Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
CAVALIER, N.D. — This is a story about a term and agricultural practice — silvopasture — that you're probably never heard of. But if you like trees or livestock, or want to better protect pasture for future generations, keep reading.
It's been said many times that good help is hard to find. The old saying is certainly true in Upper Midwest agriculture, where farmers and ranchers often struggle to find employees, both full-time and seasonal. Agweek reporter Jonathan Knutson plans a cover package on this important topic that will be published in early 2020. In addition to talking with experts about the challenges of the labor shortage and potential solutions to it, he wants input from readers about their own experiences in the hunt for hired help.
The seven days ending Oct. 13 brought heavy rains and a debilitating early blizzard to much of the Upper Midwest. As a result, area farmers made very little progress in an already disturbingly hate harvest. The weekly crop progress report, released Oct. 15 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and reflecting conditions on Oct. 13, confirms that the miserable weather further hampered harvest.
Bethlem Royal Hospital, also known as Bedlam, is an English psychiatric hospital that once was notorious for its atrocious treatment of mentally ill patients. Reflecting the attitude of the era, respectable English families, parents with their children, came to gawk at the patients — mental illness becoming entertainment. Though the MTV Generation no longer uses the word, bedlam (not capitalized) came to mean chaos and confusion.
North Dakota's Morton County and Minnesota's Aitkin County have received a combined $2.8 million to enhance broadband service for some of their residents, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced. In Morton County, BEK Communications Cooperative has received an $844,000 Community Connect Program grant to "help spark economic and educational opportunities, enhance health care and bolster public safety," USDA says. USDA will deploy a 49-mile Fiber-to-the Home network to 125 households that currently are underserved.
With the average age of U.S. farmers approaching 60 years old, attracting more beginning farmers is a priority for U.S. agriculture. A new study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a big-picture look at the beginning farmers in place now.
Agriculturalists know all too well that weeds, insects, crop disease and viral disease in livestock change and evolve, complicating efforts to control them. Now, a $3 million grant will help researchers at the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine — as well as farmers — learn more about how porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, or PRRSV, evolves and spreads. The research also seeks to help producers stay ahead of the disease.
Tim Courneya sighed when asked how the region's 2019 dry bean harvest is faring. "It's so hard to tell," said Courneya, executive vice president of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association, based in Frazee, Minn. "It's all over the board." This much is clear: though a handful of dry bean farmers have finished or are close to completing their harvest, the overall harvest is well behind schedule and overall yields won't measure up to their excellent 2018 and 2017 levels.
Determining the right farmland rental rate can be both difficult and controversial. But experts advise using impartial, third-party statistics as a starting point, and the National Agricultural Statistics Services, or NASS, has information that can help.
Kevin Paap is pleased by repeal of the controversial Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule. Now he and his organization are hoping that the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA, the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, will be approved quickly by the U.S. Congress. "Approval of the USMCA is very important," said Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau and a fourth-generation family farmer in Blue Earth County near Garden City, Minn.