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Farmers Optimistic, but Low Prices Cause Concern

North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne says low commodity prices are causing financial pain among farmers. (NDFU.org)
December 30. 2016
North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne says low commodity prices are causing financial pain among farmers. (NDFU.org)

BISMARCK, N.D. - 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 earlier this month in Bismarck.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - ND