Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
It's no secret that America has vast divisions: right versus left, Fox News versus MSNBC, Red State versus Blue State, urban versus rural, agriculturalists versus non-ag consumers, mainstream agriculturists versus alternative agriculturists. Sometimes it seems we're split into competing camps that allow no compromise or common ground. Sometimes it seems we're willing, even eager, to label people in competing camps as evil or stupid or both.
LAWTON, N.D. — Justin Zahradka says that when he was a high school freshman, "I was the kind of kid who sat in the back of the class and never said a word." He pauses for a second and adds, "That's obviously changed, and it's because of FFA." Zahradka, now a 24-year-old full-time farmer from Lawton, N.D., says his involvement with FFA made him a better person and better farmer and opened up wonderful opportunities both during and after his time with FFA.
If you ask a farmer, agricultural economist, ag banker or ag real estate agent about Upper Midwest farmland rental rates, the response probably will include two words: "Downward pressure." By all accounts, poor crop prices and marginal farm profitability are pushing down what farmers will pay to rent farmland. As a result, most farmland rental rates negotiated this winter "are flat or going down" from what they had been, says Noah Hultgren, a Willmar, Minn., farmer and real estate agent.
Interested in science, supercomputers or corn yields? The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed what the National Center calls "one of the most reliable tools for long-term crop prediction in the U.S. Corn Belt." Researchers involved in the project say it combines the strength of agronomy-based models and climate/earth system models. To learn more, go to illinois.edu/emailer/newsletter/160143.html.
(Sidebar) 'Unknowns are key' Predicting the direction of farmland values and rental rates is notoriously tricky. They're influenced by weather, yields, crop prices and interest rates, among other impossible-to-know-in-advance factors. But Terri Jensen takes a knowledgeable stab about predicting what's ahead. An Accredited Land Consultant who owns and operates MN Land Real Estate & Auction in Northfield, Minn. she's the 2015 national president of the Realtors Land Institute, a professional organization.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The International Crop Expo began 17 years ago as the fusion of three small farm shows. It's grown into a longstanding success that's regarded by some as the unofficial end of the area's general-farm-show winter season. The event returns Feb. 21-22 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. Roughly 4,000 people and 170 exhibitors are expected to attend. It begins at 9 a.m. both days and ends at 5 p.m Feb. 21 and 4 p.m. Feb. 22. Admission and parking are free.
U.S. agriculturalists on balance will make less money in 2018 than they did in 2017, a new government report projects. Farm-sector profits will fall in the Upper Midwest, too, though by less than the national average, the report finds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service on Feb. 7 released its 2018 Farm Income Forecast. Key findings of the report, presented by ERS economist Carrie Litkowski during an online presentation to the news media, include the following:
American agriculturalists often talk about what they see as a disconnect between ag and the rest of society. Now, the Center for Food Integrity points in a new research report to what it calls "A Dangerous Food Disconnect: When Consumers Hold You Responsible But Don't Trust You." "If you're held responsible and trusted for ensuring safe and healthy food, you are seen as a credible source," said Charlie Arnot, CEO of CFI. "However, if you're held responsible but not trusted, that's a dangerous disconnect that can't be ignored."
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — Matt Nelson began "experimenting" with cover crops in 2012 and doesn't expect them to provide quick or easy solutions. He says he has "a long-term timetable," one that includes enhancing soil health on his Lakota, N.D., farm and incorporating them into Lakota-based Redline Agri Services, which Nelson owns and operates.
Q: Is it true that North Dakota is one of the few states that still has an extension livestock marketing economist?