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AgweekTV Full Show: Cool, wet weather continues, dairy farm struggles, musical farmer, grain bin house

This week on AgweekTV, cool wet weather continues to keep farmers out of the fields. We learn about a dairy farm in northwest Minnesota that is struggling to bounce back after the drought of 2021. We'll meet a South Dakota farmer with an unusual musical and family collaboration. And we'll take you to a Minnesota house made from a grain bin.

We are part of The Trust Project.

This week on AgweekTV, cool wet weather continues to keep farmers out of the fields. We learn about a dairy farm in northwest Minnesota that is struggling to bounce back after the drought of 2021. We'll meet a South Dakota farmer with an unusual musical and family collaboration. And we'll take you to a Minnesota house made from a grain bin.

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WELCOME TO AGWEEK TV, I'M EMILY BEAL.

IT'S HARD TO GET CROPS PLANTED WHEN FIELDS ARE WET AND COLD, AND THAT'S WHAT GROWERS SAW AGAIN THIS WEEK. THE LATEST USDA CROP PROGRESS REPORT SHOWS NEITHER NORTH DAKOTA OR MINNESOTA HAD MORE THAN 2 DAYS SUITABLE FOR FIELD WORK OVER THE PAST WEEK. IOWA HAD EVEN LESS THAN THAT.

AND THE LATEST PLANTING NUMBERS REFLECT IT.

CORN PLANTING IN THE DAKOTAS AND MINNESOTA IS LAGGING WELL BEHIND. AT JUST 14-PERCENT, IOWA, THE TOP CORN PRODUCING STATE, IS ALSO FAR BEHIND ITS NORMAL PACE OF 63-PERCENT, AND LAST YEAR'S 84-PERCENT NUMBER.

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SOYBEAN PLANTING IS ONLY 12-PERCENT BEHIND ITS NATIONAL AVERAGE. BUT IN THE UPPER MIDWEST, NONE OF THE FOUR STATES HAVE EVEN REACHED THE 10-PERCENT MARK YET.

AT JUST 2-PERCENT, MINNESOTA IS WAY OFF ITS 50-PERCENT AVERAGE FOR SPRING WHEAT PLANTING. HOWEVER, SOUTH DAKOTA IS NEAR, AND MONTANA IS ABOVE, ITS AVERAGE FOR THIS DATE.

AT 2 AND 8 PERCENT, SUGARBEET PLANTING IS STILL WELL BEHIND ITS AVERAGE IN THE 60'S IN NORTH DAKOTA AND MINNESOTA. LAST YEAR AT THIS TIME, BOTH STATES HAD OVER 90-PERCENT OF THE BEETS PLANTED.

WHILE THERE'S RARELY A "NORMAL" WEATHER YEAR IN AGRICULTURE, SUGARBEET GROWERS HAVE FACED MANY ROADBLOCKS SINCE 2019.

I VISITED WITH JASON SCHATZKE WHERE HE DISCUSSED THE RECENT TURBULENT YEARS OF BEING A SUGARBEET GROWER.

Jason Schatzke: SUGARBEETS ARE THE MAIN STAKE, THAT'S OUR MAIN CROP. THEY CARRY THE WATER YEAR IN AND YEAR OUT, NO PUN INTENDED WITH WHAT'S GOING ON OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW.

JASON SCHATZKE FARMS IN WHEATLAND, NORTH DAKOTA WITH HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN. THEY RUN A DIVERSE OPERATION WITH CORN, SOYBEANS, WHEAT, EDIBLE BEANS, SUNFLOWERS, AND OF COURSE, SUGARBEETS.

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Jason: SUGARBEETS, THE INDUSTRY AND THE CROP, HAVE DONE A LOT FOR ME PERSONALLY, THEY HAVE HELPED ME BECOME A BETTER FARMER BECAUSE OF ATTENTION TO DETAIL.

SCHATZKE, LIKE MANY GROWERS, HAVE FACED A DIFFICULT COUPLE OF YEARS WITH THE COMMODITY. LAST YEAR'S DROUGHT IMPACTED CROPS, AND THE WARM WEATHER DELAYED HARVEST. BUT THE DISASTER OF 2019 WAS THE WORST YEAR MANY SUGARBEET GROWERS HAVE EVER SEEN.

Jason: The hair on the back of my neck stood up when you said the fall of 2019.

THAT YEAR, ABOUT 30% OF SCHATZKE'S CROP WAS UNABLE TO BE HARVESTED DUE TO EXCESSIVE FALL RAINS, THEN THE BEETS FREEZING IN THE FIELD. THIS YEAR, TOO MUCH RAIN HAS KEPT MOST BEET GROWERS OUT OF THEIR FIELDS ENTIRELY.

Jason: YES, IT'S TRYING AND YES IT'S DIFFICULT, BUT WE'RE GOING TO BE OKAY. THE SUN IS GOING TO COME UP TOMORROW. WE'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET OUT OF BED AND GO TO WORK AND DO WHAT WE LOVE TO DO AND THE CROP IS GOING TO BE OKAY.

Harrison: With all of agriculture, we just have to roll with the punches. We gotta deal with what the good Lord gives us and right now he's giving us a lot of moisture. Last year he gave us a lot of heat and dryness

HARRISON WEBER IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE RED RIVER VALLEY SUGARBEET GROWERS ASSOCIATION AND WORKS CLOSELY WITH GROWERS. HE SAYS STRESS IS SOMETHING THAT COMES WITH THE JOB.

Harrison: It's part of being a farmer and it's part of being a beet grower.

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AS WE JUST HEARD, FARMERS AND RANCHERS ARE NO STRANGERS TO STRESS, SINCE THE OCCUPATION CAN BE VERY UNPREDICTABLE.

WITH RECENT SPRING WEATHER EVENTS ADDING TO THAT STRESS, IT'S IMPORTANT FOR PRODUCERS TO NOT LET IT TAKE OVER, AND TO SEARCH OUT MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES WHEN NEEDED.

Rachel Endecott: If you had diabetes, you wouldn't just tell your pancreas to toughen up. You'd go get some help and so it's not weak, it's the right thing to do if you need it. So take care of yourselves.

A FARMING OPERATION HAS MANY MOVING PARTS, BUT A FARMER'S MENTAL HEALTH ISN'T ONE THAT SHOULD BE OVERLOOKED.

Sean Brotherson: Health is probably the most important resource that you have on your farm or ranch operation. There's a lot of different assets that we assign to a farm or ranch operation, like land, livestock, seed. But actually your health is the most important resource you depend on.

THE NORTH DAKOTA STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE CURRENTLY HAS A GRANT FROM THE USDA THAT'S FOCUSED ON FARM AND RANCH STRESS ASSISTANCE.

THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA CROOKSTON HAD A HIGH-PROFILE GRADUATION SPEAKER THIS YEAR...U.S. AG SECRETARY TOM VILSACK. .

VILSACK WAS THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT THE SCHOOL'S COMMENCEMENT CEREMONY ON MAY 7TH. THE AG SECRETARY CALLED THIS GRADUATING CLASS, WHICH MADE IT THROUGH A PANDEMIC TO GET THEIR DEGREES, A CLASS OF RESILIENCY.

Tom Vilsack: You have also persevered during a unique and I would say an historically disruptive time in our world. So I think each of you has a specific reason to be proud and confident in your ability to handle whatever life may have in store for you from this point on.

VILSACK SAID ONE OF THE WAYS GRADUATES CAN CONTRIBUTE TO A MORE RESILIENT AMERICA IS TO CONSIDER WORKING FOR THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. MORE THAN HALF OF THE AGENCY'S WORKFORCE IS AT, OR NEAR, RETIREMENT, AND ONLY 7% IS UNDER THE AGE OF 35...

Vilsack: 29 agencies, 8 different mission areas. You can have your pick of work that can make America more resilient.

U OF M CROOKSTON WAS LAUNCHED AS AN AGRICULTURAL HIGH SCHOOL IN 1906.

AFTER YEARS OF STRUGGLE, THE 2021 DROUGHT WAS THE LAST STRAW FOR A WEST-CENTRAL MINNESOTA DAIRY FARMER.

VERNON QUAAL SOLD OFF MOST OF HIS HERD THIS SPRING, BUT AS JEFF BEACH REPORTS, QUAAL IS DETERMINED TO BUILD BACK UP.

Jeff Beach: QUAAL DAIRY IS HOPING TO BUILD ITS HERD BACK UP WITH HEIFERS THAT WILL BE CALVING IN SEPTEMBER.

Vernon Quaal: I ALWAYS KNEW WANTED TO MILK COWS. YOU USED TO BE ABLE TO JUST WORK HARD AND YOU MADE MONEY. IT'S NOT THAT WAY ANYMORE.

THE QUAAL FAMILY HAS HAD THIS DAIRY FARM SINCE 1981. VERNON QUAAL SAYS THEY'VE BEEN STRUGGLING FOR A WHILE- A FEW YEARS AGO THEY WERE A MILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT, BEFORE FILING FOR BANKRUPTCY IN 2016.

Vernon Quaal: WELL MY DAD'S 77, AND HE'S BEEN COMPLAINING THE LAST TWO YEARS ABOUT SELLING THE COWS, SELL THE COWS. LAST SUMMER DURING THE DROUGHT, I KNEW THIS AIN'T GOING TO BE GOOD. FEED'S GOING TO GET REAL EXPENSIVE.

WHILE THEY HAD MANAGED TO PAY OFF ABOUT HALF OF THEIR DEBT BEFORE THE COW SALE, THE 2021 DROUGHT DRASTICALLY CUT INTO THEIR FEED SUPPLY, AND RISING PRICES FOR FEED MADE IT HARD TO MAINTAIN THE 300 COW HERD. AND HE SAYS MANY OTHER PRODUCERS ARE STRUGGLING TOO.

Vernon Quaal: CORN'S GETTING HIGHER AND HIGHER EVERY DAY, AND IF YOU'RE BUYING CORN YOU'RE PAYING AT LEAST 75 CENTS A BUSHEL MORE THAN WHAT FARMERS ARE SELLING IT FOR.

Jeff Beach: AFTER THE SELL OFF OF THE HERD, QUAAL DAIRY IS USING THIS TIME TO MAKE REPAIRS AROUND THE FARM.

Vernon Quaal: TRYING TO MAKE A DECENT OPERATION.

THE SALE ALLOWED THEM TO NEARLY PAY OFF THE REST OF THEIR DEBT, BUT IT'S NOT THE END OF QUAAL DAIRY. VERNON KEPT BACK ABOUT 60 OF THE LOWEST PRODUCING COWS, AND IS STILL MILKING THEM. AND HE HAS 65 BRED HEIFERS IN A FREE-STALL BARN, READY TO START CALVING IN SEPTEMBER.

Vernon Quaal: I WANT TO KEEP GOING AT IT. IT WAS MY DREAM.

IN UNDERWOOD, MINNESOTA, THIS IS JEFF BEACH FOR AGWEEK.

THE DAIRY HAS EARNED MANY HONORS OVER THE YEARS, INCLUDING THE 2010 PREMIER DAIRY AWARD FOR WEST OTTER TAIL COUNTY.

COMING UP ON AGWEEK TV…

Mikkel Pates: WE'LL MEET A FEMALE FARMER WHO'S A CONCERT PIANIST, AND MUCH, MUCH MORE.

MULTI-TASKING AND COOPERATION ARE COMMON ON THE FARM. BUT

MIKKEL PATES FOUND A WOMAN WHO TAKES THAT TO A WHOLE, NEW LEVEL. SHE'S A "TRIPLE THREAT"....WITH TRIPLETS!

IT'S OUR AGWEEK COVER STORY.

Anne Waltner: I WOULD ALWAYS HAVE CONSIDERED MYSELF A PIANIST FIRST.

Mikkel Pates: ANN WALTNER CAME BACK FROM A CONCERT PIANIST CAREER TO JOIN THE FAMILY FARM, BUT SHE ALSO BECAME A WIFE, MOTHER OF TRIPLETS AND A CANCER SURVIVOR.

Anne Waltner: I NEVER UNDERSTOOD THAT I HAD TO BE A CERTAIN THING.

WITHIN A STRONG MENNONITE AG AND ARTS HERITAGE, WALTNER MAJORED IN BIOLOGY AND PIANO PERFORMANCE IN COLLEGE. THAT LED HER INTO A STINT TEACHING IN INDIA.

Anne Waltner: IT WAS AN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL ON THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN.

SHE WENT ON TO GET MASTER'S AND DOCTORATE DEGREES IN PIANO PERFORMANCE, AND TAUGHT AT COLLEGES IN THE EAST FOR A SEVERAL YEARS. BUT SHE WAS STILL LOOKING FOR HER PATH IN LIFE. WHEN SHE WAS IN COLLEGE, SHE'D OCCASIONALLY HELPED HER PARENTS BACK ON THE FARM. TEN YEARS LATER, FROM 2010 TO 2015, SHE RENTED SOYBEAN AND CORN ACRES FROM THEM ON HER OWN. AND IN 2016 SHE CAME HOME TO BE A FULL PARTNER WITH THEM IN THE 1,600-ACRE CORN AND SOYBEAN FARM. KEITH AND SHARON WALTNER ARE HAPPY ANNE IS COMING ALONGSIDE.

Keith Waltner: SHE'S INTUITIVE, SHE WAS GOOD WITH MACHINERY, SHE WAS GOOD WITH LIVESTOCK.

WALTNER SAYS SHE'S COMFORTABLE WITH THE TECHNOLOGY SIDE OF FARMING, BUT STILL COUNTS ON HER DAD TO HELP FIX EQUIPMENT.

Anne Waltner: WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN AND SOMETHING IS BROKEN, AND YOU'VE GOT TO FIND A WAY TO FIX IT EFFICIENTLY, THAT'S WHAT I'M NERVOUS ABOUT.

IN ADDITION TO A MAJOR CAREER CHANGE, THERE HAVE ALSO BEEN OTHER CHANGES IN WALTNER'S LIFE. IN 2015, SHE MARRIED ROLF OLSON, A COLLEGE MUSIC PROFESSOR -- NOT A FARMER. IN 2017 SHE GAVE BIRTH TO TRIPLET GIRLS.

Some days I wake up and it's like wow!

TWO YEARS LATER, SHE WAS DIAGNOSED WITH LEUKEMIA, BUT SHE IS DOING WELL WITH TREATMENT. IF THAT'S NOT ENOUGH, JUST LANDED A POST AS PRINCIPAL KEYBOARD PLAYER FOR THE SIOUX FALLS SYMPHONY, WHERE ROLF IS ALREADY IN THE TRUMPET SECTION.

SO IN A CAREER LIKE FARMING THAT ALWAYS TAKES A LOT OF COLLABORATION, THIS MUSICAL COLLABORATOR IS TAKING THINGS TO A NEW LEVEL.

Anne Waltner: I LOVE WHAT I DO, I'M WORKING WITH ALL MY FAVORITE PEOPLE. WHO GETS TO DO THAT?

FOR AGWEEK, THIS IS MIKKEL PATES AT PARKER, SOUTH DAKOTA.

YOU CAN READ MUCH MORE ON OUR COVER STORY IN THE NEXT AGWEEK MAGAZINE, OR AT AGWEEK.COM .

A COUPLE OF MINNESOTA FARMERS AND FIBER ARTISTS HAVE FORMED A PARTNERSHIP TO HELP THEM EXPAND THEIR FLOCKS AND REVITALIZE THE AMERICAN WOOL INDUSTRY.

THERESA BENTZ AND ALEJANDRA SANCHEZ PRODUCE WOOL FOR SPINNERS. THEY ALSO TEACH CLASSES. WHEN THEY SAW HOW MUCH INTEREST THERE WAS IN WHAT THEY DO, THE DUO RAISED ENOUGH MONEY IN A KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN TO EXPAND THEIR MILL.

THE TWO ARE NOW CO-OWNERS OF NORN SISTERS WOOLEN MILL IN SOUTHEASTERN MINNESOTA. THEY RAISED THE FUNDS BECAUSE MANY USDA AG GRANTS ARE STRICTLY RESERVED FOR FOOD PRODUCTION, AND THE PROGRAMS DON'T RECOGNIZE WOOL PRODUCTION AND TEXTILES AS AN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT.

Bentz: A lot of agricultural grants look at this side of the sheep industry, the textile side, as just textiles and clothing manufacturing, even though we're not making clothing, we're just making yarn.

Sanchez: The Norn Sisters comes from Germanic mythology. It's about the 3 sisters that weave the threads of humankind's fate.

THE COST OF PROCESSING AND DIFFICULTY MARKETING WERE DESCRIBED AS THE BIGGEST BARRIERS TO SHEPHERDS SELLING WOOL.

IN MINNESOTA, THERE ARE THIRTY NINE DIFFERENT BREEDS OF SHEEP RAISED FOR BOTH WOOL AND MEAT.

NDSU EXTENSION IS OFFERING YOUNG PEOPLE THE CHANCE TO HELP SAVE POLLINATORS.

THEY RECEIVED A GRANT FROM THE NATIONAL 4-H COUNCIL AND CORTEVA AGRI-SCIENCE, FOR ITS POLLINATOR HABITAT AMBASSADOR PROGRAM.

THIS PROGRAM PREPARES THE NEXT GENERATION OF POLLINATOR EXPERTS, BY CONNECTING LOCAL 4-H PROGRAMS, AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS, TO PLAN AND INSTALL POLLINATOR HABITATS. BUT POLLINATORS ARE MORE THAN JUST YOUR AVERAGE HONEYBEE.

Leigh Ann Skurupey: IF THEY'RE INTERESTED IN BEES, YES. IT'S FUN BECAUSE WHEN WE THINK OF POLLINATORS, POLLINATORS ARE SO MANY THINGS. EVEN YOU AS A PERSON ARE A POLLINATOR. SO THEY GET TO TAKE THIS INFORMATION THAT THEY USE AND THEY GET TO BRING IT BACK TO THEIR COMMUNITIES.

THE NORTH DAKOTA 4-H POLLINATOR HABITAT AMBASSADORS TEAM CURRENTLY HAS FOUR OPEN SEATS

STILL AHEAD, WE'LL MEET A MINNESOTA COUPLE WHO HAVE A NEW USE FOR GRAIN BINS...

WARMER TEMPERATURES FINALLY MADE THEIR WAY TO THE REGION.BUT, HOW LONG CAN WE EXPECT THEM TO LAST?

HERE'S JOHN WITH OUR AGRI-WEATHER OUTLOOK.

GRAIN BINS, SILOS, ELEVATORS AND BARNS DOT THE PRAIRIES. THEY EACH HAVE AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN AGRICULTURE. BUT SOME ARE FINDING NEW USES. IN THIS WEEK'S STORY FROM THE AGWEEK VAULT, ROSE DUNN VISITED A MINNESOTA COUPLE WHO CALL A GRAIN BIN HOME.

Rose Dunn: A FEW YEARS AGO, BRIAN AND CYNTHIA BACHMAN WANTED TO DOWNSIZE, INTO SOMETHING LOW MAINTENANCE, AND DIFFERENT.

Cynthia Bachman: WE'VE ALWAYS BEEN REAL CREATIVE ABOUT OUR HOUSES. IN FACT, ONE OF THE FIRST HOUSES WE BUILT WAS OCTAGON SHAPED. AND INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH AT THAT TIME HE HAD SAID TO ME DON'T EVER THINK YOU'RE GOING TO BE GETTING A ROUND HOUSE, BECAUSE THAT'S GOING TO BE TOO COMPLICATED.

Brian Bachman: I LOOKED AT A FEW DIFFERENT THINGS. CONTAINERS. WOULD HAVE REALLY LIKE THE FUSELAGE OUT OF A 747, BUT WE COULDN'T MOVE THAT.

THEY FINALLY DECIDED A GRAIN BIN WAS THE WAY TO GO. THEY FIRST PLANNED TO BUY AND MOVE A USED BIN, BUT DISCOVERED A NEW ONE WOULD BE MORE ECONOMICAL, AND EASIER TO WORK WITH. THE HOUSE IS ABOUT 2000 SQUARE FEET ON TWO FLOORS.

Brian Bachman: IT SEEMS SMALL FROM THE OUTSIDE, BUT ONCE YOU STEP IN IT SEEMS MUCH BIGGER.

THE BIN COST ABOUT 17 THOUSAND DOLLARS, INCLUDING INSTALLATION. THE BACHMANS DID MOST OF THE CONSTRUCTION WORK THEMSELVES, KEEPING COSTS LOW. THERE WERE A FEW TRICKY THINGS, LIKE FIGURING OUT HOW TO INSTALL WINDOWS, ELECTRICAL FIXTURES AND PLUMBING IN A ROUND STRUCTURE. EVEN FINISHING DETAILS HAD TO BE ADAPTED TO THE SHAPE. ROPE IS USED FOR CEILING TRIM, AND EVERY VENT COVER WAS CUSTOM DESIGNED AND CRAFTED.

Brian: We had to cut each one before we designed it because they were all different sizes.

THE EXTERIOR IS VERY LOW MAINTENANCE, AND ANOTHER PLUS--IT'S SUPER ENERGY EFFICIENT. HEATING COSTS ARE LESS THAN 400 DOLLARS A YEAR. THE BACHMAN'S ARE HAPPY TO BE THE SHAPE OF SOMETHING NEW.

Brian Bachman: IT IS NICE TO BE A LITTLE DIFFERENT THAN EVERYONE ELSE.

NEAR BRAINERD MINNESOTA, THIS IS ROSE DUNN FOR AGWEEK.

SINCE WE VISITED IN 2018, THE BACHMAN'S HAVE ADDED TWO MORE BINS, FOR A GAZEBO AND STORAGE SHED

STILL AHEAD, A NEW MINNESOTA LICENSE PLATE HONORS AG...AND HELPS YOUTH AT THE SAME TIME.

A NEW MINNESOTA LICENSE PLATE CELEBRATES AG.

THE PLATES WILL BENEFIT 4-H AND THE STATE'S FFA MEMBERS. THE MINNESOTA FFA FOUNDATION'S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SAYS THE ART ON THE PLATES REPRESENT EVERYTHING GOOD ABOUT AG, 4-H AND FFA.

Val Aarsvold: THE RISING SUN IS THE TOKEN OF A NEW ERA IN AGRICULTURE. THERE ARE HANDS ON THE PLATE, AND THOSE HANDS REPRESENT MY HANDS TO LARGER SERVICE, WHICH IS PART OF THE 4-H MOTTO, AS WELL AS THE GREEN HAND DEGREE THAT STUDENTS CAN RECEIVE IN THE FFA. THERE IS SOIL AND PLANTS TO REPRESENT GROWTH.

TEN DOLLARS FROM THE SALE OF EACH PLATE WILL GO TO FFA AND TEN WILL GO TO 4-H. NINETEEN OTHER STATES HAVE SIMILAR PLATES BENEFITTING YOUTH AG PROGRAMS.

STORIES YOU'LL ONLY SEE ON AGWEEK.COM THIS WEEK...

A SOUTH DAKOTA FARM FAMILY FINDS SUCCESS IN AN AGRITOURISM VENTURE, AFTER THEIR YEARS IN THE FIELD ENDED.

AND UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA EXTENSION IS HELPING FARMERS DEAL WITH COMPASSION FATIGUE AND OTHER JOB STRESS DUE TO THE AVIAN INFLUENZA OUTBREAK IN THE STATE.

THANKS FOR TUNING IN TO AGWEEK TV.

REMEMBER TO CHECK US OUT DAILY ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM, TO KEEP UP ON ALL YOUR AG NEWS. SEE YOU NEXT WEEK.

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