AgweekTV Full Show: Packer concentration, Palmer amaranth outbreak, Blackboard Restaurant, ag ed program



COMING UP ON AGWEEK TV

LAWMAKERS TURN UP THE HEAT ON A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION ON PACKER CONCENTRATION TO PROTECT PRODUCERS AND CONSUMERS.

PALMER AMARANTH IS SLIPPING THROUGH STATE INSPECTION CRACKS AND CREATING HEADACHES FOR PRODUCERS.

Katie Pinke: IN THE HEART OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, FRIENDS SARAH WATSON AND TERRI TRICKLE BOUGHT THE FORMER DISTRICT 166 RURAL SCHOOL HOUSE IN MINNESOTA TO CREATE BLACKBOARD RESTAURANT

AND A NEW AG EDUCATION PROGRAM AIMS TO FIX THE AG TEACHER SHORTAGE.

WELCOME TO AGWEEK TV, I’M MICHELLE ROOK.

LAWMAKERS ARE TURNING UP THE HEAT ON CATTLE MARKET ISSUES. SENATORS MIKE ROUNDS OF SOUTH DAKOTA AND TINA SMITH OF MINNESOTA ASKED THE A.G. TO INVESTIGATE WHETHER THE LARGE MEATPACKERS ARE VIOLATING ANTITRUST LAWS. THIS ISN’T THE FIRST PROBE ON THE ISSUE AND I TALKED WITH ROUNDS ABOUT WHAT’S DIFFERENT THIS TIME.

Sen. Mike Rounds: THIS TIME AROUND WE’VE PLACED WITHIN OUR LETTER THE CONCERNS, AND SPECIFICALLY WE POINTED OUT THE DISPARITY RIGHT NOW BETWEEN WHAT A CONSUMER IS PAYING AND WHAT THE ACTUAL PRODUCER IS RECEIVING AND THE SPREAD IN BETWEEN, WHICH IS BASICALLY BEING CONTROLLED BY FOUR MAJOR PACKERS IN THE UNITED STATES THAT CONTROL MORE THAN EIGHTY PERCENT OF THE ENTIRE BEEF PROCESSING MARKET. IT’S NOT FAIR TO THE CONSUMER, AND IT MOST CERTAINLY IS NOT FAIR TO THE PRODUCER. IF WE ONLY GO BACK TO THE PRODUCER AND TALK ABOUT WHAT THIS IS DOING TO THEM AND WE DON’T RECOGNIZE THE IMPACT ON THE CONSUMER, WE’LL NEVER GET THIS CHANGED.

SO DO YOU THINK THIS AG, OR THIS ADMINISTRATION, IS GOING TO BE MORE FRIENDLY TOWARD NOT ONLY AN INVESTIGATION, BUT MOVING FORWARD WITH ACTION?

Sen. Mike Rounds: WE THINK THE ATTORNEY GENERAL HAS THE AUTHORITY AND RESPONSIBILITY TO INVESTIGATE THESE ISSUES. AND WE’RE SIMPLY BRINGING UP THE FACT THAT RIGHT NOW THERE IS SUCH A DISPARITY BETWEEN WHAT THE CONSUMER PAYS AS THE END USER, AND WHAT THE ORIGINAL PRODUCER OF THESE BEEF CATTLE IN THE UNITED STATES IS RECEIVING, THAT IT’S TIME THAT HE TAKE A LOOK WHERE THAT MONEY IS ACTUALLY GOING, AND WHETHER IT’S FAIR.

SO ONE OF THE THINGS THAT YOU’RE LOOKING AT IS THE 50 14 BILL, WHICH YOU HAVE SIGNED ON TO. IS THERE ENOUGH SUPPORT YOU THINK TO GET THAT PASSED, AND DO YOU THINK IT COULD BE EFFECTIVE?

Sen. Mike Rounds: WHAT WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE IS A LARGER PERCENT OF WHAT THEY PAY FOR, ON A TRANSPARENT BASIS, FOR CASH PRICE ON THE OPEN MARKET. THE 50 14 IS WHAT I’M ON WITH SENATOR GRASSLEY. I KNOW THAT SENATOR GRASSLEY BELIEVES THIS IS AN APPROPRIATE PROGRAM. I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE END RESULT MIGHT BE, BUT I KNOW THAT WHERE IT’S AT RIGHT NOW IS WAY, WAY BELOW WHAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED A FAIR OPEN MARKET PERCENTAGE.

IN A SURPRISE MOVE, JBS, THE WORLD’S LARGEST MEAT PACKER, HAS LEFT THE NATIONAL CATTLEMEN’S BEEF ASSOCIATION.

JBS IS REPORTEDLY UPSET NCBA RECENTLY JOINED WITH OTHER FARM GROUPS TO CALL FOR MORE MARKET TRANSPARENCY AND ASK DOJ TO REPORT ON ITS ONGOING PACKER ANTITRUST INVESTIGATION. PRODUCERS HAVE BEEN OUTRAGED ABOUT THE LOW PRICES THEY’VE RECEIVE FOR CATTLE WHILE HIGH BOXED BEEF PRICES HAVE PUMPED UP PACKER PROFITS.

NCBA HAS LONG BEEN CRITICIZED BY SOME PRODUCERS WHO FELT THE MEAT PACKERS CONTROLLED THE GROUP AND SHOULDN’T HAVE A SEAT AT THE TABLE ANYWAY.

Todd Wilkinson: From NCBA’s standpoint, we’re trying to protect the producer. And the fact that JBS didn’t appreciate that, while they certainly are right to voice their opinion, they don’t get to tell anybody what to do. And if they didn’t like it, a mutual decision for them to leave the association was not a bad thing.

A JBS SPOKESPERSON SAYS THEY “SUSPENDED” MEMBERSHIP IN NCBA A YEAR AGO AS PART OF AN INTERNAL REVIEW OF TRADE ASSOCIATION INVESTMENTS. HOWEVER, THE COMPANY PLANS TO STAY INVOLVED WITH THE GROUP.

TYSON FOODS, CARGILL AND NATIONAL BEEF ARE STILL LISTED THOUGH AS MEMBERS OF NCBA’S PRODUCT COUNCIL.

USDA’S LIVESTOCK FORAGE PROGRAM IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCERS IN AREAS AT D2 DROUGHT STATUS OR HIGHER ON THE DROUGHT MONITOR. PRODUCERS IN THESE COUNTIES ARE NOW ELIGIBLE FOR THREE PAYMENTS IF THEY’VE SUFFERED GRAZING LOSSES. THEY’LL NEED TO CERTIFY ACRES, LIVESTOCK NUMBERS AND PROVIDE A LEASE AGREEMENT TO THEIR FSA OFFICE.

USDA’S FARM SERVICE AGENCY IS ALSO STILL PUSHING TO GET PAYMENTS OUT SOON TO FARMERS FOR PAST DISASTERS.

FSA WANTS TO RELEASE QUALITY LOSS ADJUSTMENT PAYMENTS AND THE SECOND ROUND OF 2019 WHIP PLUS PROGRAM PAYMENTS BY THE END OF THE MONTH. WHAT COMPLICATED THE PROGRAM DEPLOYMENT WAS QLA WAS TIED TO THE SAME FUNDING POOL AS WHIP PLUS.

Zach Ducheneaux: So in order to make sure that we’re allocating the funding resources appropriately, we had to have all of Whip Plus in and all of QLA in so that we could make a determination on that last 50-percent of WHIP plus and QLA.

AG SECRETARY TOM VILSACK TOLD LAWMAKERS PAYMENTS WERE ALSO DELAYED BECAUSE USDA NEEDED MORE MONEY, WITH AN ESTIMATED SHORTFALL OF $300 MILLION TO $1 BILLION DEPENDING ON THE VOLUME OF CLAIMS.

THE IOWA LEGISLATURE HAS WRAPPED ITS 2021 SESSION WITH SEVERAL WINS FOR AGRICULTURE, BUT ALSO A BIG LOSS.

LAWMAKERS PASSED BILLS TO SHIFT MENTAL HEALTH FUNDING FROM PROPERTY TAXES TO A STATE FUND, ELIMINATED THE STATE’S INHERITANCE TAX, MADE THE BEGINNING FARMER TAX CREDIT PROGRAM EASIER TO PARTICIPATE IN, PLUS THEY APPROPRIATED $100 MILLION FOR RURAL BROADBAND. HOWEVER, ONE DISAPPOINTMENT FOR FARM GROUPS WAS THE IOWA BIOFUELS STANDARD, WHICH WOULD HAVE ESTABLISHED MINIMUM BLENDING REQUIREMENTS FOR BIODIESEL AND ETHANOL IN IOWA. IT LOOKED GOOD EARLY IN THE SESSION.

Michael Dolch: However, met some resistance mid-session. We believe that there was some mischaracterized opposition that was laid out regarding the bill that prevented it from moving any further.

DOLCH SAYS THEY’RE CONFIDENT THEY CAN WORK THROUGH THOSE ISSUES IN THE OFFSEASON TO ENSURE PASSAGE NEXT SESSION.

BIPARTISAN BIOFUELS LEGISLATION HAS BEEN INTRODUCED IN THE U.S. SENATE TO ADDRESS ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH THE SMALL REFINERY EXEMPTIONS UNDER THE RFS.

THE RENEWABLE FUELS STANDARD INTEGRITY ACT OF 2021 WAS INTRODUCED BY NEBRASKA’S DEB FISCHER AND TAMMY DUCKWORTH OF ILLINOIS. IT’S IN REACTION TO THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION GRANTING 90 WAIVERS, WHICH ERODED 4 BILLION GALLONS OF ETHANOL DEMAND FROM THE RFS.

AND THIS WEEK THE U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE’S OFFICE INITIATED A DISPUTE SETTLEMENT PROCESS AGAINST CANADA’S DAIRY INDUSTRY.

THIS IS THE FIRST FORMAL PANEL UNDER USMCA. THE U.S. IS ALLEGING THAT CANADA’S TARIFF RATE QUOTA SYSTEM LIMITS U.S. ACCESS TO THE CANADIAN MARKET AND IS IN VIOLATION OF THEIR DAIRY IMPORT OBLIGATIONS.

AHEAD ON AGWEEK TV, A FARMER IS DEALING WITH A HUGE WEED PROBLEM, THAT HE BLAMES ON HIS CATTLE FEED.

PALMER AMARANTH IS A FAST-GROWING WEED THAT CAN TAKE A HEAVY TOLL ON YIELDS. IT’S BEEN WORKING ITS WAY UP FROM THE SOUTH, AND IS STARTING TO BE FOUND IN THE WESTERN CORN BELT.

IN THIS WEEK’S AGWEEK COVER STORY, MIKKEL PATES TALKED TO A CATTLE PRODUCER WHO IS DEALING WITH A BIG PROBLEM, BECAUSE THE WEED WAS IN HIS CATTLE FEED.

Mikkel Pates: A NORTH DAKOTA FARMER AND CATTLE MAN WONDERS WHY HIS STATE COULDN’T PROTECT HIM FROM A TAINTED SOURCE OF SUNFLOWER SCREENINGS FROM FARGO, WHEN THEY KNEW MINNESOTA HAD ALREADY BANNED IT BECAUSE OF PALMER AMARANTH.

Tyler Elston: I KNEW WHERE THEY CAME FROM, BUT I DIDN’T KNOW THAT THEY KNEW THERE WAS PALMER IN IT.

TYER ELSTON AND HIS WIFE TORI HAVE A 2000 HEAD CATTLE FEEDLOT NEAR SPIRITWOOD. THREE YEARS AGO, HE THOUGHT HE WAS GETTING A GOOD DEAL ON CATTLE FEED WHEN HE BOUGHT SUNFLOWER SCREENINGS FROM A TRUCKER, WHO GOT THEM FROM RED RIVER COMMODITIES. BUT LAST SUMMER HE REALIZED SOME OF THE LOADS WERE FULL OF PALMER AMARANTH SEEDS. HE WONDERS WHY THE NORTH DAKOTA AG DEPARTMENT DIDN’T STOP IT.

Tyler Elston: I’M PRETTY UPSET AT THE STATE FOR NOT PUTTING, AT LEAST NOTIFYING PEOPLE ABOUT THE SCREENINGS, WHEN THEY KNEW ABOUT IT RIGHT AWAY. WHEN MINNESOTA QUIT TAKING THEM, QUIT LETTING THEM IN, THE STATE SHOULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING RIGHT AWAY.

BARNES COUNTY WEED OFFICER JAMEN WINDISH WAS ONE OF THE OFFICIALS CALLED TO ELSTON’S FARM LAST FALL WHEN THE WEEDS WERE DISCOVERED. HE WAS SHOCKED AT WHAT THEY FOUND.

Jamen Windish: THERE WAS A LOT. WAY MORE THAN THEY FOUND IN OTHER, YOU KNOW, COUNTIES ACROSS THE STATE.

THEY SUSPECT IT GOT SO BAD BECAUSE CATTLE ATE THE PALMER SEEDS THAT WERE IN THEIR FEED, THEN IT WAS SPREAD IN THEIR MANURE ACROSS A THOUSAND ACRES.

Tyler: Economic impact this is gonna have on every North Dakota farmer, not just myself.

BARNES COUNTY WEED BOARD CHAIR LLOYD WEILAND SAYS THE WEED LIKELY CAME FROM THE SOUTH, WHERE PALMER IS MORE ESTABLISHED.

Lloyd Wieland: IT SEEMS THAT THIS COMPANY BROUGHT SUNFLOWERS FROM ALL OVER THE LOWER 48 AND SO THEY CLEANED THEM UP HERE,SO THERE’S PALMER DOWN THERE AND NOW WE’VE GOT IT UP HERE.

Mikkel Pates: WHETHER IT’S POOR REGULATION OR OTHER LIABILITY, THIS FARMER’S ON THE HOOK FOR TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS A YEAR, INDEFINITELY. FOR AGWEEK THIS IS MIKKEL PATES AT SPIRITWOOD, NORTH DAKOTA.

RED RIVER COMMODITIES DID NOT RETURN CALLS ON THIS STORY. NORTH DAKOTA AG COMMISSIONER DOUG GOEHRING SAYS THE DEPARTMENT DID ALL THEY COULD WITHIN THEIR AUTHORITY, BUT THAT LANDOWNERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR NOXIOUS WEEDS.

YOU CAN READ MORE IN THE NEXT AGWEEK MAGAZINE, OR AT AG AGWEEK.COM.

AGCO-AMITY, WHICH MAKES WELL-KNOWN FARM EQUIPMENT BRANDS LIKE CONCORD, WIL-RICH AND WISHEK, WAS PURCHASED BY VADERSTAD AB.

THE SWEDISH COMPANY ACQUIRED 100-PERCENT OF WAHPETON, NORTH DAKOTA BASED AMITY AND WILL BE FULLY INTEGRATING IT UNDER THE NAME VADERSTAD INC.

Ben Sander: Vaderstad has, when they acquired seed hawk, they have a hoe drill tool bar up there and very large air carts. Their smallest one starts well above our largest one, so that’s a big advantage there. But definitely a little different. There’s not a lot of overlap with our product lines, which is really nice.

AMITY’S CEO SAYS THE COMBINATION OF THEIR HIGHLY SKILLED TEAM AND VADERSTAD’S EXPERIENCE WILL HELP THEM PROVIDE A BROAD SET OF AGRONOMIC SOLUTIONS FOR FARMERS IN THE REGION AND NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR DEALERS.

THERE’S A SERIOUS SHORTAGE OF AG EDUCATION TEACHERS, LIMITING HOW MANY SCHOOLS CAN OFFER AG PROGRAMS.

BUT AS JENNY SCHLECHT REPORTS, NDSU AND DICKINSON STATE ARE PARTNERING IN AN INNOVATIVE MASTER’S DEGREE PROGRAM, TO TRAIN MORE AG TEACHERS.

Adam Marx: THERE’S A PRESSING NEED FOR AG EDUCATION NATIONWIDE.

ADAM MARX TEACHES AG EDUCATION AT NDSU. HE SAYS THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT THERE IS HIGH DEMAND FOR AG PROGRAMS IN HIGH SCHOOLS.

Adam Marx: SCHOOLS CONTINUE TO SEE THE NEED AND THE BENEFIT FROM INCORPORATING SCHOOL-BASED AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION.

THE COOPERATIVE PROGRAM BETWEEN DICKINSON STATE AND NDSU MAY BE THE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN THE COUNTRY. AFTER GRADUATING WITH A BACHELOR’S DEGREE AT DSU, STUDENTS WILL FINISH THEIR MASTER’S IN AG EDUCATION. THEY’LL DO THE WORK IN DICKINSON, BUT GET THE DEGREE FROM NDSU.

Chip Poland: TRYING TO MARRY A STRONG PROGRAM IN AGRICULTURE WITH A STRONG TRADITION IN TEACHER TRAINING.

THE NEW PROGRAM FITS WELL WITH DSU’S MISSION TO BE WORKFORCE ORIENTED. THE DEGREE CAN PREPARE STUDENTS FOR ANYTHING FROM EXTENSION WORK TO A VARIETY OF JOBS IN AGRI BUSINESS.

Holly Gruhlke: THROUGH THIS PARTNERSHIP THEY’RE ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH THOSE GOALS, AND WORK IN A POSITION THAT THEY REALLY FEEL GOOD ABOUT.

Brook Thiel: WE WANT TO MAKE SURE WE THAT WE ARE PREPARING STUDENTS TO FILL THE CAREERS THAT NORTH DAKOTA NEEDS TO KEEP OUR YOUTH HERE. THERE ARE TONS AND TONS OF OPPORTUNITIES IN EDUCATION ACROSS OUR STATE.

IN DICKINSON, NORTH DAKOTA, THIS IS JENNY SCHELECHT FOR AGWEEK.

THE GOAL IS TO GRADUATE AT LEAST FIVE STUDENTS A YEAR FROM THE NDSU MASTER’S PROGRAM.

Katie Pinke: COMING UP ON AGWEEK TV, WE’LL TAKE YOU TO A FORMER RURAL SCHOOLHOUSE NOW TURNED MODERN, ECLECTIC RESTAURANT, THAT OPENED DURING THE PANDEMIC.

SOME RAIN AND RAIN CHANCES IN PARTS OF THE CORN BELT AND NORTHERN PLAINS WEIGHED ON THE GRAIN MARKETS THIS WEEK. BUT WILL THE TREND CONTINUE INTO JUNE?

HERE’S JOHN WITH OUR AGRI-WEATHER OUTLOOK.

IT’S BEEN A VERY LONG TIME SINCE COUNTRY KIDS WENT TO CLASS AT THE DORA TOWNSHIP SCHOOL IN RURAL VERGAS, MINNESOTA.

THE OLD DISTRICT 166 SCHOOL HAS BEEN A RESTAURANT FOR MORE THAN FORTY YEARS, AND NOW TWO LONGTIME FRIENDS HAVE OPENED IT AS “BLACKBOARD RESTAURANT”. KATIE PINKE TALKED TO ONE OF THE OWNERS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF LOCAL INGREDIENTS.

CHEF SARA WATSON AND HER HUSBAND ERIC HAVE OWNED SEVERAL RESTAURANTS IN THE FARGO-MOORHEAD AREA, INCLUDING MEZZALUNA AND RUSTICA. WHEN COVID HIT, SHE LOST HER JOB AT THE DELTA HOTEL IN FARGO, SO SHE AND HER FRIEND TERRI TRICKLE TOOK A LEAP OF FAITH LAST SUMMER, OPENING A RURAL RESTAURANT DURING THE PANDEMIC. IT DIDN’T GO AS EXPECTED.

Sara Watson: WE HAD A LINE OUT THE DOOR. WE HAD PICNIC TABLES OUT ON THE LAWN AND I REMEMBER AT ONE POINT THINKING SOMEBODY TAKE THOSE TABLES AWAY. WE CAN’T KEEP UP.

WATSON GREW UP ON A FARM NEAR GLYNDON, MINNESOTA, SO SHE’S HAPPY TO RETURN TO HER RURAL ROOTS, AND LOVES TO USE LOCAL INGREDIENTS.

Sara Watson: SO WE LIKE TO CHANGE THINGS UP OFTEN HERE, DEPENDING ON WHAT’S IN SEASON, THE FOLKS WE’RE WORKING WITH TO BRING OUR PRODUCTS IN. THAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT TO ME, AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN IN ALL OF MY RESTAURANTS, BUT OUT HERE IT’S EVEN MORE SPECIAL BECAUSE THEY ARE OUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS.

FOR EXAMPLE, THEY GET BEEF FROM DITTERICH FAMILY FARMS, JUST DOWN THE ROAD. WATSON SAYS IT GIVES THE STAFF A BETTER APPRECIATION FOR THE FOOD THEY’RE PREPARING AND SERVING.

Sara Watson: YOU SAW THE COW, YOU KNOW, OR THE PIG, WHATEVER IT IS. BUT I THINK YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT APPRECIATION THAN JUST OPENING

A PIECE OF PLASTIC AND THROWING IT ON THE GRILL. IT’S LIKE, THIS WAS GROWN AND RAISED, THESE ARE THE PEOPLE THAT ARE DOING IT. THAT’S THEIR LIVELIHOOD, AND THEIR BUSINESS. AND THEN IT GETS THEN WE GET TO TAKE IT AND GET TO TURN IT INTO SOMETHING THAT YOU OR ANOTHER GUEST IS GOING TO ENJOY.

WATSON SAYS NOW THAT THE PANDEMIC IS LARGELY BEHIND US, THEY’RE EXCITED TO SEE WHAT THIS SUMMER BRINGS. IN RURAL VERGAS, MINNESOTA, THIS IS KATIE PINKE FOR AGWEEK.

BLACKBOARD IS OPEN WEDNESDAYS THROUGH SUNDAYS. WATSON SAYS THEY ALREADY HAVE RESERVATIONS WELL INTO THE SUMMER.

STILL AHEAD, WE’LL MEET ONE OF THE FARMERS WE’RE FOLLOWING THIS SEASON, FROM PLANTING TO HARVEST.

THIS SEASON ON AGWEEK TV, WE’RE FOLLOWING SOME FARMERS FROM PLANTING TO HARVEST.

DAN SPIEKERMEIER IS ONE OF THE FARMERS WE’LL BE CHECKING IN ON THROUGHOUT THIS GROWING SEASON.

DAN FARMS 13-HUNDRED ACRES IN RANSOM COUNTY, IN SOUTHEAST NORTH DAKOTA, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH HIS SON NATHAN.

THIS YEAR IT’S ALL CORN AND BEANS. HE SAYS PLANTING STARTED OUT WELL THIS SPRING, UNTIL IT TURNED COOLER.

Dan Spiekermeier: IT WAS REALLY NICE WHEN WE FIRST STARTED, AND THE CORN GERMINATED WITHIN A FEW DAYS. BUT THEN IT JUST GOT COLD AFTER THAT, AND SO WE TOOK FIVE DAYS OFF OF PLANTING AND DID OTHER THINGS AND WAITED FOR THINGS TO WARM UP SO WE DIDN’T WANT THAT CORN TO ROT IN THE GROUND.

SPIEKERMEIER SAYS THEY USE STRIP TILL AND NO TILL PRACTICES, AND PLANT COVER CROPS, SO THEY’VE HAD ENOUGH MOISTURE FOR PLANTING, BUT COULD USE ABOUT AN INCH OF RAIN NOW.

THANKS FOR WATCHING THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF AG WEEK TV.

REMEMBER, FOR ALL YOUR AG NEWS, GO TO AG WEEK.COM, AND FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM. HAVE YOURSELF A GREAT AND SAFE WEEK.



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