Jenny Schlecht / Agweek Staff Writer
Michelle Rook will join AgweekTV as anchor, effective April 30, 2018. Rook has worked for Agweek as a freelance television and magazine reporter since 2016.
IDEAL, S.D. — The calves at Jorgensen Land & Cattle were at least a few weeks old when a blizzard hit April 13-14. That made the storm "kind of an inconvenience of sorts," but the ranch didn't lose any calves, says Bryan Jorgensen. But elsewhere in Tripp County, where 20 to 24 inches of snow fell as strong winds blew through, other producers weren't as lucky. Ranchers with younger calves or who are in the midst of calving lost large numbers, Jorgensen says. "I've heard some horror stories," he says.
STEELE, N.D. — When Kidder County, N.D., merged its two high schools for this school year, there was one major hitch: the county school district's ag program had always been based at Tappen High School. All of the students now go to Steele High School. Steele had a shop, but not the kind of facility that would house all of the agriculture and vocational education offerings.
I don't think it's incorrect to say that most people in this region are tired of winter weather. We're used to winter; we're not necessarily used to it lasting into April without a break. During my first job in journalism, I realized there was one sure-fire way to make sure I was writing something that would get read: by volunteering for the weather story. I don't know how it is in the rest of the world, but in North Dakota, weather drives almost everything. Conversation? Check. Travel? Check? Recreation? Check. Farm and ranch work? Double check.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on April 12 announced his support for year-round sales of E15, an announcement cheered by farm groups, corn growers and the ethanol industry. Sales of E15, which is 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, have been prohibited from June 1 to Sept. 15 due to federal law and regulations regarding formation of surface ozone and smog. Trump made his comments regarding E15 during a meeting at the White House with governors and lawmakers.
TAPPEN, N.D. — One could be excused for thinking the central North Dakota weather on March 30 was an early April Fools' Day joke — and a cruel one at that. The northwest wind bit at exposed skin and sent snowflakes fluttering wildly, the conditions fit for neither human nor beast. But, as February, March and April are the prevalent calving times for the region, the repercussions of the weather on both humans and beasts can be a harsh reality.
FARGO, N.D. — The discussion over what will happen with the Renewable Fuels Standard has quieted down somewhat, but that hasn't made the biodiesel industry relax. Some in the Trump Administration and opponents of ethanol and the RFS have tossed around the idea of capping the price of Renewable Identification Numbers attached to ethanol at 10 cents, a number far below the present market value. No definite proposal has come out of the discussions and rumors, but proponents of renewable fuels remain on edge.
VALLEY CITY, N.D. — A market is easier lost than gained, Valley City, N.D., farmer Monte Peterson says. And that's got him worried. As the Trump administration moves forward on tariffs on Chinese products, Peterson and others in agriculture in North Dakota are worried about potential retaliation and the effect that could have on the prices local farmers receive for their crops and livestock. "If we see retaliation, oftentimes we see it within the ag sector," Peterson says.
FARGO, N.D. — The North Dakota office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the conservation arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2012 had a backlog of wetlands determinations reaching nearly to 4,000. In some cases, it took years for farmers to get answers on whether they were allowed to install drain tile or take other actions in possible wetland areas. Though the NRCS has refined their process, leading to a diminished backlog and a shorter time for decisions, the topic still is on the minds of some in agriculture.
I've heard people say raising cattle is "easy money." That's laughable to me, as someone who has been connected to the cattle industry my entire life. Sure, those big calf checks look good when they come in, but when most of that money goes back to the bank to pay the operating loan for the expense of making feed and to pay other notes required to keep the place running, the result at the end is far less than many would expect and sometimes seems barely worth the effort.