Jonathan Knutson / Forum News Service
PARK RIVER, N.D. — Aaron Kjelland says he’s “inherently an optimist.” That’s a good thing, even a necessity, in modern agriculture. But it’s especially important this growing season — one that began for Kjelland with too little rain and that’s now plagued with excess moisture, harvest delays and major quality concerns in his wheat crop. “It’s been a challenging year, that’s for sure. And there are farmers who’ve had greater challenges than we've had,” said the 38-year-old who farms with his father, Orville, near Park River in northeastern North Dakota.
ST. THOMAS, N.D. — Kevin Lee has known Emma Papenfuss all her life and has seen her working on his farm countless times over many years. Asked about her connection to agriculture, the St. Thomas farmer smiled and said that Papenfuss “drove herself home on a tractor from the hospital when she was born.” Now, Papenfuss, 22, is putting her love for agriculture to multiple uses. She’s a full-time agronomist in Grafton, she works on Lee’s farm and this year, for the first time, she’s planted crops of her own on rented land.
BADGER, Minn. — Farming and ranching can be challenging, especially when commodity prices are poor and income is limited. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects U.S. net farm income this year will be about $70 billion, down from the record $123 billion in 2013. With less money to be made on the farm, the need for off-farm jobs becomes increasingly important. Nearly two of three U.S. farmers work off the farm and 40% of all farmers work at least 200 days annually away from their farm, according to the 2017 U.S.
STEPHEN, Minn. — It’s a soggy July weekday morning — the good-looking crops don’t need more moisture — and the afternoon is destined to turn hot and humid. Evan Grandstrand, thoughts of crops and rain running through his head, gets into his car for his regular five-days-a-week trip to his “other” job, the one that provides him with needed income, health insurance and the opportunity to pursue his passion for farming.
Let’s be honest: Most Upper Midwest farmers and ranchers didn’t pay much attention when the 2017 Census of Agriculture was released this spring. And that’s understandable. Producers were focused on calving, lambing, planting and preparation for planting. And many area agriculturalists aren’t all that interested now, either. They’re haying, spraying their crops and, in some cases, recharging physically and emotionally after an unusually long and grueling planting season.
It’s likely that climate change already is affecting world crop production — hurting it in some areas, helping it in others but on balance pushing it lower, according to a new University of Minnesota-led study. “There are winners and losers, and some countries that are already food insecure fare worse,” said lead author Deepak Ray of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.
EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. — Rhonda Larson has just spent a busy late-winter day substitute teaching kindergarten in the morning and second grade in the afternoon. But she’s happy to spend the last part of her afternoon talking about agriculture and promoting wheat and U.S. Wheat Associates. “It’s boots-on-the-ground marketing and a long-term commitment,” she said of the organization.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has narrowed its search for the new homes of two of its agencies and hundreds of its employees with three proposed sites in Minnesota remaining in the running, USDA announced Tuesday, March 12. Of the initial 136 “expressions of interest” received by USDA, 67 locations remain under consideration, including these Minnesota plans: Falcon Heights, as proposed by Buhl Investors.
CROOKSTON, Minn. — When Temple Grandin was 14, her parents divorced and her mother remarried, leading Grandin from Boston to an Arizona ranch and her first exposure to cattle. From that modest beginning, Grandin — who is autistic and as a child was written off by some as brain-damaged and destined to be institutionalized — has gone on to a remarkable career that includes revamping livestock handling facilities in North America and serving as a spokesperson for people with autism.
Specialization generally is beneficial in economics. But too much of anything, even economic specialization, may not be a good thing. “We need to be asking if putting all our eggs in one basket is wise when the basket is more sensitive,” said Ariel Ortiz-Bobea, assistant professor of applied economics and management at Cornell University.