In a year where family farmers and ranchers are living and experiencing many challenges, we need to be extremely innovative in finding solutions. We have focused on public dollars for disasters due to trade and extreme weather conditions. This is helping, but it’s only a Band-Aid for the challenge we face in the economic storm that is playing out.

In real purchasing power considering inflation, farmers are asked to provide the most inexpensive and highest quality food in the world. This simply means overproducing the demand for food continuously, enabling the consumer to benefit on the backs of agriculture and specifically on the loss of individual family farms and ranches.

This may sound harsh, but in a country that spends the least amount of individual income on food in the world, less than 10% of disposable income, food is taken for granted and farm bills are scoffed at due to public dollars of support. If consumers had all the facts, they would gladly support the less than 1% of the federal budget that funds the food security system in this nation.

NDFU will continue to fight to strengthen the farm bill. We are working to bring equity to the Market Facilitation Program, including basis costs and crops that are indirectly harmed due to their relationship in price to our primary exported crops. We will work to expand and fully fund the WHIP+ program to cover more producers that have faced adverse weather conditions. We will continue to publish and distribute essential information for those facing economic stress.

This still is not enough, so we are exploring other avenues to draw attention to the economic plight of family farms and ranches. Each of these will be long-term efforts. Some may stop based on limited potential for success. We are considering farmer-owned investment structures to help diversify farm income. We are considering a farmer-food think tank to identify avenues to connect farm surplus with a billion chronically hungry people around the world. We are highly focused on advancing renewable fuels, including E30 and biodiesel. We are creating consumer education concepts, from children’s books to our social media presence, to tell our story.

NDFU believes that successful and profitable agriculture is achievable. It is simply having a better understanding of the challenges and a willingness by all players to develop a system to maintain our successful food production system. We should never risk our abundance of food. It is essential to our success as a developed country in the world.

The current profit challenges in agriculture are not inevitable. It is current choices and an unwillingness to address the underlying challenge of undervalued commodities. Farmers and ranchers, it is time to step up and participate in finding solutions to this ongoing dilemma.

– NDFU President Mark Watne