Just when I thought this legislative session had reached a fevered pitch, it dawned on me that was not the case. Instead, I had a real fever and had to take some time away last week. Now back at it, the last couple of days have been in Fargo at the Northern Soybean Expo along with many of you learning about commodity markets, plant genetics and how funny John Phipps of the U.S. Farm Report is. Presumably, most readers of this blog are members of the NDSGA and have been to this convention before, but it was the first for me and I was impressed by the speakers and how well it all ran. For those of you not able to attend, here are a few notes I took with some general impressions:
Phipps taped a session of his show with a panel of professional commodity marketers and my biggest takeaway was that in spite of dropping out of the TPP and seemingly at odds with Mexico, the panelists believe that just about as much product will be crossing borders. But of course, no one knows. Phipps ended the day by asking growers to utilize people close to them who are not involved in agriculture to act as sounding boards once in a while. His idea was that growers can get a bit too wrapped up in their world and sometimes can benefit from a different perspective.
After lunch it was Dr. Pamela Ronald bringing us her world-class plant geneticist views along with some history such as Mendel to genetic work going on. She listed ten or so different types starting with Genetic Engineering (taking genes from 1 plant and putting into another) and moved on to Whole Genome Sequencing, then Marker Assisted Breeding. Number 4 was Genome Editing, 5 was Hi Throughput Imaging to screen for useful traits. Six was Computational Biology to id genes and network controlling agronomic traits. Simple stuff like that. And then I quit trying to keep up.
Next the announcement came from the Minnesota. Soybean Processors (MNSP, Great River Energy, Ag. Commissioner Doug Goehringand our ND Governor Doug Burgum of the coming crush plant planned for the Spiritwood Energy Park outside of Jamestown – a big deal to say the least so more on that in the near future. MNSP Board President Bruce Hill said that they hope to be receiving beans in the fall of 2018.
The last segment was Chip Flory from Farm Journal Media who spoke for 90 minutes on marketing trends. I will not pretend to capture here the essential data of what seemed like a hundred slides, but having taught Economics I understood it better than the modern genetic lecture. Chip thinks that we here in the North are in the second year of a 5 year land price correction (down around Illinois he thought they might be in the third year) with around a 30 percent reduction total in those 5 years. John Phipps hopped up on stage and said he thought it might be 50% overall.
More on the ND Legislature next time.