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Minn. agricultural exports up 22 percent in 2010

WILLMAR -- According to figures released by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota exported $5 billion in agricultural products in 2010, an increase of more than $900 million from the $4.1 billion total in 2009.

This is the second time since 2008 that agricultural exports have reached or exceeded $5 billion in Minnesota.

Soybeans, corn, wheat, red meat, dairy and poultry were the top export commodities, accounting for 90 percent of the state's total agricultural exports.

Minnesota's 22 percent annual increase in agricultural exports exceeded the national average of 13 percent. Minnesota's agricultural exports also performed better than the state's manufactured exports, which increased 17 percent in 2010.

The value of Minnesota's 2010 agricultural exports, by commodity, and the percentage change in value compared to 2009 are as follows: soybeans and soybean products -- $2.2 billion, up 46 percent; corn and corn products -- $1.1 billion, up 9 percent; live animals and meat -- $542 million, unchanged from 2009; wheat and wheat products -- $376 million, up 4 percent; feeds and fodder -- $170 million, up 20 percent; dairy products -- $153 million, up 38 percent; poultry products -- $105 million, up 3 percent.

Based on agricultural trade multipliers, every dollar of agricultural exports generates an additional $1.36 in economic and business activity.

In addition, every $1 billion in agricultural exports supports 8,000 jobs throughout the economy. In Minnesota, more than 40,000 jobs are directly or indirectly related to agricultural exports.

Limited haying of CRP acres is allowed

Livestock producers seeking additional supplies of hay should note that local Farm Service Agency offices are now accepting requests to allow limited haying of land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.

In accordance with those provisions, the use of CRP acres for haying is limited to specific conservation practices. For example, haying is prohibited on CRP acres devoted to filter strips, tree plantings and wetland restorations.

Haying is permitted only once every three years on the same acres.

Haying is also prohibited on CRP land located within 120 feet of streams or other permanent bodies of water. In addition, haying is only allowed on acres where the cover crop has been fully established for at least one year.

No haying activity, including the cutting of the cover crop, can occur during the primary nesting or brood rearing season, which ends locally on Aug. 1.

A payment reduction of 25 percent of the annual rental rate will be assessed on the number of acres hayed.

Program participants who do not own livestock may rent or lease the privilege to hay or graze their acres to a livestock producer. However, any livestock producers renting or leasing CRP haying or grazing privileges must sign a statement agreeing that they will not sublease the acres.

Hay harvested under these provisions may be sold to anyone at any price.

Before any haying activity can begin, participants will need to visit their USDA Service Center and indicate on aerial maps which acres they wish to hay or graze, and sign all required documents.

Deadline is Aug. 1 for FSA Committee nominations

The deadline to submit nominations for the Farm Service Agency's 2011 county committee election is Aug. 1.

Eligible voters can nominate, by petition, candidates of their choice. Nomination forms are available at county Farm Service Agency offices, or online at

The agency is especially interested in receiving nominations of individuals that represent minority groups, including women.

Election ballots will be mailed to all eligible voters by Nov. 4. Candidates elected to the county committee will serve a 3-year term beginning Jan. 1, 2012.

USDA to modify prevented planting provisions for 2012

Officials from USDA's Risk Management Agency have announced a change in the qualification requirements for farmers who want to obtain prevented planting insurance.

Beginning with the 2012 crop year, a crop must have been grown on the acreage in at least one of the previous four years if a farmer wishes to qualify for prevented planting coverage.

The change in the qualification requirements will apply to farmers in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

The policy change is being made to assist farmers in the Prairie Pothole region, where some acreage has not been planted since 2008 due to flooding and excessive moisture.

The prevented planting coverage guarantee for a crop ranges from 60 to 70 percent of the production guarantee for acreage planted by the final planting date.

Minnesota production of spring wheat down 5 percent

Based on field conditions as of July 1, the Minnesota Agricultural Statistical Service is forecasting that Minnesota farmers will harvest 81.1 million bushels of spring wheat, down 5 percent from last year.

Yields are expected to average 52 bushels per acre, down 3 bushels from 2010.

According to USDA, Minnesota farmers will harvest 1.56 million acres of spring wheat, up slightly from 2010.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.