Spring flooding is a worry in some parts of Minnesota in large part because of heavy winter snow. Minnesota State Climatologist Kenny Blumenfeld joins the Linder Farm Network to highlight some of those concerns and explain why the chilly spring conditions are helping reduce some flood risks. 


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Farm News

March 29, 2023

Minnesota biofuel and farm groups have provided testimony to the Minnesota House of Representatives on several proposed bills affecting farmer's use of treated seed. One bill would require monitoring of biofuels plants, their coproducts, including dried distillers grains, and wastewater streams for the presence of neonicotinoids and so-call forever chemicals. One concern is that treated seed intended for planting would be used in the production of biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel, and that the resulting coproducts would end up in livestock feed and eventually into the food supply. Ag groups, including the Minnesota Ethanol Producers Association and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) testified that safeguards are in place preventing treated seed from being used in biofuel production and there are disposal protocols already in place to keep treated seed from entering food streams. 

Another proposed bill would require prior verification of need in order for a farmer to plant treated seed. A third bill would set up a regulatory process for treated seed disposal. 

MCGA President Richard Syverson says treated seed is an important crop protection tool that helps farmers produce crops sustainably. Listen

The House Ag Committee is expected to vote tomorrow on legislation that would require a study on the use of treated seed and a verification of need for seed treatments. Representative Paul Anderson, a farmer from Starbuck and lead Republican on the committee says that even though the language of the bill has been softened, the legislation is still troubling.  Listen

The committee will also be voting on changing the makeup of the Board of Animal Health, which has been proposed to change from the current makeup from six members to 11, based on congressional district. Board members would only have to have knowledge of animal agriculture to be considered. 

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA0 joined several other groups in a suit against the State of Minnesota for its adoption of California's zero-emission vehicle mandate. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, challenges the legality of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency rules requiring that new cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty vehicles in the state meet emission limits set by California and match California’s requirements for the sale of a certain percentage of so-called “zero-emission vehicles,” as defined by California regulators.

MSGA Secretary Ryan Mackenthun from Brownton, says soy-based biodiesel has a 20 year track record of reducing carbon and particulate emissions. He says the MSGA isn't opposed to the mission of reducing carbon, but standards for Minnesota should be set by Minnesotans. Listen

Spring waterfowl migrations have begun, bringing untold numbers of birds to Minnesota. The risk of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) increases as those wild flocks return. So farm Minnesota has avoided any cases in 2023. According to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BOAH), the last reported HPAI case in the state was in early December of 2022. BOAH Assistant Director Dr. Erik Jopp expects Minnesota will see cases of avian influenza this spring. Listen

So far, cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza have been confirmed in South Dakota, Iowa, Michigan and Pennsylvania. 

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BOAH) announced Tuesday that Dr. Marion Garcia will no longer serve as executive director and state veterinarian for the Board, effective immediately. The Board will initiate a search for qualified candidates immediately. Dr. Brian Hoefs has been appointed to the role of interim executive director and state veterinarian. Dr. Hoefs has been a member of the Board's leadership team since 2019.

Members of Minnesota Pork are in Washington D.C. this week meeting with lawmakers. Among the top issues for the industry is the 2023 Farm Bill. Minnesota Pork Board Director of Marketing and Public Policy Engagement Lauren Servick says resources for the prevention of foreign animal diseases need to be included in the new bill. Listen

A cold March combined with heavy snow in many areas this winter means most farm fields are a long way from being ready for planting. University of Minnesota Extension Corn Agronomist Jeff Coulter says the optimal window for corn planting in Minnesota is typically between April 24 and May 7. However, each year is unique, so the optimal time may differ each year. 

Coulter cautions farmers against getting into the fields to do tillage too early because that can lead to issues with seed-to-soil contact as well as potential compaction. Listen

The supply of high-quality hay has remained surprisingly strong, according to Randy Kath with the Steffes Group. Kath says quality hay is selling for around $180 to $200 per ton. Listen

The latest American Farm Bureau Federation Market Intel Report says farm bankruptcy filings totaled 169 in 2022, the lowest number since Chapter 12 became a permanent part of bankruptcy law. Veronica Nigh, senior economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, says farm bankruptcy trends tend to follow net farm income. Listen

Almost three-quarters of Americans say that not reauthorizing the farm bill in 2023 would have a significant impact on the country, according to a new poll from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The survey explores the public’s awareness of the farm bill, its impact, and priorities for funding in the legislation. The poll, showed more than half of respondents said they would be more likely to support their member of Congress if they voted to reauthorize the farm bill.

Nearly 70% of respondents also identified two areas of the farm bill as top priorities for government funding: risk management programs that serve as a safety net for farmers and nutrition programs that serve as a safety net for families facing hunger.

Other key findings of the survey include:
  • 73% of adults say not passing a farm bill would have a significant impact on the country;
  •  A majority of adults agree that nutrition programs (68%) and risk management (67%) should be top priorities for government funding in the farm bill;
  • ·86% of adults say they are concerned about food inflation;
  •  84% of adults say the U.S. should consider a safe and abundant food supply a matter of national security; and
  •  89% of adults trust farmers.
The outlook for agricultural retailers is generally favorable for 2023, following a year of record profits in 2022. However, the sector faces emerging risks that could depress profit margins and challenge traditional business models in the years ahead according to CoBank.

Lower levels of industry working capital, higher property insurance costs, and changing grower needs are three of the key issues that ag retailers will need to navigate over the next five years. A new report from CoBank shows that a downturn in the crop cycle, after several years of consecutive high profits, is likely during 2024 or shortly thereafter. Lower levels of farmer working capital during the current upcycle suggests growers will cut back on input purchases more dramatically during the next downturn. Total farming working capital during the 2021/2022 crop cycle peak averaged $138 billion. That's down from $215 billion during the 2012 peak. 

A group of state attorneys general, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, recently asked Congress to pass expansive Right-to-Repair legislation targeted at cars, farm equipment, and digital electronics. In a letter to the House and Senate Commerce Committee, the group says, "The Right-to-Repair is a bipartisan issue that impacts every consumer, household, and farm in a time of increasing inflation.”

Manufacturing of cars, digital devices, and agricultural equipment is increasingly becoming more technologically advanced and built with more embedded electronics. OEMs often control access to these electronic parts, creating unfair restraint of trade and a monopoly on repair. This can harm consumers directly by driving up prices and is antithetical to a free market, according to the letter.

The letter asks the lawmakers to introduce legislation to address Right to Repair. The letter cites past bills, such as the 2021 SMART Act, the 2022 REPAIR Act, and the 2021 Fair Repair Act, as examples.


Upcoming Events

March 31          USDA Prospective Plantings Report released

April 11             AURI New Uses Forum, Minneapolis

April 23-25      Minnesota FFA Convention, St. Paul

Farm Fun Fact

The 2023 Major League Baseball season gets underway tomorrow. Hot dogs are the most widely consumed food at MLB games with Dodger Stadium leading the way in hot dog sales. Fans consumed approximately 2.5 million hot dogs at the stadium in 2022.