Mental health issues affect people from nearly every walk of life, including farmers and ranchers. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Minnesota Farm Bureau and the Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation lead several efforts surrounding mental health in agriculture. Farm Bureau Foundation Director Ruth Meirick and Promotion & Education Chair Cindy Durheim  join this Field Talk podcast to discuss rural mental health issues. 


Farmers across Minnesota have anxiously waited for conditions to improve in order to get their spring field work underway. A stretch of dry, windy and warmer weather is just what's needed to push planting activity into high gear. Check out this week's Linder Farm Network video. 

Farm News

May 3, 2023

A stretch of dry, warmer weather is accelerating planting activity across Minnesota. Activity levels vary across the state based on soil moisture and field conditions. With a warm stretch of weather expected for the remainder of this week, Minnesota farmers are making rapid progress. 

The latest USDA planting progress report shows 26% of the nation's corn crop is planted, which is on par with the 5-year average. Minnesota has 5% of the corn crop in the ground compared to the average of 23%. Soybeans nationwide are ahead of the 5-year average, while Minnesota farmers have planted just 1% of the soybean crop. Planted acreage will jump substantially in the next report as planting activity in Minnesota is underway in earnest. 

Some farmers in southern Minnesota were able to plant corn several weeks ago during an unseasonably warm stretch. After the seed was in the ground, cold, wet weather settled in. Dekalb/Asgrow agronomist Dan Kohler says most of those early planted seeds have come through the cold weather unscathed. Listen

Weather conditions over Minnesota should be mostly favorable for field activity in the weeks ahead. DTN Meteorologist John Baranick says there will be periods of rain, but no big systems are expected. Listen

Conferees met for more than three hours on Monday working on differences between the Minnesota House and Senate versions of the ag funding and ag policy bills. The committee is expected to meet again on Thursday.

May is international trade month, which recognizes the importance of export markets. No industry is more affected by international markets than agriculture. U.S. Grains Council Vice President Cary Sifferath says about one-third of the nation's corn crop is exported in one for m or another, including as distillers grains and ethanol. Exports of animal products, which are grain-fed, are also an importatn part of the market equation for U.S. grain producers. Listen

Five Minnesota farmers have been re-elected to the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council. Bill Zurn, Patrick O’Leary, Pat Sullivan, Ron Obermoller and Rochelle Krusemark were all reelected, earning three-year terms beginning July 1.
The election is administered by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture on behalf of the Council. Nearly 4,000 Minnesota farmers received ballots for this year's election. 

Seedling diseases of corn and soybeans is the topic of the University of Minnesota's agronomy podcast featuring plant pathologist Dean Malvick. The full podcast is available here. 

Ethanol proponents finally received the news they'd been hoping for regarding year-round E15. The Environmental Protection Agency granted an emergency waiver allowing for sale of the higher ethanol blend this summer driving season.  A similar waiver was granted last year. Ethanol proponents had hoped E15 could be made available year-round through legislation, but the EPA waiver is good news according to National Corn Growers Association President Tom Haag of Eden Valley. Listen

Haag was in Washington D.C. last week testifying before a U.S. House agriculture subcommittee. He says protecting crop insurance was a key message to lawmakers. 

E15 IN 2024
E15 will be available year-round in 2024, but only in 8 states. In March, the EPA proposed a rule that would allow year-round sales of E15, f in the Midwestern states beginning in 2024. Governors of eight states, including major corn-producing states like Minnesota and Iowa had asked that EPA lift the ban on E15 sales during summer 2023. EPA contends the higher blends can contribute to smog during warm weather months. An emergency waiver was granted in April for summer E15 availability, but ethanol proponents like Minnesota Corn Growers Association President Richard Syverson are still pushing for a permanent solution. Listen

Staff shortages at the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has been an issue and those concerns were raised again at a recent farm bill hearing in Washington. Staffing became an issue during the pandemic when many workers were sent home. Minnesota Congressman Brad Finstad called the issue a prioritization problem. Finstad is a former USDA Rural Development director for Minnesota. Listen

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is asking for 4,700 new employees in his fiscal year 2024 budget, but he strongly defended the FSA at a hearing last month when confronted with similar staffing criticisms. “Let’s be clear about this, there were 6,500 fewer people working for the department when I came back. So, we are in the process of trying to rebuild the workforce, number one. Number two, we track the work that’s being done, loans are being, there hasn’t been a drop-off, in terms of the service to folks." 

Senate Agriculture Committee member heard from farmers and ranchers during a farm bill hearing this week. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall emphasized the need for a strong farm safety net, including crop insurance and the Farm Bill support programs as well as the importance of a unified farm bill that keeps nutrition programs and farm programs together. In addition, Duvall says farmers and ranchers need investment in research and other important programs. Listen

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is seeking more funding for the Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank in the next farm bill. As outbreaks of FMD have occurred off the coast of Australia and Indonesia, NCBA leaders say its important for the U.S. to be prepared. 

Upcoming Events

May 20             Martin County Breakfast on the Farm, Fairmont

May 23-25        U.S. Meat Export Federation Spring Conference, Minneapolis

June 7-9            World Pork Expo

Farm Fun Fact

May is Beef Month. Americans consume an average of 57 pounds of beef products each year. With warmer weather here it's time to fire up that grill!


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