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AGRICULTURE Litchfield Independent Review • Hutchinson Leader

Spring planting Growers have good reason to be wary of the recent dry conditions/page 3

The reward of triplet heifers page 10 U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson and the Farm Bill page 7

Farmland prices on the rise page 17 Dairy farmers’ big challenges page 41


Farm Family of the Year nominations, phosphorus in manure, a rush on farm-

land, water quality certification, keeping your soil in place, NFO elects new officers, and more

2 Agriculture

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We now have a scale on site!

February 2013

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Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

Agriculture 3


By TERRY DAVIS armers across much of America’s Corn Belt last year watched as hot, dry weather whithered their crops. But farmers in the immediate Hutchinson area saw their fields get timely, if not abundant, rains that led to better than expected yields come harvest time. But a dry spell from about mid-August through much of the harvest has continued into the latter stages of a winter with somewhat less snow than usual. That could have an impact on planting choices



AGRICULTURE is published in February and November by ...

when farmers hit the fields just two months from now, said Paul Barchenger, agronomist at Hutchinson Cooperative’s agronomy facility along Adams Street Southeast. “I’ve been talking with farmers and if we go into spring still dry, I think we’ll see more corn planted because it seems corn takes the dryness better (than soybeans),” he said last week. Partly due to today’s advanced genetics, corn seems to yield better than beans, which sees yields drop off more when conditions are dry. Even with lower costs for inputs such as fertilizer, that can leave beans less profitable than corn in such sit-

THE LITCHFIELD INDEPENDENT REVIEW P.O. Box 921 Litchfield, MN 55355-0921 Phone: 320-693-3266 Fax: 320-693-9177 Email: Website:

THE HUTCHINSON LEADER 170 Shady Ridge Road, Suite 100 Hutchinson, MN 55350-2440 Phone: 320-587-5000 Fax: 320-587-6104 Email: Website:

uations. “Corn, by and large, is more profitable,” Barchenger said. The 2012 growing season turned out surprisingly well for farmers within a 25mile radius of Hutchinson. Rains in May and June got crops rolling, though there was some loss in low areas that were drown out. Then there were warm, sunny days with just enough rain at key times as crops matured. “Everyone was surprised by the yields we got here,” he said. Corn yields ranged from 180 to 240 bushels per acre, while Continued on page 4

Postage paid at Hutchinson, MN 55350 Distributed to farmers and agriculture-related businesses in the Meeker and McLeod County area and available at the offices of the Litchfield Independent Review and Hutchinson Leader.

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Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

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Spring planting Continued from page 3 soybeans averaged more than 40, with many fields at 50 or more.


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According to the state climatology office, precipitation thus far this winter has been near historical averages for much of Minnesota. Between Aug. 1, 2012, and Jan. 29, much of the Hutchinson area had received about 6 to 7 inches of precipitation, with a bit more in the Lester Prairie/Winsted portion of McLeod County, but less south of Stewart. That puts the Hutchinson area about 6 or 7 inches below normal, 7 to 8 inches off of normal south of Stewart and 4 to 6 inches behind normal in the Lester Prairie and Winsted area. As of Jan. 29, McLeod County was considered in severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, while some areas west and southwest were considered in extreme drought. Those included at least the western half of Meeker and Sibley counties and almost all of Renville County. Barchenger said an early lack of snow cover probably means the frost line got fairly deep. That could mean most of the snow melt in coming weeks will run off, instead of sinking in to replenish the top soil moisture.

“Snow probably doesn’t help ground water that much — a lot runs off,” he said. Fall 2012 was the opposite of fall 2011, when wet conditions earlier in the growing season resulted in a lot of the crops getting “mudded in,” leading to compaction, Barchenger said. This past fall, just enough showers broke up the drought effects, but not enough to lead to compaction during tillage. “Our soil conditions right now are a lot better than they were a year ago,” he said. “We really had a real good fall to get fertilizer applications in. It was better than 2011 when the ground was hard and dry all fall.” There has been a shift in recent years to more farmers holding back some of the fall field fertilization in favor of shifting some, especially nitrogen applications, to spring. “A lot more are splitting their applications between fall and spring,” Barchenger said. One thing Barchenger is somewhat concerned about is the availability, and hence the cost, of fertilizer if it can’t be delivered in a timely manner because of low water levels on the Mississippi River. “A lot of our fertilizer comes up the river,” he said. “That is a concern for us. They may need to load barges light to keep their draft shallow. That would increase freight charges.”

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

Know someone who deserves to be named

Farm Family of the Year? N ominations for McLeod or Meeker County Farm Family or Individual of the Year will be taken through Monday, April 15.

The McLeod and Meeker County Extension Committees are encouraging local farmers and agribusinesses to fill out the form to honor a farm family or individual. Often, farmers are not honored for their

February 2013

dedication to the industry, community efforts, and the work they do to promote a positive portrayal of agriculture. The purpose of this recognition is to to bring an individual or farm family forward for this honor. The McLeod or Meeker County Extension Offices can be contacted for a nomination form, or visit the University of Minnesota Farm Family of the Year Website to learn more about the program: Both forms can be found online at for McLeod and for Meeker County. The McLeod County Farm Family of the Year in 2012 was the Duane and Mary Nelson Family. They began their journey together in the early 1980s with a few cows and a rented facility. Over the years, they built a herd by breeding for high quality genetics and progressive type, which allowed them to create a strong foundation herd. Today the Nelsons continue to milk about 50 cows which are a mixture of Holsteins and Ayrshires. They raise their own young stock and market excess milking cows and heifers. Duane and Mary have three children; Erik, Tracy and Brenda. Off the farm, the Nelsons are active with coaching dairy judging, the CRI Board,

Agriculture 5

Winthrop Lions, and substitute teaching. In 1995, Duane and Mary were awarded the Distinguished Young Breeder award by the National Holstein Association. The Meeker County Farm Family of the Year in 2012 was the Dave and Katie Hendrickson Family. The original Hendrickson Family Farm in Dassel was purchased in 1920 by Ed and Anna Hasti. In 1945, after returning from World War II, Levi Hendrickson purchased the farm. Thirty-two years later, the ownership went to Dave. Over the years, various crops have been grown and dairy and hogs have been raised on the farm. Today, Dave and Katie along with their three children — Levi, Hannah and Ruth — raise seed corn, seed bean, and regular corn and beans. The children have also raised fresh market sweet corn for five years. In the community, Dave has been active with Kingston Township Board, Meeker County FSA, Meeker County Farm Bureau, and Meeker County Corn Growers. He has also been involved with Dassel Creamery Board, Cokato Finnish Cemetery, Kingston Lions, Soil and Water Conservation, and the First Apostolic Lutheran Church. He and Katie are also Meeker County Fire Wardens. Both Levi and Hannah have been involved in FFA through DasselCokato High School.

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U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson doesn’t like the way the

Farm Bill stalled in Congress last year. So this year he is seeking assurances from GOP leaders that it won’t happen again.

February 2013

Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Detroit Lakes, said earlier this month he needs assurances from Republican leadership before he spends time in committee crafting a new Farm Bill. As ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, Peterson sent a letter last month to Speaker John Boehner seeking a “written commitment that your Leadership team will find floor time during this Congress if the Committee marks-up a new five-year Farm Bill.” During Congress’ last session, the Agriculture Committee passed a new Farm Bill by a 35-11 bipartisan vote, but Republican leadership refused to allow a vote on the measure. Instead, the House extended parts of the Farm Bill that expired last year. The rejected bill included the elimination of direct payments, a subsidy paid to crop growers. In the subsidy’s place, the new Farm Bill would create an insurance program to serve as a safety net for farmers to protect against crop failure or declining crop prices. The new Farm Bill would have cut spending by about $34 billion, according to Peterson.


Agriculture 7

Peterson said he won’t be fooled again by Republican leadership. “Why put our members through the pain of having to put together a Farm Bill that cuts money when nobody else is doing anything?” Peterson said during a telephone interview last month. While a new Farm Bill has stalled in the House, the Senate reintroduced a farm bill two weeks ago with a spending cut of about $23 billion. U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, said he’s optimistic House leaders will advance legislation this year. “The measure is critically important to farmers, ranchers and businesses across Minnesota, where one in five jobs are supported by agriculture,” Franken said in a statement issued last week. “A new five-year measure will give our producers the certainty they need to invest and plan their operations. The current extension doesn’t give them that.” A spokeswoman for Peterson, Allison Myhre, said last week Peterson is hoping to talk with Boehner soon about the Farm Bill’s prospects, though no date has been set for the two to meet.

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February 2013

The reward of triplet heifers By MISSY MUSSMAN Dairy Star or most dairy farmers, triplets are extremely rare — let alone having triplet heifers — but for the Molitors, this was not their first time. “These triplets heifers arrived 10-and-ahalf years to the date from the last set,”


Continued on page 13



Mandy, left, and Mitchell Molitor welcomed their family’s second set of triplet heifer calves in 10-and-a-half years on Nov. 20, 2012, which also happens to be Mandy’s birthday.

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February 2013

Agriculture 11

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February 2013

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Triplet heifers Continued from page 10 Laurie Molitor said. “The first set of triplets were born on May 22, 2002, and this set was born on Nov. 20, 2012, which is our youngest daughter Mandy's birthday.” Laurie and Ron Molitor have been milking 27 years and currently milk 130 Holsteins with a few Red and White Holsteins and Crossbreds in the mix at their farm just north of Watkins. They have four children: Shannon, 24, Travis, 21, Mitchell, 14, and Mandy, 13. When the first set of triplet heifers were born in 2002, the Molitors had no idea they were expecting multiple births. “I went out there to assist the cow, and the calf that came out looked awfully small,” Laurie Molitor said. After the second calf arrived, she still was questioning if there was going to be another. “Normally I don’t check for a third calf,”she said. “I don’t know why I did, but

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those first two looked awfully small, and surprisingly the third one came after.” All three of the heifer calves that were born in 2002 survived to adulthood. One of the heifers did not breed back, and the other two were in the herd for two lactations. In 2002, Shannon and Travis were old enough to remember the experience of having triplet heifers, but Mitchell and Mandy were under 5 years old at the time. Fast forward 10-and-a-half years later. One of the Molitor's cows that had calved with twins the lactation before was now pregnant going into her fifth lactation. After several months, she lost the pregnancy, and Ron and Laurie decided to use a young sire, and she ended up settling. After six weeks, the Molitors did an ultra sound and found out she was pregnant with triplets. “We were in question if we wanted to continue with the pregnancy after the vet explained that the outcome might not be a good one,”Laurie Molitor said. “We did-



February 2013

Agriculture 13

“Normally I don’t check for a third calf. I don’t know why I did, but those first two looked awfully small, and surprisingly the third one came after.” — Laurie Molitor n’t want to do anything yet and told the vet we were just going to think about it.” After sharing the news with their two youngest children, Mitchell and Mandy, the kids were very excited about the idea. “The kids looked at us and said ‘You have to keep it!’,” Molitor said. “We knew the cow was used to multiple births, so we

decided go through with it for the kids.” As the due date got closer, Mandy and Mitchell were getting anxious for the arrival of the triplets, checking on the cow almost nonstop. The morning of Nov. 20, two days past Continued on page 15


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Three doing well Continued from page 13 the due date and Mandy's birthday, Laurie drove Mitchell and Mandy past the cow to check on her and didn’t see anything, so she dropped the kids off at school and ventured home. However, when she came back, she saw one of the calves had been born. “I ran to the house and grabbed my coat, and told Ron that one of the calves were out,” Molitor said. “When we checked the first calf, my first response was, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s a heifer.’” The second calf came with no assistance needed, and it was a heifer as well. The third one was a little more difficult coming backwards, and low and behold, it was another heifer. Even though they were triplets, Molitor was surprised at how big they were. The calves weighed approximately 85 pounds each at birth. “We knew we had to call Mitchell and Mandy because they are so active on the farm,” Molitor said. “I texted Mandy, and

within 30 seconds the phone was ringing. I could hear Mandy screaming over the phone,” she said. “She asked me, ‘Mom are you serious?’ and I told her yes and that she had to tell her brother.” Since the birth, all three calves have been doing well and have taken off like any other calf. Their neighbor, who owns a larger dairy than them, was very surprised. “He came and told us that he couldn’t believe we had another set of triplet heifers,” Molitor said. “He mentioned they have never even had one and they are a larger dairy than we are.” The Molitors are excited that all four of their children have been able to experience having triplet heifer calves. “It was a very profitable day for us,” Molitor said. “How many kids growing up on a farm are able to experience something like this?" Shannon, Travis, Mandy and Mitchell will now be able to say they have had two sets of triplet heifers, something they will remember for the rest of their lives.

February 2013

Agriculture 15

Triplets survive barn fire By Andrew Broman The triplets weren’t hurt, but the Molitor family lost five other calves in a barn fire last month. “We were thankful (the triplets) were moved out,” Laurie Molitor said. “That would have been pretty hard on the kids.” The triplets, born Nov. 20, had outgrown their calf housing, and the family moved them to another building only about a week before the fire, Molitor said. She and her husband, Ron, operate a dairy farm in Luxemburg Township, just north of the Meeker County line. Over the past 10 years, the couple's four children witnessed the birth of not one set — but two sets — of triplets. “The odds are so small,” Laurie Molitor said about a cow giving birth to triplets. Laurie Molitor said she’s been receiving phone calls from people asking whether the triplets were among the fire’s victims. “That’s the first thing the fire department and everybody asked us,” she said. She said the fire could have been worse, as a propane tank is located only 10 feet away from the barn. Many more calves could have died, too. The Molitors recently moved 13 calves, including the triplets, out of the barn, leaving behind only seven calves. Two calves that survived the fire were expected to be put down because of severe lung damage, Molitor said. Heating lamps used to keep the calves warm likely caused the fire, which started about 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 25.

16 Agriculture

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

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s farmland prices across Minnesota have continued to increase during the past 20 years, it has left many farmers wondering if and when the farmland bubble may burst. According to Steve Taff, economist with University of Minnesota Extension, farmland prices have been rising steadily since 1990, and have peaked at a state average of more than $3,500 per acre in 2010. Since 1992, Taff has conducted an annual farmland appraisal in coordination with the 100-year study organized by the University of Minnesota. “There are two ‘drivers’ for high land prices,” Taff said, “high corn prices and low interest rates.” If crop prices, especially corn, remain high and interest rates on treasury bills remain low, Taff foresees the potential for land prices to continue to appreciate. As a result of these two factors, buying high-priced land may be attractive to many people. People may view high corn prices as an incentive because of the potential for increased revenue, while low interest rates make it much easier for producers to get loans and make the payments. “No one knows — that’s the short answer as to whether these record farmland prices will soon drop,” Taff said.


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“One main issue associated with high prices is that fewer farmers possess the capital necessary to be willing to bid on land,” Taff said. This has caused existing member participation in many rural communities to be lower, and makes it difficult for new farm membership to be established. “It’s very hard for young people to get started,” Taff said. “Many banks won’t finance new, young adult farmers.” Taff noted that during the past three years these factors have contributed to there being only about half as much farmland sold compared to the preceding years. As a result of high prices, only 1 percent of Minnesota’s farmland is sold in a given year, leading to 50 percent of the farmland being leased. “While some land is listed, it may be pulled off the market when sellers don’t get the price they’re looking for,” he said. With prices expected to continue to rise, Taff cautions prospective land buyers to be careful and take necessary precautions. “Consider your financial situation, get some good advice from creditors, and think of your family. I worry that there are a few farmers out there on the verge of getting overextended when looking to finance their farm.”

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Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

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Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

A rush on farmland? SUCH A PHENOMENON COULD SPELL SHORT SUPPLY AND HIGHER VALUES DURING 2013 conomic uncertainty had some nonoperating farmland owners rushing to sell, which was evident in the last three months of the year, according to Farmers National Co., the largest farmland and ranchland real estate company in the country. Overall for 2012, Farmers National Co. reports that sales activity was up 40 per-


cent over 2011. “We anticipated another record year in 2012, but what we’ve seen has exceeded our expectations,” said Derrick Volchoff, ALC, vice president of real estate operations at Farmers National Co. Projected changes in tax laws prompted many landowners who were planning to sell in the next two years to act before new rules take effect. This high level of activity

February 2013

is likely to lead to a short supply of available land as we enter 2013, according to Volchoff, which could drive values even higher. “Pure economics should dictate that values rise if the supply of available land tightens,” said Volchoff. The fact that values have stayed strong over the past few years has prompted landowners to sell while the market remains positive. Several market forces such as economic uncertainty in Europe and China, as well as the widespread drought, have not negatively impacted land values to date. Buyers in the current market are farmers looking to expand their operations, said Volchoff. Nonoperating land owners are driving activity, as many sellers are looking to sell inherited or transferred land. High profitability from strong commodity prices in recent years has put many farmers in a strong cash position, reducing purchase risk as debt ratios have been held down. Very few investors are looking to sell at this point. “Buyers feel they will still get returns on land well into 2013 as projections for continued profitability are strong,” Volchoff said. “Farm operators feel very comfort-

Agriculture 19 able in their situations. They have significant cash and are investing it in their operations buying land and equipment.” The future of the market, while unforeseen, is not risky, according to Volchoff. “The farmland market has not been highly leveraged, as residential housing markets were when prices skyrocketed. This is not a speculative market and we do not foresee any type of abrupt downturn. People still see land as a safe, tangible investment and are willing to keep their money there over the long term.”

Iowa and Minnesota Demand for quality land continues to be very strong in the North Central Region including Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota and South Dakota, according to Sam Kain, area sales manager for Farmers National Co. in Iowa and Minnesota. Auction numbers in this region were up in 2012, prompting sellers to net top sales prices. “Farmers National Company completed more than 175 auctions in this region during 2012, which is up 35 percent over the prior year,” said Kain. “Demand is still outpacing the number of properties availContinued on page 20

20 Agriculture

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

Rush on farmland Continued from page 19 able, and quality is definitely king.” Despite higher cash rents and input costs narrowing farmer profits, the majority of buyers in the North Central Region continue to be farmers. In Iowa, top quality land is selling at more than $12,500 per acre, Minnesota values are reaching $9,500 per acre, and values in eastern South Dakota have reached $8,000 plus in many areas.

North Dakota and northwest Minnesota The land market remains strong with values increasing through last quarter in the Upper Midwest Region, which includes North Dakota and Northwest Minnesota, according to Terry Longtin, area sales manager for Farmers National Co. in this region. “This past fall, buyers have been focusing on average to high quality land to purchase,” said Longtin.

The number of properties for sale increased substantially in the past few months. According to Longtin, increased land values and the potential increase in capital gains taxes in 2013 have fueled the rise in sales numbers. “Most land is being sold to farm owneroperators, however, we have seen more investors purchasing land than in prior years,” said Longtin. In North Dakota and Northwest Minnesota, land values are up 20 to 30 percent from last year. Top quality land values are currently in the $7,000 to $9,000 per acre range, according to Longtin. One sale in November set a new high for North Dakota, with a sale price in Walsh County of $10,000 per acre. “Average land values are in the range of $3,500 to $6,000, with marginal land values in the $1,500 to $3,500 range,” said Longtin. Farmers National Co., an employeeowned company, is the nation’s leading agricultural real estate and farm and ranch management company.


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Agriculture 21

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Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

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February 2013

Agriculture 23

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February 2013

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24 Agriculture

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

Phosphorus in manure IT’S A VALUABLE RESOURCE FOR CROP PRODUCTION WHEN APPLIED CORRECTLY By PAULO PAGLIARI Soil scientist, University of Minnesota Extension anure has been used as a nutrient source for crop production for many centuries. However, only in the past few decades have we started to fully understand the chemistry involved in manure nutrient availability. Phosphorus in manure is a valuable resource for crop production when


applied correctly and has proven to improve crop yield to higher levels than commercial fertilizer. In contrast, inappropriate use of animal manure has been reported to negatively impact the environment. Therefore, it’s important to understand the forms of phosphorus in manure and how manure interacts with soil before improved manure management strategies can be developed. Phosphorus in manure is present in the organic and inorganic forms. Those phosphorus forms can be further divided into

February 2013

dissolved and precipitated as inorganic minerals and organic compounds. The amount of phosphorus present in a manure sample is highly variable and depends on the animal species, animal age, duration of manure storage, type of manure storage and other factors. Manure testing is essential to determine the real concentration of phosphorus in a given sample at any given time. The availability of the manure phosphorus is dependent on the quantity of the dissolved form, and also on the solubility of the precipitated minerals and organic compounds. The dissolved phosphorus is already in solution, and is highly mobile until it is in contact with soil particles, which provide sites where the phosphorus can attach and become less mobile. However, manure placed on the soil surface and without being incorporated is highly susceptible to runoff with rainwater. To assure that phosphorus stays in the field where it belongs, incorporation soon after manure application is very important. Once manure is applied to soils, the soil pH and soil texture (clay content) will also have an important effect on how available manure phosphorus is. Soils with low pH (less than 7.0) will promote minerals to dissolve fast and the manure phosphorus

Agriculture 25 will become available rather quickly, whereas soils with high pH (greater than 7.0, like soils in the western part of Minnesota) will dissolve more slowly. Studies are starting to report that the clay present in soils may interact with microbes and as a result affect mineralization of the organic phosphorus. Phosphorus in organic compounds must first be mineralized before it can become available for plant uptake. Research has shown that soils high in clay content (greater than 12 percent) might have lower mineralization of organic phosphorus. The organic phosphorus may stay stored in the soil for more than one cropping season, which would provide a source of phosphorus for following growing seasons. This is also one of the forms of manure phosphorus that has been called residual manure phosphorus. The residual phosphorus from manure can be any form of the inorganic or organic phosphorus that did not dissolve and reacted with the soil in the first year after the manure application. For more information about nutrient management in soils, visit University of Minnesota Extension at ient-management.

26 Agriculture

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

Better use of manure WORKSHOPS IN LITCHFIELD AND HUTCHINSON ON FEB. 27 WILL EXPLAIN HOW TO MAKE BETTER USE OF GRID SOIL SAMPLING By PAULO PAGLIARI Soil scientist, University of Minnesota Extension rid soil sampling is rapidly becoming a widely accepted practice for use with precision placement of commercial fertilizers. What about the concept of using this technology for use in distributing manure? The University of Minnesota Extension in Meeker and McLeod counties are hosting a workshop called Effec-


tive Manure and Nutrient Management. It will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the Meeker County Courthouse in Community Rooms A and B, 325 North Sibley Ave. For details, visit With escalating prices of commercial fertilizer, the opportunity of capitalizing on manure for its nutrient value is being recognized. Using this valuable asset with the information grid soil sampling provides allows growers to maximize the economic value of the manure. Focusing

manure applications in field areas where phosphorus and potassium are needed, and shifting excess manure to other fields improves the value of manure as a fertilizer replacement and reduces nutrients in runoff. Manure presents challenges with varying analysis, nutrient availability and credits based on livestock species and method of application. Seminar attendees will learn how to manage these variables, and with grid soil sampling, enhance the value of manure on their farm. Farmers are welcome, but not required, to bring their own grid soil and manure analysis along to the workshop. The first presenter is Paulo Pagliari, University of Minnesota Extension soil scientist. He will present on “Soil Phosphorus Forms in Animals & its Effects on Soil Phosphorus Availability & Crop Yield.” The second presenter is Randy Pepin, University of Minnesota Extension educator. He will present on “Will Grid Soil Sampling Work for my Livestock Farm.” There is no admission fee for this workshop and a noon meal will be provided. Preregistration is requested to assist with meal counts. For registration or further information, call the Meeker County Extension Office at 320-693-5275, or email Nathan Winter at

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February 2013

Agriculture 27

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Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

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28 Agriculture

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96280 AG

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February 2013

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

Agriculture 29

Water quality certification FARMERS, RURAL LANDOWNERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND SESSIONS PLANNED AROUND THE STATE he Minnesota Department of Agriculture is conducting listening sessions at locations across the state in February to gather comments about the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program. The new program has been in development during the past year and is designed to accelerate voluntary adoption of onfarm agricultural practices that enhance water quality. Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said farmers and rural


landowners are encouraged to attend these sessions to provide feedback on the program prior to its implementation. “We want to ensure this program delivers what it should for farmers and for the environment,” Frederickson said. “We want to hear from farmers and others about the proposed program while we’re in the planning stage.” Under the program, farmers would voluntarily implement and maintain approved conservation plans and receive assurance that their operations meet water quality goals and standards. In return, they would

not be required to implement additional water quality practices for the duration of their certification. Listening session dates, times and locations are: Roseville: Tuesday, Feb. 19, 4 to 6 p.m., Ramsey County Library, Roseville Community Room. Crookston: Thursday, Feb. 21, 6 to 8 p.m., University of Minnesota, Crookston Ballroom. Mankato: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 6 to 8 p.m., South Central College, Conference Room A.

St. Cloud: Thursday, Feb. 28, 1 to 3 p.m., Minnesota Department of Transportation Training Center. The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program is the result of a state-federal partnership that includes the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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30 Agriculture

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

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Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review


February 2013

Agriculture 31

32 Agriculture

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

Chad Schmalz

96062 AG

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Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

Agriculture 33

February 2013

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34 Agriculture

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

Keeping your soil in place SOIL CONSERVATION, QUALITY WILL BE EXPLORED AT SEMINARS IN HUTCHINSON, LITCHFIELD ON MARCH 6 oil conservation, cover crops and soil quality continue to be topics of interest to landowners and farmers in south-central Minnesota. The University of Minnesota Extension in Meeker and McLeod counties is coordinating a workshop called Keeping Your Soil in Place. The workshop will take place Wednesday, March 6, in Hutchinson and Litchfield. The Hutchinson workshop will be at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in the Commercial Building Meeting Room. The


McLeod County Fairgrounds is at 840 Century Ave. S.W. It begins at 9 a.m. and will end at 11:30 a.m. The Litchfield workshop will be at the Meeker County Courthouse Meeting Rooms A&B. The Meeker County Courthouse is at 325 N. Sibley Ave.. Workshop begins at 1 p.m. and will end at 3:30 p.m. Workshop co-coordinators include the Natural Resource Conservation Service and Soil & Water Conservation Districts in Meeker and McLeod counties. Included will be a presentation by Doug Miller, NRCS area resource soil scientist

who will present on “Soil Health and Agriculture in South Central Minnesota.” McLeod and Meeker County NRCS and SWCD staff will present on “EQIP Program & State Costshare: Utilizing sediment basins, grassed waterways, and conservation drainage on your land.” Nathan Winter, University of Minnesota Extension educator in Meeker and McLeod counties will present on “Cover

Crop Opportunities in Minnesota and Utilizing the Cover Crop Decision Tool.” No pre-registration required to attend either workshop. For further information, call the Meeker County Extension Office at 320-693-5275, or the McLeod County Extension Office at 320-484-4303, or email Winter at For additional details, visit

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Gibbon 5 BR home - att. 2 car garage, 2 barns, set up for farrowing & finishing hogs, grain bin, mach. shed, all buildings in excellent cond.

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Rebecca Tuchtenhagen 96270 AG

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

Agriculture 35

36 Agriculture

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review


February 2013


United Farmers Cooperative provides a wide range of agriculture products and services to our members throughout Minnesota.

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Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

Agriculture 37

What’s up with grains? AN ONLINE REPORT PROVIDES SUCCESS STORIES FOR THE YEAR, MARKET PROFILES AND MORE he U.S. Grains Council recently launched its 2012 online Annual Report, available now at The online report includes success stories from the year, video highlights, photographs, and market profiles from more than 25 countries and regions. Market profile pages display supply/demand charts, market growth potential and other information viewers may find useful, including highlights from Council programs in each country. “Since the Council was founded 52


years ago, we have focused continuously on building markets and expanding trade opportunities for U.S. farmers and agribusinesses,” said Don Fast, USGC chairman. “By promoting sound trade policies, building relationships between trading partners and being a reliable third-party resource, the council and its members have enhanced food security and food choice for countless people around the world. This work is at the heart of our mission of Developing Markets, Enabling Trade and Improving Lives. The Council’s

global staff live and breathe it — and it makes us proud to witness their efforts.” An exclusive feature of the online report provides access to downloadable spreadsheets containing supply/demand data for more than 25 countries and regions that are provided on the individual market profile pages. The online report is available on its own website while the printed publication will be mailed to council members. A downloadable form of the printed publication is also available online. The U.S. Grains Council is a private,

nonprofit partnership of farmers and agribusinesses committed to building and expanding international markets for U.S. barley, corn, grain sorghum and their products. The Council is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 10 international offices that oversee programs in more than 50 countries. Financial support comes from private industry members, including state checkoffs, agribusinesses, state entities and others, triggers federal matching funds from the USDA resulting in a combined program value of more than $28.3 million.

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38 Agriculture

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

Take control of your heating costs... At Wood’s Edge we carry alternative heating options to fit almost everyone’s lifestyle. Whether it is WoodMaster and Heat Master SS wood stoves, LDJ A-Maize-Ing Heat, Bixby, Cumberland, St. Croix & WoodMaster Plus, Countryside pellet/corn/bio-mass stoves ...we can help! We can get replacement parts for almost any brand of stove— indoor or outdoor. Let us help you! Heat Master SS Special: Up to 00

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Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

Agriculture 39

NFO elects new officers JOE NEATON OF WATERTOWN WAS RE-ELECTED PRESIDENT AT THE GROUP’S MEETING IN JANUARY oe Neaton of Watertown was reelected state president of Minnesota National Farmers Organization at the annual reorganizational meeting Saturday, Jan. 19, at the NFO office in Sauk Centre. Neaton and his wife, LuAnn, operate 450 acres of alfalfa, corn, and soybeans near Watertown and raise Holstein steers. They have two sons with separate farming operations and a third son has a maintenance business for horse owners. Their daughter Kelly is married and lives in Caledonia, Wis.


Harold Marthaler of Sauk Centre was elected new vice president replacing Leander Wagner of Elko. Marthaler milks 72 cows and farms 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans with his parents. He is the father of six children and has been a township supervisor for 13 years. Pam Henry-Neaton of Watertown was re-elected state secretary. She is a sisterin-law to Joe Neaton. She and her husband also farm near Watertown. Bruce Zeidler of Eagle Bend was reelected to his 16th year as state treasurer. Zeidler and his wife have four children

and operate a dairy and crop farm. John Zschetzsche of Mountain Lake was re-appointed public relations director and editor of the Upper Midwest NFO newsletter. Other state board members are: Mark Rohr of Bluffton, national director, Leander Wagner of Elko, national director, Doug Suhr of Kasson, First District President, Steve Clarke of Fulda, Second Dis-

trict President, Todd Steeke, Perham, Seventh District President and Steve Koering, Fort Ripley, Eighth District President. Trustees on the board are Bob Arndt, Echo; Don Koep, Clitherall; and Harold Marthaler, Sauk Centre. The national convention of NFO was in Kansas City Jan. 28-31. This year’s state convention has been set for Aug. 17 at Gerard’s Restaurant in Sauk Centre.

40 Agriculture

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

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Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

Agriculture 41

Dairy farmers’ big challenges DAIRY PRODUCERS’ SHARE OF THE DOLLAR HAS BEEN REDUCED TO LOWER THAN BREAK-EVEN LEVELS s 2013 continues, dairy farmers are feeling the squeeze of tight margins and low prices. Producers’ share of the dairy dollar hovers at a level that doesn’t cover their cost of producing milk. December 2012 milk prices paid to producers fell about $2 per hundredweight, to $18.66 for Class III milk, which is below their break-even levels in most cases. Dairymen’s share of the food dollar, as calculated by National Farmers Union’s The Farmers’ Share in December, landed at $1.81 for one gallon of fat-free milk,


with a retail price of $4.19. In addition to the price outlook, other challenges facing dairy producers are the consolidation and closing of several dairy processing and bottling plants, shrinking the number of available markets. This loss of market access reduces the competitive factor in the price levels available to producers. Concurrently, there is a surge in the number of plants being purchased by foreign buyers. In a current issue of Dairy Food Magazine, six of the nation’s top 15 processors are now foreign-owned, and

that number is expected to grow. National Farmers, a risk management and price negotiation organization for the nation’s farmers and ranchers, has long represented producers’ interests, addressing concerns about captive supply, consolidation and foreign ownership. “As an agricultural marketing organization, we understand the importance of competition between processors and retailers in the agricultural industry,” said National Farmers President Paul Olson. “We market for producers every day, sending not only milk, but also commodi-

ties such as beef, corn, soybeans and wheat to agriculture’s buyers. They’re a needed part of our industry,” said Olson, a Taylor, Wis., dairy producer. “However, we represent producers, and many aspects of our system need to be changed and made more equitable, so producers will receive prices that will cover their costs. “In the meantime, we continue to work for producers in the marketplace, and we urge them to market together with groups like National Farmers, that make producers’ best interests one of their primary objectives,” Olson said.

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Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013

Foreign buyers squeeze dairy A NATIONAL DAIRY PANEL RECENTLY EXAMINED THE CHANGING INDUSTRY’S EFFECTS ON PRODUCERS dairy panel told an audience of milk producers from around the country in Kansas City, Mo., in early February that increasing milk processing consolidation into private hands and foreign ownership is rapidly changing their industry. And not for the better. Foreign-owned dairy processors that are not co-ops now command two of the top three positions in dairy sales in the U.S. And, the highest-ranking co-op now registers only fifth in total milk sales to consumers.

only four are cooperatives,” he said. Rach predicted that unless dairy producers take control of their own destiny, cooperatives will continue to lose influence as private and foreign owners take over the processing industry. Meanwhile, Rach said government policies continue to press for programs that help farmers live with low prices, and he expects that will continue.

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This shift matters to dairy producers, because private and foreign-owned processors have less incentive to pass along more money per hundredweight back to farmers for their raw milk. Compare that to dairy farmer-owned cooperative processors, who work on behalf of their member-owners — dairy farmers themselves. “It wasn’t so long ago that three dairy processors out of the top four were U.S.owned cooperatives,” said National Farmers Dairy Marketing Director Brad Rach. “Today, however, of the top 16 processors,

Addressing producer profitability, in California, the nation’s number one producing dairy state, average milk producer margins have moved from a +$2.28 in 2007, to a loss of an average of $3.83 in 2012. “Producers have reacted by eliminating higher-priced feeds to lower their input costs,” said Joe Paris, a California-based national dairy consultant who provides market analysis and forecasting to large dairy operations, including 9,000-cow Gallo Dairies. “Some producers are diversifying into almonds, pistachios and walnuts. But, some are exiting the business for a more profitable use for their land,” Paris said. Producers have also petitioned the state for regulatory price increases to match Federal Orders. In the California state legislature, there has been an effort to raise producer milk prices through legislation instead of through the Federal Orders. Dr. Richard Levins spoke about smallersized family farms and their importance in the production industry. He said 10,000 family-sized dairy farms have been lost in the past five years, and he anticipates relatively higher feed costs will accelerate the losses in the near term.

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42 Agriculture

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

Grants target innovation THE MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE HAS AS MUCH AS $500,000 TO AID NEW PROJECTS he Minnesota Department of Agriculture has another round of funding available for projects that will help farmers, producers and processors add value to their operations. A total of $500,000 in funding was made available through the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation Program, established by the Legislature to advance Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable energy industries. MDA will distribute funds through its AGRI Value Added Grant Program which aims to increase sales of Minnesota agricultural products by diversifying and increasing market access and food safety. Specifically, these grants are intended to:  initiate or expand livestock product processing;  create feasibility, business, marketing and succession plans for existing and new businesses;  purchase equipment to initiate, upgrade, or modernize value added busi-


nesses;  increase on-farm food safety, such as implementation of a food safety plan  increase farmers’ processing and aggregating capacity to enter farm-toschool and other markets Proposals that have a meat processing, farm-to-school (or other institution) component, or are addressing good agricultural practices or similar type of food safety plan will receive priority, but all value added proposals are encouraged to apply. Round two applications must be received no later than 4 p.m. March 1. Proposals may be delivered by mail, in person, or by email. If a proposal is emailed, the time and date it is received by the program administrator will be considered the received-by date. Applications are available at For more information, contact David Weinand, MDA grants administrator, at 651-201-6646 or

February 2013

Agriculture 43

44 Agriculture

Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

February 2013


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Agriculture 2013