Mikkel Pates / Agweek Staff Writer
HELENA, Mont.—A new Montana state law will create a student debt assistance loan program to help young ranchers and farmers pay off up to half or their student loans when they commit to five years of ranching or farming. Gov. Steve Bullock the legislation May 10. Finances won't be in place until October and the applications likely will come in the spring, promoters say.
WAHPETON, N.D.—The Wohlers family is scrambling to catch up with their planting in central Richland County in southeast North Dakota, but the weather in early May put them behind. This 2019 spring will be remembered for the snow, the inch of rain, the frost coming out of the fields, Tim Wohlers said. Soil temperatures were staying in the mid-40s longer than farmers wanted, but Wohlers was sure some 70-degree temperatures and "nice winds," would fix that in a hurry.
EDGELEY, N.D.—The Brandenburg family east of Edgeley is working to stay bullish on the future their farm, regardless of tough planting and price challenges. Kurt Brandenburg, 59, his son-in-law, Chris Brummond, 36, and son, Kyle Brandenburg, 30, are striving to get through the downturns heading toward a brighter horizon. Kurt's father, Don, 84, is is often nearby for helping with logistics.
ASHLEY, N.D.—Cattle feedlot operator Robert Lee "Bob" Blom of Corsica, S.D., on May 13 pleaded not guilty to a non-sufficient six-figure check payable to Gader Livestock, LLC, a company operated by Paul D. and Terisa V. Gader of Lehr, N.D. McIntosh County State's Attorney Mary Depuydt, in the suit filed on March 21, alleging that Blom (pronounced "Blum") had written a $134,837 check to the Gaders on about Jan. 29 that bounced.
BISMARCK, N.D.—Last fall, Rep. Dennis Johnson knew something would have to change when he heard and read about upstart Hunter Hanson—a recent high school graduate from the New Rockford area, with no training or experience in grain marketing—who had stiffed farmers and savvy grain elevators for millions of dollars in grain transactions.
SISSETON, S.D.—Sam Hanson, 39, and his cousin, Ben Hanson, 38, are partners in a custom-seeding business in the most northeast county in South Dakota. The Hansons this year bought a seeder that had been owned by Doug Martinson, who seeded for the Hansons. Now, it's theirs. "We've got about 3,000 acres to get seeding," Sam said May 5. "The ground's just too wet yet." This is the third year running that spring fieldwork has been slow in the Upper Midwest.
HORACE, N.D.—The region's Grand Farm autonomous farming research initiative got a big boost on April 27 when U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was on hand for its ribbon-cutting ceremony for an autonomous farming technology development project. About 75 backers of the futuristic farming project gathered at the rural Horace property after a Perdue farm policy roundtable.
WAHPETON, N.D. — Tom Knudsen, vice president of agriculture at Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative in Wahpeton, is retiring June 3 after 42 years with the company. He was one of the key decision-makers in agricultural matters, especially during harvest.
DAWSON, N.D.—As a long, tough winter melts into spring, no one is busier than Terry Harpole, 58, and his son, Landon, 22, and their Harpole Farm and Ranch in central Kidder County. The Harpoles have fewer than 1,000 acres for grain but a lot of it is irrigated. Landon joined the farm full-time immediately after graduating in 2016 from Kidder County High School at Steele, and it's a good thing because his dad needed the help.
FERGUS FALLS, Minn.—Sentencing for Jerome "Jerry" Hennessey, the big game hunting co-op manager, has been delayed a week to Friday, June 21, at 11 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Fergus Falls. Sentencing for the former general manager of the defunct Ashby (Minn.) Farmers Cooperative Elevator Co. replaces an earlier-announced June 13 date.