Published March 05 2013
Forum editorial: Ag report good news for regionVery little is certain in modern production agriculture, but the crop value figures of the past three years suggest a new era of stability that bodes well for producers and economies dependent on a healthy agriculture sector. The value of major crops in North Dakota has risen steadily despite weather that’s been either too wet or too dry. Crop values spurred in part by global demand and the diversity of crop varieties mean pretty good times for the farmers of North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. That’s good news not only for farmers but for everyone who lives in the Red River Valley and beyond.
The new numbers reveal that the value of the 2012 crop in North Dakota nearly doubled the 2011 crop, up to $11 billion from $6 billion. A record was set in 2010 – $7.5 billion.
The 2012 number is impressive, not only because it confirms the skill of farmers to produce lots of bushels in sometimes difficult conditions but also because it shows farmers have diversified their crop bases to accommodate the vagaries of the marketplace. Planting and harvesting technology combined with an amazing array of adapted crop varieties now provide producers with tools they did not have as recently as 10 years ago.
Looking ahead to this year’s crop season, worry about the drought in the nation’s midsection has lessened somewhat. The northern Plains region has not been as parched as the central and southern Plains. The latest drought monitor classifies much of the region as abnormally dry or in moderate drought, but that assessment does not take into account recent snowstorms. In most areas of North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, snow cover is good. A favorable melt and timely spring rains could, for the planting season at least, ease drought concerns.
Finally, the stall in Congress on a new farm bill saddles the farm economy with uncertainty that can be as disruptive as bad weather. Extension of the current farm law will do for now, but new long-term legislation is imperative for farmers and rural economies.
Meanwhile, the crop value numbers for 2012 are impressive and welcome. Agriculture and agribusiness are vital mainstays of the regional economy, and there is little doubt everyone benefits in some way when things are good on the farm.
Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.