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How were conditions at the end of the year in your segment of agriculture?

District Voices

January 1, 2010

How were conditions at the end of the year in your segment of agriculture?

Upper Peninsula of Michigan

We produce cattle, pumpkins, some field crops like small grains, alfalfa, some seed production ... and our orchard. ... We had a nice damp spell about the third week of July or so, and the first part of August; then it turned dry again. And that was really the only significant amount of moisture we had all summer long, but it came at just the right time that things seemed to progress as far as growing. ... When we did have dry weather, we didn’t have that beating-down sun that normally dries things out and really stunts [growth]. That was probably the only thing good about having the cool weather when it did turn dry. But typically this was the summer of very cool, lack-of-growing-degree days. Everything was pretty well set back at least 10 days.

Andy Green, Owner
Green Family Farm—Garden, Mich.


We’re way behind the five-year average as far as getting it in the bin. And, of course, the reason for that is it was such a wet fall. … But even though they’ve got a long way to go, as long as they’re able to get into the field, if it dries out, they can combine into the end of December. So everybody still has pretty high expectations. We’re expecting close to a record crop. … There have been some mold problems because of the wet weather, but nothing terribly serious, and there have been some problems with wet corn.

Mark Hamerlinck, Communications Director
Minnesota Corn Growers Association—Shakopee, Minn.


It’s just awfully tight. In the cattle business, it seems like the input costs are not coming down. … For the meat standpoint, it’s a trickle-down from the economy. People are just not buying as much meat as they were. … I don’t think our cow numbers will ever build back like they were historically, just because of the breeding that we have, and now we’re able to convert it into more pounds of meat. … Organic seems to be growing, picking up more and more people each year.

Bill Cowan, Owner
Cowan Ranches—Havre, Mont.

North Dakota

[At] the start of this year, it looked like we were probably going to start contracting supplies just because acres were down, we had a later planting season, kind of anticipating below-average yields. But what we were fortunate to find is we had a very cool summer, so even though we had a very late planting season, the cool growing conditions more than compensated for that, and we actually finished the year with record wheat yields in the spring wheat region. … And so with our own large crop, especially in September/October, we saw prices fall quite dramatically for our spring wheat and durum. … But, fortunately, that’s kind of turned around as we’ve hit the end of the year.

Jim Peterson, Marketing Director
North Dakota Wheat Commission—Bismarck, N.D.

South Dakota

We had very minimal harvest activity all through October, and the beans that did come in were extremely wet—the wettest crop we’ve ever handled. As bad as October was, our November was as good as October was bad. It turned around in a hurry, and they did get it off. But it seemed like everything was a month late, as far as normal harvest activity, and the moisture problems were everywhere. … Quality seems to be OK other than the moisture factor. The yields out here are very good, so we came away pretty well pleased.

Tom Kersting, Commercial Manager
South Dakota Soybean Processors—Volga, S.D.


It’s been tough. … We have done everything we can to try to help the farmer and ourselves make it through this stretch. It is by no means over yet. We’re expecting the same kind of a ride over 2010, and the problem is the cheese is moving but at reduced prices, and so it’s putting a cash crunch on us and the farmer. … Right now, we’re working on borrowed money, and that’s not the way to run a business. … Are we going to be gone tomorrow? No. We’re in this for the long haul.

Tom Ludy, Founder
Lake Country Dairy—Turtle Lake, Wis.