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Published April 07, 2014, 09:38 AM

Grow ag, industry and economy together

Not only is North Dakota feeding the hungry of the world, but we are fueling their development, as well.

By: Joe Miller, Agweek

PARK RIVER, N.D. — North Dakota is blessed with great fortune and opportunity. Our state — like our nation — was founded on a vision of hope, but not one that’s without hard work.

North Dakotans know well the virtues of hard work and steadfast determination that yield results such as those we can benefit from today.

The past few years have been superb for commodity markets. Oil and agriculture have seen tremendous rise in prominence. Not only is North Dakota feeding the hungry of the world, but we are fueling their development, as well.

This is our moment to rise.

Creating the product for the market is one thing. Getting that product to the end user is an entirely separate issue. There is no doubt that we are in short supply of the means to transport our goods to market. Oil, coal and grain all need rail to move, but oil can also be moved in a pipeline.

Recently, partisans have been attacking oil companies and rail companies for not supplying enough rail cars to support the agriculture markets. Clearly, the attack is based on some truth, because the elevators are full.

Maybe we need to look beyond an opportunist’s rhetoric and instead focus on the underlying challenges and problems.

First and foremost, North Dakota is a top producer of many products. We are producing wheat, corn, soybeans, edible beans, canola, crude oil, refined oil, natural gas, coal and other products in record quantities. We have never seen this level of production before.

Second, various limitations on new pipeline construction have unnecessarily shifted the burden of oil transport to the rails. Many of these limitations could be lifted by a stroke of a pen by our president, yet he shows no will to help the brightest star shining on the Great Banner.

Third, the taxation policies of our nation are confiscatory. We no longer encourage new business development, but only consolidation of the very wealthy and powerful. We have few major railways in this nation and no plans to truly expand our capacity to transport goods by rail, which is a proven, cost-effective model.

Our taxation policies reward the lazy, punish the hard working and benefit the well off.

Fourth, North Dakota needs to take a new lead. We no longer can wait for Washington to take action and fix the problems that plague the state.

North Dakota needs to ignore Washington wherever and whenever it sets up road blocks and forge ahead with or without them.

We must begin by creating climates that make this state the No. 1 place to do business in the world. Suspending the income tax should be the first step.

Fifth, because of the overwhelming cost of building pipelines and railways, we need to use our financial strength and the Bank of North Dakota to set up low-interest loans, grants and legal pathways to help facilitate expansion and improvement of our transportation capacity here in North Dakota and beyond our borders.

We also need to encourage the use of products (such as natural gas) within our state and value-added endeavors such as fertilizer manufacturing and oil refining.

These steps are not conclusive. Many other projects must be tackled. Above all, we must not cast blame and drive political wedges between ourselves, as some partisans are trying to do in recent campaign speeches.

If we have courage and seek solutions together, we will rise to the occasion.

Editor’s note: Miller, a Republican, represents District 10 in the North Dakota Senate.

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