Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
If you ask farmers what skill or attribute is most important in their occupation, the majority will pause for a few seconds before saying "optimism" or "faith in the future." Some will answer "capital," "vision," "access to land" or "willingness to change with the times." I agree, all those things are important, even vital. But here's what I firmly believe is the trait that modern farmers and ranchers need most to survive and thrive:
Despite heavy snow in parts of the region, Upper Midwest farmers made substantial harvest progress in the week ending Nov. 5, according to a federal government report. The weekly crop progress report released Nov. 6 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that the corn harvest has passed the halfway point, with the sunflower harvest roughly three-quarters finished.
U.S. farmers and ranchers have for decades looked to the federal government and the U.S. farm bill to help them fund conservation efforts. Now, there's growing interest in tapping state government and private-sector money to augment federal funds. "Think beyond the farm bill and what we can do without that funding," John Piotti, president and CEO of American Farmland Trust, said.
There's widespread disagreement in agriculture and elsewhere whether climate change exists and whether human activity is responsible. Many in agriculture argue that climate change is caused primarily or entirely by nature; they insist there's no evidence that human beings are responsible.
Upper Midwest corn farmers know from experience that sometimes they need to harvest their crop in less-than-ideal conditions late in the calendar year. Though it's not particularly late yet, that could happen again this year to some area producers. The latest weekly crop progress report, released Oct. 30 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, shows the corn harvests in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota continue to lag their respective five-year averages. The report reflected conditions on Oct. 29.
Sustainable agriculture advocates say they're making progress. And they're determined that the 2018 farm bill expand on those gains. "We have the opportunity to shape ag policy," Greg Fogel said. "The question for us is, are we going to maintain the status quo or are we going to try to build on the investments and our successes in the 2014 farm bill and the farm bills that preceded it?"
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — In 1978, when Jimmy Carter was president and Ramona Hage was a freshman in high school, her father bought a central Nevada cattle ranch. That launched a nearly four-decade-long battle — with the final outcome still undecided — between the Hage family and what she portrays as heavy-handed federal regulators.
"Home stretch" refers to the last stage of a campaign or activity. The Upper Midwest soybean harvest is nearing that stage, while the region's corn harvest has a long way to go, a new report says. The new weekly crop progress report issued Oct. 23 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, finds continued progress for the soybean harvest. The report, which reflects conditions on Oct. 22, finds that the corn harvest is still far behind its five-year average.
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.