Local Farmer Endures Difficult, Wet Harvest Season
He says this fall rain is unlike anything he's seen before
HOPE, N.D. — Tony Richards and his father have been farming for more than 50 years combined.
He says the past few haven’t been the smoothest.
“Margins are very, very tight, and one hiccup can turn you in from making a couple bucks to losing a lot.”
Richards had to overcome more than just a hiccup recently.
An unusual combination of low commodity prices, an early snowstorm and a surprisingly wet fall has left him scrambling for a profit.
Throughout his 3,500 acres of land, Richards says more than 50 percent of his soybeans are sitting in mud.
He says the best possible scenario at this point is for temperatures to cool and snow to hold off.
“With the amount of water and the time of year it is, it’s not going to go away, so, if it just freezes hard and doesn’t snow, it would be the best alternative, to freeze the ground so we can drive.”
Even then, he’ll still be taking a loss.
“There’s soybeans in water, and you’re not going to get everything. You’re going to have to cut a little bit higher, and with the snow that has come, it’s knocked some rows down, so we’re never going to get 100 percent of what we thought we had,” he said.
Richards says investing in the farm has been a risky game, and it’s one he’s been losing at.
“Just imagine 50 percent of your salary sitting out there where you can’t get it. It’s that frustrating. It’s very stressful and it’s affected a lot of people in the community, as far as you can see it on their faces and the conversations you have at the grocery store or the cafe,” he said.
But in this town of nearly 300 people, being there for one another is simply a way of life.
“Hope’s got a great sense of community already, and I mean, people are all genuinely community–orientated here, so the farmers are no different.”
He says being optimistic is their only choice.
“No, there’s no giving up.”
He plans on forging on, all the while hoping Mother Nature gives him what he’s praying for.
Richards says he’s optimistic trade negotiations are heading in the right direction.