Jonathan Knutson / Forum News Service
EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. — Rhonda Larson has just spent a busy late-winter day substitute teaching kindergarten in the morning and second grade in the afternoon. But she’s happy to spend the last part of her afternoon talking about agriculture and promoting wheat and U.S. Wheat Associates. “It’s boots-on-the-ground marketing and a long-term commitment,” she said of the organization.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has narrowed its search for the new homes of two of its agencies and hundreds of its employees with three proposed sites in Minnesota remaining in the running, USDA announced Tuesday, March 12. Of the initial 136 “expressions of interest” received by USDA, 67 locations remain under consideration, including these Minnesota plans: Falcon Heights, as proposed by Buhl Investors.
MUNICH, N.D. — Mike Dick first grew dry peas in the 1990s. The weather didn’t cooperate, and so the Munich farmer quit raising them. But now he’s growing them again and has begun raising faba beans, which are closely related to dry peas, as well. Both crops “add a lot to our farming operation. And I think they’re an alternative that might help some other operations,” Dick said.
A European agricultural university is working to produce what it describes as “gluten-safe” wheat. U.S. Wheat Associates, which develops export markets for the U.S. wheat, welcomes the work — but with reservations. Wageningen University, located in the Netherlands and described by U.S. Wheat Associates as “one of the top agricultural universities in the world,” recently announced that one of its researchers is using gene editing to produce gluten-safe wheat that can be eaten by people with celiac disease.
Across America, people both in and out of agriculture are hearing more about cell-based meat, aka “clean meat” and “fake meat,” among other terms. Whether cell-based meat is a good thing or a bad thing — whether it holds promise or peril — depends on who you ask. To Vítor Espírito Santo, associate director of cellular agriculture for JUST, a San Francisco-based food company that expects to begin selling lab-grown chicken within a year, cell-based meat involves “changing the food system” to benefit consumers and the environment.
Approving the new farm bill was an important, necessary step for U.S. agriculture. But the legislation still needs to be implemented — a task slowed and complicated by the federal government shutdown several ag leaders say. Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will do what’s needed to put the farm bill into practice as quickly as possible, said Steve Censky, USDA deputy undersecretary. “Congress has done its work (passing the farm bill). Now it’s our turn,” Censky said.
GRAND FORKS — North Dakota is the nation’s leader in honey production. The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks is a leader in drones and drone research. That led Bee Innovative, an Australian company, to pair up with UND to enhance the company’s current drone technology that tracks bee movements and pollination patterns, the two companies announced Jan. 30. “It’s a match made in heaven,” said David Dodds, a UND spokesman.
BUFFALO LAKE, Minn. -- Brian Ryberg and Ryberg Farms are relatively new to some farming practices that promote soil health. He’s also a fairly new member of the Soil Health Partnership. But Ryberg, who farms with his wife Sandy at Buffalo Lake, has taken well and quickly to both. He received the Soil Health Partnership’s “Super Sprout” Award at the 2019 Soil Health Partnership Summit Jan. 15-16 in St. Louis. The award honors him as a first-year member of the organization who “has jumped right into active involvement” with the group, according to the Soil Health Partnership.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- If you have questions about the timeline for applying for federal conservation programs under the new U.S. farm bill, signed into law in late 2018, you’re not alone. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition does, too. But the Washington, D.C.-based coalition, a grassroots alliance that advocates for sustainability of ag, natural resources and rural communities, has a few ideas, based on what happened after the 2014 Farm Bill was approved.
The caller told me in clear and certain terms that he didn’t like what I’d written in an Agweek news article: that many U.S. farm organizations and commodity groups are deeply concerned about disruptions in American ag exports. “Fake news,” the caller said. “Well,” I said, “you may disagree with their assessment. But it’s undeniably true that they’re worried. And it’s part of our job as journalists to report that.”