Ag Commissioners Discuss State of the Industry
Big Iron Farm Show returns to West Fargo for its 40th year
WEST FARGO, N.D. — The picture painted by North Dakota and Minnesota’s Ag Commissioners at the Big Iron Farm Show for the remainder of 2020 and the future of 2021 is not a pretty one.
“When you see almost a couple of thousand dairy farms go out of business, it’s a big deal,” said North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.
Financially, both states are seeing farmers struggle.
A series of disasters, ranging from windstorms to flooding, as well as long term financial uncertainty, has driven Minnesota to have the fifth most farm bankruptcies in the United States.
“I drove by three different land auctions on a Saturday morning, We have thousands of farmers in mediation right now,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen.
All of these elements, combined with the type of isolation COVID-19 brought about, there was an increase in mental health issues.
“Unfortunately in my last few years, I’ve known too many farmers that have taken their life, and that’s just really difficult,” said Petersen.
“These challenges that we’ve had, coupled on top of the stress that they are dealing with on the farm, it’s pushed people over the edge,” said Goehring, “You just feel like the world is against you. It’s not. We’re all in this together. Reach out, call me.”
Both states say that cuts to their departments are expected in the next fiscal year.
Minnesota is expected to have a $2.3 billion dollar deficit next year.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture already has a hiring freeze in place.
They say it will hurt their workers and strain resources in important areas.
Still, they are optimistic that the agriculture industry will come out of this stronger then before.
“I think it’s a very difficult time. I’ve been through it before,” said Petersen, “We’ve had two six billion dollar deficits before and we came out of it strong. We’ll see and we’ll just be creative.”
Wednesday at 10:30 AM exhibitors at the Big Iron Farm Show will discuss how agriculture is expected to look in a Post COVID-19 world.