Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
Much of the region's barley crop is off to a "spectacular start,"an industry official says. But while the outlook for good yields is promising, barley farmers are concerned by low prices and potential lost exports. "Prices just aren't what we'd like them to be. And the Mexican market is so important to us," says Doyle Lentz, a Rolla, N.D., farmer and a director of the North Dakota Barley Council.
Bryon Parman was a Nebraska farm kid who had seen the ocean only once when he joined the U.S. Navy. Now, after spending six years as a Navy search-and-rescue swimmer, earning his doctorate in agricultural economics at Kansas State University and serving as an ag economist at Mississippi State University, he's returning to the Midwest to work with farmers, ranchers, and other agriculturalists. Parman is the new farm management specialist with North Dakota State University Extension, a position once held by Dwight Aakre, who retired in 2016 after 32 years in the post.
Federally subsidized crop insurance is controversial. Now, with the U.S. Senate taking up the 2018 farm bill, a crop insurance trade group has launched a website that seeks to provide senators and others with state-specific information on crop insurance. The interactive map at cropinsuranceinmystate.org offers information such as the number of crop insurance policies, acres insured, value of insurance protection, how much farmers paid for coverage, how much insurers paid to cover losses and hail protection coverage.
The Upper Midwest planting season is nearly wrapped up, with focus shifting from getting the crop into the ground to how well fledgling crops are faring. The new weekly crop progress report, released Monday, June 11, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Statistics Service, or NASS, no longer included planting progress for most crops, including wheat and corn. Planting of those crops is virtually finished, so NASS didn't report planting rates.
I grow up on a North Dakota farm with beef cattle and small grains. No chickens, though, which was fine with me. Chickens are noisy and messy, and I wanted nothing to do with them. Still don't, never will. But a growing number of Americans think otherwise. Although firm statistics are tough to come by, there's an explosion of interest in "backyard" or "home-raised" chickens across our country. One small measure of that: I regularly receive emails from public relations folks promoting a new book on the subject.
BROCKET, N.D. — The early summer afternoon is warm and windy, though not oppressively so, and contented "baas" ring out in the sheep barn. Luke Lillehaugen looks over the flock with an experienced eye and says, "Well, we like sheep. And we like some of the things happening in the sheep industry." Lillehaugen and his father, Maynard Lillehaugen, operate Lillehaugen Farms near Brocket, N.D. They raise small grains, cattle and sheep; about 180 sheep lambed this spring.
A new report reinforces what many agriculturalists already know: Public-sector spending on ag research in the U.S. and many other high-income countries continues to decline, challenging farmers' ability to produce enough food to meet growing demand. Public ag research and spending development peaked in 2009 and, adjusted for inflation, fell by an average of 1.5 percent annually from 2009 to 2013, according to the report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Service.
May is over. The Upper Midwest planting season is not — but the end is coming closer. Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota farmers overall made substantial planting progress in the week ending June 3, according to the new weekly crop progress report issued June 4 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Though generally beneficial rains slowed planting in some areas, producers continued to get more wheat, corn, soybeans and sunflowers into the ground.
Climate change, particularly its cause, is a controversial topic in U.S. agriculture. But there's no dispute that American farmers and ranchers want to make their operations more resilient in changing and adverse weather conditions, including drought.
Gordon Stoner is making another "act of faith" this crop season. The Outlook, Mont., farmer is planting durum again this spring, even though durum prices aren't attractive and moisture conditions aren't favorable. "Durum prices just aren't real good. And we're going to need timely rains — regularly and with substantial amounts of precipitation," he says. "I'm still planting it, though.