Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
If you farm in the Upper Midwest and raise corn, soybeans or sunflowers, odds are good that you're busy harvesting your crops or soon will be. The weekly crop progress report, released Oct. 10, found that the region's 2017 harvest pace trails the five-year average. But the report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, also found that more crop is maturing and soon will be ready to harvest, or already is, especially after widespread frost Oct. 2-4. Here's a crop-by-crop look at the report: Corn
PITTSBURGH — Regular readers of this column (all three or four of you) know that I often harp on the importance of broadening our perspectives. We all need to read and listen to viewpoints outside our normal circle and temporarily escape "the echo chamber" that reinforces what we already think and believe.
PITTSBURGH — They agree on the importance of federally funded agricultural research. And they agree that writing and passing the 2018 farm bill will be challenging. But the areas of agreement can't mask some major differences in how three key players in U.S. agricultural policy view ag.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Stacey Jones and Michael O'Donnell believe strongly in sustainable agriculture and are committed to learning more about it. Their first visit to North Dakota helped them do that. "This is a great opportunity. There's a lot to see and learn," Jones said. Jones is area specialist agent for greenhouse and nursery crops with the North Carolina State Extension. O'Donnell is extension educator for organic and diversified agriculture with the Purdue Extension in Indiana.
BEACH, N.D. — Some farmers and ranchers view hunters, other outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife groups as enemies. Not Byron Richard. The Beach, N.D., rancher considers them potential allies. "We have a lot in common. When we can find ways to work together, we all win," he says of cooperation between agricultural landowners and outdoor/wildlife groups.
Fall rains can be both a joy and a frustration for Upper Midwest farmers — the former if soil moisture needs recharging, the latter if crops still need to be harvested. Though recent rains in parts of Agweek country have improved the 2018 crop outlook, they've also slowed the overall harvest pace. The new weekly crop progress report, released Monday, Sept. 25 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, shows that the region's corn, soybean and sugar beet harvests lag their respective five-year averages.
U.S. agriculture is a long-time leader in innovation and global competitiveness. But more collaboration and renewed focus on public-sector research are needed for that to continue. That's a key conclusion from the Farm Foundation Forum on "Agricultural Innovations: Changes Needed for Global Competitiveness" held Sept. 17 in Washington, D.C. Organized by the Farm Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides nonpartisan policy and forums related to agriculture, the event was open to journalists and others online.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Justin Mead has spent all of August and much of September in Grand Forks County, the longest he's ever been away from his western North Dakota ranch. But now he's heading home, well satisfied with his long sojourn. "For me, being a 33-year-old guy, it's something I really enjoyed and benefitted from," said the Grassy Butte, N.D. rancher. He talked with Agweek on Sept. 19, a few days before he was expecting to make the 370-mile trip home.
It may be one the most colorful images in U.S. agriculture: A tense group of farmers, bunched in a room, bidding energetically against their neighbors to buy land. But that scene has become less common in parts of Agweek Country, particularly northeast North Dakota. The Grand Forks, N.D., office of Farmers National Company hasn't held a public auction since late 2014, says Jayson Menke, who works in real estate sales in the office.
Farmland values in Iowa — sometimes a harbinger of farmland values elsewhere — are on the upswing, according to a widely watched survey. The Iowa Chapter of the Realtors Land Institute's September 2017 Land Trends and Values Survey shows a 2 percent statewide average increase of cropland values from March to September. The increase, combined with a 0.9 percent increase in the previous six-month survey, gives a 2.9 percent annual increase in land values; that's the first full-year increase in Iowa land values since 2013.