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Why Celebrate Ag Day?
About Ag Day
Americans need to understand the value of agriculture in their daily lives. Here are just some of the key reasons why it’s important to recognize—and celebrate— Ag Day each year:
March 24, 2020
is National Ag Day, a time when producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America gather to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by American agriculture. As the world population soars, there is even greater demand for the food, fiber and renewable resources produced in the United States.
1 understand how food, fiber and renewable resource products are produced.
2 value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
• Increased knowledge of agriculture and nutrition allows individuals to make informed personal choices about diet and health. • Informed citizens will be able to participate in establishing the policies that will support a competitive agricultural industry in this country and abroad. • Employment opportunities exist across the board in agriculture. Some career choices include: • farm production • food science • agribusiness management and marketing • processing and retailing • agricultural research and engineering • landscape architecture • Agriculture is too important a topic to be taught only to the small of students considering careers in agriculture and pursuing OF percentage vocational agricultural studies.
INSTALLATION DRAIN TILE • Agricultural literacy includes an understanding of agriculture’s history and AND WATERLINE current economic, social and environmental significance to all Americans.
3 appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing
INSTALLATION OF DRAIN TILE AND WATERLINE
4 acknowledge and consider career opportunities
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safe, abundant and affordable products.
in the agriculture, food, fiber and renewable resource industries.
These businesses proudly support the area’s farmers and ranchers for the abundance of food and products they provide with their participation in this special National Ag Day tribute.
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE On the cover
Looking steady to lower than 2019
Cattle producers optimistic despite market concerns
High-Demand Ag Programs at Mitchell Technical Institute Agricultural Business • Agronomy Animal Science • Precision Ag Technology Diesel Power - Ag Power Technology Diesel Power - Light Truck Technology Power Sports & Marine Technology
Educating youth on the dangers of grain bins Farm insurance deadline Avon school receives award Vietnam buying more U.S. Farm goods Alan Guebert - The end is nowhere in sight SD farmers meet with U.S. Secretary of Ag. Sunflowers drawing greater interest Dollar’s strength yet another snag for U.S.-China farm deal
4 6 12
Mitchell Tech’s highly qualified instructional staff and reputable programs will prepare graduates for a variety of ag and transportation careers. Work in a great facility with some of today’s hottest equipment!
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Publisher JO N I H A R M S Editor L U K E H AG EN
Don’t miss these great tours in 2020
Advertising Director LO R I E H A N S EN Layout Design C H R I S JO H N S O N South Dakota Farm & Ranch is a monthly agricultural publication dedicated to informing South Dakota area farmers and ranchers about current topics, news and the future of agriculture. This publication fits the niche of our unique farmers and ranchers of South Dakota, and the diverseness we have in our state. Although the Missouri River divides our state, we are all South Dakotans and thank the land for supporting us each and every day. You, our readers, may be livestock ranchers, or row crop farmers, and everywhere in between, however, we all have a common goal in mind. We feed and support the growing population and want the next generation to find that same love, dedication and support that agriculture can offer. We’re all South Dakota farmers and ranchers, and with this publication, we want to showcase your successes, new technology, upcoming events, FFA and 4-H club news and much more. To subscribe to this FREE publication, contact South Dakota Farm & Ranch.
Contact Us P O B O X 1 2 8 8 • M I T CH E L L , S D 605-996-5514
Mackinac Island May 31-June 6
Minnesota Twins vs Los Angeles Angels June 6-7
Lake of the Woods Fishing Trip June 21-25
Medora Musical July 17-19
Smokey Mountain Christmas and Nashville November 16-23
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March 2020 SOUTH DAKOTA FARM & RANCH 3
EDUCATING YOUTH ON THE DANGERS OF GRAIN BINS
By Caleigh Sanchez The Daily Republic
wenty-seven-year-old Christopher Bauman was found dead in a corn bin last month in rural Elkton. Bauman was emptying corn from the bin, according to the Brookings County Sheriff’s Office. “We need to start educating on the dangers of grain bins,” said Jerry Mork, Clark and Day County Farm Bureau president. “Unfortunately, grain entrapment accidents are becoming much too common.” Mork, Brian Moes from Codington and Hamlin County Farm Bureau, and Webster FFA adviser Fred Zenk
helped coordinate the event featuring several awareness activities, including a showing of the movie “SILO,” on Mar. 10. Webster, Florence, Clarke and Groton FFA groups saw the movie, which is based on a true story that follows a tense day in an American farm town. Disaster strikes when a teenager is entrapped in a 50-foot tall grain bin. When the corn turns to quicksand, family, neighbors and first responders must put aside their differences to rescue him from drowning in the crop that has sustained their community for generations. Webster Area first responders also attended the event.
The movie was followed by a grain entrapment harness use demonstration by Agtegra at the Webster school. Agtegra Cooperative, a company that focuses on providing a safe work environment for grain production and is certified in grain bin recovery company attended the event and taught students safety training and tips on what to do and what not to do in a safe environment. “Farm Bureau now offers memberships to FFA students, and more than anything, we want these kids to learn safety,” Mork said, “Raising awareness will have a lot of farmers thinking twice before they climb into a bin — or they’ll know how to do it
correctly. Hopefully teaching about it will prevent incidents like what happened to the Elkton individual.” Scott VanderWal, president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau, said the Bureau is making an emphasis on safety. “Everybody knows it’s dangerous,” VanderWal said. “But when it gets into the heat of the battle, when you’re trying to get something loaded, people tend to climb in... we have to resist that.” Gov. Kristi Noem, who lost her father in a grain bin accident, is encouraging producers to “evaluate safety procedures on their farms and ranches.”
Raising awareness will have a lot of farmers thinking twice before they climb into a bin — or they’ll know how to do it correctly. JERRY MORK, Clark and Day County Farm Bureau president
4 SOUTH DAKOTA FARM & RANCH March 2020
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FINAL DATE TO PURCHASE CROP INSURANCE LOOMS By The Daily Republic BILLINGS, MT. — USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) reminds producers in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming that the final date to purchase or make changes to crop insurance on spring-planted crops in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming is March 15. Farmers also
need to notify their agent if they have planted winter wheat in a county with only spring wheat coverage by this date. Federal crop insurance is critical to the farm safety net. It helps producers and owners manage revenue risks and strengthens the rural economy. Producers may select from several coverage options, including yield
coverage, revenue protection, and area risk policies. Producers are encouraged to visit their crop insurance agent soon to learn specific details for the 2020 crop year. Agents can help producers determine what policy works best for their operation and review existing coverage to ensure the policy meets their needs.
Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator. Producers can use the RMA Cost Estimator to get a premium amount estimate of their insurance needs online.
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INPUT PRICES STEADY TO LOWER THAN 2019
As farmers plan for 2020, they’re finding input costs steady to lower.
By Michelle Rook AgweekTV Anchor
armers in the Corn Belt are looking forward to the 2020 planting season with optimism. Coming off one of the most disastrous years most of them can ever remember, farmers are anxious to wipe the slate clean and start over. However, they have also been putting together crop plans this winter and have found input costs that are steady to lower. Even amid the trade war and China tariffs on herbicide and fertilizer ingredients, many retailers are able to offer prices comparable to 2019. With fewer acres planted nationally last year, many retailers have inventory they are carrying over at attractive prices, but the world economic situation is also putting pressure on fuel and petroleum products. The one caveat is with more corn acres projected for this spring and fewer prevented planting acres that could offset some of those benefits. Lee Lubbers farms several thousand acres with his brother near Gregory, S.D., and says they have been working with their agronomy providers over the winter and have been surprised with the price points they’ve been able to offer. He says that will greatly improve their bottom line in this low commodity price environment.
“On seed and chemical, all companies are getting into the bundling programs. Because the companies want market share, they want our business and we’re using that to our advantage and bundling a lot of inputs and consolidating it down and actually getting a lot better prices,” he says. He says through that program that were able to get the high performing genetics and herbicides they wanted to get the best performance. Fertilizer product prices have also come down relative to a year ago. “We have good multiyear relationships with our key suppliers,” Lubbers says. “We sourced our fertilizer, we contracted In July. We got a real good price on urea. We actually caught a dip in our phosphorus, best price in six years. It pulled back 25% so we pulled the trigger on it.” Fuel prices are also lower than a year ago with spot crude oil dropping 16% from the end of 2019 and its also down 7% from a year ago. Ultra-light sulfur diesel is also trading 19% lower than this same time period in 2019. Jonathan Aal, account manager with Pioneer, says most companies were also able to hold the line on seed prices despite some challenges growing seed supplies in 2019. “What I’ve seen from an industry perspective on seed, I would say it’s relatively similar to last
year on corn as well as the soybean pricing,” he says. However, many farmers took advantage of early pricing programs and received favorable discounts. “I mean some of our growers that have some cash to work with I think, they took advantage of our prepay. You know we have some very aggressive prepay in the fall and those kind of growers are able to take care of it,” says Tony Lenz, with Stine Seeds. The increase in overall planted acres in 2020 and in particular corn acreage, however, may offset those lower input prices. USDA forecasted in the recent Ag Outlook forum that farmers will plant 94 million acres of corn, which is up 5% from 2019, while they will seed 85 million acres of beans, which is also up nearly 9 million acres from the previous season. Corn is a higher priced crop to grow, with higher seed, herbicide and fertilizer requirements. So, Lenz says farmers with tight cash flow may still consider planting soybeans. “If they want to cut back on some costs, soybeans we put less inputs into that crop and so it is something farmers can look at,” he says. While herbicide costs look steady to lower than 2019, farmers will face higher costs for weed control in acres that sat idle last year. South Dakota Soybean Association President Jeff
Thompson farms near Colton and says he anticipates spending more money on herbicides this year because of the record 4 million plus acres that were idle in South Dakota in 2019. “The chemical program is going to be a big one because we had so many prevent plant acres, you know, with a lot of nasty weed escapes where we could not get into control them. We’ve got a weed bank that we’re going to have to put some extra money and effort towards controlling that area,” he says. Sara Bauder, South Dakota State University Extension field crops specialist, says they may have to use both pre- and post-emergent products to get a handle on weeds. “So, when they are able to get in the field, and we hope they are able to get in at a reasonable time, pre-emergent herbicides are going to be very important when that time comes,” she says. The other added cost will be associated with taking care of field ruts. Even with lower fuel prices, farmers will be making more trips across the field. “You know you’re going to have to consider some light tillage passes. Typically, what’s recommended is multiple light tillage passes to try to get that soil back to a point where it’s farmable,” Bauder says.
March 2020 SOUTH DAKOTA FARM & RANCH 7
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CATTLE PRODUCERS OPTIMISTIC DESPITE MARKET CONCERNS
Matt Gade / Republic
A young calf stays close to its mother in one of the Weber Charolais & Red Angus cattle lots Northwest of Wagner in March 2017.
By Erik Kaufman The Daily Republic
rea cattle producers remain optimistic on prices despite recent uncertainties in the beef cattle markets, including concerns about how the spread of the Coronavirus virus will affect value going into the future. A number of factors are playing into current cattle prices, including the emergence of the new disease, recent weather conditions and a major packing facility fire in August. But for the most part, producers are keeping their chin up when it comes to what they are getting in return for their investment. “The cattle market gets hit hardest when you have uncertainties like the Coronavirus,” said Cory Eich, who farms near Epiphany and raises about 450 head of cattle. That uncertainty was on display last week in the stock market. With the spread of the COVID-19 virus around the world, concern was high almost immediately. The Dow Jones saw a high of above 29,500 just a few weeks ago but closed around 25,000 recently, with quadruple digit losses result-
ing from concerns over the disease. Cattle markets in the United States were affected by this, according to a report from the United States Department of Agriculture, as the demand for beef was expected to drop in the short term. When the stock market is doing well, consumers feel confident and are willing to spend more disposable income on luxuries like eating out, and beef is often part of that experience. “Ag commodities do not like uncertainty. You know the demand is out there but you don’t know when it’s going to surface,” Eich said. “But the default setting is to not buy.” Jodi Anderson, executive director of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, said that COVID-19 itself is not necessarily the concern for the cattle producer. While issues like COVID-19 can impact demand, the supply side of the equation can have just as much of an effect. “More than anything, I think it’s a function of supply and demand. We Erik Kaufman / Republic had good prices in 2014 and 2015, but Area 4-H members show cattle at the Davison County Winter Beef Show in low cattle numbers, the lowest in the January. Cattle producers are watching a number of factors affecting cattle country in years,” Anderson said. “As market prices to start 2020, including the emergence of the COVID-19 virus,
Continued on page 10 weather patterns and a recent packing facility fire.
March 2020 SOUTH DAKOTA FARM & RANCH 9
Continued from page 9 we are prone to do in the cattle industry, we corrected, and we have a lot more than we did then, which is reflected in the prices.” Despite the increase in cattle numbers, demand has remained, she said. And recent trade deals in Washington, D.C. have the potential to improve the market as well. “Demand has remained strong, and we have a few of these new trade deals now underway. They’re not impacting the market yet, but hopefully they will,” Anderson said. Eich said the market environment is likely a little worse than it was at this time last year, but he also noted that other factors were playing a role in that, including the weather. “If you take the market today or this week, it might be a little tougher than a year ago. Producers that traditionally sold calves and do the same thing are getting similar money to maybe $100 less, but I would blame that on the weather more than anything,” Eich said. “The feedlot guys have not had an easy go the last few years, with margins and the weather conditions combined.” Weather can devastate crop production, leading to an increase in feed costs. Even if demand and prices remain steady, producers see their profit reduced due to those increases. “That’s definitely something we have heard producers talk about,” Anderson said. “And speculation
tly easing the extra moisture into already-saturated soil. And precipitation has been below average for this time of year. After last year’s bitterly cold temperatures and blizzards, this spring has been a welcome change, he said. “We are seeing some improvements, and the last two weeks have gone as well as they could possibly have gone,” Eich said. “For the last 30 or 60 days we’ve been below on precipitation, and remarkably got rid of a lot of snow. I’m starting to think the light at the end of the tunnel may not be a train.” The spread of COVID-19 and weather conditions aren’t the only factors that have impacted markets and prices over the last year. A major fire in August at Tyson beef processing plant in Holcomb, Kansas destroyed a facility that processed 6,000 head per day before the fire. That processing capacity accounts for 6 percent of the total United State fed cattle capacity and the impact of the fire is still being felt. Erik Kaufman / Republic There will always be ups and downs Area 4-H members show cattle at the Davison County Winter Beef Show in in the profitability of the cattle indusJanuary. Cattle producers are watching a number of factors affecting cattle try, Eich said, but producers approach market prices to start 2020, including the emergence of the COVID-19 virus, that uncertainty looking for whatever weather patterns and a recent packing facility fire. bright spots they can. And while current prices in the market may not be is it is going to be another year longer-range forecasts for some good ideal, it could be far worse. “It’s not what we would news. Warmer-than-average temas wet as last year.” Eich agreed that he is already perature and a slow, steady melting like, but it’s a long way from watching the current weather and of the snow on the ground are gen- disaster,” Eich said.
Matt Gade / Republic
Cattle feed and rest on a farm in Davison County west of Mitchell.
10 SOUTH DAKOTA FARM & RANCH March 2020
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March 2020 SOUTH DAKOTA FARM & RANCH 11
AVON FARMERS DESIGNATE AWARD TO AVON SCHOOL SCIENCE PROGRAMS By The Daily Republic armers Darla Hento and Scott Meiers both of Avon, each recently directed a $2,500 America’s Farmers Grow Communities donation, sponsored by Bayer Fund, to the Avon School District Science Program. The Avon School District Science Program will use the funds to upgrade technology for the science program. “The Avon Science Program extends thanks to Scott Meiers and Darla Hento for nominating the Science Program to receive the donations. The Science Program continues to have great success as a result of the continued community support of the program, teachers, and students. These donations will allow upgrades in technology such as new laptops which will have a direct impact on the students and the resources they have access to through the Science Program,” said, Paul Kuhlman, Avon School District, science teacher. The America’s Farmers Grow Communities program, sponsored by Bayer Fund, partners with farmers to provide grants to local nonprofits to help their communities. Through the program, farmers enroll for the chance to direct a $2,500 donation to a local
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Continued from page 12 eligible nonprofit organization of their choice. The America’s Farmers programs have given more than $57 million to rural America since 2010. The Grow Communities program partners with farmers across the country to provide nonprofit organizations with resources to strengthen their local communities. Each August, farmers can enter for the chance to direct a $2,500 Grow Communities donation to a local eligible nonprofit of their choice. Farmers have directed donations to food banks, emergency response organizations, schools, youth agriculture programs and many others that reflect the spirit and support the vibrancy of rural America. “Farmers truly understand the needs of their communities and where the opportunities to strengthen them exist. We partner with them to identify the nonprofit organizations that benefit from Grow Communities donations,” said Al Mitchell, Bayer Fund president. “Each donation shines a light on the organizations that are making a positive difference in rural communities across the country. Bayer Fund is proud to partner with farmers to give back in rural America.” To learn how you can be an America’s Farmers Grow Communities recipient, visit www.AmericasFarmers.com. The America’s Farmers Grow Communities 2021 program will kick off on August 1, 2020, and farmers will once again have the opportunity to enroll for a chance to direct a donation to a local eligible nonprofit of their choice.
March 2020 SOUTH DAKOTA FARM & RANCH 13
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VIETNAM BUYING $3 BILLION IN U.S. FARM GOODS TO EASE TRUMP TARIFF THREATS V
By Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen Bloomberg
ietnam, looking to allay the Trump administration’s wrath over its soaring trade surplus with the U.S., is committing to buy $3 billion in farm products from Nebraska. The agricultural shopping spree is part of a campaign to address complaints about the trade surplus and difficulties U.S. companies face in accessing Vietnamese markets. “We see a lot of room to increase purchases from America, and that will significantly help narrow our trade gap with the U.S.,” said Nguyen Do Anh Tuan, the agriculture ministry’s spokesman, who was part of a recent Vietnamese delegation to meet farm-product producers in the U.S. “Our demand for American farming products is very high.” Vietnamese companies signed 18 agreements with American producers to buy about $3 billion of farm products in the next two to three years, Tuan, director general of the agriculture ministry’s international cooperation department, said in an inter-
view. The deals include purchases of 100,000 cows, 3 million tons of wheat and barley worth as much as $800 million, and fruit, corn and soy animal feed, according to Tuan. “We will have regular meetings with these Vietnamese companies to give them timely support in implementing the signed MOUs,” Tuan said. “We also want to buy more high-tech equipment from the U.S. to make more value-added farm products in the future.” Vietnam’s leaders are doing all they can to avoid China’s fate after U.S. President Donald Trump, asked in June 2019 if he wanted to impose tariffs on Vietnam, described the Southeast Asian nation as “almost the single worst abuser of everybody.” Vietnam’s exports to the U.S. reached $61.3 billion in 2019, widening the trade gap to $47 billion from $34.8 billion in 2018, according to Vietnamese customs data. The U.S. Census Bureau reports a $55.8 billion trade deficit with Vietnam for 2019 and $39.5 billion for 2018.
In an interview last year, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc promised that Vietnam would buy more U.S. products, such as Boeing Co. aircraft. In August, state-run Vietnam National Coal-Mineral Industries announced it was negotiating to buy U.S. coal for the first time, from Xcoal Energy Resources LLC. Vietnam is cracking down on fake labeling of Chinese goods being routed through its territory to bypass U.S. tariffs. Meanwhile, the central bank and government ministries have vowed to address U.S. concerns about Vietnam’s monetary policy and trade surplus with the U.S., after the Treasury added Vietnam to a watchlist of countries being monitored for possible currency manipulation. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said last year that Vietnam needs to resolve “market access restrictions related to goods, services, agricultural products, and intellectual property.” Vietnam is working to address Lighthizer’s concerns, Tuan said. “We will work on changes in some relevant regulations to make it easier
for American companies to sell more in Vietnam,” he said. “We are trying to create opportunities for businesses of the two countries to boost trade exchange in a fair manner. This will surely help the bilateral relations between Vietnam and the U.S.”
March 2020 SOUTH DAKOTA FARM & RANCH 15
THE END IS NOWHERE IN SIGHT
n just one, unwelcome week in America, the coronavirus drained $3.6 trillion from the stock market, clipped Apple shareholders for $220 billion, and sent millions of Americans to stores to buy every facemask, surgical glove, and gallon of bleach they could get their now-sanitized hands on. It’s what we do; we panic first and ask questions later. Well, it’s now later and questions are rolling in. The biggest, “What’s next?” has no clear answer but most national governments — including ours — have finally seen enough to act.
In their first coordinated move, the world’s central bankALAN GUEBERT ers informally agreed to lower target interest rates to stave off what many forecast will be a one-half to one percent, virus-affected slowdown in the global economy. The high side of that number, one percent, sounds tiny but it’s actually a $900 billion hit on the estimated $90 trillion world economy. What’s $900 billion in terms of jobs? It’s hard to calculate on a global scale but in 2017, Georgetown University estimated that a $1 trillion infrastructure-spending plan for the U.S.
16 SOUTH DAKOTA FARM & RANCH March 2020
would create 11 million jobs. As such, it’s a safe bet that a $900 billion hit to worldwide growth would eliminate at least as many jobs. More importantly, some market seers now claim the U.S. Federal Reserve will make another, and possibly even a third, interest rate cut in the coming (election) year to ensure U.S. companies remain well positioned for recovery. If so, the Fed-weakened dollar is welcome news for U.S. ag exports. Cheaper dollars lead to more exports, right? Usually, but this is not any usual time. In fact, forecasts Refinitiv, a financial data firm owned jointly by Blackstone and Thomson Reuters, deep U.S. interest rate cuts are just
as likely to fuel “an all-out [international] currency battle” that will worsen today’s tariff-based trade wars as much as help them. As Refinitiv sees it, few coronavirus-weakened nations can afford to concede crucial global markets to any competitor — including the American elephant — without weakening their already sickened domestic economies. That means they will fight U.S. rate cuts with cuts of their own and, just like that, the world’s economy staggers toward more problems. It makes frightening sense. Let’s hope it makes frightening sense to the White House, too. A more focused look at some key commodities proves the virus has
Continued on page 18
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Continued from page 16 already sickened global markets like crude oil. Since Jan. 1, crude futures prices have tumbled from near $65 a barrel to under $50 a barrel. Hard hit Chinese oil imports, estimated one-third lower since the coronavirus struck, are the key cause. On March 3, traders lifted crude prices off lows when rumors circulated that OPEC oil barons would cut production to thin the oversupplied market. OPEC’s muscle, however, is overmatched as China’s newest export, coronavirus, has now hit oil importers like Japan, South Korea, and Italy. The waves caused by China’s slow action on its epidemic are now also hitting U.S. farms and ranches.
DTN contributing analyst Elaine Kub noted in late February that the “shocking collapse of freight demand out of China, which accounts for 40 percent of global dry bulk seaborne shipments,” has dropped shipping costs so low that “you can hire a big
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ary was only 80 percent of normal. Also, slow grain sales to the “top five U.S. corn customers have stunted rail movement not only to the ports, but also south across the border.” U.S. meat exports are backing up too, reports the March 2 Wall Street Journal. Incredibly, nearly one billion pounds of frozen chicken, a 12 percent increase over normal, currently crowd U.S. warehouses. Frozen beef and pork are now stacking up, too. All portend a long, slow recovery once the world and the U.S. truly stop the coronavirus’s still mysterious, steady march. That end, however, is nowhere in sight.
Be sure to watch Tuesday’s & Thursday’s Daily Republic Classifieds & Wednesday’s ADvisor Classifieds for upcoming listings of auctions!
ocean vessel” — with a two-million-bushel cargo capacity — for “around $500 per day,” or one-third its usual cost. Kub additionally notes troubling signs of virus-slowed ag exports. U.S. Gulf ship loading in mid-Febru-
SOUTH DAKOTANS MEET WITH U.S. SEC. OF AGRICULTURE DURING NATIONAL FARMERS UNION CONVENTION By The Daily Republic HURON — Acknowledging the challenges facing American agriculture, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue says he remains bullish for the future of agriculture when he addressed Farmers Union members during the organization’s National Convention held in Savannah on March 1-3. “People need you. People need us. People need American agriculture,” Perdue said. Among the many family farmers and ranchers in the audience were several from South Dakota who took time away from their operations to help establish policy that will address some of the many challenges facing their industry today. “Farmers Union is the only grassroots agriculture organization where I feel anyone involved can make a difference. Even an Average Joe farmer like me,” explains Rachel Kippley, who farms near Aberdeen, with her husband, Jeff. The Kippleys are among seven South Dakota Farmers Union members who were elected to serve as delegates during Convention: Terry Sestak, Tabor; Gerri Eide, Gettysburg; Scott Kolousek, Wessington Springs; Brian Cain, Miller and Amber Kolousek, Wessington Springs. “Through policy and education, we are able to keep our organization focused,” Jeff Kippley added. “The great thing about Farmers Union is we have representation from all kinds of farming. But at the heart and soul of Farmers Union are the commodity farmers and ranchers – like those of us from South Dakota.” Serving on the S.D. Farmers Union Policy Committee for two years, Wessington Springs cattle producer,
also recognized for leadership and membership work in S.D. Farmers Union with the Bruce Miller Award. “Because of leaders like Jeff and Rachel Kippley, membership has grown this last year in our state,” said Karla Hofhenke, SDFU Executive Director. “I am very impressed with the group of delegates we have this year. They are a good representation of our state’s family farmers and ranchers. And their leadership is going to be needed in developing our organization’s national policy, making sure the family farmer and rancher is not forgotten.” SDFU President and Conde farmer, Doug Sombke added, “The reason Farmers Union can make a difference for family farmers and ranchers throughout the U.S. is this organization is truly grassroots. Our policy is developed by farmers and ranchers Mark Reinstein, shutterstock.com who have skin in the game and know U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue what changes need to be made so their operations can be viable into the “The last four years have progres- future.” Scott Kolousek agreed. “I am eager to see how the policy developed at the sively gotten tougher, economicalSouth Dakota Farmers Union memstate level becomes part of national ly, for us. Corporate consolidation in bers who attended National Convenlivestock and agronomy businesses tion include: Doug Sombke, Conde; policy.” Concerned over fair prices for cattle needs to be stopped and reversed,” Jim and Kathy Wahle, Salem; Jeff producers and an advocate for country Kolousek’s letter reads. “Remember and Rachel Kippley, Aberdeen; Gerri of origin labeling (COOL), Kolousek the people in middle of America who Eide, Gettysburg; Wayne and Vicki took the opportunity to present a let- helped put you in office. We need your Soren, Lake Preston; Larry Birgen, ter to Secretary Perdue to hand over help.” Sioux Falls; Kirk Schaunaman, AberSouth Dakotans recognized for deen; Dallis and Tammy Basel, Union to President Trump asking for three changes he believes would be positive Membership and Leadership Center; Rachel Haigh-Blume, RedDuring National Farmers Union field; Landon Copley, Aberdeen; Brian steps forward for cattle producers, including mandatory Country-of-Or- Convention, several South Dakota and Lindsey Cain, Miller; Rocky Forigin-Labeling (mCOOL); break up counties were recognized for their man, Huron; Karla Hofhenke, Huron; the meat packer consolidation and continued leadership and growth in Scott and Amber Kolousek, Wessrequire any trader on the Chicago Farmers Union membership includ- ington Springs; Kathryn Nightingale, Board of Trade or Chicago Mercantile ing Aurora, Bon Homme, Brule, Cor- White Lake; Luke Reindl, Wessington Exchange to physically own for 30 son/Perkins, Hand, Jerauld/Buffalo, Springs; David and Brenda Reis, Oacodays the commodity in which they Lyman, Minnehaha, Sanborn, Spink, ma; Terry Sestak, Tabor; Gail Temple, Tripp and Yankton. Jeff Kippley was Clark and Jason Wells, Huron. trade.
March 2020 SOUTH DAKOTA FARM & RANCH 19
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SUNFLOWERS DRAWING GREATER INTEREST
Sunflowers could rejoin the crop rotation on farms that haven't grown flowers in years.
About 1.38 million acres of sunflowers were planted nationwide in 2019
By Jonathan Knutson Forum News Service John Sandbakken has been hearing from young Upper Midwest farmers interested in raising sunflowers in 2020. “They tell me, ‘We haven’t had sunflowers on this farm since my grandpa had them (decades ago),’” said Sandbakken, executive director of the Mandan, N.D.-based National Sunflower Association. Though planting intentions are still in flux, sunflowers could be unusually popular in the upcoming planting season. Among the reasons for the upswing in farmers’ interest: ► Soybeans can be safer to plant late than most other crops, which could encourage area farmers to plant them in what could become an unusually wet and delayed spring. ► Domestic demand for sunflower oil has risen by an average of 4.8% annually over the past 10 years, as
many consumers increasingly regard it as healthy. That helps to bolster the prices that farmers receive, Sandbakken said. ► The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement helps to ensure continued sunflower sales to Mexico and Canada, while the trade agreement with Japan will allow U.S. sunflowers to compete for sales on a fairer basis in that country. ► Per-acre yields of more than 2,000 pounds of sunflowers are now the norm; once, a yield of a ton per acre was considered extraordinary. That reflects, in part, farmers’ greater commitment to raising the crop successfully, rather than planting it only as a last resort when weather conditions prevent them from planting other crops. ► Widespread blizzards in the fall of 2019 led to accumulated snow in many area fields that severely hampered
harvest. Sunflowers weren’t immune to those problems, but they’re a tall crop, which in some cases made harvesting them easier. Roughly 1.38 million acres of sunflowers were planted nationwide in 2019. South Dakota led the way with 540,000 acres, followed by North Dakota with 500,000 acres. Minnesota farmers planted 52,500 acres, most of them in northwest Minnesota. Cooler temperatures and harsh winters in the area make sunflowers less susceptible to insects and disease. Sandbakken said there’s increased interest in the crop in all three states, including areas such as eastern North Dakota where sunflowers are relatively rare. There’s also growing interest in warmer-weather states, such as Texas, where sunflowers can be one part of a double-cropping crop season, Sandbakken said. Sunflowers were a star in area agriculture in the 1970s, with production rising tenfold in the decade. In 1979, a record 5.5 million acres were planted nationwide; North Dakota accounted
for a majority of that. But various production problems, including damage from flocks of birds that fed on the growing crop, led many farmers to quit raising it. In some cases, they switched to soybeans, which, like sunflowers, are an oilseed. Birds remain a concern. But planting sunflowers early and applying desiccants at harvest (the latter helps the plants to dry up at a uniform rate) can moderate damage from birds, Sandbakken said. “Plant early and desiccate,” he said. On the marketing side, growing domestic demand for U.S. sunflowers helps to bolster prices, Sandbakken said. Once, about 70% of U.S. sunflowers was exported, with the remaining 30 consumed domestically. Now, with domestic demand much higher, about 70% of the crop is used at home, with the other 30% exported. Because of the strong interest among farmers, anyone planning to plant sunflowers this spring should try to line up seed as soon as possible, Sandbakken said.
March 2020 SOUTH DAKOTA FARM & RANCH 21
DOLLAR’S STRENGTH YET ANOTHER SNAG FOR U.S.-CHINA FARM DEAL
By Bloomberg News Crop traders obsessing over the deadly coronavirus in China may be overlooking another key challenge to the Trump administration’s phase one trade deal: the U.S. dollar. The virus’s spread is upending supply chains and cutting food demand in China, delaying billions of dollars in American sales of everything from pork to soybeans. Making up for the losses later in the year may be difficult if the dollar continues to strengthen against currencies in Brazil and Argentina, two of the U.S.’s top agricultural rivals. China has pledged to buy $36.5 billion in U.S. farm goods this year under the trade deal, $12.5 billion more than in 2017. But some tariffs remain in place, and China has said its purchases need to make economic sense with both Washington and Beijing acknowledging that the timing of the sales depends on market conditions. “We are already dealing with retaliatory tariffs and now coronavirus presents challenges for China to fill its obligations,” said Dan Kowalski, vice president of research at CoBank, a $145 billion lender to the agriculture industry. “If the dollar remains strong, that has tangible impacts on market conditions. And that could or could not play a part in China filling its purchases.” Traders were already skeptical China would reach the phase one targets before the virus hit. Even the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s own export projections cast doubt on the
deal. Now, with the Brazilian real and the Argentine peso hitting record lows against the dollar, the trade-deal targets are even more in doubt. “We always have to be mindful that the Chinese are price buyers,” said Stephen Nicholson, a senior analyst for grains and oilseeds at Rabobank. “I don’t think that’s going to change under phase one. They are going to do what they do. I think they will continue to buy what they need and they will buy at the best price. It’s an ingrained behavior.” For now, U.S. authorities are dismissing the currency threat. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said at a USDA forum last month that he expects China to live up to its pledges, and Ted McKinney, the undersecretary of agriculture for trade, added that their $36.5 billion commitment stands despite the dollar strength. Gregg Doud, U.S. chief agricultural negotiator at U.S. Trade Representative, also dismissed the idea. But he delivered a scary prospect for American farmers already dealing with high debt, several years of low prices and piles of corn and soybeans from last year’s harvest still stashed in their bins. “At least in my mind, as an old commodity analyst, I don’t think that’s an issue here,” Doud said at the USDA event. “It just means that as that gap gets further, the U.S. price has to come down to be competitive with what’s going on in South America.”
22 SOUTH DAKOTA FARM & RANCH March 2020
Continued on page 23
Continued from page 22 Brazil is already harvesting a record soybean crop and with a weaker real boosting farmer profits, the incentive will be there to expand plantings in the years to come. On Wednesday, Brazil’s economy posted a third consecutive year of sub-par growth. “Maybe China doesn’t reach $36.5 billion,” said Dan Basse, president of consulting firm AgResource. “But I think if you were to ask the market today, and say it’s going to do the same as in 2017 — $24 billion, $28 billion — we’d probably be OK there.” There’s no reason to sound the alarm bells at this point, said CoBank’s Kowalski. The lender believes China will make a “good faith” effort to meet the targets and said the nation will have a bigger opportunity to buy American farm goods in the second half of the year. Concerns about the slowdown of the Chinese economy may also end up helping the nation meet its pledges. That’s because the agreement allows for nations to impose tariffs equivalent to the size of the damage without retaliation in the case of non-compliance. “They signed an agreement, they know it’s enforceable,” Steve Censky, the USDA’s deputy secretary, said in an interview last month in Arlington, Virginia. “Given their economy and everything else, they don’t want to be back in the soup, battling the U.S. on tariffs.”
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Check out this March 2020 edition of your South Dakota Farm & Ranch by The Daily Republic! #MitchellSD #HifromSD #agnews #FarmLiving #SDFar...
Published on Mar 12, 2020
Check out this March 2020 edition of your South Dakota Farm & Ranch by The Daily Republic! #MitchellSD #HifromSD #agnews #FarmLiving #SDFar...