Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
Sometimes newly released U.S. Department of Agriculture reports contain surprises. Sometimes they reinforce what everyone already knows. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest crop progress report does the latter. The overall Upper Midwest corn and soybean harvests have slowed badly and now trail their respective five-year averages, according to the crop progress report released Oct. 15 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of USDA..
October is national Farm to School Month, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking requests for Farm to School Program grants in fiscal year 2019. Formally established in 2012, the Farm to School Program connects local schools and local farmers through training, research, equipment and other support. This year, USDA will award as much as $7.5 million in grants through the program, $2 million than in the previous funding cycle, according to information from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to move some of its researchers from Washington, D.C., to new locations around the country. Fargo, N.D., will be one of them if a coalition of state and local groups is successful.
Years ago, in a different professional existence, I listened to a man complain about the North Dakota State University livestock barns in Fargo. As many Agweek readers know, they're near both the NDSU campus and Hector International Airport, a modern, well-run airport.
A half-million cattle can eat a lot of corn. Rob Hanson hopes North Dakota can become a larger supplier of the grain to Canadian feedlot operators. Hanson, a Wimbledon, N.D., farmer and secretary-treasurer of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association, was part of a three-day U.S. Grain Council's trade mission to Alberta. The six-person team conducted 21 meetings in mid-September with buyers, brokers and cattle feeders in Alberta, representing an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 cattle. Before the trip, "I didn't realize they had such large feedlots there," Hanson says.
Backgrounding cattle has an established history of helping ranchers make money, especially when grain prices are low. Now, North Dakota State University Extension sees opportunity in the months ahead. "It looks like backgrounding is going to pencil out (be profitable) again, says John Dhuyvetter, NDSU Extension livestock specialist. He and fellow NDSU Extension livestock specialists Janna Kincheloe and Karl Hoppe will lead six meetings on Oct. 16-18 around the state.
Unharvested Upper Midwest dry bean fields will be hurt by widespread mid-October snow, but it's too early to predict the extent of the damage, a dry bean official said. "The good news is, it's still early enough that it's probably going to melt. But if it doesn't melt, this will be a long winter for some guys," Tim Courneya, executive vice president of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association, based in Frazee, Minn., said Oct. 11.
As everyone involved with Upper Midwest agriculture knows, the region's harvest has been shut down, or virtually so, by unusually cold, wet weather. A new government report reflects that. Only a handful of days were suitable for fieldwork in the week ending Oct. 7, most of them early in the seven-day period, according to the new weekly crop progress report released Tuesday, Oct. 9, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The report normally is released on Monday, but was held back a day because of Columbus Day.
U.S. farmers and farm groups generally agree that value-added agriculture — in which a raw ag commodity is changed into something new and of greater economic value — is a good and desirable thing. Now, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition warns that funding for the popular Value Added Producer Grant program is at risk because of the lapsed federal farm bill. The farm bill, the centerpiece of U.S. food and ag policy, expired Sept. 30. Congress hasn't been able to agree on a new one because of policy differences between the House and Senate.
If you're driving through Minnesota and are interested in buying ethanol-blended fuels, the Minnesota Corn Growers Association wants to help. The group has launched the revamped www.mnfuels.com to connect more consumes to 88 Octane (also known as E15) and other flex fuels. More than 250 retailers across Minnesota now offer 88 Octane, according to the corn growers. More than 19 million gallons of 88 Octane were sold in Minnesota in 2017, double the amount sold in 2016, the corn growers say.