Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
FORDVILLE, N.D. — Though Craig Berg has led at least 1,400 training sessions on grain bin entrapment, his enthusiasm and sense of purpose haven't dimmed. "Grain bins keep getting bigger, and the risk of entrapment keeps growing. So we need to be ready," he said. Berg, training coordinator with Outstate Data in Elbow Lake, Minn., led members of the Fordville, N.D., Fire Department through training on a warm, clear evening on Oct. 17. On the edge of Fordville — a farm town of 200 in north-central North Dakota — combines growled as they harvested corn.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Many Upper Midwest agriculturalists have struggled through a difficult 2017 that has included widespread drought. Though generalizations are risky, one thing is clear, Andrew Swenson said. Despite the 2017 challenges, "There hasn't been a knockout blow. Farmers and ranchers are still hanging in there," said Swenson, the veteran farm and family resource management specialist with the North Dakota State University Extension service.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Deciding whether to store or sell grain is a tough call for Upper Midwest farmers — and one that too many may not be getting right, Frayne Olson said. "I'm really, really concerned that guys are kind of flying by the seat of their pants when it comes to the cost of on-farm storage. I think it's much higher than most farmers realize," Olson said. "We're at the stage of the game right now when you can't afford to leave too much money on the table."
WIBAUX, Mont. — Near Interstate 94 and close to the North Dakota border, Wibaux, Mont. — population about 590 — is sometimes the first or last thing in the state that travelers see. The same can be same for Wibaux's Beaver Creek Brewery, part of Montana's increasingly prominent Brewery Trail. "There's just more and more interest in craft beer, and that's good for us and the other (Montana) breweries," said Jayson Eslick, a Beaver Creek employee.
PITTSBURGH — Understanding the U.S. farm bill isn't easy even for full-time agriculturalists. Journalists with limited exposure to ag may face an even greater challenge. But three veteran agricultural journalists, with extensive experience in covering the farm bill, have some insights that can make the task a little less difficult.
PITTSBURGH — Sonia Finn, Danielle Marvit and Raqueeb Bey are passionate about agriculture. And they believe U.S. farming practices are dangerously off course and need to be corrected, starting with the 2018 farm bill. "The farm bill isn't right for agriculture. People need to get involved and work to change it," Finn said.
PITTSBURGH — A journalist is supposed to ask questions. On rare occasions, when we're especially brave or foolish (or both), we invite readers to submit questions for us to ask in their stead. That's what I did during the recent annual convention of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Pittsburgh. Though I'm not a member of the group, its event had a strong ag component and I received a fellowship to attend.
If you farm in the Upper Midwest and raise corn, soybeans or sunflowers, odds are good that you're busy harvesting your crops or soon will be. The weekly crop progress report, released Oct. 10, found that the region's 2017 harvest pace trails the five-year average. But the report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, also found that more crop is maturing and soon will be ready to harvest, or already is, especially after widespread frost Oct. 2-4. Here's a crop-by-crop look at the report: Corn
PITTSBURGH — Regular readers of this column (all three or four of you) know that I often harp on the importance of broadening our perspectives. We all need to read and listen to viewpoints outside our normal circle and temporarily escape "the echo chamber" that reinforces what we already think and believe.
PITTSBURGH — They agree on the importance of federally funded agricultural research. And they agree that writing and passing the 2018 farm bill will be challenging. But the areas of agreement can't mask some major differences in how three key players in U.S. agricultural policy view ag.