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You Are Here Sunflower Magazine > A Look Back - 30 Years


Sunflower Magazine

A Look Back - 30 Years
November 2011

Editorial Comments/Larry Kleingartner, Executive Director, National Sunflower Association — “The National Sunflower Association is out of the starting blocks. If you read the ‘Editorial Comments’ page in the August/September issue of The Sunflower, you’re familiar with the background of this new organization.

“Just to refresh your memory, though, the NSA is a non-profit producer-controlled association established to improve the status of sunflower producers and the sunflower industry in general. We’ll be working toward this goal through the support of research, promotion of domestic markets for sunflower products, efforts to expand foreign markets and the dissemination of useful and timely information through The Sunflower and various other communicative means.

“The NSA was formed by the North Dakota and South Dakota sunflower councils and is headquartered in Bismarck, N.D. If you’re a Dakota sunflower producer participating in either of these two state check-off systems, you’re automatically entitled to membership in the National Sunflower Association. Sunflower growers in all states may become individual members of the NSA, and there are also affiliated membership categories for check-off elevators, sunflower industry firms and other interested parties.

“[S]ome of you may be wondering about the relationship between the NSA and the Sunflower Association of America (SAA), the former publisher of The Sunflower. In a word, it is cooperative.

“The SAA, due mainly to budgetary limitations, is now minimally active. Though it will remain an entity, it does not plan on assessing membership dues for 1982, nor will it be sponsoring its past range of programs. The work of the SAA, especially in terms of research support and providing information on sunflower, will be assumed by the National Sunflower Association.”

Sunflower Market Outlook/ Ralph Hayenga, senior vice president, Honeymead Products Co., Minneapolis — “[W]hatever happens to soy bean prices is going to happen to sunflower. With the oversupply of soybeans this year, I don’t see any large price rises coming in the soybean market.

“On the other hand, our supply of sunflower here is not overburdening. Carryover stocks are evidently down close to zero because the premium prices being paid prior to harvest didn’t bring anything out of the bins. And we have a crop that is not as big as earlier anticipated. The USDA October 9 report indicated sunflower production of less than 1.8 million metric tons.

“So I think sunflower is going to stay in a competitive position. The weight on the sunflower price is not going to be due to an oversupply of sunflower; it’s just that sunflower has to wait its turn in line with other vegetable oils which are in good supply. If the Southern Hemisphere crop is no larger than expected, we could see good demand for U.S. sunflower next spring and summer.

“The farmer is going to have a great deal to say about the price of all commodities this year. Industry cannot afford the interest rates, so it is buying hand to mouth.”

Good News: Railroads Offer Rate Reductions/Mike Miller, Transportation Attorney, Fargo, N.D. — “It may be a little hard to believe, but all the news about transportation is not bad news — particularly if you happen to grow sunflower.

“Most farmers realize that they are the ones who must pay the freight rate, truck or rail, to get their seed or grain to market. The price a farmer receives from a country elevator for his product is directly affected by the freight rate the elevator must pay to actually have the grain or seed delivered to the market. As a result, when freight rates increase, the price a farmer receives for his sunflower decreases; and when freight rates decrease, the price should increase.

“In just the last couple months, the railroads who serve the Upper Midwest, particularly the Burlington Northern Railroad and Soo Line, have been doing something unusual. They have been slashing sunflower seed rates. . . .

“Today, on the Burlington Northern or the Soo Line, the rail rate for moving sunflower is generally the same as the rail rate for moving wheat. This is very unusual due to the fact that you can only load around 90,000 pounds of sunflower seed into a C-6 covered hopper car, while you can load over 180,000 pounds of wheat into a C-6 hopper.

“As far as the railroads are concerned, this means they receive $1,548 per car for a single car movement of wheat from Devils Lake, N.D., to Duluth, for example, but only $774 per car for a similar movement of sunflower seed.

“Of course, railroads do not just reduce rail rates out of the kindness of their hearts. In fact, there are at least three reasons [why] we have seen the huge rate reductions on sunflower seed during the last couple of months.

“First, the Burlington Northern — as has the Soo Line — has now decided to create multiple car and unit train rates for movement of grain and seed. These rates are generally considerably lower than existing single car rates.

“Second, most U.S. railroads are experiencing a surplus of cars. This naturally leads to more pricing competition.

“Third, in the past, most of the sunflower seed has moved by truck. The current dramatic rail reductions on sunflower seed are designed to capture some of this traffic.”

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