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Published August 17 2013

Forum editorial: Go out, see harvest close up

There is never a guarantee that every farmer who plants seeds in the spring will harvest a bumper crop in late summer and fall. That’s the nature of agriculture in the Northern Plains.

Nonetheless, harvest in the Red River Valley and beyond is a time of hope, and of the promise of continuing prosperity for the people of the region. It’s not just about a payday for farmers, although that’s of primary importance. The agriculture economy is foundational. Every aspect of agribusiness (and make no mistake about it, modern production agriculture is big business) has an impact on the economic well-being of the people who live here, whether they recognize it or not.

Even in an urban center like Fargo that is surrounded by farms, more and more city dwellers are disconnected from the land and from farming. As the metro grows and fewer people live in the countryside, fewer city residents will have that connection to the rural life. But the economic relationship between city and country remains vital to the overall health of the regional economy.

One of the best ways for city people who have never been on a big farm to grasp production agriculture is to visit a big farm. (Get permission; get an invite.) As harvest accelerates into small grains, then corn and soybeans and eventually moves to sugar beet and potato fields, there is no better way to learn than to watch it unfold. For the uninitiated, the process can be amazing. The capacity of the land to produce the raw crops that will be converted into the diversity of our food choices can be eye-opening. The skill of farmers and the efficiency of their machines comprise a modern miracle.

Of course, not every farmer will run combines through a bumper crop. The wrong weather at the wrong time can wipe out a field or reduce yield a lot. Again, that’s the risk of farming in this place.

But overall, harvest will produce bountiful yields – literally millions of tons of wheat, beans, corn and the rest. The farmers and agribusiness people of the Red River Valley region will do their part to feed the nation and the world. That’s good news for all of us, and it’s why harvest is a good time to live in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.