Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
April was a memorable month for me. On April 8, I wrapped up my one-year term as president of North American Agricultural Journalists by leading our annual meeting at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. I didn't feel well at all, but being a good North Dakota farm kid, I toughed it out.
Warm temperatures and the absence of early frost are always important to Upper Midwest agricultural producers in September. But cooperative weather is critical this crop season, with the wheat harvest and corn and soybean development still far behind normal.
American farmers and ranchers spent a little less on farm expenses in 2018 than they did in 2017, according to a new federal report. Total U.S. farm production expenditures fell to $354 billion in 2018 from $357.8 billion in 2018, according to an August report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere could be both good and bad for wheat, according to a new study. Researchers reporting in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that a much higher level of carbon dioxide, or CO2, could increase wheat yields but slightly reduce its nutritional quality. More CO2 in the atmosphere could produce more droughts and hotter temperatures. That could be advantageous because plants use the gas to make food by photosynthesis, the study said.
Computer use and internet access on American farms continues to rise, with the Upper Midwest remaining ahead of the national average, according to a new report. Much of the new use comes from smartphones the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said in its August 2019 report. The National Agricultural Statistics Service also surveyed farm computer usage and ownership in 2017.
Off-farm jobs common for ag producers It's an attractive image: Hard-working, self-employed farmers and ranchers supporting themselves and their families with the profit from their agricultural operation. Reality often falls short of the image, especially in recent years. Poor crop prices and limited farm income means many ag producers need additional, off-farm income — and employer-provided health insurance — to make ends meet.
Average U.S. farmland values and rental rates rose in 2019, according to two new annual reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The national trend was reflected in most of the Upper Midwest. North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana generally had higher average farmland values and rental rates, although values and rates fell in Minnesota.
Many farmers need off-farm income Farming and ranching can be challenging, especially when commodity prices are poor and income is limited. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects U.S. net farm income this year will be about $70 billion, down from the record $123 billion in 2013.
Silvopasture is a term that many people may be unfamiliar with. But the concept behind it — combining trees with pasture to benefit both livestock and the land — is an old one that's garnering growing attention. On Sept. 18 in Becker, Minn., the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota hosts an educational session on silvopasture, oak savanna restoration, grazing management, and how these techniques can boost farm profitability.
About this series This spring, I invited Agweek readers to nominate farmers for a series I was planning on part-time farmers. My goal was to profile ag producers who, in addition to farming or ranching, have off-farm jobs that provide necessary income to supplement what's generated by the farm.