WEEKLY NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

COMPILED BY THE RED RIVER FARM NETWORK 

Disaster Details — It took two years, but the much-anticipated disaster assistance bill has been signed into law. Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers Executive Director Dave Torgerson says the $3 billion disaster program looks similar to other ad hoc disaster programs, except for the amount of funding available. "It's going to be paid on 42 percent of the price instead of 65 percent, so the payment will be smaller."

Five Months or More — The new disaster program will require new computer software and will require farmers to sign up with the Farm Service Agency. The FSA computer system is already overtaxed. "We are the 'can-do' agency," said Deputy Administrator John Johnson, "While we don't have the perfect world of resources available to us, Congress did make money available to us to help with the costs and we would expect to use that money for I-T needs; we will deliver the services to America's farmers and ranchers in a timely fashion." Johnson says it could take five months to get ready to have farmers sign up for the disaster program.

NE SD Facing Wet Fields — Golden Harvest Agronomist Craig Hanson, who is based at Watertown, says many fields won't get planted. "Brown and Marshall and parts of Roberts Counties have seen the worst conditions in 15 years; I would say in some of those areas, there is 40 percent of the acres that won't get seeded."

Cool Night-time Temps Has Resulted in Some Corn Taking on a Purplish Color — Pioneer Agronomist Clyde Tiffany, who is based in west-central Minnesota, says some genetics are more susceptible. "Purpling also can be an indication that you aren't getting an adequate amount of phosphorus into the plant and that can be caused by low fertility or not using a starter fertilizer or you might have some root damage." The corn can look pretty ugly, but with some warm weather, the crop can come out of it.

Aphid Threat — Large populations of aphids are expected to migrate from the southern Plains to wheat fields in the Dakotas and Minnesota. These aphids carry barley yellow dwarf virus, which can spread quickly through small grain fields. Reports out of Nebraska indicate that barley yellow dwarf virus has turned some fields yellow.

June Dairy Month Off to a Good Start — The Class III milk price is at its highest level in three years. At $17.60 per hundredweight, the May price was $1.51 higher than April and $6.77 higher than one year ago.

Exciting Times — Nearby milk futures have topped $20. "What is even more exciting is seeing futures trading around $17 for a year out," said Mark Furth, CEO, Associated Milk Producers, Incorporated. Bids are coming fast and furious in the cash market, but little cheese is actually trading in Chicago. "That's been very typical the last couple weeks; it is the brokers and speculators; everybody is in there going crazy, except the people who make cheese; the market has gotten thin and that is the case with the futures, too."

Indonesia Opening Market to US Beef — Indonesia is the first country to accept US beef since the World Animal Health Organization said the United States was a controlled risk country for BSE. With the new OIE standards, USDA Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner says work is underway to expand beef trade to other trading partners.

USDA Continues its Battle Against Blanket BSE Testing — With hopes of securing export opportunities, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cattle for the disease. In March, the federal courts ruled in Creekstone's favor. USDA now plans to appeal that ruling. That delays the testing until after the court case is settled.

Border Fee — The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is imposing an additional fee for truckers entering the United States from Canada. All southbound trucks will pay an additional $5.25 per crossing. That's on top of the current $5.50 inspection fee. The levy is designed to fund additional agricultural quarantine inspections.

Frito-Lay Adds Health Claim — Frito-Lay is adding a health claim label on its vegetable oils, salad dressings, crackers and other foods containing oil. Frito-Lay has switched to corn and sunflower oil, which removes trans fats and lowers saturated fats. The label will say products with unsaturated fat can curb the risk of heart disease.

From Farm Gate to Dinner Plate — IdentiGEN has opened a new state-of-the-art facility in Lawrence, Kansas. This company is using DNA analysis for its meat traceability system. The DNA TraceBack system guarantees the source of beef and pork products from the farm to the consumer's plate.

John Deere Introduces New Line of Sprayers — The 4730, 4830 and 4930 Series Self-Propelled Sprayers feature performance-enhancing technology, including precision guidance, mapping and variable rate software.

US BioEnergy Makes Acquisition — US BioEnergy has purchased Millennium Ethanol. Millennium is building a 100 million gallon-per-year plant near Marion, South Dakota. That facility should begin production in 2008. With this acquisition, the St. Paul, Minnesota-based US BioEnergy will have eight plants in six states.

Johnson Named Area Representative for Jersey Groups — Leah Johnson has been named the area representative for the American Jersey Cattle Association and National All-Jersey Inc. The LaCrescent, Minnesota native will work with dairies in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. Johnson is a University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate.

USGC Hires New Membership Director — Shannon Shaffer is the new director of membership for the US Grains Council. Most recently, Shaffer was with the US Apple Association. Previously, Shaffer was the head of member relations for the South Dakota Wheat Growers Association.

Hall of Fame Honors — South Dakota State University professor Dwayne Beck is being inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame. Beck is credited with helping to change the face of agriculture through soil-friendly no-till farming. Beck has managed the Dakota Lakes Research Farm near Pierre since 1990.

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