July 26, 2017

Good, Bad and Ugly – Lower Yields/Fewer Fields Expected on the 2017 Wheat Quality Council Hard Spring Wheat and Durum Tour

Dave Green, a familiar face to folks that have participated in the Wheat Quality Council Hard Red Winter Wheat Tour and Hard Spring Wheat Tour over the years, took the reins of the organization from long-time tour organizer Ben Handcock at the conclusion of the WQC annual meeting in Kansas City earlier this spring. Handcock had been at the helm of the Council since 1992.

Ben Handcock and scouts – Wheat Quality Council

We visited with Green – he’s a native of Akron, Ohio, currently based in Kansas.  Audio –>   Green 1

Green is no stranger to the wheat tour routes.  Audio –>  Green 2

Ahead of the spring wheat and durum tour of the Northern Plains next week, Green has been doing a little pre-scouting leg work to get a handle on what the participants may find this season.  Audio –>  Green 3

For this year’s tour, Green says the crop scouts will fan out on similar routes that have been used in the past.  However, Mother Nature has introduced some detours this season.  Audio –>  Green 4

Bouts of uncooperative weather, from dryness to too much rain, have vexed many wheat fields in the Northern Plains. Green recognizes the extra attention that this year’s tour calculations may gather from domestic and international customers.

Audio –>  Green 5

The Wheat Quality Council is an old organization with a new, much-broader focus.

Founded in 1938 , it has a long and distinguished history of evaluating wheat for milling and end-use quality. The Council is now testing the milling and end-use qualities of Hard Winter, Hard Spring , Durum and Soft Wheats – nationwide.


USDA Opens More Land for Emergency Haying and Grazing – Additional Funds Released to ND Ranchers for Water Supply Projects

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is authorizing the use of additional Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands for emergency grazing and haying in and around portions of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota affected by severe drought. USDA is adding the ability for farmers and ranchers in these areas to hay and graze CRP wetland and buffer practices.

“We are working to immediately address the dire straits facing drought-stricken farmers and ranchers,” said Perdue. “USDA is fully considering and authorizing any federal programs or related provisions we have available to meet the immediate needs of impacted producers.”

For CRP practices previously announced, including those authorized today, Secretary Perdue is allowing this emergency action during and after the primary nesting season, where local drought conditions warrant in parts of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota that have reached D2, or “severe”, drought level or greater according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This includes counties with any part of their border located within 150 miles of authorized counties within the three states, and may extend into Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wyoming. All emergency grazing must end Sept. 30, 2017 and emergency haying must end Aug. 31, 2017.

The Secretary said that epic dry conditions, as high as D4 in some areas, coupled with an intense heatwave have left pastures in poor or very poor condition resulting in the need for ranchers to, at best, supplement grain and hay and at worst, sell their herds.

Landowners interested in emergency haying or grazing of CRP acres should contact the Farm Service Agency (FSA) office and meet with the local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff to obtain a modified conservation plan to include emergency haying/grazing.  Individual conservation plans will take into consideration wildlife needs.  CRP participants are reminded that a certain percentage of fields must be left unhayed or ungrazed.

Additional information about the counties approved for emergency haying and grazing and the eligible CRP practices in this area is available at www.fsa.usda.gov/emergency-hayandgraze.

For more information on CRP emergency grazing and haying, or other disaster assistance programs and loans, contact your local USDA Service Center, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum voted with the State Water Commission today to release an additional $500,000 for the Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply Program to assist ranchers dealing with harsh drought conditions.

 “The conditions in these drought-affected counties are not just severe, they are extreme or exceptional,” Burgum, who chairs the commission, said during the special meeting, stressing the importance of getting food and water to livestock. “This is one piece in a larger puzzle that we can take action on today to see if we can provide some relief.” 

 The commission re-activated the livestock water supply program on June 22, approving initial funding of $250,000. State Engineer Garland Erbele later authorized an additional $75,000. All of those dollars have been awarded, and the commission already has $223,000 in cost-share requests approved pending additional funding, Erbele said.

 Approved by a unanimous 5-0 vote, the $500,000 will cover the approved pending requests and leave about $277,000 for additional requests, which should last until needs can be reassessed at the commission’s next regular meeting on Aug. 23, Erbele said.

 “These resources will be put to good use in helping them manage, mitigate and minimize a great deal of hardship and problems out there,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, who serves on the commission.

 Created in 1991 and last activated in 2006, the program provides eligible livestock producers with 50 percent cost-share assistance of up to $3,500 per project, with a maximum of three projects per applicant. Details, including how to apply, are available on the commission’s website at www.swc.nd.gov .

 Burgum also applauded U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s decision today to authorize the use of additional Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands – specifically CRP wetland and buffer practices – for emergency grazing and haying in drought-affected areas of North Dakota, Montana and South Dakota. Interested landowners should contact their local Farm Service Agency office and meet with local Natural Resources Conservation Service staff.

 “We deeply appreciate Secretary Perdue’s timely responses in addressing the tremendous challenges facing our farmers and ranchers as they struggle to weather this crisis,” Burgum said.

 The U.S. Drought Monitor released today rated 6 percent of North Dakota in exceptional drought (D4), the first time since 2006 the state has received a D4 drought rating. Approximately 34 percent of the state is listed in extreme drought (D3), 17 percent in severe drought (D2) and 17 percent in moderate drought (D1).




Expansion in Soybean Acres Drives Checkoff Investments

The U.S. soybean industry is turning a corner. This year, soy acres closed in on corn acres, narrowing the gap between the two crops. At the United Soybean Board’s (USB) July meeting, the booming supply of soy was a topic of discussion – as was the need for continued strong demand. Conversations shifted from increasing volume to maximizing value to set farmers up for long-term profitability.

As USDA reports a record high of 89.5 million planted acres, the farmer-leaders are investing checkoff dollars both inside the bean to improve the meal and oil, and beyond the bean to meet evolving end-user demands sustainably. Continuous improvement in U.S. soy keeps preference strong. In terms of soybean meal, the farmers discussed a growing interest in who is purchasing and using U.S. soy and how to meet their needs for a quality product through innovative research and measurement. For soybean oil, the farmers looked to leverage rapidly expanding technologies, including high oleic, and to also diversify the investment portfolio through industrial uses. The board also elevated the conversation on sustainability and tools to meet the needs of the future, including plant breeding innovations. This portfolio of investments helps to maximize farmer profit opportunities long term.

“U.S. soybean farmers and their checkoff are working toward the best of both worlds – quantity and quality,” says USB Chair John Motter. “Farmers need to be able to make decisions on not just how many acres, but what’s in those acres. We’re focused on getting more value per acre returned to farmers.”

It is a pivotal time for soybeans, and it’s also a momentous time for the soy checkoff. In addition to investing checkoff funds in research, promotion and marketing that look beyond the bushel, the farmer-leaders took this time to leverage the experience and expertise of USB Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Becherer to make investments for the future and to position the checkoff for its next CEO. Becherer, who is set to retire at the end of 2017, was recognized for his contributions and 29-year service to the industry this week.

“Finding, launching and leveraging profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers is a constantly evolving mission for USB,” Becherer says. “Checkoff investments made by U.S. soybean farmers grew the value of U.S. soy over the past 25 years through innovative investments and partnerships with industry. We look forward to continuing to do so for the next 25 years to maximize value for U.S. soy and maximize profit opportunities for U.S. soybean farmers.”

USB’s 73 farmer-directors work on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers to achieve maximum value for their soy checkoff investments. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds in programs and partnerships to drive soybean innovation beyond the bushel and increase preference for U.S. soy. That preference is based on U.S. soybean meal and oil quality and the sustainability of U.S. soybean farmers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.