Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
CROOKSTON, Minn. — Liz Fisher wanted to expand her horizons. A relatively new FFA program helped her do that. "I wanted to see more of the world than my own little home town. This program is helping me do that. And I've met people who will be my friends my entire FFA career and longer," said Fisher, a resident of Trimont, Minn., who begins her junior year of high school this year.
Farm groups don't come more mainstream than the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. That's not a criticism, it's not a compliment. It's simply my observation — based in part on visits to the farms of a number of association members — that the group values established practices which improve the bottom line of farming operations. Nothing fringy or extreme for the MCGA: like I said, it's mainstream.
It's one of the most basic rules of Upper Midwest crop farming: Never count your bushels until they're in the bin. Too much can go wrong before harvest. So use caution with the latest weekly crop progress report, released July 16 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Its promising picture of 2018 Upper Midwest crops won't necessarily translate into big yields.
A new survey reinforces what most people in agriculture already know: Many Americans have serious concerns about GMO foods, with nearly half of U.S. consumers avoiding them, even though many of the concerned consumers know little or nothing about genetically modified food. The survey by the International Food Information Council Foundation finds that 47 percent of consumers "avoid GMO food at least somewhat." Nineteen percent said they avoid GMO food "completely," and 28 percent said they avoid it "somewhat."
Soil health is one of the hottest topics in U.S. agriculture. A new online catalog seeks to help people in ag learn more about soil health programs and policies. The catalog from the Soil Health Institute is organized in those components: • Academic (education, research programs and resources) • State agency (grants, financial incentives and technical assistance) • Legislative (summary of current bills, their purpose and status) Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota are among the many states for which information is provided.
The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed in December 2017, will reduce tax rates for farmers and farm households. Now, a new study provides a better idea of how much they might drop. The study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service estimated what the legislation would have meant using 2016 tax-year data.
Upper Midwest farmers generally are optimistic of harvesting good crops this fall. A new U.S. Department of Agriculture report supports their optimism. The July crop production report, issued July 12 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the USDA, predicts that 2018 production of durum, spring wheat and barley will be much higher than 2017 output. Drought hammered most of the Upper Midwest in 2018, hurting crops. Growing conditions generally are much better this year, though heavy rains are a problem in places.
Though there are painful exceptions, especially in South Dakota, Upper Midwest farmers generally say their 2018 crops are doing well. A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms that. Crops in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota are in unusually good condition overall, according to the weekly crop progress report released July 9 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, or NASS, an arm of the USDA.
An old enemy to Upper Midwest grain farmers is returning in force this growing season. Scab, also known as Fusarium Head Blight, presents a "high" or "medium" risk in big chunks of central and eastern North Dakota, eastern South Dakota and central and southern Minnesota, according to the website of the Fusarium Head Blight Prediction Center. "Growers in the high-risk areas should consult with local extension specialists or other advisors regarding the need for fungicide applications to protect the crop," the website says.
Years ago, when I was just getting started in journalism, my 11-year-old car became unreliable and so I needed a "new" one. I ended up buying a five-year-old car; I'd diligently saved about two-thirds of the purchase price and borrowed the rest at 15 percent. Yes, 15 percent. It was the '80s. Inflation was rampant and interest rates were high. That's just the way things were for everyone.