BISMARCK, N.D. — More than 40 members of the North Dakota Farmers Union are in Washington trying to raise congressional awareness about the worsening farm economy.
The group of North Dakota farmers is among about 275 people who will try to reach all members of Congress this week to talk about the 63 percent decline in farm income from 2014 to 2015, North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne told the Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/2cxNbYV ).
“We’re getting a lot of understanding about the issue,” Watne said. “But we’re not getting a real good set of solutions.”
Participants in this week’s effort plan to ask lawmakers to make sure that the Justice Department is adequately considering whether mergers among agricultural companies are producing monopolies. Lawmakers will also be encouraged to support the Renewable Fuel Standard and to act prudently when considering trade agreements.
Andy Swenson, farm and family resource management specialist at North Dakota State University, said 2012 was a “tremendously profitable year” for farmers, but their income has drastically decreased since then. Swenson said average net farm income went from $76,404 in 2014 to $28,600 last year.
“Now, it doesn’t even provide income for one family let alone two,” Swenson said.
Watne said producers, particularly young ones, without enough equity or a strong enough balance sheet may not be able to get operating loans.
“If you can’t give them equity, you’re going to have a problem,” Watne said.
Swenson said the current farm economy will force some producers out of the business, but strong yields such as a record corn yield, should help even things out.
“It’s bad,” Swenson said. “Could have been really bad.”
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com