Farm profits projected to be lower in 2018 Inside Ag
MINOT DAILY NEWS
A farm tractor and equipment at the edge of a McHenry County field could be ready to go if the snow ever melts. It’s been that kind of a spring, and falling commodity prices could mean less profit on crops seeded this year. Phot by Jill Schramm/MDN
Soybeans, pulse, canola among best bets for positive returns
By JILL SCHRAMM Senior Staff Writer email@example.com FARGO – Soybeans, dry edible beans and canola are among the best bets for turning a farm profit this year, although spring wheat could be a wild card win. That’s how things are penciling out at the North Dakota State University Extension Service, but crop profits are likely to be lower overall than last year, according to Andy Swenson, Extension farm resource management specialist. Swenson calculated projected ex-
penses and income last December to estimate the profitability of different crop scenarios across the regions of the state. “It’s the price of the crop that swings the profits the most,” said Swenson, noting the recent drop in wheat prices turned what had appeared to be profit in December into break even or a slight loss this spring. Spring wheat could swing back to the profitable side if prices rise again, so Swenson isn’t ready to rule out the crop yet. Also, farmers need to consider their individual operations, rotation systems, experience with a crop and other factors in making seeding decisions. The
generic profitability picture might not coincide with a producer’s actual experience, Swenson said. NDSU’s online 2018 Crop Compare tool on the ag.ndsu.edu website offers farmers a way to more specifically calculate which crops might be more profitable for their operations. Swenson said the best way to get to the tool is through a Google search for “NDSU Crop Compare.” In general, though, soybeans are showing profitability despite a recent price drop. “When I did my projections in DeSee CROPS — Page 7
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Farm raised, family run
MINOT DAILY NEWS
By SHYANNE BELZER
Staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Farming runs in the veins of Brent and Codi Kuss’s family. Codi Kuss was raised into the farming lifestyle from day one and, when given the opportunity, took over the family farm. Her husband, while born and raised in a city, had he always wanted to be on the farm. He spent many summers at his grandparents’ farm helping out and at different friends’ farms. From 1996 until 2001, she and her husband worked with a classmate in a partnership where they farrowed out 300 sows year-round and sold feeder pigs. In 2001, the family began ranching and farming with Kuss’s father
until he retired in 2010. From then on, the family took over 100% of the operation. “I always knew I wanted to come back to farming,” said Kuss. “I got the opportunity after my siblings decided they didn’t want the farm.” The farm is 3,700 acres. Around 1,500 is for crops and 2,200 is for haying and pasture. When asked how she feels raising her family in the farming lifestyle and getting to work together on everything, she said she wouldn’t have it any other way. “A life like this teaches them life isn’t perfect. The kids work together and they know hard work is good,” she said. Her kids may not have the typical See FAMILY — Page 7
The farm life is a family ordeal with every member working hard to help out.
Consider soil temperature before planting MINOT DAILY NEWS
The arrival of spring has many farmers and home gardeners itching to get planting, however let’s take a moment to visit about the minimum soil temperatures required for germination of various crops or groups of crops. For example the minimum soil temperature required for germination of many cool season crops is 40 degrees – this includes spring wheat, durum, barley, canola, mustard, safflower, field peas and lentils; 45 degrees for oats, chickpeas, and sunflowers; 48 degrees for flax, and 50 degrees for corn, soybeans and dry beans. Keep in mind that these are the minimum temperatures needed for germination - Optimal soil temperatures for germination and emergence are about 5 to 10 degrees warmer than the minimum soil temps. When seeding into soils at or near the minimum germination temperature for the crop, consider the use of basic seed treatment products. Seed planted into cooler soil will take longer
Yolanda Schmidt Extension Agent /Agriculture and Natural Resources North Dakota State University Pierce County to germinate and emerge, which means that it will have greater exposure to soil pathogens. If the soil is wet, this will also favor the activity of many soil-borne pathogens. Seed treatment will help provide protection against these pathogens, which can reduce stands due to seed rots and seedling blights. It will also help protect the seed or seedling if we run into adverse conditions following seeding which further delays emergence, such as a cool, wet spell or a late spring snow storm. Most seed treatment products are
registered for on-farm use, either for drill box application or to be applied in a mist or slurry with an auger treater. For information on current seed treatment products registered on all crops in North Dakota, check the 2016 North Dakota Field Crop Fungicide Guide (Extension Circular PP622) available at www.ag.ndsu.edu/extplantpath/ publications-newsletters/fungicides. Always read the label carefully and follow the label directions for application procedures, rates, and specific diseases controlled. Since I also mentioned home gardeners, let’s shift gears and take a moment to discuss the minimum soil temperatures required for germination of various garden vegetable crops or groups of crops since soil temperature is probably the most important factor affecting seed germination and plant growth. For hardy vegetables such as broc-
coli, cabbage, kohlrabi, onions, lettuce, peas, radish, spinach, and turnips, the minimum soil temperatures required for germination is 40 degrees, however, onions, radish and spinach can tolerate germination temps as low as 35 degrees. All of these hardy vegetables can often tolerate some late spring frost. Semi-hardy vegetables such as beets, carrots, cauliflower, parsley, parsnips, potatoes, and chard can also germinate at soil temps of 40 degrees but are less tolerant of late spring frosts. Tender vegetables such as beans, celery, cucumbers, and summer squash can germinate at minimum soil temperatures of 60 degrees, however, corn can tolerate germination temps as low as 50 degrees, but should all be protected from late spring frosts. Very tender vegetables such as cantaloupe, eggplant, pepper, pumpkin, winter squash, tomato, and melons
can germinate at minimum soil temperatures of 60 degrees, but are intolerant of both frost and cool spring winds so it is best to wait to plant these sensitive plants until daytime temperatures are consistently above 60 degrees. As with our agronomic crops, optimal soil temperatures for germination and emergence of our vegetable crops are about 5 to 10 degrees warmer than the minimum soil temps. Information on soil temperatures can be obtained from the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) station. Additional information on soil temperatures such as the average daily soil temperatures and soil temperatures under turf can be obtained at the NDAWN website which is http://ndawn.ndsu.nodak.edu. Contact the Pierce County Extension office at 776-6234 ext. 5 or email@example.com
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Inside Ag MINOT DAILY NEWS
Crops Continued from Page 2
cember, it showed a positive return to labor and management in all the regions in the state. Since then prices went up and came down but they are still higher than the projections I was using in December,” Swenson said. “That tells me, looking at the numbers, there should be some incentive to plant soybeans.” Farmers looking at oil seed crops might want to consider canola. “Canola looks like it will return a positive return, not a big positive but it looks positive. Sunflowers is kind of a break even. Canola looks a little better,” Swenson said. Flax also shows a slight pos-
itive in the profit projection. The prediction is for fewer corn acres in the state this year, and Swenson said that makes sense based on the tough profitability forecast for that crop. Although malting barley historically has shown good returns, he puts barley in the same boat as corn this year because of recent prices. When he looks at where farmers might plant additional acres, he notes, “The nod probably goes to soybeans right now, where earlier I would have said spring wheat.” Spring wheat saw a price run-up last year that was making the crop look attractive going into 2018, he said. Prices since have fallen off, but Swenson believes there still may be some jump in
spring wheat acres. Much depends on how flexible farmers are in making their spring seeding plans, he said. Overall, input costs for farmers could be up modestly. “This year interest rates are up a little bit, and fuel and fertilizer are up some,” Swenson said. However, he added, crop yields have been increasing, which can mean more profit. Yields were hampered in areas hardest hit by the drought last year, but generally, yields have been stronger, he said. “If you ask about modest increase in cost being offset by revenue, I would say probably no. It varies from crop to crop, but overall it looks to me like farm income, at least on the cropping side
of it, will probably be down a little bit in 2018,” Swenson said. “There will be a down tick in net farm income from crops in 2018 – not a collapse but a down tick.” Based on current prices – which don’t necessarily foretell future prices in a market that’s highly volatile – Swenson roughly estimated farm income could drop 10 to 15 percent. For more detailed explanations and results of the Extension’s calculations on return to management and labor from different crops, do a browser search for “NDSU crop budgets.” Results are available by region for 2018 and previous years. The budget also can be used as a tool in determining potential returns based on an individual farm’s inputs.
PAGE 7 Input costs only slightly higher Input costs to get crop in the ground this spring this spring should be only slightly higher than last year, according to Dakota Agronomy Partners, Minot. Fertilizer prices are up about 10 percent, but chemical and seed prices are fairly flat, said Doug Naze, seed sales manager at Dakota Agronomy. “There are some new products that are, of course, higher priced,” Naze said. Improved crop genetics often comes with more cost, but the returns also can be better. So while making that investment can increase input costs, it might be advantageous in terms of increased yields, he said. “At the end of the day, more yield puts money back in the grower’s pocket,” he said. Most producers have made their planting decisions and purchased their inputs for this spring, but there remains some indecision out there, Naze said. With the late spring and the market price fluctuations that have been occurring, he sees farmers contemplating possible adjustments, particularly on corn acres. – Jill Schramm
Family Continued from Page 4
things other kids do, but they have a great work ethic and are able to just go outside to play and do their own thing. For the family, working together as one is something they enjoy, even on days when working on the farm might not be their first choice. It was always a decision for her and her husband that if they had kids, they wanted to raise them themselves. Living in town and having different jobs would have meant the kids would have to be at a day care often, but living in the country area outside of Bottineau and doing what they do, they’ve been able to achieve their goal. “The kids have been alongside us from day one. They’ll be in a stroller near by, safe, but always with us while we worked,” Kuss said. “They are gaining strong work ethics, self re-
The farm life is a family ordeal with every member working hard to help out. liance and persistence. They are also being taught values in working together, problem solving, being dependable, being compassionate and (to have) overall faith.” The family raises cattle, sheep, dairy goats that are milked to raise bottle lambs, horses, and pigs for the kids’ 4-H projects. “We always enjoyed
working with livestock. Every spring there is an excited anticipation as new babies arrive to see if the genetic selections and changes in our program have made the positive impact that we had hoped for, and the constant challenges of what we can do better for next year. Livestock have many challenges and strug-
gles but can be very rewarding,” said Kuss’ husband. Each kid also has their own cattle and sheep that they get to raise. “To someone else, they all look the same, but to the kids, they can point out exactly which is which,” she said. Along with livestock, they do mostly small grains
for their crops. They grow wheat, barley, soybeans, canola, peas, and oats. Some years they will plant silage corn and have also raised alfalfa. “After harvest, we plant multi-species cover crops for soil health and fall grazing the livestock,” said Kuss. An aunt of the family, Kathleen Kittleson, said “My
niece and her husband and their three girls are the hardest working farm family.” For the Kuss family, farming is extremely important. They have a strong passion for raising livestock and taking care of the land. They work to do their best to preserve and improve the land for the future generations while doing what they love.
A new way of thinking
By ASHTON GERARD Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
MINOT DAILY NEWS
Foods hub is introduced to rural North Dakota
While Julia and Mirek Petrovic have previously run successful businesses in states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, they wanted to do something out of their comfort-zone and did what they thought would be best for their family. “We wanted to teach our children to be responsible, do chores, run free without them being on a leash, and we decided it was time for us to take a move and go to live off the land,” she said. The Petrovics signed up with a program called WWOOF USA, which is the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms in the United States. Through the program, the Petrovics were able to travel cross-country helping out on organic farms, gaining the experience and knowledge to start their own farm. “You help with the chores, you do whatever needs to be done, you just volunteer four to six hours every day in exchange for lodging and food,” Petrovic said. The family spent time all over the United States, but what really opened the Petrovics’ eyes to the organic movement was their time spent in Washington state in 2010. Photos by Ashton Gerard/MDN “The organic movement ABOVE: Co-owner and manager Julia Petrovic stands with one of her baked creations in the was already so strong and so FARMtastic Heritage Foods Hub in Anamoose. viable that whatever few farmTOP LEFT: A table displays just a fraction of the products offered daily by the FARMtastic Heritage ers markets that we visited in Washington, I was just Foods Hub. TOP RIGHT: FARMtastic Heritage Foods Hub officially opened for business March 15 at 707 Main amazed,” Julia Petrovic said.
ANAMOOSE – Rural towns in North Dakota seem to be slowly dying off. Old railroad towns used to be booming but are now left in the dust. Two ambitious entrepreneurs are finding a way to revitalize rural towns while delivering fresh, organic foods and products. Julia and Mirek Petrovic, owners and managers of FARMtastic Foods Hub, came to North Dakota off of a drive to be more self-sustaining and ecofriendly by organic farming. Originally, Mirek is from the Czech Republic while Julia is from Russia, but the pair have been in the United States since 1998. The Petrovics are bringing their foods hub to Main Street in Anamoose and it is something they can see growing throughout small town North Dakota. A foods hub is a concept that is completely new to the state, but is an idea that stems from some of the ideals that already exist in North Dakota. According to Julia Petrovic, the hub is a type of business that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, light processing and marketing of locally grown produce. The goal is to help local farmers and producers reach a bigger market by pulling small and medium-sized farms together. Street in Anamoose. They offer organically grown produce and products.
See FOOD — Page 9
Inside Ag MINOT DAILY NEWS
Food Continued from Page 8
“To see so many crafters, so many local producers … People are willing to pay a premium price for the product the producer is offering.” The Petrovic family, Julia and Mirek and their four children at the time, “WWOOFed” across the country until they landed in North Dakota. After helping out on two different farms in the state, the Petrovics drove past an old homestead. Seeing a project in desperate need of help and having gained enough knowledge to begin their own farm, the family decided to put down roots in North Dakota in 2011. The Petrovics ended up about 15 miles northwest of Anamoose and began their journey with their own garden and getting involved in the local agriculture scene. The original goal was to simply live off the land and share their produce with other
locals. The idea of selling produce in a city like Minot or Bismarck was appealing, but the Petrovics didn’t think it would be viable to only sell their products. To drive hours for what they grew did not seem worth it. The idea of a foods hub came to the Petrovics when they were participating in a Farmers Market and Growers Association conference in Bismarck in February 2014. “A gentleman came and he did a workshop on a food hub, and he presented an idea of a food hub that he runs in Montana,” Petrovic said. “So that was the first seed that was planted in our heads.” Julia and Mirek Petrovic then spent time planning their vision of a viable, thriving food hub in North Dakota. Not just something for the Drake/Anamoose area, but something rural towns across the state can adopt as well. See FOOD — Page 10
Inside Ag APRIL 2018
Food Continued from Page 9
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“We aggregate the locally grown products – vegetables, fruits, flowers, berries, grains – we aggregate them and then we distribute them,” Julia Petrovic explained. “So instead of just our farm bringing that leftover produce we haven’t managed to sell locally to the city, we bring six times the amount.” Currently, she says the foods hub is working with seven different producers similar in philosophy to that of the Petrovics, which is growing food with “passion and integrity without using any chemicals.” “We buy from (producers) and then we distribute. So for two years, that’s what we were doing,” Petrovic said. She said the Bisman Community Food Co-op in Bismarck had become a strong partner over the years. They also offer a CSA, which is Community Supported Agriculture, for consumers to receive locally grown products from producers they know and trust. “You pre-pay in the spring and become a member of the farm for the season,” Petrovic said of the CSA. “Then for 16 to 18 weeks, every week as we start harvesting, we deliver to you a box of fresh vegetables and whatever is in season.” The idea for the physical location came out of a goal to use all the good produce, even those that have some blemishes that are hard to sell but still good enough to eat. Eliminating food waste and maximizing the produce grown by Petrovic and their farmers was the motivating factor. “In 2015, the city of Anamoose had (the building) that was doomed for demolition. It’s a historical building,” Petrovic said. “In the time Anamoose was a vibrant community, this building used to
A display holds organic, hand-made soaps and other products. Stop in to the store or visit FARMtastic Heritage Foods Hub on Facebook to see everything they have to offer. be a post office.” The Petrovics approached the city council about fixing up the crumbling building and turning it into a foods hub that could benefit the city and the area. With grants from the USDA and APUC, the Petrovics were able to renovate the building and equip the foods hub with a commercial kitchen. “We were able to combine those two grants and restore the building and give it another chance for being an asset to the community,” Petrovic said. The Petrovics now use produce they are unable to sell and turn it into fresh, home cooked meals and desserts that
anyone can enjoy. The menu changes every single week with what the Petrovics have to work with. Julia Petrovic said she loves to be ambitious and adventurous with the menu, and says she offers things some people might not even consider trying. The Petrovics are also wanting to use their new location for educational outreach and cooking classes in the future. They also provide catering. To learn more about the FARMtastic Foods Hub, visit their Facebook page at FARMtastic Heritage Foods Hub or visit their location at 707 Main Street in Anamoose.
Dealing with soil moisture Inside Ag
By KIM FUNDINGSLAND
MINOT DAILY NEWS
provided little forage for livestock. Some late fall rains and spring Staff Writer email@example.com snowfall has raised expectations for growers, but more change may be The very dry conditions of 2017 needed to make up for moisture have raised the awareness of soil lost in 2017. “It is still dry out there. These moisture for area farmers. While snows the past couple of weeks soil moisture is always closely have been good, but we still need a monitored and often a lively topic good chunk of moisture to get us of pre-planting conversation, it may back to normal,” said Chris Aube even more so this year because gustin, soil scientist, NDSU Extensoil moisture was in very short supsion Service. ply over a wide region of North Soil moisture certainly varies Dakota last fall. from one area to another. In southMuch of the state was desig- ern Saskatchewan, where spring nated as being in various stages of snowfall has fallen similar to what drought by the United States has been received south of the Drought Monitor, with thousands U.S./Canadian border, soil moisof acres considered to be in severe ture is very much a hot topic of disdrought. In many areas of the state cussion. crops were stunted and pastures “In this part of the world we’re
not so sure about soil moisture,” said Lana Shaw, research manager, Southeast Research Farm at Redvers Sask. “Decisions on crop inputs and the price of the crop you are putting in the ground become really hard when there’s not much soil moisture in the bank. You are not sure what you are going to get.” Fortunately, there’s still ample time to make final decisions on what to plant and where. One consideration that should factor into planting decisions, says Augustin, is soil condition. Many soil tests taken in the Minot area last fall contained abnormally high amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus. “More than you would expect,” said Augustin. The lack of moisture last year
meant that nitrogen and phosphorus usually carried away by “water pathways” remained in the ground. “My recommendation for farmers is, follow what your soil test says,” said Augustin. “The big take home is be consistent.” Some growers prefer to test their soils in the spring, others in the fall. Doing soil testing at approximately the same time each year allows for a historical timeline for comparison. As for soil moisture conditions, Augustin says it shouldn’t keep anybody out of the field. “Farmers are still going to plant. They know their fields better than anyone else,” remarked Augustin. “Generally most of our farmers are putting down fertilizer when they plant. Some might try some side
dressing such as nitrogen applications if we get some good moisture.” Dick Roland, long-time owner of Legume Logic in Crosby, recalls attending seminars in the 1990’s when conditions were similar to what they were in 2017. “We were dry with grasshoppers and all kinds of things,” said Roland. “We have new farmers, young farmers that understand what happened then. We need to work together and be positive. These guys understand that.” Long-range weather forecasts call for cooler than normal temperatures through June. If that proves true it will mean less evaporation of soil moisture than what would normally be expected to occur in the Minot area.
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MINOT DAILY NEWS
Estate planning addresses farm families’ challenges
By ELOISE OGDEN Regional Editor firstname.lastname@example.org When a group of people with farming and/or ranching interests gathered in Minot recently they came to learn about asset protection and succession planning for farm families. German Law Group presented the information on estate planning for farm families at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Minot. Raymond German, owner of German Law Group in Grand Forks, has been an attorney for more than 40 years and is an expert in estate planning. He wrote the book “Legacy Wealth Planning for Minnesota and North Dakota Families,” now in its third edition. He is the only attorney in North Dakota who is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. An estate is a person’s cash, land, assets, investment stocks, livestock, etc. Anything of value that a person owns is part of their estate. It also includes life insurance but sometimes people forget they have life insurance in addition to their other assets. Estate planning is a topic many people find difficult to discuss as well as to do. According to the German Law Group, the main reasons people ask for their estate planning services is to pass along their land and hard-earned wealth without court involvement. They also want to avoid unnecessary tax and fees, and they don’t want to go broke with long-term care expenses. In addition, they want to protect their family and wealth from predators and creditors. They also want to pass along their wisdom and values and their life lessons to the generations to follow. It’s not just about money but it’s also about who they are and what is important to them. Medical expenses are the number one cause of bankruptcy in this country. The average cost of a nursing home in North Dakota is $130,000 per year or over $10,000 a month. Over 86 percent of farmers do not have a transfer plan in place, German Law Group attorneys said. People don’t plan because for one reason they don’t want to think about death so they procrastinate. The second most popular reason why people do not plan ahead is because of the
lack of knowledge. Those at the presentation listed various interests they have for legacy wealth planning ranging from the cost of taxes on estate planning, trust planning for a special needs child to nursing homes.
There are several myths including that people always think they’ll live quite a bit longer – but then they die. Another myth is people don’t plan because they feel their business is private but if they don’t have a plan in place, it’s going to be very public when they do pass away, law firm attorneys said. Probate is very public and open for anyone to find out anything. Sometimes people will say they do not have enough assets to do estate planning but if a person has anything of value, anything they care about and anyone they care about, German Law Group says they should make plans to make sure their estate goes to the right person at the right time. Some will say they are too young to start planning but the advisers say a person is never too young to start planning.
Or people will also say their spouse can handle everything and that their family is too close so nothing will ever come between them but sometimes family members disagree. People will also say they can’t afford to put an estate plan in place but they should ask themselves, “Can you not afford not to?”
Wills, living trusts
A will is a legal document in which a person designates who manage their estate after death and powers that person will have, who will inherit the person’s assets after death and how those assets will be transferred to those individuals. It also can appoint guardians for minor children. A living trust is a legal entity created during the lifetime of the person creating the trust to hold that person’s property. It allows probate avoidance, incapacity planning and distribution of trust property to chosen beneficiaries (person or persons to receive assets) and in the manner desired by the person creating the trust, according to “Legacy Wealth Planning for Minnesota and North Dakota Families” written by German. Probate is the court-administered process
through which a will is proven to be valid after a person dies and through which property is transferred to the beneficiaries named in it, according to the book. Probate is costly and time consuming. The national average of probate is 3 percent of the estate, according to German Law Group attorneys. It can take anywhere from nine to 24 months and some probates have gone over 10 years. All of it is public record and most court records are public access. If assets are in more than one state, he said there are multiple probates. The single most important part of a person’s plan is to tailor it to themselves and for their family, according to the law firm. German Law Group held another estate planning seminar, this one on “How You Can Pay for Long Term Care Without Going Broke” in Minot April 10-12. The book, “Legacy Wealth Planning for Minnesota and North Dakota Families” is available through the German Law Group office in Grand Forks. The phone number is 738-0060. The book is presented to seminar attendees along with a free consultation after the seminar.
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Ward County 4-H Earned 4 State Champion Titles at State 4-H Horse Contests
Ward County 4-H youth participated in the two-day state 4-H Horse Judging, Hippology, Quiz Bowl, Horse Speech and Demonstration contests on April 7-8 at University of Minnesota-Crookston and North Dakota State University, earning 4 state 4-H titles. During the trip the 4-H youth also toured UMC and traveled to Jubilee Equine at Horace to visit the state-ofthe-art horse facility and learned about the facilityâ€™s feed, waste, and horse management. Ward County Senior and Junior 4-H Horse Judging teams were named state champions, receiving first place. The Senior state champion 4-H Horse Judging team consisted of Madilyn Berg of Douglas, Kaitlyn Berg of Douglas, Mariah Braasch of Minot, and Sidney Lovelace of Sawyer. Individual placings were: Lovelace was named state champion; K. Berg, second; Braasch, fourth; and M. Berg, 10th place. The Junior state champion 4-H Horse Judging team consisting of Haley Buck of Minot, Emily Fannik of Max, Sadie Lemer of Berthold, Macey Moore of Berthold, Anne Schauer of Carpio, Hailey Schauer of Carpio, and Mackenzie Wipf of Ryder. Receiving top 10 honors individually were Fannik, second; Buck, third; A. Schauer, fourth; and Moore, eighth place. Ward County Senior 4-H Hippology team of M. Berg, K. Berg and Lovelace received second place. Receiving top 10 honors individually were Lovelace, fifth, and K. Berg, sixth place. See 4-H â€” Page 18
MINOT DAILY NEWS
ABOVE: The Ward County Junior 4-H Horse Quiz Bowl team are, from left to right, Mackenzie Wipf, Anne Schauer, Haley Buck, Macey Moore and Emily Fannik. LEFT: Ward County 4-H North Dakota State 4-H Champions - Junior Team Horse Demonstration are, from left to right, Macey Moore and Emily Fannik.
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Inside Ag PAGE 18
MINOT DAILY NEWS
4-H Continued from Page 16
The Intermediate 4-H Hippology from Ward County were named state champions, receiving first place. The state champion Intermediate 4-H Hippology team consisted of Buck, Fannik, Moore and A. Schauer. The Ward/Griggs County 4-H Intermediate team of Wipf and Olivia Larson of Griggs received ninth place. The Ward/Griggs County Junior 4-H Hippology team consisted of Ruth Haugen of Griggs, Lemer, Lane Ressler of Griggs, and H. Schauer received third place. Representing Ward County in the state 4-H Horse Quiz Bowl contests were: Junior team of Buck, Fannik, Moore, A. Schauer and Wipf received second place in a very close championship round. Additional, Junior team combined Ward/Sargent County were: Lemer, H. Schauer and three youth from Sargent County (Mia Bopp, Lily Gaden, Samantha Timmerman). Also competed at state 4-H Horse Quiz Bowl contest was Senior team of M. Berg, K. Berg, Braasch, and Lovelace. In the state 4-H Horse Speech contest, senior Braasch’s speech, “Quality Hay” received second-place honors. Juniors Fannik and Moore competed in a team division of 4-H Horse Demonstration and were named state champions for their speech titled “Wrap it Up.” Junior A. Schauer competed in the individual division of 4-H Horse Demonstration where she received second place for her demonstration titled “My Noseless Horse.” Also representing Ward County in the 4-H Horse Demonstration contest were Senior Braasch; Juniors Buck, Lemer, and H. Schauer.
Ward County 4-H North Dakota 4-H Horse Judging Senior Champion team members are, from left to right, Mariah Braasch, Madilyn Berg, Sidney Lovelace, Kaitlyn Berg and Coach Paige Brummund.
Ward County North Dakota State 4-H champions - Intermediate Hippology Team are, from left to right, Haley Buck, Macey Moore, Anne Schauer and Emily Fannik.
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Anne Schauer, Ward County 4-H, was a winner Ward County 4-H North Dakota State 4-H Champions-Junior Horse Judging members are, back in the North Dakota 4-H State Horse Demo Con- row from the left, Haley Buck, Macey Moore, Anne Schauer, Emily Fannik; and front row, from the left, Mackenzie Wipf, Sadie Sauer and Hailey Schauer. test.
Minnesota farmers endure 5th straight year of thin profits MINOT DAILY NEWS
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) â€” Bumper crops and slightly better prices for some commodities weren't enough to save most Minnesota farmers from a fifth straight year of thin profits in 2017, according to a report released Tuesday. The annual analysis from University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota State colleges and universities system found that nearly one-third of Minnesota farmers saw their net worth decrease in 2017. The state's median farm income was about $28,500, down from about $36,000 in 2016. Dairy farmers faced some of the toughest challenges, Extension economist Dale Nordquist said. Milk prices tanked in the second half of the year, he said and a lot of farmers are now losing $2 on every hundred pounds of milk they produce. Pork producers were the one group that enjoyed higher profits thanks to somewhat better prices after losses the year before, he said. High-torecord yields have helped crop farmers "tread water" and withstand low prices, he said. "It certainly wasn't the year we needed to turn things around," Nordquist said. "It was a tough year for crop producers and a little better for livestock producers. ... It wasn't really enough to make up the difference." The report comes at a gloomy time for agriculture across the country. The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts that net farm income nationwide will fall 6.7 percent this year, to $59.5 billion, which would be the lowest level since 2006 and far below the record set in 2013 of over $120 billion. Low commodity prices have been the main reason. And
Dairy cows stand in a pen on Dave Schwartz's farm near Slayton, Minn. A new report says bumper crops and occasional upticks in prices weren't enough to save most Minnesota farmers from a fifth straight year of thin profits in 2017. The annual analysis from University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota State colleges and universities system finds that nearly one-third of Minnesota farmers saw their net worth decrease in 2017. the USDA predicts net farm income is likely to remain flat over the next 10 years, falling in real terms after inflation. Minnesota's dairy farmers enjoyed relatively profitable prices in the first half of 2017 before the bottom fell out of the market and left them squeezed between low milk prices and higher feed costs, Nordquist said. Some are deciding to call it quits because
of the financial stresses, he said. Many producers are older with fewer cows, he said. It's tough for farmers in that situation to decide whether to invest more money in aging facilities or do something else, he said. The findings rang true for Tom Sedgeman, who has about 380 cows on his farm near Sauk Centre. He said he's more concerned about the impact of the downturn
on younger farmers than himself. "In my case, I'm 62. We're able to withstand a few more things than the younger generation," he said. Sedgeman is particularly concerned for his son-in-law, a fellow farmer who wonders whether there will be opportunities for his young children to farm. "In today's world it's extremely difficult to start from
scratch, the capital investment is just so huge," he said. While Minnesota corn and soybean farmers harvested a "tremendous crop," Nordquist said, so did farmers across the Corn Belt, keeping prices low. Fortunately, he said, there's been a "little bit of a run-up" in world prices for soybeans and corn in the last few weeks, mostly because of the drought in Argentina, so
some producers have taken advantage to get better prices for their 2017 crops and lock in those prices for 2018. Although Minnesota's crop farmers have struggled with low profits for the past five years, Nordquist said it's not a crisis for most. Balance sheets for most remain "pretty strong" because their strong yields have given them more bushels to sell, he said.
More organic than thou? Rebel farmers create new food label Inside Ag
THETFORD, Vt. (AP) — Was your tomato grown in dirt or water? Organic shoppers might notice additional labels this summer that will give them the answer — and tell them whether their choices align with what a rebellious group of farmers and scientists deem the true spirit of the organic movement. About 15 farmers and scientists from around the country met in Vermont late last month to create the standards for an additional organic certification program, which they plan to roll out nationally to between 20 to 60 farms as a pilot this summer. Under the current U.S. Department of Agriculture program, the organic label means that your tomato has been produced without synthetic substances — with some exceptions — and without certain methods, like genetic engineering. The additional label, which does not yet have a name or wording, would indicate that a tomato, for example, has been grown in soil, and that meat and dairy products came from farms that pasture their animals. An inspector would certify that the farm has complied with the new standards, and the farms — not distributors — would add the label. The move comes five months after the National Organic Standard Board, which advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture, voted against a proposal to exclude from the USDA's organic certification program hydroponics — raising plants with water but no soil — and aquaponics, in which plants and aquatic animals, such as fish, are grown within one system. "I think that a lot of farmers, especially young farmers, feel that the organic label no longer describes the way they farm, and we're trying to recapture that," said Linley Dixon, a vegetable farmer in Durango, Colorado, and senior scientist for Cornucopia Institute, who is also on the standards board of the Real Organic Project. The group creating the new label, which calls itself the Real Organic Project, said it has not abandoned the National Organic Program, which is the federal standard, and is not attacking organic farmers. "Some of the cornerstones of what organic means are being taken away, and we're concerned about how creaky that makes the whole thing," said Dave Chapman, a member of the executive and standards board of the Real Organic Project and owner of an organic tomato farm in Thetford. He believes the cornerstone of being organic is growing in soil and improving its fertility. To Dixon, "organic" means a very diversified operation, rotating animals and crops and planting cover crops to control erosion, increase organic matter in the soil and manage weeds, among other things. The new label would exclude from certification hydroponic farming and large livestock farms that don't pasture their animals, known as contained animal feeding operations or CAFOs.
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Dave Chapman, owner of Long Wind Farm, checks for insects on organic tomato plant leaves in his greenhouse in Thetford, Vt. The hydroponic industry argues another label would mislead and confuse consumers and is a way for the traditional organic farmers to try to get a competitive edge. "It's a competition because field farmers can't produce the volume that hydroponics can," said Dan Lubkeman, president of the Hydroponic Society of America. While shopping at Hunger Mountain food cooperative in Montpelier, Jessica Manchester, of Worcester, agreed labeling is getting confusing for the average consumer but in the long run thinks it's good to know where food comes from. She said she prefers produce grown in soil. "I'm just in favor of plants growing in their natural way and being in connection with the microbes in the soil and the interactions those microbes have with the plant roots," Manchester said. But fellow shopper Laurie Griggs, of Calais, said she does-
n't buy totally organic and doesn't mind if vegetables or berries are raised hydroponically. "I just think we need new ways to grow things," she said. "We've got a lot of people and farming's really hard on the land, and if we can find ways to lighten our impact on the land and grow healthy food for people, I have no problem with it." The farmers involved want a more transparent label and will not see an economic benefit at first, Chapman said. The program is now being funded by contributions. Farmers would pay a fee to be certified, but he doubts that would cover the cost of the program. "I hope the day will come where there will be an economic benefit because I know that there are millions of people in the country who actually do care about whether food is grown in the soil and whether the animals have access to the pasture," he said.
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Ag Department kills animal welfare rule for organic meat MINOT DAILY NEWS
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — New rules, decades in the making, that would have required organic meat and egg producers to abide by stricter animal welfare standards were withdrawn by the federal government on Monday, frustrating organic farmers and animal welfare groups but leaving some traditional egg and livestock farm groups rejoicing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule exceeds the department's statutory authority. "The organic industry's continued growth domestically and globally shows that consumers trust the current approach that balances consumer expectations and the needs of organic producers and handlers," said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Program Undersecretary Greg Ibach. The rule was published by former President Barack Obama's Agriculture Department two days before he left office in January 2017. The administration of Donald Trump has repeatedly delayed implementing the rule and had signaled that it might never move forward with it. "It's not a surprise. We had some admission by the USDA that the industry had been camping out in their office bending their arms and their ears. It's disappointing. The power of Washington lobbyists wins again," said Francis Thicke, who runs an organic dairy and grows crops in southeastern Iowa near Fairfield. The regulation was designed to ensure that organically grown livestock had enough space to lie down, turn around,
Cage-free chickens walk in a fenced pasture at an organic farm near Waukon, Iowa. The Trump administration is withdrawing federal rules that would require organic meat and egg producers to abide by stricter animal welfare standards. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it would withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule published by former President Barack Obama's Agriculture Department two days before he left office in January. stand up and fully stretch. It also prohibited removal of chicken beaks and cutting cattle tails and required improved living conditions including fresh air, proper ventilation and direct sunlight.
Dropping the rule "reverses the nearly two decades of collaboration and feedback from farmers and consumers," said Matt Bershadker, CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
"Millions of animals will continue to suffer each year because of the USDA's abdication of its duty to enforce meaningful organic animal welfare standards." Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts in a statement echoed some in the livestock industry who said the rule would increase the paperwork burden and drive up the cost of production for farmers and ranchers. "America's organic livestock and poultry producers can now breathe easy that they can maintain the health of their flocks and herds the best way they see fit, and they will not be driven out of business by another government regulation, said Roberts, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Kevin Kester said the rule would have "vilified conventionally raised livestock without recognizing our commitment to raise all cattle humanely." The withdrawal becomes effective May 13, the USDA said. The retail market for organic food products was valued at $47 billion in the United States in 2016, and USDA said the number of certified organic operations increased domestically by 7 percent last year. Thicke said a group of organic farmers in the U.S. have created their own label, the Real Organic Project, and hope to have pilot farms certified this summer with eventual rollout nationally. The group guarantees generous standards for organic animals and not what Thicke considers weak requirements set by the government.
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ND grain growers celebrating 50 years
FARGO – The North Dakota Grain Growers Association is celebrating its 50th anniversary and has taken some time to reflect on the organizations efforts of proactive advocacy, representation, leadership, research and education over the years. NDGGA Immediate Past President John Weinand says the continued success of the organization can be credited to many dedicated people over the years. “Agriculture is such an important aspect to the fabric of our state,” Weinand said. “NDGGA’s top priority has always been to help keep the right policies in place for our state’s farmers, something that can be seen throughout our 50 year history.” The North Dakota Grain
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Growers Association was originally named the North Dakota Wheat Producers and was founded in 1967 by a collection of farmers and agricultural leaders from across the state in Bottineau. In 1977, the National Association of Wheat Growers granted the North Dakota Wheat Producers a membership charter, which gave the organization a national platform from which to influence and develop policy on behalf of its members. In 1981, the North Dakota Wheat Producers moved its office to Bismarck to co-locate with other commodity groups, such as the North Dakota Wheat Commission, North Dakota Beef Commission, North Dakota Dairy Council and the North Dakota Sun-
flower Association. This formed the Ag Foundation, which served as an umbrella group for the commodity groups to increase collaboration and allow producers more efficient access to all groups. In addition, the Ag Foundation began hosting Congressional Staff Tours, which allowed legislators from Washington to tour wheat and barley country and meet grain growing families. During an economic downtown in the eastern part of the United States in 1984, the North Dakota Wheat Producers participated in Noodles for Needy. This program collected durum wheat from across the state and processed it into noodles that were transported to food shelters throughout Cleveland.
Shortly thereafter, the North Dakota Wheat Producers merged with the North Dakota Barley Growers Association to become the North Dakota Grain Growers Association, a move that further strengthened the organization’s influence in the congressional and legislative arena. One of the NDGGA’s best examples of proactive advocacy began in 1993 with the start of its annual Environmental Tour, commonly known as the E-Tour. Each summer, EPA officials from Washington visit several agricultural businesses and family farms across the state to highlight the state’s agricultural practices and environmental stewardship. The event promotes understanding and communication regarding
the regulations EPA officials write and North Dakota farmers abide by. Throughout the course of a single year, the NDGGA partners with several organizations in the region to co-host other annual events that provide a stronger voice for the state’s producers. The Big Iron Marketing Seminar occurs in September and is co-hosted with the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers. This event features take-home strategies and advice for marketing crops. The Prairie Grains Conference occurs in December and is co-hosted with various organizations, such as the the North Dakota Barley Council, Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council and the Minnesota Barley Growers.
This event kicks-off the winter agricultural season with a trade show and information seminars that represent a cross section of the agriculture industry. The North Dakota Department of Agriculture also provides various opportunities to advance North Dakota crops around the nation and world, and NDGGA leaders have joined their delegations in recent years to participate in trade missions to Cuba to explore new markets for grain and have traveled to Washington for a reverse E-tour to discuss environmental issues and policies with EPA officials. NDGGA President Jeff Mertz says the organization’s efforts to make sure member’s interests are represented is quite impressive.