<![CDATA[The Sugarbeet Grower Magazine - Write Field]]>Sun, 24 Jan 2016 23:49:16 -0800EditMySite<![CDATA[ The ā€˜3 Pā€™ Marketing Plan]]>Tue, 01 Dec 2015 18:32:24 GMThttp://www.sugarpub.com/write-field/-the-3-p-marketing-plan
Every farm magazine has a “marketing expert.” There also is no shortage of Internet services willing to give out advice in various quantities at various prices. The one thing they all agree on is that every farmer should have a marketing plan. Mine is the “3 P” plan.
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I’m waiting at the elevator
For my turn to dump.
I’ve just got time to stretch my legs
And give the tires a thump.

Then in the cab, in low gear,
Drive over the grate.
Now for all the answers
I must no longer wait.

I’ll find out what’s the moisture,
Per bushel what’s the weight.
His machine will give a beep;
He’ll give it to me straight.

Then no more guessing this year:
Will my crop make the grade?
I’ll know if discounts beat me up
Or if I have it made.

I meet a truck as I pull out,
My neighbor’s looking smug.
I know he’s not ahead of me
With fields already dug.

So what is it that put that
Big old smile upon his face,
Like we were playing pinochle
And he just took my ace?

I counted trucks that left his field;
Nothing special there.
Unless he overloaded them,
I beat him by a hair.

Then I feel a queasy spot;
The answer’s more than yield.
It’s more than just the bushels
Coming off the field.

The other factor is the price,
At what time did he sell?
I’ll bet he caught the market
Before it went to hell.

Or did he do it more like me
And watch the market top.
Then sit there frozen up in fear
Until it starts to drop.

Then tell himself three times a day
This thing will turn around.
Until the red ink flows so deep
All future hope is drowned.

Then at the bottom or darn close
You pull the trigger hard.
The panic happens every time.
Why am I caught off guard?

And thus my 3 P market plan.
(You’ve done it so don’t scoff.)
First you must Procrastinate,
Then Panic and be Pissed off.
David Kragnes farms near Felton, Minn. A former board member and chairman of American Crystal Sugar Company, he currently serves on the CoBank Board of Directors.

Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here
<![CDATA[Ready For Spring?]]>Mon, 27 Apr 2015 20:08:47 GMThttp://www.sugarpub.com/write-field/ready-for-springPicture
We had a pretty dry winter,
Near-record amounts of no snow.
Now with a short shot of sunshine,
I’m getting anxious to go.

The calendar says it’s too early,
But it seems like the ground is dry.
Perhaps I should put my seeds out there
To wait for some rain from the sky.

It’s time to open up shed doors,
Pull out a tractor and truck,
See if the discs on the planter
Will spin or are they froze stuck.

Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here.

Most of those jobs are quite simple,
You can tell just by taking a peek,
Where you should weld up a frame crack 
Or where an old hose just might leak.

Now we get to the tough part,
The things that against me conspire:
The boxes all covered with switches,
With bundles and bundles of wires.

For every machine there’s a flat screen
That needs to be mounted each spring.
I forget even how to get started;
The manual won’t tell me a thing.

Where in the field is the A line?
How much for this drill to offset?
That I’ve forgotten all I need to know,
Well, that is a pretty safe bet.

Electrons are angry and spiteful,
Not doing the job that they should.
I scroll through screens like a mad man,
But it’s not doing me any good.

I wish Nathan was here in my cab door
Telling me just what to press.
Instead I have him on my cell phone
Trying to straighten this mess.

The tractor now talks to the planter;
The planter is answering back.
I don’t even dare turn on the radio
Or things may just get out of whack.

My kid says he read up this winter
About a planter that talks to the cloud.
If I had a clue what he’s talking about,
Well, that would sure make me proud.

He tells me I’d need a new cell phone
With a screen that reacts to my touch.
Then I could call up my field maps
Of planting and spraying and such.

The thought of changing my cell phone
Does not make me feel all that good.
I’m pretty used to my old one:
It’s efficient, it burns coal or wood.

David Kragnes farms near Felton, Minn. A former board member and chairman of American Crystal Sugar Company, he currently serves on the CoBank Board of Directors.

Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here.
<![CDATA[Why I Still Go to the Meeting]]>Wed, 18 Mar 2015 19:06:27 GMThttp://www.sugarpub.com/write-field/why-i-still-go-to-the-meetingPicture
Iwent to the American Sugarbeet Growers Association annual meeting again this year.

I haven’t been on that board for seven years now, so why would I go? Long Beach is nice; but if you are going to sit inside and listen to speakers, well, Fargo isn’t bad in the winter if you don’t go out.

The answer is two-fold. First, I have made some good friends, people I respect very much, and the ASGA meeting is a good place to catch up. Second, the board and leadership at CoBank want me to stay connected. Sugar is an important part of American agriculture, and they are amazed at how well “Sugar” works in Washington, D.C.

I would like to take a moment to address that part about effectiveness. All you growers have heard from your ASGA representatives about how good ASGA works. Well, as a seven-year outsider, let me tell you: they are better than you believe, and it is all about the people.

Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here.

I still get to lobby in D.C. once a year when CoBank meets out there in May. I have helped make our directors better with things I learned in “Luther School:” Everyone must have the same message but tailored to the office you will visit. Tell them why they must care about your position. Credibility without question.

Now the important thing. When I say, “I am a farmer,” the whole focus in the office changes. The Hill staff are so used to hearing from someone who represents someone else that they are refocused when an actual person shows up. This is why Sugar is able to fight many classes above its weight. It’s all about the people — the ASGA members who formulate and learn the message, then put in the time to spread it. Those people put in more effort on your behalf than you will understand, especially at the upper leadership levels.

You cannot thank the ASGA presidents of the present and past enough, including John Snyder, the current one. They should never have to buy breakfast if there is another beet grower in the coffee shop. When they have to go off to another meeting, mow their lawn or blow out their driveway. And when you get that dreaded call from a growers association member asking for a PAC contribution, come on, boys and girls, make their job easy.

Have a safe spring. — David

David Kragnes farms near Felton, Minn. A former board member and chairman of American Crystal Sugar Company, he currently serves on the CoBank Board of Directors.

Farm Bill Fun

I signed up for the Farm Bill,
Oh my, what a mess.
I put it off and off ’til I just
Couldn’t stand the stress.

I went to several meetings
To learn about the bill,
To understand more fully
What came down from the Hill.

Not since 8th grade Spanish
Have I been so confused,
With letters mixed and jumbled
And English quite abused.

First came questions about my base:
Should I reallocate?
Then after looking at my yields,
I guess I should update.

The page they put before me
Wasn’t quite correct.
They had wheat where beans were sown;
I guess I’m glad I checked.

Next I have to make a choice:
Should I pick ARC?
Or worry more about the price
And go with PLC?

And if ARC is best
Than CO or IC . . .
The more I read, the more I feel
I’m just D U M B.

One form is simple to fill out,
And that’s 941.
My AGI is not too high,
So that one’s easily done.

I start to get an aching pain
Up where I set my hat.
Explaining this to landlords,
Well yah, good luck with that.

I got it done, I got it in,
And while it wasn’t fun,
At least until mid-April

With FSA, I’m done.
Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here.
<![CDATA[Cash Trickle Planning]]>Fri, 13 Mar 2015 21:39:29 GMThttp://www.sugarpub.com/write-field/cash-trickle-planningPicture
In all three of the farm-related meetings I’ve attended so far this winter, there has been a significant amount of time spent telling us to get our records in good shape, make realistic projections — and get ready to meet with our bankers to do cash trickle planning. Good luck to you, I hope you own cows.

Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here.

I went to see my banker
After adding up my slips.
It wasn't quite as fun
As it had been some other trips.

With more commas in the numbers
Last year at this time,
And not so much subtracting
To find out what was mine.

I’d been to see my tax man.
He said, “That can’t be right.
There must be some income checks
That slipped out of your sight.”

“And did you really spend that much
On gas and tools and stuff?
Really, how much glyphosate
Seems to be enough?”

After he had slapped me down
With pen and yellow pad,
Well, going to the bank would take
All the guts I had.

My banker offered me a seat
And handshake that seemed warm,
Then spooled up his computer
And fired up his charm.

He made a little small talk
About the kids and more,
Then quietly stepped over
And tightly shut the door.

He copied all my numbers
To his electron page
While making little grunting sounds
That I just couldn’t gauge.

He sat there staring at the screen,
Left thumb upon his chin,
Then jumps to move his cursor,
Types some other number in.

It got deathly quiet
In that banker glass wall crypt.
His pen, it scratched like thunder
As he laid down some script.

He picked up all the papers
And stacked them like a deck.
I felt just one small bead of sweat
Trickle down my neck.

Then the thing he told me next
Almost made me sob:
“The bank is sticking with you,
But keep your writing job.”

David Kragnes farms near Felton, Minn. A former board member and chairman of American Crystal Sugar Co., he currently serves on the CoBank Board of Directors.
Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here.
<![CDATA[Year's End]]>Wed, 28 Jan 2015 20:27:52 GMThttp://www.sugarpub.com/write-field/years-endWrite Field by David Kragnes, Sugarbeet Grower Magazine
had a couple days at home after getting all the machinery inside for the winter, so I decided to get a jump on the books. With a fresh pencil and a Christmas radio station on, I jumped in with a pretty good attitude, for me.

Perhaps it took less time this year because the numbers were so much smaller than the last couple years. Whatever the reason, I finished up in pretty good time.

So off to the Federal Building in Fargo to get forms for my old electric typewriter. They had a stack of W-2 and W-3 forms but none of the other ones I needed. Could it be I am so far ahead my government isn’t ready for me? After punching in a code and cooling my heels for a time, a lady came out to tell me they weren’t going to have those forms anymore. So much for my pretty-good attitude. She responded to my polite inquiry that, yes, I still needed to file them and they might be available at Office Max.

Of all the things the government seems unable to get done, I guess we can add printing 1099s to the list.

Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here.

I got my Christmas shopping done
With only just one stop.
My wife takes care of all the kids;
She’s much more prone to shop.

Now here comes the time of year
I always hate the worst.
It just can't be avoided:
The book work must come first.

The IRS will want to know
What I did back in June.
If there’s hope to remember,
I had better dig in soon.

I know the numbers in that pile 
Of canceled checks and stuff 
Will give me answers that I need. 
But digging in is tough. 

It’s too bad I’m so crabby 
When Christmas time is near. 
But I would rather skip the books, 
And cultivate all year. 􀀀

David Kragnes farms near Felton, Minn. A former board member and chairman of American Crystal Sugar Company, he currently serves on the CoBank Board of Directors.
<![CDATA[ Ah, Yes, the Joys of Air Travel]]>Fri, 26 Dec 2014 17:21:46 GMThttp://www.sugarpub.com/write-field/-ah-yes-the-joys-of-air-travelPicture
This winter, as you travel to the ASGA annual meeting and other important destinations, I hope you have better luck than Peggy and I did this past summer on a CoBank trip to Boston. We were stuck in Minneapolis for eight (8) hours because one of the three flight attendants on the 45-minute no-beverage-service hop from Fargo had worked too long the night before. I could spend all my space here with thoughts about their planning ability.

Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here.

David Kragnes farms near Felton, Minn. A former board member and chairman of American Crystal Sugar Co., he currently serves on the CoBank Board of Directors.

Some say travel broadens you,
It opens up your mind.
With respect to airline travel,
That thought is more than kind.

I often feel like I am just
One chicken in the coop.
If I get there at all today;
They just don’t give a poop.

I fly on several airlines,
So my status ain’t elite.
They act like it’s a privilege
Just to get a seat.

The folks line up for boarding;

A complex task no doubt.
I want to help the guy up there;
He’ll hear me if I shout.

But I have no wisdom
He hasn’t heard before.
If the overhead is full,
It must go on the floor.

Standing there and staring
Won’t make the bag get small.
I wish that he would step aside
And make room for us all.

A place to put my duffel bag?
Who am I trying to kid?
A wallet’s in the overhead.
I’ll never close the lid.

There’s a big group headed home
With their sombrero hats.
And some lady on the aisle
Has brought along her cats.

There’s an old guy two seats back,
His handbag gave a yelp.
Where the heck is PETA
When I need a little help?

I guess I need to calm down,
Take one breath or a few.

My blood pressure going up
Will not raise their IQ.

Now I am not a tiny guy,
This truth I will admit.
But in those itty bitty seats,
Well, children hardly fit.

There is no room for knees or feet
Or butt of any size.
My legs have lost all blood flow.
We’re barely in the skies.

In the end it proves again
That old rule is alive:
‘Time to spare, go by air;
If you must be there, drive.’

I must add this note: I finished writing this poem while waiting in Fargo for a delayed flight to Denver. The irony is just too much.

Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here.
<![CDATA[For Those Not From the RRV]]>Thu, 31 Jul 2014 21:39:37 GMThttp://www.sugarpub.com/write-field/for-those-not-from-the-rrvPicture
As background for those of you not from the Red River Valley, it was a miserable spring here. It was cold and wet, causing late planting. As July 4 rolled around, the Red River was once again above flood stage. As I write this, there is much need for a dry spell to get after weed control on the acres that are still alive. Then, to top it off, bean prices crashed just yesterday.

The June meeting for CoBank was in Boston. My wife, Peggy, came along and one afternoon went on a tour of the Witchcraft Museum in Salem.

January of 1692 was a tough winter in Salem, where a strong church following believed firmly in the presence of the Devil. There had been a smallpox epidemic nearby, and there was fear of warring tribes. Tensions were running high. When things go bad, we look for someone to blame. Before the Governor stepped in and put a stop to the witch trials, one person had been crushed to death, seven died in prison and 19 had been hung. Like I said, when things go bad, we look for someone to blame.

Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here.

I have a friend I have to say
Who likes his pickup truck
Without a single spot of dust
Or grease or mud or muck.
His pickup’s always shiny;
A bright spot on the road.
No matter if it’s empty
Or with a heavy load.
Now around my yard if I should ever
Wash my pickup truck,
Just as sure as anything,
Tomorrow I’d be stuck.
Clouds would gather, block the sun
Before the hood is dry.
The hose is barely cranked up
When rain falls from the sky.
So I asked, please, give me a break,
Don’t wash it for a day.
But what’s the use when down the road 

My neighbor just cut hay? 
So just like in years gone by, 
Our nature’s still the same.

When things go bad, we look around For someone else to blame. v David Kragnes farms near Felton, Minn. A former board member and chairman of American Crystal Sugar Co., he currently serves on the CoBank Board of Directors.
Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here.
<![CDATA[Spring Ahead]]>Tue, 01 Apr 2014 13:34:16 GMThttp://www.sugarpub.com/write-field/spring-aheadWrite Field by David Kragnes
There are some things the Government does that I don’t agree with (no surprise there). Then there are some things the Government does that I don't understand. Daylight savings time is one of those. The times of year when I need to get up early, well, I do. I have faith that most Americans could be trusted with that responsibility.

There are so many unintended consequences from arbitrarily moving the clock. What does “High Noon” mean any more? Do we need to change the name of the movie because “high” now comes at 1:00 p.m.? It doesn’t have the same ring to it. If our military folks go into battle and someone yells, “Bogies at 12 o’clock high,” where do they look: straight ahead or 30 degrees to the left? I just don’t feel this was well thought out.

Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here.

We jumped to daylight saving time;
I am sure the choice was wise.
I guess the plan was putting
Much more sun up in the skies.
I’m not sure where they find it,
This extra hour of sun;
But I'll try to find a way
To use it that is fun.
Perhaps I will go fishing with
My extra hour of light.
I’d rather fish in sunshine
Than splash around at night.
My wife thinks I should stain the house
This spring when it gets warm.
And now that extra hour of light
Will do the wood more harm.
So I had better make a plan
As soon as temps will let,
To find the bucket, stir the stain,
And get the ladder set.
But wait, that would be spending time.
That wasn’t the intent.
When they named it “saving time,”
The message clearly sent
Was that we should be saving it,
And yet it isn’t clear.
Was it daylight, or the hour,
We should save this time of year?
And the hour I was told to save,
Came ’tween two and two.
At that hour, at my age,
There’s not much you can do.
The clock says it is morning;
I can’t get it through my head.
Right now I’d trade my daylight
For an extra hour in bed.
<![CDATA[Farm Bill Tune on Bourbon Street]]>Sat, 01 Mar 2014 21:27:07 GMThttp://www.sugarpub.com/write-field/farm-bill-tune-on-bourbon-streetWrite Field by David Kragnes
I just got back from an interesting trip. Peggy and I went to the American
Sugarbeet Growers Association’s annual meeting in Tampa. It was a celebration of the passage of a farm bill along with an important discussion of what is next in the never-ending list of trade, market and regulatory challenges we and all farmers face.

At the time, I thought the presentation on potential EPA rules was the scariest part. But later that night, at the banquet, I was suddenly struck by the number of kids in the room. I use the term “kids” here to refer to men in their 30s and 40s. Kids, you ask? Well, their dads were the respected leaders I worked with for years. That is the scary part. Busch, Deal, Fox, Grant, Steinbeisser — all last names that bring to mind different faces than the ones before me. Don’t get me wrong; I am not scared that the leadership provided by the next generation of men and women will be anything less than the past. I just suddenly felt old. 

Next, we went to the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives meeting in New Orleans. This group, being a mix of farmers from all over the country, didn't toast the farm bill with champagne. Most liked some parts, but most didn't like it all — and no one liked the process. There was a general question, how did sugar do so well? My response, as always, was, “Fight and compete all you want, but ag must come to the Hill with one plan.” 

With three years of “free time” to get ready, ag needs to find the place to put together that one plan. Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, NFO? I don’t think so. NCFC perhaps could be the catalyst in the discussion; but there is risk to the organization, after all, in a tight ball game that both sides end up angry at the refs. We, at the wheat roots level, must start the conversation or we may not get another farm bill. 

One last thought. I had the chance to sit on Bourbon Street and visit about Wall Street with guys who work on Pennsylvania Avenue. Nothing in the Harry Potter series of books is as far from my reality as that mix.

Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here.

I had a chance to chat with folks
From Washington D.C.
Guys that for a long time
Have been good friends of me.
How’s the family, mine is fine.
We soon got that part done.
I asked them for a recap:
Was the farm bill really fun?
They said that they’d been fighting this
It seemed since twenty-ten.
They didn't want to think about
It starting up again.
They all agreed on one thing:
Next time before we start,
Corn and cotton just can’t come
From spots so far apart.
Dairy, peaches, durum wheat
Must unify a voice,
Or voting down the whole thing
Might be the Congress choice.
Enough about the ’19 bill
On track for ’23.
Let’s go and stop by Bourbon Street
To see what we can see!
Of all the dressed up crazy folks
Who there come into view,
It’s sad they make more sense
Than Pennsylvania Avenue.
<![CDATA[Sorry, Owls . . . Just More Paperwork]]>Sat, 01 Feb 2014 19:30:07 GMThttp://www.sugarpub.com/write-field/sorry-owls-just-more-paperworkWrite Field by David Kragnes
It’s full of paperwork time. The heap of forms in my office is deeper than the stack of seed catalogs. The frustration is piling up faster than the W-2s and 1099s.

Shouldn’t farmers be able to follow the example of Congress and file our 2012 and 2013 papers with the same urgency they have shown passing a 2012 farm bill?

Read our entire issue and back issues. Click here.

A year ago November
We sent the folks out there,
To give us legislation
That is just and fair.
To make the laws and set the tax
That we here all must pay.
To write those regulations
That guide us through each day.
We chose the men and women
We want to lead this land,
Based upon their promises
On which side they will stand.
Of the issues that concern us
And the questions that we face,
From money for more prisons
To funding flight in space.
Of military matters
And trade agreements too,
We hope we sent the folks out there
Who feel the way we do.
Now as the year is ending,
It’s time to feel the pain
Of filling out the paperwork
To prove the loss or gain.
As I wade into the stack
Of forms that I must fill,
I start to think about those guys
We sent up to the Hill.
They must be sure that I feel
That paperwork is fun,
When they get paper for their rules
They order by the ton.
I don’t think they understand;
Somehow they just don’t see.
They write the rules on just one page,
Then I must fill out three.
Do they need this information?
Is it just a sport?
To make me fill out one more form
And file some new report.
Just think of how the Spotted Owl
Could live a life of ease,
If only half our paperwork
Stayed in the form of trees.
As those who are elected
Return to take their seats,
I hope they notice who is back
And who met with defeat.
Somehow I feel quite certain
That we would drop the ax
If we had to mark our ballot
The day we filed our tax.