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Published April 15, 2013, 10:28 AM

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Minn. crop farm incomes up in 2012; Thune slams EPA for releasing info

Minn. crop farm incomes up in 2012

• ST. PAUL — Minnesota farmers were largely spared from the drought that impacted much of the Corn Belt during the summer of 2012, according to an analysis conducted by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and University of Minnesota Extension. The analysis found that drought-induced high crop prices coupled with above average yields resulted in a profitable year for farmers who participated in the analysis. Overall, median net farm income (the farm’s contribution to family living expenses, income taxes, retirement and business growth) was up 47 percent from 2011. The analysis used data from 2,200 participants in MnSCU farm business management education programs and 110 members of the Southwest Minnesota Farm Business Management Association (the total number of farms in Minnesota is approximately 80,000). The analysis found that, despite developing drought conditions during the growing season, corn yields improved over 2011 for these Minnesota producers. Corn averaged 170 bushels per acre, slightly higher than the 10-year average of 166 bushels for participating farms. Soybeans yielded 46 bushels per acre compared to a 10-year average of 41. Crop prices were also higher than most producers had ever experienced. The average price for corn was $6.08 per bushel, compared with $5.17 in 2011 and $3.67 in 2010. Soybeans brought $13.08 per bushel compared with $11.35 and $9.66 the two previous years. Spring wheat sold for $8.18 per bushel compared with $7.24 and $5.03 in the two previous years. While crop prices were up, so were production costs. For corn, land rental rates increased by 17 percent. Fertilizer was up 26 percent. The total cost to grow an acre of corn was up $88 an acre from 2011, an increase of 13 percent. Livestock farms were somewhat more profitable than in 2011, but much of this profitability was due to the cropping side of their operations. Milk sold for $19.60 per hundredweight compared with $19.96 in 2011. With a cost of production of $19.19, dairy farmers made 41 cents on every hundred pounds produced. Market hog prices declined from $66 per hundred pounds in 2011 to $63 in 2012. Market beef prices increased from $113 per hundredweight in 2011 to $122 in 2012. However, the cost to produce 100 pounds of beef increased by $16. Inflation-adjusted incomes for these Minnesota farms increased to levels that have not been experienced in almost four decades.

Goehring appoints state apiary inspector

• BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has appointed Samantha Brunner as state apiary inspector. “North Dakota is fortunate to have someone with Samantha’s education and research background to take on this important position,” Goehring says. A Minnesota native, Brunner earned a degree in biology with a minor in environmental studies from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., and later earned a master’s degree in natural resources management from North Dakota State University in Fargo where her research and coursework concentrated on entomology. She joined the North Dakota Department of Agriculture last year as a plant protection specialist. In her new position, Brunner will oversee the state’s apiary inspection program, including supervision of field staff.

Thune slams EPA for releasing info

• WASHINGTON — Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., sent a letter April 8 to the acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Bob Perciasepe, to express his concern about the EPA release of information on approximately 80,000 agriculture producers to environmental groups, including more than 500 farms and ranches in South Dakota. This information, including the name of the operation, permit number, numbers and types of animals, and county of residence, was released to the environmental groups Earth Justice, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the environmental arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts, Thune says. “The EPA’s complete disregard for the privacy and safety of our agriculture producers is unacceptable,” Thune said in a written statement. “Both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Homeland Security have objected to the release of this type of information because of serious biosecurity concerns, yet the EPA continues this troubling and dangerous effort. The EPA has threatened the health and safety of agriculture producers and their families, and has damaged the security of our food system.” In other states, the information released gave addresses, geographic coordinates, phone numbers, names and address of employees, and listed deceased family members, Thune says. The EPA intends to create a national database of all livestock operations across the country, Thune adds, which reportedly will be made available through its website.

Briefly . . .

• Ethanol violations: The federal Environmental Protection Agency says a Minnesota company has agreed to pay $136,500 in fines to settle violations at its ethanol plants in the South Dakota cities of Huron and Aberdeen. The EPA says inspections at Advanced BioEnergy LLC’s plants in January 2012 found violations related to the facilities’ risk management programs and a failure to properly file paperwork detailing the use and management of chemicals. Advanced BioEnergy is based in Bloomington, Minn.

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