Category: Sustainability

Ecuador producers visit MN to tour local ethanol plant

A group of farmers from small to mid-sized poultry, swine and dairy farms in Ecuador visited Minnesota earlier this week for a close look at the production of American DDGS, as they explore the ethanol coproduct as an alternative feed.

While it produces its own corn, Ecuador has tight restrictions on corn imports. However the price of corn in the country is high, which led livestock producers to learn more about the production and safety of DDGS as a possible alternative to import.

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MN ag leaders promote the importance of free trade

AgriGrowth held its annual meeting last week in the Twin Cities, bringing together representatives from agriculture and the food systems industry. With the renegotiation of NAFTA front-of-mind for many in the ag sector, the meeting kicked off with a panel session on trade and what is at stake for U.S. agriculture.

The panel featured Devry Boughner Vorwerk, vice president of global corporate affairs at Cargill, Jeff Nawn, global grain trade and biotech affairs lead for DuPont Pioneer,

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U.S. Grains Council: Pace of NAFTA talks not unusual, but worth monitoring

The fourth round of NAFTA renegotiations between the United States, Canada and Mexico ended earlier this month with little progress made in efforts to revamp the free trade agreement. The stalled negotiations have been a source of worry for farmers, who are understandably concerned about tariffs in a non-NAFTA world.

Not so fast, however, according to Thomas Sleight, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council.

Sleight said four rounds of negotiations with little progress is actually fairly normal in renegotiating a trade deal of this size.

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Co-op health plan offered to farmers, informational sessions scheduled

During the 2017 legislative session, the Legislature and Governor Mark Dayton approved a law that enabled farmers to form health care cooperatives to provide another option for farmers to help address rising health insurance premiums. The rule paved the way for 40 Square Cooperative Solutions to begin offering self-funded health plans to Minnesota farmers.

Farmers who are considered an “employer” with at least one common law employee and work in production agriculture are eligible.

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Innovation Grant Spotlight: Hicks family brings science home to the farm

(Photo:  The Hicks family, who received the Innovation Grant, in order—David Hicks, Adam Hicks, Brian Hicks, Michelle Hicks, Madelynne Hicks, Mariah Hicks, Mercedes Hicks and in front is Stephen Hicks.)

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

The 2017 Innovation Grant Program is well underway, with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) investing more than $250,000 in 23 farmer-led projects focused on conservation. Throughout the summer and fall we have been highlighting ongoing projects focused on how to better manage nitrogen and protect water quality.

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U of M Extension offering free financial consulting to farmers

With four years of low commodity prices and no clear sign of a turnaround, University of Minnesota Extension services has started offering one-to-one financial counseling to farmers in financial stress at no cost.

The free service is offered in response to a sharp uptick in requests for Extension to offer financial consulting, according to Kevin Klair, who is an extension professor in the department of applied economics.

Klair said financial stress has increased rapidly since 2013,

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National Geographic shares the stories of nation’s corn farmers

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) partnered with National Geographic this fall to share the stories of America’s corn farmers with a robust national audience. Four farmers, including Minnesota’s Bryan Biegler, were visited by the magazine over the summer, and their stories will be told on NationalGeographic.com and its social channels through November.

The campaign features four articles, each of which profile one farmer detailing the impact of innovation and technology on corn farming.

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Innovation Grant Spotlight: Keith Hartmann

The 2017 Innovation Grant Program is well underway, with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) investing more than $250,000 in 23 farmer-led projects focused on conservation. Throughout the summer we have been highlighting ongoing projects focused on how to better manage nitrogen and protect water quality.

Keith Hartmann is in his second year of participating in the Innovation Grant Program. The Gibbon farmer joined in year one to test interseeding cover crops in between corn rows while applying nitrogen in the same pass.

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Field day touts bottom-line benefits of soil health

(Photo: Soil Health Partnership Director Nick Goeser shows the benefits of cover crops up close)

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

Bryan Biegler has planted mixes of rye grass, turnips, brassicas and more as cover crops between the rows of his corn and soybeans. His hope is the right mix will mean he can stop applying pre-emergent herbicide.

In August, Biegler hosted about 60 farmers, agronomists and conservationists recently at a field day to discuss his work with soil-friendly cover crops and reduced tillage.

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Ethanol exports, mid-level blends provide optimism for U.S. corn prices

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its outlook for 2017 U.S. corn, with September production and yield estimates up slightly from August. Just after the report was released, corn futures declined.

While demand for corn has struggled to keep up with record-breaking yields, international market share for U.S.-grown corn has decreased with additional countries entering the market. These factors and more have led to struggling corn prices and tight margins for Minnesota farm operations.

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