Thank you to all the members for the great turnout at state convention. We had more than 750 participants, which set a record for recent years. While the warm weather was a contributing factor, I truly believe Farmers Union’s grassroots policy development and action are what drive member involvement, especially in tough economic times like we’re experiencing.

Your organization is extremely concerned about the ongoing challenges family farmers and ranchers face to be profitable in a time of great uncertainty and variables beyond our control. All efforts to increase commodity demand, including expansion of renewable fuels, should be implemented.

One of the special orders of business that was adopted by delegates calls on Congress and the Trump administration to implement emergency action to alleviate the ongoing farm crisis. Low commodity prices, catastrophic drought, high input costs, and increasing interest rates are making it difficult for farmers and ranchers to cash flow and secure operating loans. It is especially hard for young and beginning farmers.

Low interest loans, a temporary waiver of cash flow and collateral requirements for FSA operating loans, and increased disaster payments would help in the short term.

The impact of the farm crisis on families goes far beyond finances. Farm stress is real and it can be very debilitating.

On Tuesday, Jan. 30, we are hosting a farm economic summit called “Life Beyond Breaking Even” at the Energy Center on the campus of Bismarck State University. We are partnering with NDSU Extension Service to bring together farm lenders, farmers and ranchers, and mental health advocates and professionals to share solution-based answers to help families navigate the current farm economy.

A pre-summit workshop for farm and ranch service providers will be held the afternoon before from 4 to 8 p.m. It focuses on farm stress training and farm management. Please make every effort to attend. Registration is online here.

– NDFU President Mark Watne