st. paul capitol building

With veto, Gov. Dayton thumbs his nose at Minnesota agriculture

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) is extremely disgusted with Gov. Mark Dayton once again snubbing rural Minnesota and the agriculture community by vetoing the Omnibus Agriculture Policy Bill.

“We feel that we’ve compromised, but the governor’s administration is unwilling to compromise with us,” says Minnesota Soybean Growers CEO Tom Slunecka. “We fail to see a good reason to veto this bill.”

MSGA President Michael Petefish says Gov. Dayton’s veto makes it clear he is focused solely on his agenda and not the well being of Minnesota by thumbing his nose at bipartisan legislation. Read more

Managing calcium can improve soybean yield

Growers have recognized that soybeans will yield with attention to details. For a long time, growers and agronomists felt that soybean yields were stagnant relative to gains in corn yield. They were reluctant to invest time or resources to produce a high-yield crop. How times have changed, and we have multiple yield reports over 100 bushels across many states to prove it, including Randy Dowdy’s record-setting 171-bushel yield in 2016 in Georgia. Read more

Soybean Business: School’s (still) in session

This article appears in the May-June issue of Soybean Business Magazine. Click here to read the digital issue.

Many farmers across Minnesota are still hitting the books and adding to their curriculum vitae by attending Farm Business Management college courses. These classes, however, aren’t held in a classroom. They’re taught across their kitchen table.

Farm Business Management (FBM) has been in Minnesota since the early 1950s. Students register for credits through the collegiate institution their instructor is based out of and can complete several different diplomas through the FBM program.

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Faces of MSGA: Dale Busch

Agriculture and education have always been a large part of Dale Busch’s career and life from teaching high school agriculture to helping farmers and educating consumers. 

Although Busch isn’t a soybean producer, he did grow up on a farm where their crops were fed to livestock. He is a member of Watonwan County Corn & Soybean Growers Association. Busch previously worked for the Minnesota Corn Growers as a regional representative.

“I joined for the education piece and to learn more about the farmers I worked with, and to stay in tune with what was happening,” Busch says. “Being a member makes you and the organization more powerful, whether it’s in St. Paul or Washington D.C. It is the ability to know that when the farmers I worked for were in the field planting, spraying, or harvesting, there was someone on top of the issues and challenges.”

Busch encourages members to become active in their county organizations. 

“Get acquainted with your county board, help at the county fair or at another county event,” he says. “Working boards accomplishes things. When you can find that younger member, who despite having a busy schedule wants to be involved, that’s a real find.” 

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association is the nation’s largest soybean association because farmers and agribusinesses have recognized the value MSGA membership brings. ‘Faces of MSGA’ recognizes those members who actively promote Minnesota’s soybean industry. 

Sen. Klobuchar pledges support for agriculture in meeting with MSGA directors

Sen. Amy Klobuchar expressed her desire for a new farm bill during a breakfast summit with MSGA directors Tuesday in Lake Benton, Minn. 

Klobuchar said she had a “good feeling” about the Senate Farm Bill, but lamented the disagreements in the House Farm Bill over funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  Read more

Public comment period now open for proposed Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule

The public comment period for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) proposed Groundwater Protection Rule (GPR), formerly known as the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule, is now open and will remain open until July 26, 2018.

Opened on April 30, public comments on the Groundwater Protection Rule can be made on the Office of Administrative Hearings website at www.mda.state.mn.us/gwprhearingnotice. Read more

minnesota buffer

MN Court of Appeals deals blow to attempt to add miles of water to buffer map

An opinion in another court case involving the buffer law was recently released. This time, an environmental group seeking to make the buffer map as extensive as possible was challenging the determination of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) when it removed miles of waterways from the buffer maps.

The order was issued by the Minnesota Court of Appeals on April 23 in a case brought by the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA). The decision was In the Matter of the Improper Inclusion of Certain Water Courses within Public Waters Inventory Maps for 71 Counties, A17-0904. Judge Peterson wrote the unpublished decision for the three judge panel that had heard the case. MCEA challenged an order of the DNR regarding the public waters inventory (PWI) and the maps used in the 2015 Buffer Law.

The Court detailed the history of the PWI. In 1979, the legislature directed the commissioner of the DNR to create the inventory.  The legislature defined terms for the DNR and also set forth specific procedures to be followed in creating the inventory. The court noted that during the original PWI process, “…approximately 640 miles of watercourses that fit the definition of public waters were designated on the PWI maps as public ditches.” On the maps that were created, these 640 miles were marked with a hybrid of the public waters designation (a bold black line) and the public ditch designation (a dashed line).  This bold black dashed line represented these waters that were both a public water under statute and also public ditches. The ditches, “…were assumed to be under the authority of the public drainage authorities.” 

The PWI came up again at the legislature in 2015 when the buffer bill was being debated and passed into law. In 2017, the buffer legislation was amended and the buffer–zone defined “public waters” as waters that were on the PWI as it was created after the 1979 direction of the legislature.

While the DNR was in the process of creating the buffer zone maps, “…the DNR noticed that the watercourses with dual designation on the PWI maps had not been included on the PWI lists.”  Recognizing this, the DNR commissioner believed that landowners along these dual designation waters may not have received notice that their land was along a public water because the waters were not on the PWI lists.

Minnesota Statutes §103G.201 (e)(2)(i) gives the commissioner of the DNR the ability to revise the PWI to correct errors in the original inventory. In March 2017, the DNR began to review, “… how to convert watercourses improperly labeled as public ditches to watercourses designated as public waters.”  The DNR concluded that about 670 miles should be removed from the PWI due to the lack of notification to affected landowners during the 1979 PWI creation. The court found that “…[a]ll of the actions surrounding the removal of the watercourses were taken within the DNR; persons and entities were notified of the DNR’s actions only after the commissioner signed the order.”  There were no public meetings, no hearings and no public comment period on the order.

MCEA requested the DNR revoke the order it issued and give them a chance to comment on why the 670 miles should be left on the buffer maps. The DNR denied this request on June 8, 2017, and MCEA challenged the DNR’s decision by a writ of certiorari. The court had the parties submit briefs on the issue of whether or not the actions of MCEA were properly before the court. 

In its decision the court cited another case involving MCEA in which the court stated that, “’certiorari is an extraordinary remedy only available to review judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings and actions; conversely, it is not available to review legislative or administrative actions.’  Minn. Ctr. for Envtl. Advocacy v. Metro. Council, 587 N.W. 2d 838, 842 (Minn. 1999).”

MCEA attempted to argue that this was not merely an exercise of administrative function because part of what the DNR considered were comments or complaints of landowners regarding the PWI.  The court found that this opposition to the PWI did not convert it into a quasi-judicial process.  The court dismissed the appeal due to lack of jurisdiction over the challenge. 

At the center of the MCEA’s complaint on the DNR’s action was that they felt that they were denied their rights of due process when they did not receive an opportunity to comment on the commissioners order. The ironic aspect of this challenge by MCEA is that a lack of due process is exactly what the DNR was attempting to correct when it issued its order. By not giving notice to the affected landowners in 1979, putting their waterways on the PWI maps with a separate designation from public waters, and by not putting the waters on the PWI list, the DNR had violated the landowners due process rights in 1979.  As the court stated, “…the landowners may have failed to object to the original designation of these watercourses as public waters.”

This determination by the DNR was the right decision, but is only half of the story. In 1979, the PWI had no consequence for landowners.  The state law requiring buffers on these PWI waters came into existence 36 years later. While counties may have put in ordinances, and zoning rules put buffers in place in theory, there was no consequence of a water being included in the PWI to your land in 1979. There was little reason for an individual to challenge a PWI determination in 1979.

Had landowners known that nearly four decades later a 50-foot buffer would be required, you probably would have had more challenges.  Many of the landowners facing the loss of acreage on their farms had no meaningful participation in the 1979 creation of the PWI. The due process rights of all of these landowners was ignored in the creation of the buffers by the legislature and the DNR when considering challenges to the PWI maps.

Hopefully, as we work our way through the buffer law implementation, property owners rights will be meaningfully considered by the legislature, agencies and courts.

Risk-free program for minimizing white mold losses this season

Innovative program with zero financial risk to soybean growers treating designated fields with combo of preventative and foliar fungicides.

What’s your bet? Will 2018 be one of those dreaded, high pressure Sclerotinia sclerotiorum years with disastrous white mold losses for soybeans? Or maybe — just maybe — disease pressure will be light enough to keep your losses to a minimum.

At this point in the season, it’s anyone’s guess. We do, however, know a few things for certain.

1. Even under “light pressure” white mold, crop yields are compromised. With lower commodity prices, every bushel counts! Can you afford to lose any yield opportunity with light white mold pressure?

2. Where white mold’s been a problem in the past, it’s likely to be problematic again. White mold doesn’t simply “go away.” If you’ve seen it in your fields before, at some point, you’ll see it again.

3. Scouting’s important, but once you spot white mold, the damage is done. From that point, the question isn’t whether you’ll lose yields, but how much. Twenty-five bushels an acre? Thirty?

Experts agree that for maximum soybean yields, white mold must be prevented before it occurs, not merely controlled after the fact. Still, every season, there’s uncertainty, leaving some growers to roll the dice, choosing to “wait and see”, before making a fungicide decision.

Sipcam Agro wants to help these growers get off the fence this season with a brand new, no-risk fungicide program — Break the Mold.

With this innovative program, soybean growers invest in a risk-free, preventative strategy with Contans® WG and Andiamo® 230 fungicides. If they do not cover the cost of the program on their treated acres versus untreated acres with a positive yield difference, Sipcam will refund the dollar value difference between yield value and the cost of Contans® WG and Andiamo® 230 purchased.

“Break the Mold could be a real game changer for soybean growers this season,” says Doug Phelps, VP of Value-Added Solutions. “There’s no guessing — no need for crystal balls. They just follow the program. If the treated acre yields aren’t enough to cover the product cost, we will cover it for them.”

Contans (Coniothyrium minitans) is a preventative fungicide applied in early spring with pre-emergent herbicides, or post-harvest, which allows it to start attacking the source of the disease in the soil – breaking the white mold cycle before it can begin.

Andiamo (tetraconazole) is a highly effective, crop-safe triazole that’s easy to mix in a low volume of water for foliar applications. Notably, it can be tank-mixed with many herbicides and does not produce incidences of green stem in soybeans.

Both are proven performers, anchored by solid field trial results and customer testimonials.

“For growers, Break the Mold is a win-win program,” continues Phelps. “By significantly reducing their risk on the front end with Contans, growers are in a much better position to manage any white mold on the back-end with Andiamo.”

Sipcam is betting that Break The Mold program participants will see significantly increased yields. For complete program requirements and details on how to enroll, growers can call (919) 600-5545, or click here.

This article was provided and sponsored by Sipcam.

Faces of MSGA: Ryan Thelemann

Making sure farmers are at the table with their first-hand perspective when others are deciding the rules farmers have to play by is one of the main reasons Ryan Thelemann became involved with the Scott/Le Sueur Corn & Soybean Growers Board.

“It really opened my eyes to what my dollars are used for. The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association serves as the experts for getting our message out through the right avenues as farmers to tell our story and influence policy positions,” said Thelemann. “It is important to advocate for agriculture, and I saw the opportunities on the board as a natural transition for me to tell people about our farm.”

Thelemann and his wife Molly, have three children Jack, Elena and Nolan. Thelemann and his in-laws farm around 3,000 acres of corn, soybeans, and raise canning peas and sweet corn for Seneca near Le Sueur, Minn. They also finish around 7,500 hogs per year.

“Get involved and understand what MSGA is doing and what it all entails,” said Thelemann. “The opportunities for growth within MSGA are endless – if you are willing to go for it, you can do it.”

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association is the nation’s largest soybean association because farmers and agribusinesses have recognized the value MSGA membership brings. ‘Faces of MSGA’ recognizes those members who actively promote Minnesota’s soybean industry. 

soybean

Applications now being accepted for Valent and ASA Ag Voices of the Future program

The American Soybean Association (ASA) is now accepting applications for the Ag Voices of the Future program, sponsored by Valent USA. This program is for young people interested in improving their understanding of major policy issues that impact soybean farmers, the importance of advocacy, and careers that can impact agricultural policy. The Ag Voices of the Future class will be held in conjunction with the ASA Board Meeting and Soy Issues Briefing, July 9-12, 2018, in Washington, D.C. Read more