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Published January 13, 2014, 09:43 AM

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American Crystal exec resigns, land sales strong though hit by beets and thousands of pigs were killed in a Minn fire.

By: Agweek staff and wire reports, Agweek

American Crystal exec resigns

• MOORHEAD, Minn. — Joe Talley, chief operating officer at American Crystal Sugar Co. and a central figure in the negotiations surrounding a company lockout of union workers, has resigned his position at the company, effective Jan. 17. The company acknowledged Talley’s resignation in a brief written statement that read in part: “Talley has served American Crystal extremely well for the nearly 20 years that he has worked for the company. American Crystal wishes him well in his future pursuits.” A company spokesman says American Crystal had no further comment because Talley’s resignation was a personnel matter. Talley was American Crystal’s top negotiator during a lockout of union members that lasted from August 2011 until May 2013.

Land sales strong, though hit by beets

• Land sales finished strong in 2013, says Farmers National Company of Omaha, Neb., despite a drop in commodity prices from a year ago. The company handled sales of $750 million in 2013, up from $640 million in 2012. Nationwide, land prices have stabilized compared with double-digit increases, but prices for high-quality land are still strong. Upper Midwest sales are very strong with sales reaching $10,000 during the year. “Farms remained profitable in 2013 despite lower commodity prices, in part from reductions in fertilizer expenses of nearly 30 percent,” says Randy Dickhut, vice president of real estate operations. The report notes that a price drop of 40 percent for sugar beets has impacted land values in North Dakota, South Dakota and western Minnesota. An income reduction of nearly $350 an acre in some cases is taking some land buyers out of the market. Buyers in North Dakota, northern South Dakota and western Minnesota continue to seek out average to high-quality land for purchase, according to Terry Longtin, Farmers National area vice president and area sales manager in Grand Forks, N.D. Sales levels remain fairly steady and have leveled slightly as compared with last year at this time. Decline in profitability for sugar beet operations is fueling some reduction in cash flow for farmers in this area. While this is taking some potential buyers out of the market, Longtin forecasts land values will hold in the region. Transaction levels should maintain near or at current levels into 2014, according to Longtin. But the auction transaction numbers are projected to slide downward as privately negotiated sales are beginning to make a strong comeback. Average to good quality land in the area is selling in the $4,000 to $7,000 range per acre, while excellent land is in the $8,000 to $9,000 per acre range. Top land in South Dakota is pulling up to $9,000 per acre, while North Dakota is coming in at $8,000 and Minnesota at $10,000. For state and regional land values reports and state graphs, visit www.alberscommunications.com/media-center/farmers-national/jan-2014-land-values-report.

Thousands of pigs killed in Minn. fire

• HARDWICK, Minn. — A fire at a southwest Minnesota hog farm Jan. 5 killed about 3,700 sows and many piglets. Fire departments from eight different counties responded to a fire at New Horizon Farms near Hardwick in Rock County at 9:30 p.m. The facility represents about 20 percent of hog production for New Horizon. “It appears to be a total loss,” says Bob Taubert, managing partner of New Horizon. Firefighters struggled to fight the fire in the extremely cold temperatures and high winds. No injuries were reported. A cause had not been determined Jan 6. In all, eight fire departments responded — Edgerton, Hardwick, Jasper, Luverne, Beaver Creek, Hills and Pipestone in Minnesota and Garretson, S.D. The Rock County Ambulance also responded.

Farmers’, public comments sought on new seeds

• Farmers and the general public can weigh in on a controversial weed control system that recently completed another step toward U.S. Department of Agriculture approval. USDA on Jan. 3 recommended full deregulation of corn and soybean traits in Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Weed Control System. Currently, the seeds can be used only in tightly controlled field tests. The announcement opens the doors to commercial development of corn and soybean seeds that resist the herbicide 2, 4-D. Such seeds would provide another option to farmers who are concerned about increased weed resistance to glyphosate, a widely used herbicide. More than 61 percent of farmers in the Midwest are struggling with herbicide-resistant or hard-to-control weeds, Dow says. Environmental groups criticized USDA’s announcement. They say 2,4-D has been associated with Parkinson’s disease and reproductive problems, among other things. The Center for Food Policy, for instance, says Enlist would “increase the use of toxic pesticides in industrial agriculture while providing absolutely no benefit to consumers.” Starting on Jan. 10, the public will have 45 days to comment on the USDA proposal. USDA says it will hold a “virtual public meeting” to receive feedback before it makes a final regulatory decision. More information on contacting USDA: www.aphis.usda. gov. Dow, for its part, invites farmers’ feedback at www. enlist.com or at the Twitter handle, @EnlistOnline. Dow says it hopes to have Enlist corn and soybeans available to farmers in 2015. The Environmental Protection Agency also is reviewing the safety of Enlist. The EPA decision is expected to be issued in the next few months.

Study looks at grain flow from US to Canada

• A new study from the Canada-U.S. Task Group, a group of Canadian and U.S. nonprofit and trade organizations, documents the commercial flow of grain from the U.S. to Canada. The study addresses U.S. and Canadian trade volume, handling and processing practices for more than 15 commodities traded between the two countries. The analysis was provided to the Canadian and U.S. governments as input in the consultations for the development of phytosanitary measures under Canada’s proposed Grain Import Framework.The study examined data from 2010 to 2012. On average, corn is the No. 1 commodity moving north from the U.S. to Canada at 1.05 million metric tons per year. Average soybean exports to Canada are 245,000 metric tons while wheat exports are 69,000 metric tons. According to the study, 54 percent of all U.S. grain exports to Canada were transported by truck, followed by rail at 32 percent and water at 14 percent. The high percentage of truck movements highlighted a potential problem if inspections and certificates would be required on each shipment. But, based on the risk assessments of the various crops and taking into consideration their end-use in Canada, it is expected that only a small number of these U.S. shipments will require a phytosanitary certificate. The study also found that Canadian processing practices generally minimize phytosanitary risks that might arise from U.S. shipments. The commodities are typically cleaned at the recipient’s facility and screenings are heated, hammered and turned into feed or sent to landfills that mitigate phytosanitary risks. Canadian and U.S. organizations formed the Canada-U.S. Task Group in April 2012 and have been working together to communicate cross-border trade information. The study is available online at www.canada-usgrainandseedtrade.info.

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