Mikkel Pates / Agweek Staff Writer
FARGO, N.D. — As North Dakota State University graduates are handed their diplomas on May 12, many will think back on professors and cohorts who have changed their thinking and their lives. Many ag students will think about Ed and Brenda Deckard.
FARGO, N.D. — Red River Valley farmers enrolled in adult farm management programs in 2017 saw a mean average income decline of 28 percent from 2016 while the median "midpoint" farm declined 49 percent, according to a North Dakota State University report.
FARGO, N.D. — The trustee in the McM Inc. farm bankruptcy is asking a judge to require the parents of a bankrupt farmer to cough up more than $2 million in assets that he alleges were improperly transferred as "inside" transactions. Erik Ahlgren, a lawyer from Fergus Falls, Minn., the court-appointed bankruptcy trustee in the McM Inc. case, in a complaint filed May 3 in Fargo, alleges the parents of principal Ron McMartin Jr. were involved in a "scheme to move" the farm assets to a "safe haven" from creditors for the benefit of their son, and not his creditors.
MOORHEAD, Minn. — Mark Askegaard always knows it's time to plant when the snow is out of the tree rows at Askegaard Organic Farm just 12 miles south of Moorhead, Minn. "Things are shaping up pretty well," Askegaard said on April 25. He was optimistic he'd be in the field by May 4. A little warmth, sun and wind can change things in a hurry — if it doesn't rain. Askegaard, 58, farms with his daughter, Beth McConnon, 27, who joined the enterprise full time in 2013. The two raise spring wheat, flaxseed and soybeans as cash crops and cover crops for soil health.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — A big 2017 crop of tablestock potatoes and trucking woes have led to lower prices and concerns about how northern Red River Valley storage sheds still filled with spuds will be emptied in coming weeks. "In June, we'll have a feel for it," says Paul Dolan is general manager and chief executive officer for Associated Potato Growers in Grand Forks, of the storage situation.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on April 26 introduced a bill that would reauthorize and double funding for a beginning farmer programs over the life of the next farm bill. Heitkamp and Collins, in a joint news release, said they hope to get the Next Generation Act into the next farm bill. Congress is working to replace the existing multi-year farm law that is set to expire at the end of September. The overall cost score for the bill is about $390 million over 10 years.
MINNEAPOLIS — Two North Dakota farm families are plaintiffs in a class action fraud suit against one of the Texas law firms in the Syngenta corn suits, alleging the lawyers duped farmers into filing individual suits rather than joining what would become a $1.51 billion settlement against Syngenta AG. The Texas lawyers told farmers they would get more out of filing individual suits than joining the class action suit against Syngenta.
A journalism instructor at South Dakota State University said it flatly: "Just remember, you're not the ones who make the money." As a college sophomore, I wondered if he was just joking or feeling glum about leading some unsuspecting students into a low-pay career. I wondered whether he wanted to make a point about seeking and writing the truth as a kind of calling — something that had value beyond money. Maybe he was a martyr — an academic "Eeyore."
CARRINGTON, N.D. — Post Holdings Inc., parent to Dakota Growers Pasta Co., has taken a step that could lead to a change for the private brands business that includes the iconic North Dakota pasta company. On March 28, Post Holdings announced it had filed a document with the Securities Exchange Commission for a potential initial public offering for its private brands business.
WARREN, Minn. — Bill Sczepanski's farm insolvency at Stephen, Minn., isn't as widely known as Ron McMartin Jr.'s, across the river at St. Thomas, N.D., but both have had their impacts. The two large farms in the northern Red River Valley were 40 miles apart, both brought down by declining commodity prices and production challenges. Both had impacts on suppliers and associated businesses. In the Sczepanski case, creditors fought successfully at the district court level to get the benefit of about $1 million in "unit retains," owed by a sugar beet cooperative.