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DENVER -- Computer problems were responsible for delays in approval of temporary visas for agricultural workers, one of the groups affected says. The American Sheep Industry Association says it's been told that technical difficulties with the Department of Labor's computer system led to backlogs in certifying H-2A work visas. It's also been told the system is operating normally now.
Last summer I did an Agweek cover story on industrial hemp, and have continued to follow the crop — it’s obscure, but has considerable potential for Upper Midwest farmers — since then. Well, after the cover story was published, the National Hemp Association put me on its email list. I receive regular updates on hemp-related issues and developments. Today, the fine folks at the association are telling me about a new coffee that contains hemp protein.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Sugar has been a huge part of David Berg's life. It's part of just about everyone's life, even though they may not realize it, he said. "Don't take sugar for granted," Berg said. Berg, CEO of American Crystal Sugar, a Moorhead-Minn. based cooperative, spoke Thursday at the 54th International Sugarbeet Institute in Grand Forks.
The 2016 sugar beet crop isn't even in the ground, so it's far too soon for financial projections. But early signs for the area's sugar beet industry -- an economic pillar of the Red River Valley -- are encouraging.
BINFORD, N.D. — I once attended a meeting in Fargo, N.D., the state’s biggest city, that featured a U.S. Department of Agriculture big shot from Washington, D.C. He began his presentation by saying he enjoyed coming to “small towns” like Fargo. Audience members — mostly farmers and ranchers from small towns — rolled their eyes.
It’s too early for barley growers in northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota to declare victory. But the crop, which had fallen on hard times in the area, is bouncing back — welcome news for both farmers and beer-drinkers. “There are some good things happening, but we still need a price where raising barley makes sense for us,” says Brian Lacey, a Wendell, Minn., farmer who’s active in his state Barley Growers Association.
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. -- Crop insurance is always crucial in this part of the world. But it's even more important now that crop prices and farm profitability have plunged, a crop insurance agent said "There's more emphasis on crop insurance, especially with bankers," Amy Ryan, manager of Progressive Ag Agency in Fargo, N.D., said.
I was talking on the phone with a Minnesota rancher about cattle prices when he mentioned a state agency’s plan to expand elk numbers in northwest Minnesota, home to all wild elk in the state. He was in his tractor at the time and I had a hard time hearing him clearly, but his concern was unmistakeable. “We don’t have anything against elk, but a lot of people don’t understand our side of it. They don’t realize how much damage elk can do,” he said.
FAIRDALE, N.D. — Yes, Dustin McGregor has heard the jokes and stories about farmers in winter: They goof off, they sleep late every day, they lounge on Mexican beaches. “It’s hard to tell if people are just giving you grief or if they’re serious,” said the Fairdale, N.D., farmer. But McGregor is sure of this: He stays busy even when he doesn’t have crops in the field.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Andy Swenson has studied crop prices and farm profitability for decades. And for many years he's helped to prepare the annual North Dakota State University Extension Service Projected Crop Budgets, which estimate revenues and costs for selected crops in the coming year. The outlook for 2016?