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This is a column about two of the most important things in Upper Midwest agriculture: the weather and soybeans. We’ll start with the former, end with the latter. It’s risky to generalize about area weather. The region is so big, with so much variation in it, that what’s true one place -- or even most places -- isn’t true everywhere.
GRAND FORKS — With so much attention on tariffs, harvest and the lapsed U.S. farm bill, you may not have heard a lot about corn ethanol recently. But the U.S. ethanol industry is alive and well, and offers promise, a biofuels specialist says. “There are opportunities in ethanol,” said David Ripplinger, North Dakota State University Extension bioenergy specialist.
There are several things that alarm or annoy me about President Donald Trump’s trade war. Here are the three most troublesome: First and foremost, I’m concerned for U.S. farmers and consumers worldwide. The Trump tariffs have cut into U.S. ag exports and threaten to hurt consumers worldwide. Yes, as I’ve heard many times from some Agweek readers, other countries, especially China, are cheating. Yes, as I’ve heard many Agweek readers say, let’s be optimistic that things work out in the end.
GRAND FORKS — Net farm income is at the lowest level in 10 years, reflecting poor crop prices, and some in agriculture are talking about being in an ag recession. Byron Parman, an assistant professor and agricultural finance specialist at North Dakota State University, said the numbers and historical perspective tell otherwise.
FARGO — Palmer amaranth — voted the nation’s most troublesome weed by the Weed Science Society of America — has been confirmed in four more North Dakota counties, North Dakota State University said Friday. The weed, identified for the first time in the state this summer in McIntosh County, now has been found in Benson, Dickey, Foster and Richland counties, too.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to move some of its researchers from Washington, D.C., to new locations around the country. Fargo will be one of them if a coalition of North Dakota and Fargo-area groups is successful.
Two prominent U.S. wheat groups say they're pleased that a new trade agreement addresses what they say is unfair treatment of U.S. wheat by Canada. The new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which would replace the existing North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, has an important provision for U.S. wheat growers, say the National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates, which promotes U.S. wheat exports around the world.
WEST FARGO, N.D. — Brent Qualey realizes that what he's about to say will surprise many in Upper Midwest agriculture. Despite poor crop prices and tough-to-achieve farm profitability, overall area land values have, in his experience, inched upward from a year ago, said Qualey, a veteran area real estate salesman and appraiser. "Land prices are steadying up a little bit. That surprises a lot of people," Qualey said. Qualey spoke Sept. 11 at the 38th annual Big Iron farm show in West Fargo. The three-day event ended Sept. 13.
Tom Peters worked to delay what he knew was inevitable: the arrival of Palmer amaranth in North Dakota. But now the dangerous weed officially has been identified in the state, and so Peters is urging agriculturalists to keep fighting the good fight to minimize Palmer’s impact.
I once sat with a farmer in his pickup on the way to look at his fields. As we drove, he pointed to a field and said, "That one's not mine. A neighbor has it on a one-year lease at a crazy-high rent. And he's cutting corners on weed control." Then the farmer caught himself and said, "But don't print that! The other guy would be mad at me. So would the owner." That incident is just one example of many I've experienced that demonstrate how controversial one-year leases are in modern agriculture.