Kevin Killough is the business reporter for the Grand Forks Herald. You can reach him with story tips, comments and ideas at 701-780-1244.
- Member for
- 2 years 11 months
GRAND FORKS — A few dozen farmers, including some in the Red River Valley, are trying something new this growing season. The North Dakota Department of Agriculture approved 37 proposals for the industrial hemp pilot program. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant, which also produces marijuana. Hemp, however, is grown specifically for industrial purposes for everything from grain to textiles and has no psychoactive properties. The state implemented the pilot program to research growing methods and the potential market for the crop.
GRAND FORKS — Beau Bateman has been farming just outside Grand Forks for three decades. He remembers a time when fields were half the size they are now, and tractors didn't have computers crunching data all day. "The difference in the early days was we recorded everything with a pencil and paper," Bateman said. When Bateman was starting his career, he leveled land with telescopes that had a bubble leveler, similar to the levels used in construction.
Challenges in agriculture, including low prices and some bad growing seasons, have led to some farmers facing problems getting loans, though some in the ag industry are optimistic they will see things improve. Frayne Olson, a crop economist with North Dakota State University, said there are some isolated instances of farmers being turned away for operational loans. When it comes to approving a loan, banks look at the farmer's ability to generate enough revenue to pay back the loan and the value of the collateral being put up.