BISMARCK, N.D. (PNS) - Low commodity and livestock prices are putting increasing stress on agriculture producers across the country. Despite a growing world population, crop production is greater than demand, leading to lower prices. Mark Watne, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union, said farmers continue to do what they do best.
"You know, your family farmers are just really good at what we do," he said. "We produce a lot, and that is so good for the nation, yet so detrimental to building supplies that don't have a place to go and hurt our prices. It's kind of a vicious cycle."
They are turning to Congress to change and modify ag policy to help keep many producers on the farm, Watne said, adding that there is some talk of opening up the Farm Bill early to take another look at price supports.
"It's a decent Farm Bill, but it doesn't reflect cost of production, and we really need it, and we need to tweak it up a little bit and make it much more responsive when this happens, because the thought process of new plateaus is not really true," he said. "The markets can collapse, and that's why we need the Farm Bill."
While the current Farm Bill runs until September 2018, Watne is convinced some of the price-provision pieces of the bill should be debated.
"Increasing those target prices, increasing ARC (Agriculture Risk Coverage) prices, stopping the down trending on the 10 percent per year on the ARC payments, all those things are - seem like - OK things when prices stay good," he said. "But now that we are in this scenario, it really does matter and farmers really get hurt by not having that level of support they need."
More than 600 Farmers Union members gathered for their 90th state convention recently in Bismarck.
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says a new wildfire-fighting plan to protect a wide swath of sagebrush country in the West that supports cattle ranching and is home to an imperiled bird will likely continue after the Obama administration ends. Jewell spoke today after getting her last update at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise where managers oversee the nation's firefighting resources.
Jewell's 2015 secretarial order to protect sagebrush steppe is considered by public lands experts, outdoor enthusiasts and scientists as one of the most significant federal land policy changes since 1934. It directed federal resources for the first time to fight blazes in open sagebrush steppe that supports cattle ranching, recreation and some 350 species of wildlife, including sage grouse.
Western Republican governors have supported the effort.
(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)