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Jonathan Knutson


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Bounce-back year for some crops, NASS report says

As expected, farmers this spring planted more durum, barley, flax and sunflowers — crops in which the Upper Midwest, particularly North Dakota, leads the nation, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of USDA, says in its June 30 planted acreage report.

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Severity index rises, but no late blight in spuds yet

Severity values for late blight in potatoes are rising in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota, but no cases of the potentially devastating crop disease have been reported yet.

Good news, so far, from NDSU Potato Blightline

The new North Dakota State University Potato Blightline, released June 22, finds no reported cases of late blight in the region. The highly contagious fungus — which caused the disastrous Irish potato famine in the 1840s and can hurt both yields and quality — has been a concern in recent years in Minnesota and North Dakota.

North Dakota has first case of anthrax in cattle this year

North Dakota’s first reported case of anthrax this year should prompt livestock producers to take action to protect their animals from the disease, especially in areas with a past history of it, the state veterinarian said Monday.

Annual wheat tours set

The U.S. and Canadian wheat crops are in the ground, and two separate tours are planned later this summer to provide a firsthand look at how they’re shaping up.

Scientist says GMOs are safe, as House takes up food labeling act

Despite what its critics claim, genetically modified food poses no threat to humans or the environment, says a scientist who supports proposed federal legislation backed by major U.S. farm groups.

Proposed South Dakota co-op merger fails

Member-owners of North Central Farmers Elevator and Wheat Growers have voted down a proposal to merge the two South Dakota-based grain companies, the cooperatives announced Thursday.

Report prevented-planting acres

The Upper Midwest’s long, late-spring rainy stretch prevented some fields from being planted. Now, producers need to report prevented-planting acres, both to their crop insurance agents and to the Farm Service Agency, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Report: USDA training program popular, but changes would help

The federal government’s top training program for beginning farmers and ranchers is “more popular than ever,” but would benefit from some adjustments, the Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project says.

Survey boosts sunflower outlook

A new survey finds that Americans are increasingly aware of the health benefits of sunflower oil — good news for farmers in North Dakota, the nation’s leading producer of the crop.

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Columns

Internecine battle

Once or twice a year, I have a conversation with somebody outside agriculture, or new to it, that goes like this: Other person: “What’s the deal with the Farmers Union and Farm Bureau? Are they political? Why do they argue so much? Don’t they know it makes farmers look bad?”

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'Half excited, half frightened'

Planting brings challenges, opportunities

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What 2015 will bring

Upper Midwest agriculture is big and diverse. No two years are ever quite the same.

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Controlling the language

I talked once with a farmer who repeatedly mentioned the “individualized housing” in which animals live. He slipped once and used “cage,” but quickly corrected himself. OK, I told myself, it’s the old control-the-language, control-the-debate approach. But the animals live in cages, and that’s the term I’ll keep using.

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No winner in sugar trade war

I talked once with a guy, an American, shortly after he returned from vacation in Mexico. He told of how he’d wanted to eat “authentic” Mexican food, not “tourist” food. So he walked past two restaurants filled with tourists eating fried chicken; no “tourist” food for him. Finally, he found a restaurant serving local residents and ate “authentic” food with them. “Well, what did you have?” I asked. He hesitated an instant (he’d clearly told the story before; his timing was perfect) and said, “Fried chicken.”

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Dipping into a two-sided debate

Setting 'fair' farmland rental rates not an easy task

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Willows, weather and rains

When I was a kid, my family hayed most of a low, damp meadow. Thickets of willows grew in spots too wet to hay.

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We're right, you're crazy

This past winter, I attended an area farm conference at which one of the speakers blasted the intelligence and common sense of environmentalists.

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How do you view agriculture?

OK, Agweek readers, I have a question for you. Which of the following best describes your view of agriculture? A) It’s a business that should be treated like any other business. B) It’s a way of life that should be protected at any cost. C) It’s both a business and a way of life.

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If you were an urban congressman ...

Planting, harvesting and marketing a crop isn’t easy. But it’s child’s play compared with writing a new farm bill.

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