BISMARCK – Forty-four North Dakotans are participating in the National Farmers Union’s legislative fly-in this week to raise awareness of the worsening farm economy, which has been on a downward spiral since 2014. Average net farm income in North Dakota has dropped from $76,404 in 2014 to $28,600 in 2015, a 63 percent decline alone.
“The safety net in the 2014 Farm Bill hasn’t done its job,” said NDFU President Mark Watne. “We need an effective safety net that ensures food security for our nation. We’re calling for corrective action and evaluation of price support levels, so that farm programs serve their purpose of stabilizing farm income during low commodity cycles.”
Watne said low farm prices are predicted to continue for the next several years, which will present challenges to the survival of family farms and rural communities.
Punishing low commodity prices and rising input costs have added to farm debt, he noted, which has deteriorated credit conditions for many producers who are unable to make loan repayments. Currency fluctuations, trade deals, and corporate consolidation are other variables impacting farm income.
“Six companies now control a majority of the global seed and chemical markets,” Watne said. “As producers, we bear the economic brunt of these consolidations that bring about less competition in the marketplace, less innovation, and increased costs for farmers and ultimately, consumers.”
Farmers Union members are also urging members of Congress to oppose any legislative changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires renewable fuel to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply, and to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Watne said multilateral trade agreements have generally failed to increase export opportunities. The U.S. trade deficit last year alone was $531 billion.