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Want ad placed by Dan Frith in the Dakota Peddler. (Jonathan Knutson, Agweek.)

Young farmer making progress on land

Sometimes the straightforward approach pays off. Or at least it's doing so for Dan Frith.

Earlier this winter, the Devils Lake, N.D., farmer took out a advertisement in the Dakota Peddler, published by the Devils Lake Journal, with the headline, "Looking for a Farm" in the Devils Lake area. An Agweek article on the ad and his search was published in late November.

Since then, "Just about everybody I know has come up to me and mentioned the ad or the Agweek story," Frith said.

He's had partial success in his quest: He's in contact with a family in the Devis Lake area that's interested in selling him farmland. Frith is optimistic that an arrangement can be reached in October, after the 2019 crop season, and that he might be able to begin farming the land in 2020.

He's also talked with a number of farmers in the Devils Lake area who are nearing retirement or thinking about phasing out of farming. It doesn't appear likely that any of them will offer him land for 2019, but "they know who I am and that I'm interested. That's a good start," he said.

The average age of farmers in Ramsey County (of which Devils Lake is the biggest town) is 59.7, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, which offers the best numbers now available. Results of the 2017 Census, to be released this spring, are expected to show roughly the same average age.

Building successful relationships with one or more landowners will encourage other landowners to connect with him, helping him expand his farm over time, Frith said.

Frith, 31, is no stranger to agriculture. A Devils Lake farm kid, he graduated in 2010 with a degree in ag economics from North Dakota State University. He now helps Paul, his older brother, farm. Dan Frith — who raised crops on shares from 2015-18 00 — also is involved amily chemical application business and does custom planting, as well.

But there's not enough land in the Frith operation to support two families, so Dan, who's married and has young children, wants to take on more land. He emphasizes that he's not trying to break away from his brother and that his goal is for the two to continue working together.

Dan Frith said he's committed to farming and that he's being patient in his search for land.

"It takes time to build those relationships, but I'm happy with the way it's gone so far," he said.

Frith can be reached at 701-739-4452.

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