Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — You may not have heard of a "grocerant," but you're almost certainly among the growing number of Americans who have eaten in one. It's part of a fundamental change in eating patterns, and one the U.S. potato industry is well positioned to benefit from, an industry official said. "More people are eating out, at bars and restaurants (and other establishments), more so than at supermarkets," Rachael Lynch said. "It's a huge opportunity for us."
If you bought U.S. farmland from 2000 to 2016, the land most likely is worth more now than what you paid for it. But economic returns to the farmland don't justify its current price, suggesting that "a decline in values is possible." Those are among the conclusions of "Farmland Values, Land Ownership, and Returns to Farmland, 2000-2016," which recently was released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service. According to the report:
The next farm bill has many unknowns and variables, but one thing is clear: Federal funding is limited, and not everyone is going to get everything they want. "There's not enough money to do everything," said Joe Outlaw, co-director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center, and professor of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University. "Constituents are up here (Capitol Hill) on every day of every week that want something, and nobody ever comes up and asks for less."
People are the foundation of every successful farming community. Through the jobs they hold, the businesses they run, the energy they bring and the civic duties they perform, people sustain and nurture farm towns. To remain successful, farm and ranch towns need an occasional infusion of determined young people. Whether they grew up in the community or moved there from elsewhere, people in their 20s and 30s — farmers, ranchers, bankers, agronomists and anyone else involved in production ag — help to renew their towns.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — U.S. farmers face challenges, especially over the next two to three years, but the long-term outlook remains good, an agricultural economist said. "All forces still point forward in ag," Matt Roberts said. "The big-picture trends are all still in the right direction. ... That prosperity will not turn around. We (U.S. ag) are in a unique position to take advantage." Roberts spoke Feb. 21 during the first day of the two-day International Crop Expo at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. Roughly 4,000 people and 170 exhibitors attended.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The U.S. potato industry likes to describe its product as "America's favorite vegetable." But the industry acknowledges that critics have put potato marketing efforts "on the defensive," causing "us to say that it's OK to eat potatoes," said Blair Richardson, president and CEO of Potatoes USA, the nation's potato marketing agency. Now, his group is close to approving a marketing push that would put potatoes "on the offensive," with "us saying that you should be eating potatoes," he said.
It's no secret that America has vast divisions: right versus left, Fox News versus MSNBC, Red State versus Blue State, urban versus rural, agriculturalists versus non-ag consumers, mainstream agriculturists versus alternative agriculturists. Sometimes it seems we're split into competing camps that allow no compromise or common ground. Sometimes it seems we're willing, even eager, to label people in competing camps as evil or stupid or both.
LAWTON, N.D. — Justin Zahradka says that when he was a high school freshman, "I was the kind of kid who sat in the back of the class and never said a word." He pauses for a second and adds, "That's obviously changed, and it's because of FFA." Zahradka, now a 24-year-old full-time farmer from Lawton, N.D., says his involvement with FFA made him a better person and better farmer and opened up wonderful opportunities both during and after his time with FFA.
If you ask a farmer, agricultural economist, ag banker or ag real estate agent about Upper Midwest farmland rental rates, the response probably will include two words: "Downward pressure." By all accounts, poor crop prices and marginal farm profitability are pushing down what farmers will pay to rent farmland. As a result, most farmland rental rates negotiated this winter "are flat or going down" from what they had been, says Noah Hultgren, a Willmar, Minn., farmer and real estate agent.
Interested in science, supercomputers or corn yields? The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed what the National Center calls "one of the most reliable tools for long-term crop prediction in the U.S. Corn Belt." Researchers involved in the project say it combines the strength of agronomy-based models and climate/earth system models. To learn more, go to illinois.edu/emailer/newsletter/160143.html.