April 29, 2016

North Dakota Woman Finalist For America’s Farm Mom Of the Year

Each year the American Agri-Women select five regional women who personify the “ideal”.  Someone who has a balance between their home life and helping on the farm and being active in their community.   This woman is also someone who is active in the agricultural industry and is actively working to help bridge the gap between consumers and producers.  This year, one of those five finalists is Katie Heger, a farmer from Underwood, ND.  Heger is originally from the suburban twin cities but moved to the farm in North Dakota upon marrying her husband, Steven.  The two have five children and operate a 8,000 acre operation while also participating in 4-H.  Heger is also a volunteer with the North Dakota Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee and operates a blog on farm life at hegerfamilyfarms.wordpress.com.  She also participates in Common Ground and is a vocal proponent of biotechnology use. She will represent the Northwest Region.

Other regional winners this year include: Karen Kaspar, Owatonna, MN (Midwest Region), Nikki Weathers Yuma, CO (Southwest Region), Ann Stamp Cranston, Rhode Island (Northeast Region), and Mary Courtney Bagdad, Kentucky.


America’s Farmers is sponsored by Monsanto.  Voting will until May 4th and each person may vote once per day until then.  Those interested in supporting one of the nominations can go to http://www.americasfarmers.com/community-outreach/farm-mom-nominees-2016/


Lack of Regulatory Approval Creates Headaches For Round Up Ready 2 Xtend Growers

MN soy july 2012Monsanto and many of its subsidiaries are commercializing Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™ (RR2X) soybeans this spring, and farmers across the U.S. may have ordered or taken delivery of soybean seed containing the trait.  Even so, a lack of export approval from the European Union and a lack of approval by EPA for the use of Dicamba on soybeans containing the trait will pose their fair share of challenges for growers in the upcoming season.  The American Soybean Association has issued a couple of guidelines for those producers intending to plant the trait and reminding growers who have concerns to work with their seed dealer or retailer to pick a seed that will work for them.

RR2X soybeans are new biotech soybeans that are tolerant to both dicamba and glyphosate herbicides.

Status of Approval in Major Export Markets

Final approval by the EU Commission has been expected for the past few months, is expected soon and before harvest, but, according to ASA, cannot be guaranteed. The American Soybean Association, U.S. Soybean Export Council, Monsanto and others have been working with both EU and U.S. Government officials to press for approval of RR2X and other pending new biotech soybean traits. Chinese import approval of RR2X soybeans was obtained in February, and approvals in other major export markets has also been obtained.  Until approval is granted, many elevators, buyers and processors will not be accepting soybeans containing the RR2X trait and growers will need to keep any bushels produced from the plants segregated.

No Dicamba Use Allowed on RR2X Soybeans in the 2016 Growing Season

Growers also should be aware that while RR2X soybeans are tolerant to dicamba and glyphosate herbicides, no dicamba herbicides will be approved for use on RR2X soybeans during the 2016 growing season.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only recently proposed a draft label for a dicamba product to be used with RR2X soybeans, and this draft label, as well as anticipated labels for low-volatility dicamba herbicide formulations will NOT be finalized until late this summer or fall.  The American Soybean Association says any use of a dicamba herbicide on RR2X soybeans in-season during 2016 before final labels are approved by EPA and state officials would be a violation of law.

ASA is reviewing the draft label proposed by EPA and will submit comments on it to EPA. ASA will share its draft comments with state associations and is encouraging individual growers to submit comments on the draft label.


Caterpiller Releases Q1 Earnings

C10000554Caterpillar Inc. today announced first-quarter 2016 sales and revenues of $9.5 billion, down from $12.7 billion in the first quarter of 2015.  First-quarter 2016 profit per share of $0.46 was down from a profit of $2.03 per share in the first quarter of 2015.  Excluding restructuring costs, profit per share was $0.67, compared with $2.07 per share in the first quarter of 2015.

“While first-quarter results were about as we expected, sales and profit were well below the first quarter of 2015.  Sales declined across the company with substantial reductions in construction, oil and gas, mining and rail.  While many of the industries we serve are challenged, we remain focused on what we can control: the quality of our products, our market position, safety in our facilities and continued restructuring and cost reduction.  In fact, our period costs and variable manufacturing costs in the quarter were nearly $500 million lower than the first quarter of 2015,” said Caterpillar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman.

2016 Outlook

As for their 2016 out, Cat says they have seen recent increases in commodity prices, some signs of improvement in construction equipment in China and better order activity than they expected at Bauma, leading trade fair for many of the industries they serve.  Still, while they are seeing a few positive signals, executives emphasized that other parts of business remain challenged.  Because of that, they have lowered the midpoint of the outlook for 2016 sales and revenues about 2 percent.

Sales and revenues in 2016 are expected to be in a range of $40 to $42 billion with a midpoint of $41 billion.  The previous outlook was a range of $40 to $44 billion with a midpoint of $42 billion.  The decline in the midpoint of the sales and revenues outlook range is a result of several factors that, while not individually large in the context of the outlook, collectively add up to about $1 billion.  Those factors include lower transportation sales (rail, marine and the ending of production of on-highway vocational trucks), lower mining sales and weaker price realization than previously expected.

The profit outlook at the midpoint of the sales and revenues range is now $3.00 per share, or $3.70 per share excluding restructuring costs.  The previous profit outlook was $3.50 per share, or $4.00 per share excluding restructuring costs at the midpoint of the previous sales and revenues outlook.  The expected decline in sales and revenues and an increase in expected restructuring costs are the primary reasons for the decline in the profit outlook.

Restructuring costs are now expected to be about $550 million in 2016, up $150 million from the previous outlook.  The decision to end production of on-highway vocational trucks is the primary reason for the increase in restructuring costs.  Despite the challenges, Oberholmen remains positive:

“Our digital strategy is an exciting investment for the long term.  We’re hard at work, inside Caterpillar and with our digital partners, developing the data architecture and applications that will make our products smarter and help our customers improve productivity and safety.  Our goal is to help customers be more productive, better manage their fleets and make more money with Caterpillar than they could with our competitors.  Our approximately 400,000 (and growing) connected assets mean entire fleets and job sites – from machines to tablets to drones – will eventually share data on one common technology platform in the age of smart iron.  One thing that I am certain of is that it’s times like these when the Caterpillar team demonstrates the innovation and ambition to be the leader in all we do,”