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Published August 02, 2010, 12:00 AM

25 years of agriculture


Farmers in Agweek country have had some wild swings in profitability in the past 25 years, but government farm policies, including crop insurance, are still an important safety net. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)

  • Farmers in Agweek country have had some wild swings in profitability in the past 25 years, but government farm policies, including crop insurance, are still an important safety net. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • Farmers in Agweek country have had some wild swings in profitability in the past 25 years, but government farm policies, including crop Former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer served as ag secretary for President George W. Bush in the final year of his last term. Schafer was the highest-ranking North Dakotan in a recent presidential cabinet. He handled crises, but was not in the position for long. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., changed the Northern Plains impact on farm policy when he became chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. In concert with Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., in the Senate Agriculture Committee, the region was well represented in the 2008 farm bill debate and likely will be in 2012. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • Potato production shifted outside of the nonirrigated Red River Valley in the 1990s. Expanded irrigation allows Kidder County in North Dakota to grow potatoes, as well as expanded areas in the Park Rapids, Minn., area, the Oakes, N.D., area and the Williston area in northwest North Dakota. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • E Agweek country was dominated by wheat and barley concerns in the 1980s. Today, the region is an expanding edge of the corn and soybean belts, especially with the development of shorter-season hybrids and varieties. Bart Schott of Kulm, N.D., soon will be president of the National Corn Growers.  (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • F The Northern Plains has been known for producing calves that are fed out for market elsewhere. With the trend toward feed byproducts from ag processing plants, more producers are backround-feeding animals and even finishing them. There is hope for a new, larger-scale kill plant for the region, financed by South Korean companies. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • The advent of air seeding technology in the late 1980s and into the 1990s, coupled with glyphosate herbicide, has changed farm practices to produce crops with considerably less tillage, reducing input costs and cutting soil erosion exposure. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • Farmer-owned value-added cooperatives formed ProGold L.L.C. in Wahpeton, N.D., but the wet mill had to be leased out to Cargill to make a go of it. Most “new generation” co-ops from the 1990s in North Dakota now are corporate or out of business. ProGold succeeded in creating a local market in the region. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • One of the biggest infrastructure changes in the last 15 years has been the proliferation of country grain terminals, often specializing in corn, soybeans or wheat. This latest one built in 2010 is near New Rockford, N.D., handling a whopping 120-car shuttle loading train. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • Sugar beet processing remains the Red River Valley’s dominant, farmer-owned processing plant. The region’s co-ops have spent millions in the past 25 years adding longer-term storage protection for frozen beets, allowing the companies to run their factories longer into the spring. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)
  • Ethanol continues as a dominating value-added factor in the Upper Midwest. This plant in Watertown, S.D., is gobbling corn, even as producers work to either keep production subsidies in place or to make permanent blender pumps and other market-stimulating efforts. (Mikkel Pates / Agweek)