Despite a drought year, most North Dakota producers appear to be pulling through, said speakers on a farm economy panel at the Life Beyond Break Even Farm Economic Summit in Bismarck Tuesday.
Kyle Olson, who runs the adult farm management program at Bismarck State College, said data has not been finalized but his impression so far is that moods are positive.
While cow herds were culled, ranchers were greeted by a friendly fall calf market, he said. August rains saved yields and soybean and sunflower prices were enough to get by.
“I’ve never been so happy to get back to zero,” Olson heard from one producer.
Olson has 66 enrolled in his farm management program, three are in fairly deep financial trouble, but they are holding their own.
Ryan Larson, formerly of North Dakota State University Extension Service, now working for Utah State University Extension, said he sees producers that are struggling and producers that are adapting. What concerns him is the disparity growing between the two groups.
Dale Ihry of the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council said he expects fewer acres of corn in the state to be planted this spring but estimates that last season’s relatively high yields will have farmers, on average, breaking near even going into planting.
Ihry is estimating about 3 million acres of corn in the state in 2018, with less being grown in central and western North Dakota.