This week on AgweekTV, Midwest agriculture forms an ag policy alliance to get positioned for the future. Late season rains may be too little too late for drought-stricken livestock producers. We'll tell you about the challenges of exporting food-grade soybeans during a pandemic. We'll check out soybean harvest in Grand Forks County, North Dakota. And a South Dakota dairy goes robotic to improve efficiency and combat the ag labor crisis.



WELCOME TO AGWEEK TV, I'M MICHELLE ROOK.

WHILE LITTLE IS KNOW ABOUT HOW EPA WILL REWRITE THE WATERS OF THE U.S. RULE OR WOTUS, EPA ADMINISTRATOR MICHAEL REGAN SAID THIS WEEK AG EXEMPTIONS WILL REMAIN.

SINCE 1983 THE RULE HAS EXCLUDED PRIOR-CONVERTED CROP LANDS FROM JURISDICTION. THE CLEAN WATER ACT ALSO EXEMPTS DISCHARGES FROM NORMAL FARMING AND RANCHING ACTIVITIES. PLUS, CONSERVATION PRACTICES AND CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE OF IRRIGATION DITCHES. BUT, NOT EVERYONE IS CONVINCED, ESPECIALLY AFTER THE UNFAVORABLE ARIZONA COURT RULING.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

<Todd Wilkinson : We're about to go back into a fight on WOTUS like we haven't seen since the first time this came up and the producers better be ready. >

REGAN SAYS EPA HOPES TO HAVE A PROPOSED RULE, REFLECTING PRE-2015 DEFINITIONS, OUT FOR PUBLIC COMMENT IN NOVEMBER. HE SAYS THE GOAL IS TO WRITE A RULE THAT WILL BRING CLARITY

A NEW POLITICAL FORCE FOR MIDWEST AGRICULTURE IS BEING ESTABLISHED CALLED THE MIDWEST COUNCIL ON AGRICULTURE.

FORMER HOUSE AG COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN COLLIN PETERSON AND FORMER USDA UNDERSECRETARY BILL NORTHEY HAVE FORMED THE ALLIANCE OF AG BUSINESS AND FARM GROUPS. SPEAKING AT BIG IRON, PETERSON SAYS THE GROUP WILL SPEAK WITH A UNIFIED VOICE AND BE A POLITICAL FORCE FOR THE REGION, SINCE SOUTHERN AG INTERESTS HAVE EATEN OUR LUNCH POLICY WISE.

<Don Wick: We'll represent midwest agriculture. There's groups like in the Delta and the southern states that work on legislative type activities and they're going to create a Midwest Council for Agriculture to represent some of the interests that are very particular to what happens in this part of the world. >

NORTH DAKOTA, MINNESOTA, SOUTH DAKOTA, NEBRASKA, IOWA AND WISCONSIN WILL BE REPRESENTED IN THE GROUP.

INPUT PRICES HAVE RISEN SUBSTANTIALLY FROM A YEAR AGO AND THERE CONTINUES TO BE A SHORTAGE OF MANY PRODUCTS LIKE HERBICIDES.

THIS MAY CHANGE WHAT FARMERS BUY FOR THE 2022 GROWING SEASON AND WHEN THEY BUY IT. MANY ARE STOCKING UP ON HERBICIDES LIKE GLYPHOSATE AND GLUFOSINATE NOW, BECAUSE THEY'RE TOUGH TO FIND. PLUS, LINING UP SEED DUE TO ANTICIPATED TIGHT SUPPLIES.

<Mike Clemens: My dealers all haven't gotten their new loads, semi-loads of Roundup that they ordered last spring already. So Roundup is in very tight supply now and it could change a lot of producers on what genetics they'll be looking for. >

HE SAYS WITH SOARING PRICES FOR INPUTS LIKE FERTILIZER THAT MAY ALSO FORCE SOME TOUGH AGRONOMIC DECISIONS.

<The price of fertilizer of sky high right now. So everybody's starting to look at crop rotations coming into the new year, planning their strategy out for applying fertilizer. >

THE HIGHEST NATURAL GAS PRICES SINCE 2014 ARE PUSHING UP THE COST TO PRODUCE MANY FERTILIZER PRODUCTS AND ADDING ANOTHER SUPPLY CHAIN CHALLENGE THIS FALL.

THREE MEMBERS OF A SOUTH DAKOTA FAMILY WILL SERVE TIME IN PRISON FOR THEIR ROLES IN A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR GRAIN MARKETING SCAM.

A JUDGE SENTENCED JARED AND TAMI STEFFENSON EACH TO FIVE YEARS IN STATE PRISON, AND MADE THEM LIABLE FOR NEARLY FIVE MILLION DOLLARS IN RESTITUTION TO FARMERS THEY DEFRAUDED.

THE STEFFENSONS OWNED H AND I GRAIN, A PRIVATE GRAIN ELEVATOR IN HETLAND, SOUTH DAKOTA.

DOCUMENTS SHOW A TOTAL LOSS OF MORE THAN FIFTEEN MILLION, SPLIT BETWEEN FARMERS AND BANKERS.

JARED'S MOTHER, AN OFFICER IN THE COMPANY, WAS GIVEN THREE MONTHS IN DETENTION FOR HER ROLE IN THE FRAUD.

SOYBEAN PROCESSING CONTINUES TO EXPAND IN THE REGION AND CHS IS THE LATEST TO ANNOUNCE ITS INVESTING MORE THAN 60-MILLION DOLLARS TO UPDATE ITS SOYBEAN PROCESSING PLANT AT MANKATO, MINNESOTA.

THIS WILL ALLOW EXPANSION OF ANNUAL SOYBEAN OIL REFINING CAPACITY AT THE PLANT BY MORE THAN 35-PERCENT. THE PROJECT WILL BE COMPLETED BY THE END OF JULY 2023.

THIS FOLLOWS AN EXPANSION AT THE CHS PLANT IN FAIRMONT AND IS WELCOMED BY MINNESOTA FARMERS AND THE BIODIESEL INDUSTRY.

<Mike Skaug: First question: Because we have an abundant supply of soybeans that could be easily crushed and used more in the state of Minnesota and throughout the upper Midwest. Currently, about 60-percent of the soybean crush is used for biodiesel.>

HE SAYS THE CLIMATE CHANGE AGENDA IS PUSHING GLOBAL SOYBEAN OIL DEMAND AS MORE COUNTRIES INCREASE BIODIESEL MANDATES AND RESEARCH IS LOOKING AT BIODIESEL FOR AVIATION FUEL.

THE PANDEMIC IS CAUSING A SLOWDOWN IN BUSINESS FOR EXPORTERS ACROSS THE REGION.

NORTH DAKOTA'S SINNER BROTHERS AND BRESNAHAN, KNOWN AS S.B. AND B., SHIPS FOOD-GRADE NON-GMO SOYBEANS AROUND THE WORLD. BUT AS ANN BAILEY REPORTS IN THIS WEEK'S AGWEEK COVER STORY, TRANSPORTATION BACKLOGS ARE HOLDING THINGS UP.

<Bob Sinner: THIS IS A MONUMENTAL PROBLEM THAT WE'RE TRYING TO GET THROUGH, ALL CAUSED BY A SIGNIFICANT AND SEVERE PANDEMIC.

Ann Bailey: BOB SINNER SAYS THIS YEAR HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MOST CHALLENGING OF HIS THIRTY YEARS IN BUSINESS.

SINNER IS PRESIDENT OF S. B. AND B. THE COMPANY HAS BEEN PRODUCING, PROCESSING AND MARKETING NON-GMO SOYBEANS AROUND THE WORLD SINCE THE EARLY NINETIES. IN FACT, EIGHTY FIVE PERCENT OF THEIR BUSINESS IS INTERNATIONAL. THEY USE A COMPLEX SUPPLY CHAIN, MADE MORE COMPLICATED BY COVID-RELATED DELAYS. MANY SHIPPERS ARE CHOOSING TO CARRY ONLY HIGH-VALUE CARGO. IT'S A BIG PROBLEM, EVEN WORSE FOR THOSE SHIPPING PERISHABLE FOOD PRODUCTS.

Bob Sinner: ALL THE CARRIERS HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR SEVERAL MONTHS, AND WE'VE BEEN COMPLAINING AND COMPLAINING THAT THIS IS UNFAIR, IT'S BORDERING ON ILLEGAL.

SINNER SAYS THEY'RE STILL ABOUT NINETY DAYS BEHIND ON SHIPPING OLD CROP SOYBEANS, AND THEY HOPE TO GET CAUGHT UP AS THE NEW CROP COMES IN.

Bob Sinner: WE'VE NEVER GONE INTO NEW CROP HARVEST WITHOUT GETTING OUR EXPORTS DELIVERED. THIS IS AN EXCEPTION.

SINNER SAYS IT'S NOT LIMITED TO SOYBEANS, AND HE FEARS AMERICAN PRODUCERS WILL LOSE CUSTOMERS

Bob Sinner: WHETHER IT'S GRAIN, SOYBEANS, COTTON, FRUITS, VEGETABLES. WE'RE ALL HAVING CHALLENGES, EVERYBODY IS. THIS IS NOT A NORTH DAKOTA ISSUE. THIS IS A U.S. ISSUE.

SINNER SAYS THEY HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION TO SOLVE THIS ISSUE, AND IS HOPEFUL THEY'LL BE MOVING AGAIN SOON. IN CASSELTON, THIS IS ANN BAILEY FOR AGWEEK.

YOU CAN READ MORE IN THE NEXT AGWEEK MAGAZINE, OR AT AGWEEK.COM.

LATE-SUMMER RAINS BROUGHT SOME WELCOME RELIEF TO FARMERS AND RANCHERS IN SOUTH-CENTRAL NORTH DAKOTA.

BUT AS MIKKEL PATES FOUND, IT MAY BE TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE FOR LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS.

<George Bitz: I'M JUST HOPING AND PRAYING EVERY DAY WE GET BIG RAINS THAT FILL UP THE WATER HOLES.

THIS WAS THE HOTTEST, DRIEST SUMMER GEORGE BITZ CAN REMEMBER IN HIS 85 YEARS. FOR HALF OF THOSE YEARS, HE'S BEEN AN OWNER HERE AT THE LIVESTOCK SALE BARN, AND HE SAYS THIS YEAR, RANCHERS HAVE BEEN SELLING MORE CATTLE THAN USUAL. BUT TEN INCHES OF RAIN THAT CAME LATE IN THE SUMMER MAY DELAY SALES FOR SOME, AS PASTURES TURNED GREEN AGAIN.

George Bitz: RAIN IS WELCOME, BUT THERE'S STILL A LOT, A LOT OF PLACES OUT THERE THE POTHOLES ARE DRY AND PEOPLE ARE STILL HAULING WATER TO THE CATTLE. IT'S BEEN A TOUGH SUMMER. IT'S JUST BEEN A VERY TOUGH SUMMER.

GEORGE'S SON PAUL AND JIM ALSO ARE PARTNERSI IN THE BARN. PAUL SAYS THEY USUALLY SELL 500 CATTLE IN JULY, BUT THIS YEAR THEY SOLD MORE THAN 3,500. HE SAYS PRODUCERS HAVE SOME TOUGH DECISIONS TO MAKE. SOME MAY WANT TO WEAN EARLY, TO CONSERVE GRASS FOR THE MOTHER COWS.

Paul Bitz: THERE'S PEOPLE ALL OVER THE BOARD. THERE'S PEOPLE THAT ARE GOING TO WEAN EARLY, THERE'S PEOPLE THAT HAVE SOLD COWS.

ONE BRIGHT SPOT IS THAT THE MARKET HAS IMPROVED. AND THE LATE RAIN AND GREENER PASTURES HAVE BOUGHT TIME FOR SOME. RANCHER TAYLOR GRUNEFELDER WELCOMES THE RAIN, BUT CALLS IT "THE YEAR OF I DON'T KNOWS".

Taylor Grunefelder: ALL THE GUYS I TALK TO, I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO, I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO, I DON'T KNOW WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO FOR FEED, I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE WEATHER'S GOING TO DO. SO IT'S REALLY GOING TO BE UP IN THE AIR.

THE BITZES SAY WITH ALL THE SELL-OFFS THIS YEAR, THEY'RE ALREADY CONCERNED ABOUT LOWER CATTLE NUMBERS FOR THE NEXT FEW YEARS. AT NAPOLEON, NORTH DAKOTA, THIS IS MIKKEL PATES FOR AGWEEK.>

THE NAPOLEON SALE BARN IS ONE OF THE TOP THREE IN THE STATE FOR CATTLE SALES.

<:43 Katie Pinke: COMING UP ON AGWEEK TV, WE'LL TAKE A LOOK AT EARLY SOYBEAN HARVEST IN NORTHEAST NORTH DAKOTA. >

THE COMBINES ARE ROLLING ON THE METZ FARM NEAR NORTHWOOD, NORTH DAKOTA.

KATIE PINKE HAS BEEN FOLLOWING THE METZ'S ON THEIR CORN AND SOYBEAN FARM THIS SEASON, AND CHECKS BACK IN WITH THEM TO SEE HOW SOYBEAN HARVEST IS GOING.

<Katie Pinke: I'M HERE WITH TOM METZ IN GRAND FORKS COUNTY, NORTH DAKOTA, TAKING A LOOK AT EARLY SOYBEAN HARVEST. TOM, WHAT ARE YOU SEEING?

Tom Metz: AH, KIND OF SEEING WHAT WE EXPECTED, MAYBE SLIGHTLY BETTER. STILL PROBABLY BELOW AVERAGE, BUT ON A YEAR LIKE THIS IT'S NOTHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT BEING CLOSE TO AVERAGE.

Katie Pinke: IS THIS THE EARLIEST YOU'VE BEEN IN THE FIELD FOR SOYBEAN HARVEST?

Tom Metz: NOT QUITE BUT REAL CLOSE, 2012 IS PROBABLY THE EARLIEST WE'VE EVER HAD BUT THIS IS PRETTY CLOSE TO THAT.

Katie Pinke: ALL RIGHT, LET'S GO OUT AND CHECK IT OUT.

SO TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE SEEING THIS EARLY SOYBEAN HARVEST.

Tom Metz: SO YES, SO FAR WE'VE ONLY GOT OH, ABOUT 300 AND SOME ACRES DONE. NOT GOT A LOT OF RESULTS YET. A LOT OF VARIATION WITHIN THE FIELDS. WE'VE SEEN FROM EIGHT BUSHELS TO THE ACRE TO SIXTY BUSHELS TO THE ACRE IN ONE ROUND MANY TIMES, SO THERE'S A LOT OF VARIANTS THERE. SAME WITH THE MOISTURE. WE'VE SEEN STUFF AS LOW AS EIGHT PERCENT, WE'VE SEEN PLENTY OF IT UP AT EIGHTEEN PERCENT. MOST OF IT'S BLENDING OFF. FIRST TWO FIELDS AVERAGED MID TWELVES ON MOISTURE, SO NOT TOO BAD AT ALL. YIELD WISE, PROBABLY SLIGHTLY BETTER THAN WE ANTICIPATED WITH THE DROUGHT. STILL PROBABLY BELOW AVERAGE A LITTLE BIT, BUT CONSIDERING THE DROUGHT WE DON'T FEEL THERE'S ANYTHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT WITH WHAT WE'RE GETTING.

WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THAT A LITTLE BIT HIGHER EXPECTATION?

Tom Metz: I HONESTLY THINK THAT LAST RAIN THAT WE GOT THAT WE WEREN'T QUTE SURE IF IT WAS GOING TO DO ANYTHING, I THINK THAT MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

WELL THANKS TOM FOR JOINING US. AND WE'LL PROBABLY COME BACK LATER IN THE SEASON AND TAKE A LOOK AT CORN HARVEST. AND WE APRECIATE YOU LETTING ME HOP IN YOUR COMBINE TODAY.

NOT A PROBLEM, THANKS FOR COMING OUT.>

(BACK ON CAM)

METZ PARTNERS WITH HIS BROTHER IN LAW RICHIE IN OSTLIE FARMS.

SOUTH DAKOTA CONTINUES TO SEE GROWTH IN THE DAIRY INDUSTRY AND LAKE NORDEN IS HOME TO A NEW 12-MILLION ROBOTIC DAIRY EXPANSION. MORE THAN 1,500 PEOPLE TURNED OUT TO SEE THE NEW TECHNOLOGY AT AN OPEN HOUSE AT DRUMGOON DAIRY LAST WEEKEND.

<Rodney Elliott didn't plan to use robots at Drumgoon Dairy when he came to the U.S. from Northern Ireland in 2006. But in January he added 20 milking units to Drumgoon East.

Elliott: It's our first endeavor into robotic milking. So, inside we have 20 DeLaval V-300 robots milking about 1,470 cows.

This makes them one of the largest robotic operations in the state. Elliott says each robot milks about 75 cows a day and each cow spends less than six minutes milking.

Elliott: For me the robot is about consistency. The robot does its job very well, very thorough, very consistent. It does the same job at the end of a 12-hour shift as it does at the start of a 12-hour shift.

The system is voluntary, which lowers stress plus cows in early lactation may get milked from three to four times a day.

Don Mayer: It really gives them an opportunity to dial in the number of milkings based on the stage of lactation and maximize her productivity.

However, the robots also fill a growing need for ag workers.

Elliott: We have robots pushing up the feed, automatic scrapers scraping the manure. We try to use as much automation in this barn as we can because again labor is becoming harder to come by, more expensive and the willingness for people to stand and do some of the jobs that traditionally are on dairy farms probably less and less.

HE SAYS THE 12-MILLION ADDITION WILL ALSO HAVE A POSITIVE ECONOMIC IMPACT ON THE AREA. >

AHEAD ON AGWEEK TV, WE'LL TAKE YOU TO AN UNUSUAL PIG OPERATION IN SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA.

AND LATER, HOW THIS PIECE OF EQUIPMENT IS FUNDING SCHOLARSHIPS.

COMBINES WERE ROLLING IN THE REGION THIS WEEK, DESPITE A FEW RAIN DISRUPTIONS. HOWEVER, HARVEST WEATHER LOOKS MOSTLY WARM AND DRY AHEAD.

HERE'S JOHN WITH OUR AGRI-WEATHER OUTLOOK.

A SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA FARM IS RAISING PIGS IN AN UNUSUAL WAY, GRAZING BY DAY BUT STILL UTILIZING HOUSING AT NIGHT.

NOAH FISH VISITED THE OPERATION AND SHOWS US HOW IT WORKS.

<Dayna Burtness: OUR WHOLE PHILOSOPHY OF FARMING IS THAT A PIG, FOR THE MOST PART, KNOWS HOW TO BE A PIG BETTER THAN I DO.

DAYNA BURTNESS RAISES ABOUT SEVENTY FIVE PIGS A YEAR ON HER NETTLE VALLEY FARM. SHE HAD BEEN RUNNING IT AS A FULLY PASTURED OPERATION, BUT A FEW YEARS AGO SHE STARTED HAVING THEM RETURN TO THE BARN FOR EATING AND SLEEPING.

Dayna Burtness: THEY'RE IN CHARGE OF THEIR SCHEDULE, SO THESE DAYS IT'S, THEY WAKE UP AT FIRST LIGHT AND THEY WANDER OUT AND GRAZE, AND EAT BREAKFAST OUT ON PASTURE FOR A FEW HOURS. AND THEN THEY ALL WANDE BACK IN AS A HERD. AND THEN USUALLY WHEN IT STARTS COOLING DOWN AGAIN AROUND FIVE THIRTY, THEY COME BACK OUT ONTO PASTURE AND SPEND THE REST OF THE DAY GRAZING.

BURTNESS FEEDS HER PIGS ORGANIC PRODUCE FROM A NEARBY FARM THAT

ISN'T HIGH ENOUGH QUALITY FOR THEIR CUSTOMERS. SHE'S CURRENTLY STARTING THE ANNUAL PROCESS OF SENDING A DOZEN PIGS A WEEK FOR BUTCHERING. THE HIGH QUALITY OF THE MEAT MEANS THEY'RE ALL SPOKEN FOR ALREADY, AND SHE'S PRE-SELLING FOR NEXT YEAR.

Dayna Burtness: OUR PORK IS VERY UNIQUE AND THE PRICE REFLECTS THAT, AND SO I'M SUPER GRATEFUL THAT WE HAVE CUSTOMERS WHO ARE WILLING TO PAY THE REAL COST OF WHAT IT TAKES TO RAISE PIGS LIKE THIS.

IN SPRING GROVE, MINNESOTA, THIS IS NOAH FISH FOR AGWEEK.>

BURTNESS SAYS IN ADDITION TO SELLING HER PORK LOCALLY, SHE HAS CUSTOMERS IN IOWA AND WISCONSIN.

ONE PIECE OF EQUIPMENT THAT WAS ON DISPLAY AT THE BIG IRON FARM SHOW DOES MORE THAN MOVE DIRT.

IT'S HELPING TO FUND SCHOLARSHIPS. ASHLAND INDUSTRIES MAKES PULL-TYPE EARTH MOVERS. BUT THIS IS A SPECIAL MACHINE. ALL THE PARTS AND LABOR WERE DONATED, AND IT WAS AUCTIONED OFF IN MEMORY OF ONE OF THE COMPANY'S OWNERS, BOB EDER , WHO DIED OF CANCER LAST YEAR.

IT WENT FOR $34,000, WITH ALL THE PROFITS GOING TO A SCHOLARSHIP FUND, WHICH GOES TO STUDENTS PURSUING DEGREES IN THE MANUFACTURING TRADES.

<Randy Rust: SO EVERYONE WAS REALLY, JUST COMPLETELY MOVED BY WHAT OUR EMPLOYEES DID AND CAME UP WITH THE IDEA OF DOING THIS TYPE OF THING AND CREATING THESE SCHOLARSHIPS, BECAUSE YOU'RE BUYING MORE THAN JUST A SCRAPER, YOU'RE CREATING A CAREER PATH FOR SOMEBODY WHO WANTS TO PURSUE THESE TRADES. >

THE STEFFES GROUP AUCTIONED OFF THE SCRAPER ONLINE.

STILL AHEAD, CRISTEN CLARK SHARES HER FAVORITE FALL COMFORT FOOD.

IT'S OFFICIALLY FALL, AND AS THE WEATHER TURNS COOLER, MANY OF US THINK ABOUT COMFORT FOOD.

CRISTEN CLARK, THE IOWA FARMER WHO WRITES THE "FOOD AND SWINE" BLOG, IS ALSO A MONTHLY AGWEEK MAGAZINE COLUMNIST, AND SHARES VIDEOS ON AGWEEK.COM. THIS WEEK, SHE SHARES HER TRIED AND TRUE RECIPE FOR CINNAMON ROLLS, ALONG WITH SEVERAL TIPS FOR PASTRY PERFECTION. GO TO AGWEEK.COM TO CHECK IT OUT.

THANKS FOR WATCHING THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF AG WEEK TV.

REMEMBER, FOR ALL YOUR AG NEWS, GO TO AG WEEK.COM, ORFOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM. HAVE YOURSELF A GREAT AND SAFE WEEK.