Ag Business Briefs

Drought continues to ease in Dakotas but still a big problem

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Drought continues to ease in the Dakotas, though nearly two-thirds of each state remains mired in some form of drought.

The Oct. 5 U.S. Drought Monitor shows 58 percent of South Dakota and 60 percent of North Dakota in some stage of drought.

Both percentages are down only slightly from the previous week. However, the Drought Monitor says recent rains led to improvements across North Dakota and in eastern South Dakota over the week.

There are no longer any areas in North Dakota in exceptional drought, the worst category, and only 2 percent of the state in extreme drought. About 6 percent of South Dakota is in the extreme category.

About 18 percent of North Dakota and 26 percent of South Dakota is listed in severe drought.

Minnesota mostly on track for 1st buffer strip law deadline

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota landowners are on track for meeting the state’s first deadline for putting buffer strips of vegetation between cropland and public waters.

The Board of Water and Soil Resources says 94 percent of parcels that require them will have pollution protections in place by the Nov. 1 deadline. Landowners who can’t meet the deadline can get extensions until July 1 if they can show they have a plan for complying.

Landowners also need buffers along public ditches by Nov. 1, 2018.

Gov. Mark Dayton championed the 2015 buffer law to reduce farm pollution entering Minnesota waters.

While the statewide compliance rate looks high, many heavily agricultural counties in western and southern Minnesota have less than 80 percent compliance, and some with the most row crops are under 70 percent compliant.

Precision ag building at SDSU OK’d

South Dakota State University officials can move forward with an estimated $55 million of agricultural projects, state government’s Board of Regents said Oct. 5.

The school plans to construct a new center for precision agriculture and to renovate Berg Ag Hall on the Brookings campus.

The funding plan calls for gradually paying off $31.5 million of bonds from money that university president Barry Dunn said was originally earmarked for agriculture-property tax relief.

The regents met Oct. 3 through Oct. 5 at Dakota State University in Madison.

Construction of the new building would cost an estimated $31.8 million, according to a document received by the regents.

The Berg hall renovations would cost an estimated $6.9 million and all of the other expenses bring the total to $55 million.

The South Dakota Corn Utilization Council would pay $6 million. The university is providing $7.5 million. Donations are expected to total $10 million.

— Farm Forum Correspondent Bob Mercer