Jenny Schlecht / Agweek Staff Writer
NAPOLEON, N.D. — In the area of South Africa where Reinhardt Weygandt grew up, farming gets done by hand. Few farmers have tractors, and something like a post-hole digger would be a luxury. "At home, each hole for a post, you have to dig by hand," he says, imagining building two to three miles of fence. "It takes you three, four months to get a fence built."
BISMARCK, N.D. — The North Dakota Beef Commission is using funds from an additional $1-per-head fee assessed on beef animals sold in the state to fund $590,000 in beef research. The state on Aug. 1, 2015, began assessing the extra $1 fee, on top of the $1 collected nationally which provides 50 cents for national programs and 50 cents for state programs. That means the North Dakota Beef Commission now has about three times the funding to work with, and funding research has become a top priority.
"I know how that goes." I don't know how many times I've said that lately. It seems to come up at least a few times a week. I'll call a farmer or rancher for a story I'm doing, and they're in the middle of planting or calving or treating calves or planning their next move. They want to talk about whatever it is I'm calling about, but now is not a good time. And when is a good time? Who knows? And so I repeat my new mantra: "I know how that goes." I do, in fact, know how that goes, because we're going through much of the same spring-time stuff around our place.
WASHINGTON — The White House budget released on Monday would mean big cuts for agriculture, including new limits on federal subsidies for crop insurance premiums, caps for commodity payments, reductions in funding for rural development, conservation and nutrition, and closed research facilities.
JAMESTOWN, N.D. — As a high school senior, Terry Wanzek was North Dakota FFA's Star Farmer. The designation meant a trip to the National FFA Convention, where he sat next to North Dakota Gov. Art Link. "I remember being in awe kind of that the governor of North Dakota sat right beside me," Wanzek says. "And I remember thinking to myself, 'He seemed normal. He seemed human.'"
CENTENNIAL, Colo. — The announcement that China will begin importing U.S. beef in July brought cheers from many in the cattle industry, and for good reason: The country's large population has increased its meat consumption substantially in the years since it closed off its market to U.S. beef. "From a producer standpoint, it's a win-win," says Kevin Good, senior market analyst at Cattle Fax, an information and analysis service on topics related to the beef and agricultural industries.
MOORHEAD, Minn. — The labor union for American Crystal Sugar Co. has accepted an offer from the company for a five-year labor contract. "It's a great day," says American Crystal Sugar CEO Tom Astrup. "It's a great day for our employees, for our shareholders, our customers and the entire Red River Valley. We've got great things going on in our company."
WASHINGTON — An appeals court has approved a settlement on how to deal with $380 million in unclaimed funds from a discrimination case against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The settlement is the result of a class action lawsuit filed by a group of Native American farmers and ranchers over claims the USDA discriminated against them in farm loans and loan servicing from 1981 through 1999. Of $680 million paid to settle the case, $380 million was not claimed.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has written a letter asking new U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to keep the needs of North Dakota's farmers and ranchers in mind as the country moves forward in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Senate late last week confirmed Lighthizer to the post of trade representative. Lighthizer served as a deputy trade representative in the Reagan administration and was confirmed on an 82-14 vote.
When President Donald Trump nominated Ryan Zinke to be Secretary of the Interior, it spurred a special election to replace Zinke as Montana's lone Congressman. The election scheduled for May 25 features three candidates. Republican Greg Gianforte, the founder of RightNow Technologies, ran unsuccessfully in the 2016 election for Montana governor. Democrat Rob Quist is a folk singer from a farm family who has served as the state's cultural ambassador and on the Montana Arts Council. Libertarian Mark Wicks is a rancher who served in the Army Reserves.