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AgweekTV Full Show: Seed potato company, climate smart ag, ag labor reform, Agweek Corn and Soybean Tour

This week on AgweekTV, we'll visit a unique, multi-generational seed potato company. The USDA unveils its plan to finance close to $3 billion worth of climate smart ag projects. Ag labor reform is being called for during an ag industry worker shortage. And our Agweek Corn and Soybean Tour continues.

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This week on AgweekTV, we'll visit a unique, multi-generational seed potato company. The USDA unveils its plan to finance close to $3 billion worth of climate smart ag projects. Ag labor reform is being called for during an ag industry worker shortage. And our Agweek Corn and Soybean Tour continues.

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WELCOME TO AGWEEK TV, I'M EMILY BEAL.

FARMERS ACROSS THE U.S. ARE GETTING NEARLY 3-BILLION DOLLARS FOR CLIMATE-SMART AGRICULTURE PROJECTS. THE USDA SAYS THE PROGRAM IS SO POPULAR, THE WHITE HOUSE TRIPLED THE FUNDING FOR IT. U.S. AG SECRETARY TOM VILSACK TRAVELED TO THE MIDWEST TO PROMOTE THE PROGRAM.

Tom Vilsack: It is responding to a tremendous demand for more help, we listen to farmers.

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U.S. AGRICULTURE SECRETARY TOM VILSACK VISITED ANIBAS FAMILY FARM IN WISCONSIN, TO TALK ABOUT THE WHITE HOUSE PLAN FOR CLIMATE SMART AG PROGRAMS. 2.8 BILLION DOLLARS WILL GO TO FUNDING SEVENTY NEW PROJECTS. THE PRIVATE SECTOR HAS PLEDGED AN ADDITIONAL 1.4 BILLION DOLLARS FOR THE PROJECTS. THE PROGRAM IS AIMED AT LOWERING CLIMATE HARMING EMISSIONS FROM THE FARMING AND FORESTRY INDUSTRIES.

Tom Vilsack: There's a growing market demand for sustainably produced food products, and not just here in the United States but around the world. The reality is that the export market -- which is incredibly important to American agriculture -- is more and more demanding to know what sustainable practices are in place in terms of what they purchase, and we at USDA want to be a partner.

THERE'S A LOT OF INTEREST IN THIS PROGRAM... VILSACK SAYS USDA RECEIVED MORE THAN ONE THOUSAND APPLICATIONS FROM FARMERS AND AG BUSINESSES, REQUESTING MORE THAN 20 BILLION DOLLARS IN FUNDING. ONE OF THEM IS THE COUNTRY'S LARGEST DAIRY CO-OP, ORGANIC VALLEY, WHICH HAS MORE THAN 17-HUNDRED FARMERS IN 34 STATES. IT GOT 25 MILLION DOLLARS FOR ITS CARBON INSETTING PROGRAM, WHICH IS DESIGNED TO HELP SMALL FARMS IMPLEMENT CLIMATE SMART AGRICULTURE PRACTICES

Tom Kirchoff: We've always been champions of regenerative farming, we've always been climate champions and we hope that programs like this continue to propel us in those areas where not only our membership succeeds, but also too where hopefully consumers can see us for who we are and all the good work we do and what we represent from the good food we produce to how we produce it.

Tom Vilsack: It really is about making sure that you are in a position to be able to provide the next generation of farmers the opportunity to do what you love to do.

OTHER USDA CLIMATE-SMART AG GRANTS INCLUDE 80-MILLION TO HELP BEEF AND BISON PRODUCERS BE MORE SUSTAINABLE, LED BY SOUTH DAKOTA STATE...95 MILLION TO HELP CROP FARMERS REDUCE CARBON EMISSIONS, LED BY IOWA SOYBEAN ASSOCIATION. AND 30 MILLION FOR THE RENEWABLE JET FUEL PROGRAM IN LUVERNE, MINNESOTA AND LAKE PRESTON, SOUTH DAKOTA.

THE AGENCY WILL ANNOUNCE A SECOND ROUND OF FUNDING LATER THIS YEAR FOR ADDITIONAL CLIMATE-RELATED PROJECTS.

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A RED RIVER VALLEY BUSINESS HAS GROWN FROM AN EXPERIMENTAL CONCEPT IN THE 1980S, INTO A MULTI-GENERATIONAL POTATO SEED COMPANY TODAY. MIKKEL PATES HAS MORE ON VALLEY TISSUE CULTURE, IN THIS WEEK'S AGWEEK COVER STORY.

SANDI AARESTAD AND HER HUSBAND RANDY LAUNCHED VALLEY TISSUE CULTURE IN 1984. THE HALSTAD, MINNESOTA COMPANY PRODUCES ELITE, DISEASE-FREE SEED FOR SEED POTATO GROWERS.

This is the mother plant and these are the children if you want to call it that...

THEY RAISE SEED POTATOES IN TEST TUBES IN THE LAB, THEN GROW THEM OUT IN GREENHOUSES.

Sandi Aarestad: THE FIRST YEAR WE HAD ONE GREENHOUSE. THE NEXT YEAR WE PUT UP ANOTHER ONE, AND THEN WE PUT UP ANOTHER ONE THAT NEXT YEAR. THEN WE RIPPED THEM ALL DOWN AND PUT FOUR UP, AND THEN WE GOT IT, IT JUST KIND OF SNOWBALLED.

EVENTUALLY, RANDY FOCUSED MORE ON THE FAMILY'S FARMING AND BANKING ENTERPRISES, WHILE SANDI BECAME THE PRIMARY SEED POTATO GROWER. TODAY THEY HAVE THIRTEEN GREENHOUSES. AND THEY'RE PIONEERS IN DISEASE-FREE, IN-VITRO SEED PRODUCTION.

There's tiny little holes in the top here...

VALLEY TISSUE SELLS SEED POTATOES TO 40 CUSTOMERS IN SEVERAL STATES AND CANADA.

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This one's a newer one that we got in the last couple of years.

SANDI SAYS WHEN THEY STARTED, THEY WERE ONE OF THE FEW IN THE COUNTRY DOING IT, ESPECIALLY FOR DIVERSE GROWERS IN FRY, CHIP AND TABLE STOCK INDUSTRIES.

Sandi Aarestad: WHAT WE DID WAS COMMERCIALIZE SOMETHING THE UNIVERSITY DOES IN A LAB SETTING FOR THE FARMERS, TO MAKE IT PRACTICAL.

Right there, there's some right there.

THE AARESTADS' DAUGHTER ALEX BARE WORKS IN THE COMPANY AND IHA BECOME A PARTNER IN IT WITH HER BROTHER, CHARLES. THE COMPANY IS CAPABLE OF FILLING ORDERS IN 125 VARIETIES. SHE SAYS IT'S LABOR-INTENSIVE, EXACTING AND INTERESTING WORK.

Alex Bare: IN THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS WE'VE GOTTEN SOME OF THESE REALLY, I WOULD LIKE TO CALL THEM FUNKY POTATOES. THEY'RE USUALLY LIKE OBLONG SHAPED POTATOES, HAVE LIKE THE PURPLE INSIDE AND OUTSIDE, OR YOU KNOW, SPOTS. THEY'RE REALLY FUN TO PLANT AND HARVEST.

VALLEY TISSUE CULTURE RELIES ON ENGLISH-SPEAKING WORKERS FROM THE COUNTRY OF SOUTH AFRICA. ELMARIE HORN SAYS IT'S REWARDING WORK, AND A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR WOMEN TO DO AG WORK, WHICH IS OFTEN DOMINATED BY MEN.

Elmarie Horn: YOU DO A FULL CYCLE OF LIKE STARTING TO, WITH THE PLANTS, PLANTING THEM, GROWING THEM, HARVESTING THEM, GRADING THEM. I LIKE THAT

THE AARESTADS SAY PRODUCING DISEASE-FREE SEED POTATOES IS A RESPONSIBILITY THEY TAKE VERY SERIOUSLY.

Sandi Aarestad: I'M HOLDING THEIR FARM IN MY HANDS. AND HOPEFULLY I DON'T SCREW UP.

I know my spuds!...

AT HALSTAD, MINNESOTA, THIS IS MIKKEL PATES FOR AGWEEK.

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

AFTER LAST YEAR'S CATTLE SELL-OFFS BECAUSE OF DROUGHT, THINGS SEEM TO BE RETURNING TO NORMAL IN THE CATTLE MARKETS THIS YEAR. BUT FEEDLOT OPERATORS ARE AFFECTED BY HIGH CORN PRICES AND SOME BY LIMITATIONS ON FEEDSTUFFS. MARKET WATCHERS EXPECT CORN PRICES WILL BE A KEY DRIVER IN HOW CATTLEMEN ADJUST MARKETING THIS FALL.

RICK WOEHLHAFF IS THE LONGTIME OWNER AND MANAGER OF GLACIAL LAKES LIVESTOCK IN WATERTOWN, SOUTH DAKOTA. HE SAYS IF CORN PRICES COULD COME DOWN TO ABOUT FIVE DOLLARS, CATTLE FEEDERS MIGHT BE A BIT MORE AGGRESSIVE.

Rick Woehlhaff: THE BIG THING MAYBE WAS THE PRICE OF THIS CORN. YOU MAYBE HAD A LOT OF GUYS FEEDING EIGHT DOLLAR CORN, AND THAT THROWS A LITTLE MONKEY WRENCH INTO THE BREAK EVENS OF FAT CATTLE.

STEVE MASAT'S FAMILY FEEDS CATTLE AND FARMS AT REDFIELD, SOUTH DAKOTA. THE MASATS HAVE A RELATIVELY SMALL COW HERD, AND A CONFINED ANIMAL FEEDING OPERATION FEEDLOT THAT HOLDS ABOUT 2,000 HEAD. THEY BUY CATTLE ON A CASE-BY-CASE BASIS... A COMBINATION OF QUALITY, PRICE OF THE ANIMALS, AND AVAILABILITY OF FEEDSTUFFS.

Steve Masat: WE LOOK AT WHERE THEY BREAK EVEN, AND IS THERE A PROFIT IN IT? AND WE LOOK FOR WHAT WE CAN BUY THIS LIVESTOCK RISK INSURANCE FOR, AND IF THERE'S SOME MONEY IN IT, WE'LL DO IT.

MASAT SAYS HE'S ALSO A BIG USER OF THE LIVESTOCK RISK PROTECTION INSURANCE PROGRAM, TO HELP KEEP THINGS IN THE BLACK.

LIKE SO MANY BUSINESSES, THE AG INDUSTRY IS SHORT OF WORKERS.

SUPPORTERS OF AG LABOR REFORM ARE AGAIN CALLING ON THE SENATE TO TAKE UP THE HOUSE'S FARM WORKFORCE MODERNIZATION ACT.

INDUSTRY MEMBERS ARE URGING PASSAGE, DUE TO THE GROWING FOOD CRISIS AND INCREASING FOOD PRICES. THE ACT AIMS TO SOLVE WORKER SHORTAGES BY CREATING A SECURE, RELIABLE AG LABOR PROGRAM. IT ALSO REMOVES OPPORTUNITIES TO WORK ILLEGALLY IN THE U.S. AND STRENGTHENS BORDER SECURITY. IT ALSO STRENGTHENS THE SEASONAL FARMWORKER VISA PROGRAM, GIVING SOME FOREIGN BORN WORKERS A PATH TO CITIZENSHIP.

Terry Wolters: If we can help figure out a way to do that and support that, we would be behind that, along with the fact that we just need to open the numbers. We're restricted on the numbers that we can let in. We're looking for legal workers that can support our industry.>

.

A WIDE COALITION OF AG GROUPS HAS BEEN LOOKING FOR A SOLUTION TO THE AG LABOR CRISIS FOR THE PAST DECADE.

COMING UP ON AGWEEK TV, WE CONTINUE OUR CORN AND SOYBEAN TOUR, WITH A CHECK ON CROPS IN THE RED RIVER VALLEY.

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS: CRARY AND FULL POD 2022, FARMERS MUTUAL OF NEBRASKA, NORTH DAKOTA SOYBEAN COUNCIL, NORTH DAKOTA CORN COUNCIL, MINNESOTA SOYBEAN, AND GERINGHOFF

IT'S TURNED OUT TO BE A GOOD GROWING SEASON FOR CORN, AND MANY FARMERS ARE GETTING READY TO HARVEST IN A FEW WEEKS.

OUR AGWEEK CORN AND SOYBEAN TOUR TAKES US TO EAST CENTRAL NORTH DAKOTA...

Jill Murphy: WE HAVE CORN THAT'S CHANGING COLOR, AND IT'S THE MIDDLE OF SEPTEMBER. I THINK LOOKING AT THE SPRING WE HAD THOUGH, SOMETHING WE NEVER WOULD HAVE EXPECTED.

LIKE MOST CROPS AROUND THE REGION, CORN GOT OFF TO A LATE START BECAUSE OF THE COOL, WET SPRING. FOR MANY, PLANTING WAS ABOUT TWO WEEKS LATE, GOING IN THE MIDDLE OF MAY HERE. BUT THE GOOD SUMMER GROWING CONDITIONS HELPED IT CATCH UP.

Jill Murphy: WE HIT A HOT AND DRY SNAP, SO THAT REALLY ACCUMULATED GROWING DEGREE DAYS BUT ALSO HELPED TO REALLY PUSH OUR PLANTS TO GET THEM KIND OF MORE ON TRACK. SO RIGHT NOW I THINK ALL THINGS CONSIDERED THE CORN CROP IS LOOKING BETTER THAN WE COULD HAVE EXPECTED.

AND THE WEATHER DIDN'T ONLY COOPERATE FOR GROWING...

Jill Murphy: AGAIN, THAT'S WHERE WE GOT REALLY LUCKY. DISEASES LIKE IT COOL AND WET, AND OUR PRIME DISEASE TIME WAS WHEN WE WERE HOT AND DRY. AS FAR AS PESTS GO, NOT REALLY, AND THAT'S AGAIN, ANOTHER PLEASANT SURPRISE CONSIDERING THE SPRING WE HAD.

MURPHY SAYS YIELDS AND TEST WEIGHTS ARE LOOKING PRETTY GOOD RIGHT NOW..

Jill Murphy: IF IT STAYS HOT AND DRY, WE'LL CONTINUE TO ACCUMULATE THOSE GROWING DEGREE DAYS, SO I THINK HONESTLY OUR HARVEST WILL BE WITHIN THE NEXT TWO WEEKS. IT'S FARMING. IT'S ANYBODY'S GAME AND RIGHT NOW IT'S TOTALLY UP IN THE AIR.

I'm outside of Casselton, North Dakota on aggregate Corn and Soybean Crops Tour, and today I'm with Justice Keefauver. So Justice, how is this soybean crop looking in this area?

Justice: You know, locally we are set up for a pretty good crop. I think there's a lot of optimism out in the countryside with farmers, and I'm excited to see what we can accomplish this fall.

Emily: So what are some of the obstacles you've had to overcome in terms of pests or possible diseases?

Justice: Yeah, you know, early we started off with a late planting date and fortunately we collected a lot of GDU's throughout the year. But early on we had grasshoppers that we were spraying for, which affected our soybean crop. And guys treated those as appropriate. Next, we had a lot of iron deficiency chlorosis due to nutrient tie-up.

Emily: And what would you say would be the expected harvest date for this region?

Justice: You know, it varies based on planning, date and variety. There's fields that should be off in the next 7 to 10 days locally. And then there's going to be fields that are green like this one we're out in front of that are going to be closer to 16 to 20 days. So it's a wide range.

Emily: So we had a very hot summer. Do you think those extra growing degree days were important for this crop this year?

Justice: Absolutely. We had the heat, but we also had the moisture and two things that make beans flower well and produce, you know, soybeans. And we're going to need the heat to renew the moisture. I think we're set up well based off GDU'S You know, we're 200 GDU's ahead of normal which is affecting all of our crops in a positive way based off our late start.

Emily: So in terms of yield, what would be your estimate for this area.

Justice: You know, locally? Typically, guys are happy with 45 to 55 bushel beans. We set the stage up. Well, now that we're moving into harvest, I think we're going to hit some yield goals locally. I think we have the potential of a crop where guys could hit some record yields in some fields. And then there's fields that have our issues with diseases that are going to inhibit that a little bit. But overall, I think we're on par for an average to above average year.

Emily: Justice Keefauver, thank you so much for joining us today on AGWeek's Corn and Soybean Crop Tour.

AHEAD ON AGWEEK TV, A FARGO LAB IS DOING GENETIC TESTING TO HELP YOU BETTER CONTROL PALMER AMARANTH.

WILL THIS MILD WEATHER CONTINUE? HERE'S JOHN WITH OUR AGRI-WEATHER OUTLOOK.

A SOPHISTICATED GENOTYPING LABORATORY IN FARGO IS BECOMING MORE POPULAR FOR FAST CONFIRMATION OF PALMER AMARANTH WEED INFESTATION.

THE NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL GENOTYPING CENTER ON THE NDSU CAMPUS OPENED IN 2016. IT HAS RECENTLY SET UP TO CONFIRM PALMER AMARANTH WEEDS, BY TESTING SEEDS OR LEAVES. NOW, IT'S ABLE TO TEST FOR RESISTANCE TO EITHER GLYPHOSATE OR GROUP 14 HERBICIDES.

Zack Bateson: SO NOT ONLY CAN WE IDENTIFY THE SPECIES OF PIGWEED, WE ARE NOW STARTING TO LOOK AT CERTAIN TRAITS WITHIN THESE PIGWEED SPECIES, HERBICIDE RESISTANT MARKERS.

NDSU EXTENSION WEED SPECIALIST JOE IKELY PREDICTS GROUP 14 VERIFICATION WILL BECOME IMPORTANT TO AGRONOMISTS AND GROWERS.

Joe Ikley: AS WE RELY HEAVILY ON THAT CHEMISTRY, BEING ABLE TO QUICKLY TEST FOR RESISTANCE I THINK WILL BE VERY IMPORTANT OVER THE NEXT COMING YEARS.

BATESON SAYS IF YOU HAVE A WEED YOU SUSPECT IS PALMER AMARANTH, YOU CAN SEND IT TO THE LAB FOR TESTING. THE TESTS COST START AT SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLARS, AND IT TAKES FIVE TO TEN DAYS TO GET THE RESULTS.

VOLUNTEER CORN IS CAUSING SOME PROBLEMS THIS YEAR, AND IT CAN LEAD TO OTHER PEST PROBLEMS DOWN THE ROAD.

STRAY CORN IS SHOWING UP IN SOYBEAN AND OTHER FIELDS. IT SEEMS TO BE WORSE THIS YEAR BECAUSE BIG WINDSTORMS LAST SUMMER CAUSED A LOT OF LODGED CORN. MUCH OF IT REMAINED ON THE GROUND AND GERMINATED THIS SUMMER. BRUCE POTTER, WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA EXTENSION, SAYS THAT CORN CAN BRING INSECTS AND DISEASES, ESPECIALLY CORN ROOTWORM.

Bruce Potter: SOME GUYS DID A REAL GOOD JOB OF CLEANING THAT UP WITH HERBICIDES THIS YEAR AND SOME DID NOT DO SUCH A GOOD JOB. AND THE FIELDS THAT HAD VOLUNTEER CORN OUT THERE LATE IN THE SEASON ARE THE ONES WE'RE WORRIED ABOUT.

HE SAYS WHEN LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT YEAR CORN, GROWERS MAY NEED TO SPRAY TWICE.

STILL AHEAD, HOW FARMERS CAN BENEFIT FROM THE GROWING MARKET FOR RENEWABLE FUELS...

RENEWABLE FUELS WILL OFFER MANY OPPORTUNITIES IN AGRICULTURE.

BIOENERGY ECONOMIST DAVID RIPPLINGER SPOKE RECENTLY AT THE NEXT FIVE YEARS AG CONFERENCE. HE SAYS ALTHOUGH THE CORN ETHANOL MARKET MAY BE PRESSURED SOMEWHAT, AS ELECTRIC VEHICLES BECOME MORE POPULAR, HE SAYS THERE ARE OTHER OPPORTUNITIES, LIKE SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL. HE SAYS CALIFORNIA'S LOW CARBON FUEL STANDARD IS BEING COPIED IN OTHER STATES, AND EVEN OTHER COUNTRIES, AND THAT COULD BE BIG OPPORTUNITIES FOR FARMERS.

David Ripplinger: I WOULD ACTUALLY NOT SAY BIG, I'D SAY MANY. A LOT OF DIFFERENT OPPORTUNITIES, RENEWABLE NATURAL GAS IS PROBABLY THE SINGLE BIGGEST IMMEDIATE OPPORTUNITY, WITH RENEWABLE DIESEL. BOTH OF THOSE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO QUICKLY BRING A LOT OF BIOFUEL IN THIS CASE, DIESEL OR NATURAL GAS, INTO THE MARKET AND CAPTURE SOME VERY SIGNIFICANT PREMIUMS.

RIPPLINGER SAYS ALTHOUGH ENERGY PRICES ARE HIGH IN THE U.S., THEY ARE MUCH HIGHER IN EUROPE, CREATING A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE FOR AMERICAN FARMERS.

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

SMALL GRAINS HARVEST CONTINUES TO LAG NORMAL PACE IN NORTHERN NORTH DAKOTA.

AND SUMMIT CARBON SOLUTIONS HAS FILED FOR PERMITS IN TWO MINNESOTA COUNTIES.

WE APPRECIATE YOU WATCHING AGWEEK TV.

REMEMBER TO CHECK US OUT DAILY ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM AND TIK TOK TO KEEP UP ON ALL YOUR AG NEWS. HAVE A GREAT WEEK.

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