Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Cargill is one of the world's most influential agricultural companies. Greg Page, its retired chairman and CEO, is of the ag world's heavy-hitters. And he thinks ag has "a wicked problem" that won't be solved easily or quickly. But "greater transparency" — making consumers better aware of how the food system operates — is an essential starting point, he said. "In a world where nothing can be hidden, there better be nothing to hide."
It's been said that columns should raise tough questions, then provide answers. This column — on difficult choices facing livestock producers and pet owners — has the questions covered. Answers? Well, you'll need to come up with them yourself. Three personal memories to set the stage:
FARGO, N.D. — Successfully predicting the future is notoriously difficult. But there are valid reasons to be optimistic about long-term U.S. livestock prices, says Tim Petry, a North Dakota State University livestock marketing economist. "When you consider the supply and demand determinants, the outlook is encouraging," says Petry.
GARDEN CITY, Minn. — The term "24/7" — or 24 hours a day, seven days a week — has entered the American lexicon. Kevin Paap hopes "24/24/24" will, too. "NAFTA is 24 years old. Roughly 24 percent of our ag exports go to Canada and another 24 percent go to Mexico. So it's 24/24/24," said Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau and a fourth-generation family farmer in Blue Earth County near Garden City, Minn.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Many area farmers struggled with inadequate moisture in the past growing season. But the region's 2018 growing season could be both a little wetter and a little warmer, Daryl Ritchison, meteorologist and interim director of North Dakota State University's North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network, predicted. Among his projections for next year: • Most areas won't be as dry as 2017. • Ninety to 110 percent of average precipitation in June through August.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The 20- and 30-somethings sat on one side of the room. Folks with graying and thinning hair sat on the other. Perry Aasness, standing in the front of the room, looked at the younger group and said, "Part of your job is to be able to tell your story."
Grand Forks, N.D. — A staple of the area farm meeting season is returning, this time with a special first-day addition. The 2017 Prairie Grain Conference — considered by some to be the unofficial start of the farm meeting season in northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota — will be held Dec. 13-14 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D.
Those of us involved in modern agriculture sometimes call it "the disconnect," or the disparity in how farmers and the general public view food and our food system. Aggies lament, and justifiably so, the misperceptions and general lack of knowledge that many nonfarmers demonstrate. They think food appears at the supermarket and a handful of giant corporations control virtually all U.S. farmland, among other less-than-sensible ideas.
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The general public knows Minnesota for lakes and trees, hockey and Paul Bunyan, and, especially in football season, the Vikings. In agricultural circles, Minnesota is known for corn, soybeans, hogs and, especially around Thanksgiving, turkeys. But cattle, though often overshadowed, play an important role in Minnesota, state cattle industry officials say.
HOPE, N.D. — Nathan Lunde knows a lot about cattle. But the Cooperstown, N.D., rancher doesn't know as much as he wants about farm succession — and that's something he's determined to change. "I've reached the age (60) where I need to start thinking about stepping away, especially since David (his son) has come back," Nathan Lunde said. "Coming here will help with that."