Biden Administration Starts Naming Secretary, Under Secretary Positions

President Joe Biden has named Kevin Shea as the acting agriculture secretary until Tom Vilsack is confirmed. Service since 2013. Until Michael Regan is confirmed, Jane Nishida will be the Environmental Protection Agency’s acting administrator. USDA has named three Deputy Under Secretary positions. Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services is Stacy Dean. Dean previously worked at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Office of Management and Budget. Justin Maxson is the Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, who previously worked at the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. Deputy Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs is Mae Wu, who previously worked at the Natural Resource Defense Council.

BeanCon21 Registration is Open

Registration for BeanCon21 is officially open. The event is a one-stop-shop for all things dry beans, combining innovative sessions on future trends, harvest and quality updates, live chef demos and one-on-one business networking sessions in a virtual setting.
Other topics on the agenda include:
  • Why Beans are the Next Big Thing
  • The U.S. Dry Bean Value Proposition
  • Innovation and Trends Around the World
  • Global Culinary Inspiration
BeanCon21 will take place in three-hour blocks over the course of three days March 2 -4. Days 1 and 2 will feature the one on one meetings that participants will be able to sign up for to conduct private business sessions.

USDA, USTR Name Agricultural Trade Advisors

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have announced the appointment of 67 members to serve on seven agricultural trade advisory committees. The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee is comprised of senior representatives from across the U.S. agricultural community who provide advice to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on trade policy matters including the operation of existing trade agreements and the negotiation of new agreements. View the appointments.

Soil Talk Tuesdays

The NDSU Extension Soil Health team has kicked off a new program called Soil Talk Tuesdays. These are live-hosted events that use a panel format to lead the discussion. Participants can hear from specialists, researchers and farmers, along with interacting by entering questions into the Q&A (for the panel) or into the chat box to discuss topics with other participants. The Northarvest Bean Growers Association is a sponsor of this webinar series. View the schedule and get registered here.

Land Values Hold Strong into 2021

According to the latest Land Values Report from Farmers National Company, sale volumes were up 49 percent during October and November compared to the previous year. Northern Plains farmers are currently buying 90 percent of top-quality farmland coming up for sale. Prices for lower quality cropland are flat. A regional report cites government payments, crop insurance, low interested rates and rising grain prices were all factors in strengthening land values in the last quarter of 2020. Investor interest and farmer demand will continue to drive the land market in 2021.

Tax Break Available for Beginning Farmers

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Rural Finance Authority is now accepting applications for a tax credit for the sale or lease of land, equipment, machinery, and livestock in Minnesota by beginning farmers.
To qualify, the applicant must be a Minnesota resident with the desire to start farming or who began farming in Minnesota within the past ten years, provide positive projected earnings statements, have a net worth less than $851,000, and enroll in, or have completed an approved financial management program.
The farmer cannot be directly related by blood or marriage to the person from whom he or she is buying or renting assets. The farmer must provide the majority of the labor and management of the farm.
The tax credit for the sale or lease of assets can then be applied to the Minnesota income taxes of the owner of the agricultural land or other assets.
Three levels of credits are available:
  • 5% of the lesser of the sale price or fair market value of the agricultural asset up to a maximum of $32,000
  • 10% of the gross rental income of each of the first, second and third years of a rental agreement, up to a maximum of $7,000 per year
  • 15% of the cash equivalent of the gross rental income in each of the first, second or third year of a share rent agreement, up to a maximum of $10,000 per year
The Beginning Farmer Tax Credit is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications must be received by October 1, 2021.
Interested farmers should note that they can also apply for a separate tax credit to offset the cost of a financial management program up to a maximum of $1,500 per year – for up to three years.

Dry Bean Scene

There are several strategies farmers and ranchers can be using during the tax planning season. AgCountry Farm Credit Services Vice President of Taxes Renee Fink says one of the main strategies is deferring crop insurance. Learn more in the latest Dry Bean Scene on the Red River Farm Network, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.

Look for Dry Bean Grower Surveys in the Mail

The 2020 Dry Bean Grower Survey of Production, Pest Problems and Pesticide Use has been mailed. NDSU Extension would appreciate your time and effort to fill out the survey form. This is a cooperative effort between the Northarvest Bean Growers Association and Extension that is made possible through a grant from Northarvest.
Results from this survey are important and provide dry bean growers and invested stakeholders with information about grower practices and pest problems in North Dakota and Minnesota. It also helps identify research and pesticide registration priorities. Survey responses are kept completely anonymous. Plus, you have a chance to win $500 prize drawing if you return a completed survey with your drawing form! 
Here are the results from last year’s dry bean grower survey