Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
CROOKSTON, Minn. — In the the spring of 2016, Margot Rudstrom and Mark Huglen had a discussion in the hallway about the value of adding an agricultural communication major at the University of Minnesota Crookston, where they teach.
Upper Midwest farmers have returned to soggy fields, at least temporarily, and resumed their rain- and snow-delayed harvests. Even so, the area's corn and soybean harvests generally are behind schedule, a new government report says. Despite good harvest progress in the week ending Oct. 21, the corn and soybean harvests remain behind their respective five-year averages, according to the new weekly crop progress report released Oct. 22 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The 2017 Census of Agriculture, the most comprehensive source of information about U.S. farmers and the crops they raise, will be released in about four months, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says. Portions of the report, which is conducted every five years, will first be released Feb. 21, with the rest of the data put out on a staggered schedule, USDA says.
Barley and dry edible beans don't get as much attention as wheat and soybeans. But barley and dry beans are important in the Upper Midwest — and both crops appear to have come out just fine under the new U.S-Mexico-Canada Agreement, industry officials. "It appears to be positive for barley,' said Collin Waters, bureau chief of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee. Dry bean growers also apparently will benefit, said Tim Courneya, executive vice president of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association, based in Frazee, Minn.
Sometimes newly released U.S. Department of Agriculture reports contain surprises. Sometimes they reinforce what everyone already knows. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest crop progress report does the latter. The overall Upper Midwest corn and soybean harvests have slowed badly and now trail their respective five-year averages, according to the crop progress report released Oct. 15 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of USDA..
October is national Farm to School Month, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking requests for Farm to School Program grants in fiscal year 2019. Formally established in 2012, the Farm to School Program connects local schools and local farmers through training, research, equipment and other support. This year, USDA will award as much as $7.5 million in grants through the program, $2 million than in the previous funding cycle, according to information from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to move some of its researchers from Washington, D.C., to new locations around the country. Fargo, N.D., will be one of them if a coalition of state and local groups is successful.
Years ago, in a different professional existence, I listened to a man complain about the North Dakota State University livestock barns in Fargo. As many Agweek readers know, they're near both the NDSU campus and Hector International Airport, a modern, well-run airport.
A half-million cattle can eat a lot of corn. Rob Hanson hopes North Dakota can become a larger supplier of the grain to Canadian feedlot operators. Hanson, a Wimbledon, N.D., farmer and secretary-treasurer of the North Dakota Corn Growers Association, was part of a three-day U.S. Grain Council's trade mission to Alberta. The six-person team conducted 21 meetings in mid-September with buyers, brokers and cattle feeders in Alberta, representing an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 cattle. Before the trip, "I didn't realize they had such large feedlots there," Hanson says.
Backgrounding cattle has an established history of helping ranchers make money, especially when grain prices are low. Now, North Dakota State University Extension sees opportunity in the months ahead. "It looks like backgrounding is going to pencil out (be profitable) again, says John Dhuyvetter, NDSU Extension livestock specialist. He and fellow NDSU Extension livestock specialists Janna Kincheloe and Karl Hoppe will lead six meetings on Oct. 16-18 around the state.