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WASHINGTON — Robert Johansson isn't a seer, soothsayer or prophet; he doesn't know what the future holds. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture chief economist is confident in saying this: Agriculture "is cyclical. If you're in a down cycle (as is the case now), sooner or later, there will be an upswing. But when it will happen is hard to predict," he said. Johansson spoke April 24 to members of North American Agricultural Journalists during the group's annual convention in Washington.
WASHINGTON — Many people in U.S. agriculture wonder if President Donald Trump understands farmers and value what they do. But one of Trump's top ag advisers said he's seen first-hand signs that the president cares about farmers and their concerns. Trump has said, "I love my farmers" and that "Farming is tough. Farming is a tough way to make a living," said Ray Starling, special assistant to Trump for agriculture, trade and food assistance. Starling met Monday, April 24 with North American Agricultural Journalists during the group's annual convention in Washington.
PLAZA, N.D. — Durum always has been a big part of Keith Deutsch's life. Besides raising the crop, the 60-year-old Plaza, farmer promoted it through service on the U.S. Durum Growers Association, including a stint as the group's president. But Deutsch has "termed out" on the association's board, reaching the limit of his potential service. What's more, he's strongly considering not planting any durum himself this spring. "I might end up having a little. But I don't think it would be much. The price just doesn't justify the risk (of growing it)," he said.
WASHINGTON — Family farms are one of the most controversial topics in modern agriculture. There's widespread disagreement on what constitutes a family farm and what doesn't. A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture won't end the debate, but does shed light on family farms nationwide. Among its conclusions: • Ninety percent of million-dollar farms, or ones with gross cash farm income of at least $1 million, are family farms.
WASHINGTON — Depending on how you cut the numbers, the U.S. farm economy could get a little weaker — or a little stronger — in 2017. U.S. net farm income in 2017 is projected to fall 8.7 percent to $62.3 billion, reaching its lowest level, adjusted for inflation, since 2002, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service said Tuesday. Jeffrey Hopkins, chief of the farm economy branch in the resource and rural economy division of the Economic Research Service, presented the numbers online to the news media.
REGENT, N.D. — For the past eight years, Aaron Krauter has said he has "the best job in agriculture in North Dakota." After Jan. 20, he'll be saying, "I used to have the best job in agriculture in North Dakota."
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — If you're involved with agriculture in Grand Forks (N.D.) County, you definitely know Willie Huot. If you're familiar with ag elsewhere in North Dakota — or surrounding states — you might know him too. Huot, a Grand Forks, N.D.-based extension agent whose work includes statewide programs, is retiring at the end of 2016 after a 40-year extension career. For the past 24 years, he's focused primarily on farm and family economics.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Black Gold Farms wants consumers to live "redventurously" — a play on eating red potatoes living adventurously. The company, for its part, operates opportunistically and innovatively. "We like to say we're a growth company," said Leah Halverson Brakke, director of new business development. "And to grow, you have to innovate. You just can't rest on your laurels and do the same thing year after year."
GRAND FORKS — Daryl Ritchison didn't expect drought in 2016 in North Dakota. He was right. In fact, generally favorable growing conditions allowed many farmers to enjoy record yields. Ritchison, interim director of the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network, doesn't expect drought in 2017 either. But he does anticipate the next growing season will be slightly drier and cooler than average.
GRAND FORKS — Farmers and ranchers need to take out sentiment and emotion to make sound financial decisions, relying instead on discipline and sound tools, two extension specialists say. "There's probably more emotion in farming than other business. But it is a business, and you need to be disciplined when you make financial decisions," said Nathan Hulinsky, a Marshall, Minn.-based educator with University of Minnesota Extension.