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Editorial: September 2016

Appreciating agriculture and our producers



Josh Kramer, NDAREC executive vice president and general manager
Josh Kramer

This time of year, thoughts and a lot of effort in the state are concentrated on the harvest. When we think of the agricultural harvest, we would do well to keep in mind that agriculture connects us all, beyond just providing the food on our table. Many of us in North Dakota either live on, have recently lived on, or are just one or two generations removed from the farm. Whether you consider yourself urban or rural, farmer or rancher, business person or public servant, agriculture impacts us all.

That is why, in a year when commodity prices are low and the farm economy is hurting, it is important that we double down in showing our support to those producers who are being directly impacted. Agriculture is the backbone of our state and when our producers are feeling the pain, so do our main streets and communities. We must stick together on the hard road to better times.

For the last 30 years, the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives and North Dakota Living have been showing support for agriculture through our sponsorship of the Big Iron Farm Show. This year’s Big Iron is Sept. 13 to 15, and as usual, will be held at the Red River Valley Fair Grounds in West Fargo. Big Iron is a “three-day celebration of rural living — agribusiness, health, innovation and technology.” We are happy to support this event, as we know the importance of modern technologies and machinery in assuring the future success of agriculture and rural communities.

On another front, there has been a welcome resurgence in locally grown foods. This is creating new income streams for producers and vendors, and providing food choices for consumers. There are fruits and vegetables at farmers markets, grapes and wines from our vineyards, malted barley for microbreweries and beef headed to a food cooperative — all of which is happening in our state now.

What is exciting about agriculture today is that people are seeking and finding new and innovative ways to be successful. Whether it is through new technologies in equipment, new crop varieties or specialty crops for niche markets, new income streams are created, which benefit us all. Although we are going through a tough time with our farm economy, it is great to see North Dakotans being called back to the land, staying true to our agrarian roots.

As someone who grew up on an Emmons County farm, I will forever be grateful for the experiences I

had and the quality of life it provided. That gratitude remains strong, even though I reflect back on my share of shoveling manure or cleaning out a grain bin in 100-degree heat. Such experiences have helped many of us develop our work ethic. If you have moved to town or you remain on the farm, those values will always be part of who we are. These are the experiences that bind and connect us as North Dakotans.

Please join me this harvest season in thanking our agricultural producers and ag-related businesses in being the economic engine that drives our state. This will continue for many years to come.

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Mandan. Comments can be mailed to Josh Kramer, NDAREC, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727 or by email