nov. 27 as the weather had turned from fall to winter in a hurry. With temperatures in the teens and a strong wind, he was glad that harvest was over. Corn harvest went “a lot better than we thought it would,” Brandt said. The long lines at the elevator caused harvest to drag on as bin space on the farm was in short supply. The corn did get down to 17 to 18 percent moisture which he said is about normal — last year Brandt’s corn was at 13 to 14 percent, which was “unheard of.” The corn just didn’t dry out the way he hoped it would but, overall, the “corn harvest was really good.” The biggest factor in making it successful was the dry weather which helped the whole process go smoothly. Brandt said that next year he will “cut back corn a little bit.” Other than that things in the field will be the same. With sugar beets always in the plan, the current crop rotation schedule he uses works well. One big thing that most likely will change? “It might be time to say goodbye to the pigs,” Brandt said. Quality Assurance Practices need to be updated on their farm, but that can only be done by a veterinarian — Brandt has been unable to find a vet in the area who can sign off on it. “I’d like to keep raising pigs as a way to keep my kids involved,” he said, “but it’s also a relief.” A lot of hours a day are spent caring for the pigs, and that care and worry never stops. Whatever changes come to the Brandt farm, he acknowledges “it was a good year, a really good year.” He freely admits that “we made some mistakes but learned from them. ... Every year is different; what didn’t work this year may work next year.” That is part of the fun in farming — continuing to try new things and see if they work. 5 A THE LAND, DECEMBER 6, 2013 The Brandts Ada, Minn. On Nov. 10 harvest was finished for Scott Johnson. Like with much of the growing season, there “seemed to be more problems than usual” with the The Johnsons Starbuck, Minn. corn harvest. The Land spoke with Johnson on Nov. 27 as he was en route to a family Thanksgiving in Chicago. The corn remained wet this year, making Scott Johnson the Johnson farm’s dryer a vital machine during harvest. Drying made things take longer but he was happy to have it completed. The fall weather remained favorable enough to get fertilizer applied on the fields, and “tillage-wise, things look pretty good.” For the year overall, “we actually ran into more dryness problems,” Johnson said. That’s rather ironic considering the nine inches of rain the farm received all at once, as well as the hail that damaged some of their fields. Hail-damaged areas ended up fitting in with the rest of fields in terms of yields. “Whether it was hailed or not, we didn’t have top-end yields,” he said. Reflecting on this 2013 growing season, Johnson said that “every year continues to be different,” and noted the eternal constant that “you always wish you sold everything at higher prices.” Johnson said he won’t be making any radical changes on what he’ll plant next year. Typically he ends up around 50-50 corn and beans, and next year won’t be any different. He believes that, overall, producers will be planting fewer corn-on-corn acres in 2014. Johnson is finished with field work for the year. “Got the combine washed and put away. ... (I’m) always happy it’s done, but also looking forward to next year.” The Messners Northfield, Minn. Chris Messner wrapped up the 2013 harvest on Nov. 10, and said he was “happy to get this year done.” Speaking with The Land on Nov. 27, Chris Messner Messner said that harvest had gone smoothly. Corn ran better than expected which helped make fall “fairly nice.” He believes the year could have gone a lot better, but could’ve also gone a lot worse: “I don’t think anyone went broke this year or made a ton of money.” The growing season started out rocky as the planting conditions were far from perfect. “A lot of things that went wrong when we planted the crop, turned out right.” Those wet conditions dried up and allowed the crop to have a fighting chance, although Messner said that if there hadn’t been a lack of rain later on, the crop would’ve faired better. For next year he’s already hopeful that he’ll get the crop in the ground on time. He will be planting more beans next year due to the rotation cycle. With current futures prices on corn versus soybeans, this looks like a change quite a few area farmers may also make, regardless of rotation. Overall Messner is “pretty happy” with how the crop ended up, and realistically knows the crop “could have been a lot worse,” but is still looking forward to the year being done. Mother Nature always tends to put things into a balance and, with the challenges of 2013 behind, Messner and fellow area farmers should be able to look forward to a much more “I put the machinery away last Friday.” For Charlie Laubenthal there’s nothing better than to have everything tucked away for the year and, Charlie Laubenthal boy, what a year it has been. When The Land spoke with Laubenthal on Nov. 26 he was reflecting on the completion of his corn harvest two weeks prior. “The yields were all over the board,” he said, with an 80-bushel spread from field to field. “Overall we had an allright crop,” he said. He also found that his soybean crop was in the 40-bushel-per-acre range throughout his fields. Laubenthal believes that “this year was kind of a reality check of what farming could really be.” It has been great for the last couple of years but this year may be what any producer may experience in the future — noting that it “could be much worse.” In all his years of farming he believes that this was his most challenging year, thanks to Mother Nature. Harvest provided “no real downtime,” allowing Laubenthal to get this crop in, fertilizer down and tillage done. Next year he plans on being “heavier on soybeans than we ever have.” This change is due to lower corn prices — it’s “pretty doom and gloom to me” — and too much corn-on-corn fields. He sees more of an opportunity with soybeans. Laubenthal continues to stay busy, even with field work completed for the year. He’s currently selling seed, doing tax work, hauling grain and putting field records together. Looking back at this year, Laubenthal views his glass half full — he’s “pretty happy; we have got a pretty good life out in the country.” It’s difficult to argue with that. Life on the farm may have its challenges, but the way of life is truly priceless. ❖ This week concludes The Land’s “From the Fields” series for the 2013 growing season. Our thanks to Danny Brandt, Scott Johnson, Chris Messner and Charlie Laubenthal for sharing their time and lives with the readers of The Land. If you or someone you know might be interested in participating for the 2014 growing season, please e-mail: editor@TheLandOnline.com The Laubenthals Swea City, Iowa << www.TheLandOnline.com >> “Where Farm and Family Meet” 6 A THE LAND, DECEMBER 6, 2013 Cover story: From childhood toys to serious hobby By RICHARD SIEMERS The Land Correspondent Jimmy and Jerry DeKam are carpenters and cabinet builders by trade, but these twin brothers, who just turned 60, have not left their boyhood fun behind. They have simply brought it to a new level. “When we were 10 or 11 years old Jerry DeKam we made houses and barns or whatever out of peach crate wood,” Jimmy said. While the results weren’t that impressive, he said, they were an indication that these farm boys had something other than farming in their blood. Today people speak highly of their carpentry and cabinet Jimmy DeKam building, but what really fascinates is their hobby — building model buildings and machinery. The DeKam brothers have assembled their work into an 8-foot by 18-foot farm layout, with about 10 buildings and 60 pieces of machinery. Of the machinery, 11 pieces are tractors. “Somebody gave us a model car kit for Christmas when we were 12 or 13 years old, and that’s what started it,” Jerry said. The car kits led to tractor kits, but there weren’t many farm machinery kits available and they soon had assembled all they could buy. So, when they were in their early 20s, they started making their own machinery. That’s when they << www.TheLandOnline.com >> brought their childhood interest to a new level. “A model takes a lot of time,” Jerry said. “I go and get specs for wheelbase, height, whatever, and then I draw a plan, a full-scale plan.” Everything they build is to a scale of 1/25th, to go with the Ertl model tractor kits they first made. A tractor can take anywhere from 110 to 150 hours to build, Jerry said. Jimmy has 200 hours in a little See TOYS, pg. 8A Top: The DeKam brothers’ scale models are enjoyed by children of all ages. Above: A specification drawing of a John Deere tractor scale model. Richard Siemers DAHL FARM SUPPLY 507-826-3463 • 507-383-4931 Introducing 2 “New” Seed Companies LG Seed & Gold Country Broad Range of SmartStax, VT Triple & Double Pro, Roundup Ready and Conventional Varieties Seed Tenders - DEF TANKS “Where Farm and Family Meet” Farm Chemicals-Major and Generic Enduraplas Poly Tanks-Liquid Fertilizer Traeger Smoker Grills 27296 730th Avenue - Albert Lea, MN 56007 www.dahlfarmsupply.com Chris and Holly Dahl THE LAND, DECEMBER 6, 2013 “Where Farm and Family Meet” << www.TheLandOnline.com >> 7 A 8 A THE LAND, DECEMBER 6, 2013 Farm toys aren’t for sale — and please don’t touch TOYS, from pg. 6A John Deere compact like the one they own, complete with loader and all the details. “For a tractor, I start on the rear axle,” Jerry said, “then I make the transmission and the engine and all and keep stacking them that way. Then the hood and platform on top of that.” Their models are built out of plastic and some wood. “The plastic is flat sheets,” Jerry said. “We cut out the shapes by hand with a little hobby saw and Most of the DeKams’ models are built from scratch. Richard Siemers glue them together. For tire rims we may use PVC pipe or plumbing caps.” They still purchase a few kits, like truck tractor kits, and then have scratch-built a semi, a flat bed, and a milk tanker body for them to pull. They also purchased a combine kit. “We modified it,” Jimmy said. “It came with just a grain table, so we cut that off so we can put a corn head on it.” About four years ago Jimmy built a machine shed to 1/25th scale to house machinery. That was the beginning of their model farm, which now includes a house and typical farm buildings, including two silos made from plywood rounds that were turned on a lathe. The tractors pull a manure spreader, silage cutter and wagon, a feed grinder, and other equipment. There’s a skid loader, too. Purchased animal and human figures complete the scene. Their machinery is both current and vintage models. Most recently they completed an Oliver two-row pull-behind corn picker, and a Farmall M tractor. Jerry intends his next project to be an International 806 tractor, representative of the late-1960s when they were teenagers. Jimmy is thinking of making a goose-neck fifth-wheel travel trailer. Their display has been set up at the annual show of the Minnesota Machinery Museum in Hanley Falls, at the New Ulm toy show, and this past summer for the 125th anniversary celebrations of their two closest towns, Ruthton and Holland. They have an invitation to the Pipestone County Fair. It takes 90 minutes to unpack and set up the display, and an equal amount of time to take it down. The biggest effort, however, is to keep reminding children (and some adults) that these are not toys to be played with. They like to share what they’ve done with others, but they have done it simply because they enjoy making models. They make nothing for sale. “It’s strictly a hobby,” Jerry said. If you’d like to talk to the DeKam brothers about model making, you can reach them at (507) 658-3580. y “Where Farm and Family Meet” << www.TheLandOnline.com >> Neighbor helping neighbor takes on new dimension By CAROLYN VAN LOH The Land Correspondent “We’re all one big happy family in Farm Bureau and agriculture,” Minnesota Farm Bureau president Kevin Paap said on a recent Trent Loos broadcast. Kevin Paap Paap’s conversation with Loos concerned the fundraising auction at the 95th annual meeting of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation. Items donated by county Farm Bureaus and individuals raise funds for the Foundation, which supports FFA, 4-H and other agriculture entities. In addition to the usual farm toys, food baskets, quilts and home décor pieces, two new items appeared on this year’s auction list: South Dakota Farm Bureau Cares. For the auctioneer, Matthew Schultz of Kurt Johnson Auctioneering Inc., shifting from the fun and laughter of friendly bidding competition to a more sedate, hushed atmosphere was nothing new. His firm specializes in fundraising auctions. Part way through the auction, Schultz stepped from the platform to the floor, closer to the bidders. He requested that everyone interested in donating to South Dakota ranchers should raise the bidding number, and with the other hand indicate the amount. Donations were received in multiples of $25: one finger raised for $25, two for $50, etc. Before Schultz continued selling more auction items, bidders had raised approximately $5,000. A later break in the auction action provided an opportunity for more donations. Some wondered how much money a second round would produce. “County Farm Bureau leaders were the key drivers, “ Paap said. Mike Wojahn, Cottonwood County Farm Bureau president, said, “the outpouring of gifts from those assembled was like no other foundation donation session I have ever seen. It started out with individuals making donations. Then one county decided to make a donation, and another floodgate opened. ... The devastation could have been us.” When pledges were tallied, the auction had raised more than $13,000 to help South Dakota farmers suffering devastating losses from a blizzard in early October. In their meeting later that weekend, MFBF board members committed the funds raised for the state’s Foundation to the South Dakota fund, for a donation total of nearly $23,000. “We’re going to continue to work together with our responsibility to help out,” Paap said. The MFBF auction began more than 20 years ago. Stevens County Farm Bureau leaders help the auctioneer during the event since their county originated the fundraising idea on the local level. Dennis Wulf, Stevens County vice president, has been personally involved in the clean-up process in western South Dakota. “People in the area refer to the storm as a ‘biblical history event,’” Wulf said. “It’s something no one has ever experienced.” Contrary to some reports, 90 percent of the ranchers had moved their livestock to winter pasture, and they still lost them.” In a telephone conversation with The Land, South Dakota Farm Bureau president Scott VanderWal expressed appreciation on behalf of South Dakota farmers for the generosity of their Minnesota neighbors. “It’s heartwarming to see how people are responding. Most of our state has been blessed with a good year,” he said. VanderWal shared how western cow-calf ranchers were “set up to hit a homerun this year.” Hay prices had moderated, corn and wheat prices were less than a year ago and they got rain for pastures and hay. Those positive circumstances were worthless when the early October blizzard hit. Ranchers lost two years of income. The Ranchers Relief Fund was established by South Dakota Cattlemen, Stock Growers and Sheep Growers Associations. The South Dakota Farm Bureau Cares Fund was set up in response to inquiries from other state Farm Bureaus wanting to donate relief funds. “We’re not competing with the other organizations,” VanderWal said. Donations can be made online at www.sdfbf.org with a link to “donate.” Checks can be made out to Farmers & Merchants Bank/South Dakota Farm Bureau Cares. Send checks to South Dakota Farm Bureau, P.O. Box 1426, Huron, SD 57350. y 9 A THE LAND, DECEMBER 6, 2013 << www.TheLandOnline.com >> FRUSTRATION GOT THE BEST OF YOU? ARE YOU BEING PURSUED BY THE BIG SEED COMPANIES’ SALES PEOPLE? We offer Quality, MN Grown Products at Quality Prices. WE TAKE GREAT PRIDE AT ANDERSON SEEDS OF ST. PETER IN KNOWING THAT WE HAVE DEALT WITH AND CARED FOR THE SEED EVERY STEP OF THE WAY!! NDERSON SEEDS Aof St. Peter, MN 37825 Cty. Rd. 63 • “Where Farm and Family Meet” (507) 246-5032 10 A THE LAND, DECEMBER 6, 2013 Keeping the agriculture voice loud and clear By DICK HAGEN The Land Staff Writer Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap stressed the need for farmers and ranchers to work together, regardless the issues. He emphasized keeping pressure on the conference committee still trying to hammer out final details of a new farm bill is top priority right now. Paap said tax issues were big discussion in this year’s delegate sessions, particularly repealing the sales tax on farm machinery repair labor; repealing the sales tax on rental and warehousing services; strong support of increasing usage of renewable fuels (both biodiesel and ethanol); plus a resolution to support an increase in the beef checkoff funding. He also emphasized that delegates voted strongly in favor of a new farm bill which stays married to the food program. “The commonality between agriculture and everyone else is food. This marriage has worked well for over 30 years; we need to keep them together,” Paap said, recognizing that tied together there is more “political muscle,” especially in the House of Representatives where often there is no particular constituency affiliated with agriculture. Are Farm Bureau members pessimistic about the economic outlook? He somewhat dodged the issue of because Julie (his wife) and I no longer have a couple of young teenage sons. My sons are now 22 and 25 so my showing up at state or ... I no longer have a couple national Farm Bureau events is no concern of young teenage sons. My because my sons are back home ‘running the sons are now 22 and 25 so ranch’. Plus I learned early that even though it may be a perfect ‘harvest day’ back home, my showing up at state or you need to be at the State Capital, or Washnational Farm Bureau ington, D.C., to keep our agenda on the table. Kevin Paap events is no concern Like I’ve so often said, ‘If you’re not at the because my sons are back table, you may be part of the menu.” the decline of home ‘running the ranch.’ “the golden Paap is now a member of the American years of agriculFarm Bureau Federation National Board of ture” instead suggesting, Directors, and at D.C. board meetings the inevitable “when you celebrate your “jesting” of where America’s best football teams come 95th annual meeting we from now includes Paap reminding his colleagues are celebrating our histhat the Minnesota Gophers have also been nationtory, our accomplishally ranked this season. “But at the national level, ments and the strong just like at the state level, working together gets voice that Minnesota things done. And even though Bob Stallman, our Farm Bureau brings to AFBF national president, is from Texas and reminds consumers across the us that Texas usually has two or three college teams state. We all realize there in the top 25, he has only one vote at that board are hills and valleys in table.” this business of farming. Southern Farm Bureau states are traditionally the Weather slaps us around “power brokers” when it comes to national issues occasionally but exports simply because they traditionally have more voting of Minnesota farm goods members partially because of their “liberal memberaround the world help ship” requirements. keep the focus on how big “We understand the democratic process. We all an industry we have have grassroots and when you have more grass, you become.” have more votes. So we don’t complain about their Apparently being Farm generous membership numbers. Instead we say our Bureau president becomes more satisfying. Now goal is to increase our membership. But that’s the starting his eighth year, Paap said, “I loved this success of Farm Bureau; we’re sort of a ‘mini-Conopportunity since the very first day I was president, gress.’ We must have balance and speak for all of and I still love it every day. But quite honestly it’s an agriculture,” Paap said. y easier, more-satisfying job today. This is partially << www.TheLandOnline.com >> Fighting D.C. discontent in the name of agriculture By DICK HAGEN The Land Staff Writer At the water quality session of the Minnesota Farm Bureau annual meeting, The Land asked Mary Kay Thatcher how she deals with the subjective issue of “stewardship” when confronting the various policymakers of water Mary Kay Thatcher quality and other environmental topics in the Washington, D.C., area. Thatcher said, “I think most Washington minds are rather skeptical. They simply don’t understand that farmers are the original conservationists across America. We have to keep hammering, especially with the urban members, about what farmers already do to keep water quality a primary objective in their total farming program.” So who best tells these skeptics the story of America’s farming industry? “Unfortunately the activists aren’t bashful, they have an agenda and they are well-financed. We need more voices. Your Minnesota program which is developing aggregated numbers across the entire Minnesota landscape might be very helpful in informing the skeptics,” Thatcher said. When asked about the current circus in Washington, D.C., Thatcher smiled. “It’s very difficult. Obviously the discontent is growing. As we get into next year’s election cycle you would think they will get more receptive to some action. I am still optimistic the farm bill and the Water Resource Development Act (which funds the upgrades of locks and dams) can be accomplished before the end of this calendar year. That would restore the faith of a few farmers.” In regards to the next farm bill, she sees “the emphasis is definitely moving away from commodity programs. Crop insurance as a tool to minimize risk management will be a major ingredient. But with more money moving into crop insurance programs you also will have more people scrutinizing the taxpayer dollar. I think we’ll all have to stress the importance of risk management in today’s agricultural industry.” With more technology constantly unfolding in production agriculture, what’s the role of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in funding research for agriculture? She said it is still vital, mentioning that there is a research and development title in the farm bill but most research funding now comes from appropriators (private sector, university programs and quasi-government entities). “Research dollars used to be mostly earmarked such as particular money to the University of Minnesota to study ‘X’. But this Congress put the brakes on specific dollars to specific university research studies; instead competitive grant funding is the process. So USDA research is being funded in much differently; some are saying we need to rely more on private research.” She questions too much emphasis on private money. “Without See DC, pg. 12A “Where Farm and Family Meet” THE LAND, DECEMBER 6, 2013 “Where Farm and Family Meet” << www.TheLandOnline.com >> 11 A 12 A THE LAND, DECEMBER 6, 2013 More water quality patience in D.C. than in Minnesota By DICK HAGEN The Land Staff Writer Perhaps somewhat as a surprise, Don Parrish suggested that just maybe the policymakers in Washington have more patience than Minnesota farmers when it comes to initiating water quality standards. “At the state and local levels, given the intensity of some of our water quality issues,” Parrish said, “you can get very aggressive in pushing for special legislation, or the elimination of regulations already in place. If that keeps happening, I want them to base their ambitions on the best science out there.” Parrish is American Farm Bureau Federation senior director of regulatory relations in Washington D.C. and was a panel member at the water quality session of the recent Minnesota Farm Bureau annual meeting. In view of the “emotional fever” that water quality discussions generate, does he see water allocations becoming part of the mainstream of future water quality regulations? “Yes, I do think water allocation eventually is unavoidable, partly because of our expanding population, plus many still view water as being an unlimited resource. Water allocations have been in place for several years in the heavily irrigated areas of the western Corn Belt and California,” Parrish said. He indicated how to be more efficient in water usage is rapidly becoming a key issue in water regulations across America. He said water has become a limited resource across much of the world’s landscape, especially as production agriculture ramps up to feed an expanding world population. Yet Parrish is complimentary about water usage in American agriculture. “We do an exceptionally good job across our farming landscape. We acknowledge the importance of government regulations plus we have university research plus Extension educators helping state and local people teaching the importance of protecting water.” But with regard to water quality rules and regulations he admits this will be a difficult issue with challenges varying from landscape to landscape; and even within the confines of given aquifers across the farm belt. “Some in the public want to set pristine standards; in essence factoring people out of the equation. But that will be virtually an impossible standard to achieve because that environment prevents the building of roads and communities. In essence we’re talking a fairy tale existence in a perfect environment. That’s just not doable,” Parrish said. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is making every effort to learn more about the waters of the United States. Currently underway is the sampling of 70,000 wells across the nation to determine just what is in these waters, and how old are the waters in some of these wells. Headline writers in daily newspapers across America often misrepresent the real story about America’s water, especially as it relates to U.S. agriculture. The most pointed finger is at nitrate levels in rivers and streams with agriculture getting the bulk of the blame. Warren Formo, executive director of the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center, suggested, “get your science from the pages of the Star Tribune and you’re in trouble.” Because water quality is a site-specific issue, he said conversations need to be tailored to that precise location, adding that nitrates in water are not an aquifer issue but are a specific well