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AgweekTV Full Show: Intermodal train ramp, grain drying costs, cattle industry fix, diversified …

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A new intermodal train ramp could be a game changer for North Dakota specialty crop growers.

Farmers save big money on grain drying costs this fall, especially compared to last year.

The cattle industry looks for a legislative fix to the cattle market.

We’ll take a look at how one local business diversified to fit all of your animal needs.

Welcome to AgweekTV. I’m Michelle Rook.

We’re here at the Gateway Farm Expo in Kearney, Neb., the longest running farm show in the state.

More than 300 exhibitors took part in the 51st annual show. However, this event, like many, was a question mark with coronavirus numbers on the rise. So why did organizers choose to forge ahead?

Jeff Burr: Everybody knows that ag is an essential industry and a trade show like this helps people within that industry get their jobs done so we can provide food, fiber and fuel for the world basically.

Burr says they were able to follow social distancing with the large venue to stay within the 25% capacity requirement.

Gateway is run by a non-profit organization which promotes agricultural education in communities across Nebraska through scholarships and donations.

Cattle producers are looking for a fix to the market after the meltdown from COVID-19 and the Holcomb plant fire in Kansas. The Department of Justice is investigating both events, but in the meantime, they’re working to improve competition, and the amount of negotiated cash cattle traded with a legislative solution.

One of first was the 50-14 rule, which mandates packers buy at least 50-percent of the supply via negotiated cash, instead of pulling from captive supplies. A concept many in industry support.

Steve Hellwig: If we can ever get to those situations where the packer can bid on these cattle instead of just having them given to them then we can get a market but there is no fat cattle market. When they need them they give a little bit when they don’t need them they pound us in the ground and it’s just not a market.

Proponents say this would prevent packers from reaping all the profits like they did during the height of the COVID meltdown.

Keith Eichler: I’ve got numbers to show that those packers were making from $500 all the way up to $2,000 a head.

NCBA is taking an unprecedented move, backing the 75-percent Rule which asks packers in each feeding area to reach a set negotiated cash threshold.

Brad Kooima: To have robust price discovery they should trade roughly 22,000 cattle a week well than Kansas needs to do that now voluntarily. Trade 75-percent of that robust number. OK? Now follow along, it has to be 75-percent of the time.

He says quarterly analysis of negotiated cash starts January 1st for a year before NCBA would push for a legal mandate.

Kooima: So if they fail a couple of times right, more than 75-percent of the time that’s going to be a trigger. That happens twice in a quarter two quarters out of a year that’s when we’re going to go okay, we tried voluntary we tried your system, now we’re going to seek a legislative solution.

Another bill promotes more small packers and creates a cattle contract library to increase transparency.

Eichler: But there are contracts that I don’t think we know about some of the higher dollar deals that are being done.

The one area of agreement is that more competition and negotiated cash is needed and without intervention the cattle industry may not survive.

The high cost of feed and the wavering cattle market are forcing many cattle producers to decide against backgrounding their own calves this year.

Backgrounding can be profitable when producers have surplus feed and grain prices are low. plus during that time they can see how their genetics perform, while promoting herd health.

However, because of rising grain prices, some cattle producers have decided just to sell their calves.

Livestock economist Tim Petry says it was a tough cattle market even before corn prices rose, due to drought in the western U.S., plus processing disruptions and lower restaurant demand for beef tied to covid. But he remains optimistic.

Tim Petry: There are better times ahead for cattle when we get the pandemic behind us. Our export demand is very good for beef and for pork, and so hopefully better times next year.

Since mid-October, calf prices have also strengthened.

Farmers in the western Corn Belt are spending far less on drying grain this year than in 2019, which was marked by record harvest delays and an extremely wet crop.

This year the crop matured ahead of normal, pushed by late season heat and dryness. Plus, it dried down naturally in the field with mostly ideal harvest weather. So, farmers saw much lower moisture levels on grain coming out of the field, especially corn.

Dennis St. Aubin: We were hearing, you know, in the late part of September into October, moistures coming off the field at you know anywhere from 22 to 14 percent.

Some farmers were even able to just air dry the corn. St. Aubin says this has translated into substantial cost savings on grain drying compared to the last five years.

My experience is talking to marketers and farmers. We’re seeing you know less than the five year average by upwards of 30 to 40-percent.

And compared to last year it may be more than a 40% savings.

The cost of propane is comparable to last year even with less demand. He attributes that to more farmers contracting ahead with covid fears and the 2019 grain drying disaster still fresh on their minds.

The outlook for this winter’s grain drying season is for higher demand due to La Nina which often means colder temperatures in the Midwest.

The Montana Department of Agriculture has opened a hemp marketplace. It’s an online portal where hemp producers can list their products for sale, and consumers can buy the products listed.

The marketplace is getting positive attention from across the country. Only licensed Montana hemp producers can sell on the marketplace, but it’s open to all buyers.

Chris Adams, who farms near Grand Forks, N.D., has grown hemp for five years. He says the exchange is a great way to match legitimate buyers and sellers, especially since the current hemp market is unsteady.

Chris Adams: I think it’s a great idea, and the fact that the state and ag department is backing it is even better. so it just adds a level of integrity to it.

The marketplace is modeled after a similar one for hay. Adams says he’d like to see a similar site in each state or on the federal level.

Ahead on AgweekTV, a new rail facility in Minot will help North Dakota growers reach more markets.

Welcome back.

A new intermodal train ramp could be a game-changer for North Dakota specialty crop growers. The Minot ramp could become a key piece of an international launching pad for exporting specialty crops from the region.

Mikkel Pates has more in this week’s Agweek cover story.

Greg Oberting: It’s a direct supply chain from producers to demand internationally.

Greg Oberting is the owner and CEO of Rail Modal Group, a multi-faceted shipping company that operates around the U.S. He has high hopes for this new Minot site. It opened in late October, and shipped its first train on Oct. 30.

Greg Oberting: Regionally, this location lends itself to a vast majority of agricultural demand.

An intermodal depot gets shipping containers that have come from overseas and then been emptied in other cities. instead of going back to Asia empty, RMG organizes trains of containers and brings them to minot. rmg then loads them with commodities, like lentils and peas, or ships them to other customers that do.

Greg Oberting: There’s lots of opportunity here to build a direct virtual supply chain from source to demand. so we can deliver the access to world markets, and their demand to the specialty growers in this market, and give them more value added for their crops and their production.

State representative Jay Fisher of Minot says the concept had been worked on at minot for many years, but no one had been successful, until now. He thinks it will be great for growers.

Jay Fischer: We grow high quality crops here, and they’re worth more to specialty markets, and so it allows our farmers to be diversified and to get higher prices.

The interim president of the Minot Area Development Corporation agrees, it’s a great thing for the Minot area, and the state.

John MacMartin: This is phenomenal. It’s something the community and the state have been working on for any number of years, probably a couple of decades. This means a whole bunch for the agricultural sector.

And it’s not just for crops. Oberting says they’re also working with companies like Bobcat, to move other products. In Minot, N.D., this is Mikkel Pates for Agweek.

You can read more on our cover story in the next Agweek Magazine or at

A family livestock feed business has diversified, into a pet store, grooming and boarding facility.

Emily Beal explains how the backyard in Perham, Minn., has become a one stop shop for animal needs.

You might be surprised to find a dog being groomed at a feed store, but it’s all in the family for the Dolls.

Joseph Doll: The amount of people that have pets is tremendous, and they all buy dog food, and they become part of the family.

Joseph and Lori Doll started J and L Nutritional Consulting in 1995, after Joseph decided to become an independent consultant.

Joseph Doll: The science in sampling the forages and what we can do is pretty amazing, really. and then we get an assay back from the lab and then we incorporate it that into their diet.

While formulating the right livestock feed is still the major part of their business, it has diversified, as some of the Dolls’ children wanted to come home and join the business. They decided to add pet food to the mix, and came up with a catchy name for that part of the business.

Tyler Doll: The backyard kind of encompassed everything we could think of, you know, you’ve got your cats, your dogs, some livestock, chickens, a little bit of everything.

Joseph Doll: You can walk out of here feeling you’re buying the right food for your dog.

But it didn’t stop with pet food. Recently the Dolls have added grooming, boarding and doggie daycare.

Taylor Doll: It brings in a lot of traffic, while they’re there then they can shop for their dog, too. That was kind of the main things about it, we saw a lot of opportunity for that.

Joseph Doll: Things change, and we’re going to change with it.

Emily Beal: From your livestock to furry friend needs, this business is dedicated to taking care of all of them. With Agweek, this is Emily Beal in Perham, Minn.

The Dolls also plan to add obedience training, although that’s been stalled by the pandemic.

Still ahead on AgweekTV, it’s time to think about seed selections for next year. We’ll have some advice for soybean growers.

And later, some Thanksgiving food safety tips.

Our weather has been rather mild for November, how long will we get to enjoy that trend?

Here’s John with Our agri-weather outlook.

AgweekTV Soy Insight brought to you by the North Dakota Soybean Council

This time of year, farmers are making their seed selections for next season.

Extension Agronomist Hans Kandel says the most important consideration is the maturity group and it’s important to diversify to mitigate risk of an early frost, like North Dakota had this year.

The challenge in varietal selection is the vast number to choose from. In North Dakota variety trials alone, there are close to 300.

On top of that, most companies release new soybean varieties every year, and retire varieties annually.

This makes it even more important growers pay attention to variety trial information from research and extension centers.

Hans Kandel: One of the best ways to increase the chances that you have good success with varieties is to look at variety data from more locations and, if possible, from more years. And if a variety has come up to the top of the trials consistently, it is likely that variety will also do well in 2021. Pay attention to variety trials closest to you, talk to your neighbors, find out what they have success with, and look at multiple years if the data is available.

He says farmers also need to consider yield, disease, idc and soybean cyst nematode resistance.

Many growers aren’t even aware of the scn resistance in the beans they’re planting, and that they need to rotate sources of resistance regularly.

We have enough health concerns this holiday season, without having to worry about food safety.

Because of the pandemic, many states are recommending smaller Thanksgiving gatherings with immediate family only. That could mean people are cooking the holiday meal for the first time, without mom or grandma’s help.

The holiday’s signature dish can pose some food safety risks if not prepared and cooked properly.

The USDA’S meat and poultry hotline is expecting a high volume of calls this year. Food safety specialists say the most important thing is to keep your hands and all food prep surfaces clean.

There’s something that might surprise you, USDA no longer recommends that you wash your turkey before cooking it.

Maribel Alonso: We have discovered by washing those turkeys or poultry in general, you are spreading bacteria around the sink, you are spreading bacteria around your counter, and then when those participants were washing their ingredients for salad, they were contaminating those ingredients with salmonella and other bacteria that could be present.

We have detailed thanksgiving food safety information, including a link to the toll-free meat and poultry hotline, at

Still ahead on AgweekTV, we’ll show you a new way of promoting soil health.

The Land Stewardship Project has come up with a catchy new way to promote soil health.

Green protector, species cover, Add a bit of chicory for my mother. Smorgasbord for the cows to graze, Pollinator paradise. Telling you I’ve got cover crops.

The group recently commissioned Minnesota musician Bret Hesla to write and perform two songs. They even have videos!

One is called “Got Cover Crops,” and the other is “Back to the Soil.”

Doug Nopar, of the Land Stewardship Project says it’s a memorable way to get their message out about cover crops and soil health.

Doug Nopar: This is a way to reach people at a deeper, at a heart level, and more emotional level and in a fun way, too.

The music videos were shot at several farms in southeastern Minnesota.

We invite you to take part in our Agweek photo contest.

The picture must be submitted by Dec. 7 by the person who shot it, with one entry per person.

The submission information is on your screen. All the photos will be featured online on Dec. 28. The winners will be announced on AgweekTV. There will be prizes for the top three.

Thanks for watching this week’s edition of AgweekTV.

Remember, for all your ag news, go to, You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Have yourself a great and safe week.



Republished by Plato




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Republished by Plato




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Republished by Plato




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