Jonathan Knutson / Agweek Staff Writer
NEKOMA, N.D. — It's November — a Friday, late afternoon — in Nekoma, population "26 on a good day." Snowflakes dance in the chill breeze before settling to the ground. From as far as 60 miles away, people are leaving their farms, homes and businesses to drive through the dusk over snow-covered roads. They want food and drink. They want camaraderie and companionship. And they know it's all waiting for them here at the Pain Reliever.
Q: What is the Land Stewardship Project? The Land Stewardship Project is a membership organization of about 4,000 households, primarily in Minnesota and Wisconsin. It works through members to foster an ethic of land stewardship, to promote sustainable agriculture and build healthy communities. Q: What do you raise on your own farm?
If you ask farmers what skill or attribute is most important in their occupation, the majority will pause for a few seconds before saying "optimism" or "faith in the future." Some will answer "capital," "vision," "access to land" or "willingness to change with the times." I agree, all those things are important, even vital. But here's what I firmly believe is the trait that modern farmers and ranchers need most to survive and thrive:
The North American Free Trade Agreement is a big deal to U.S. agriculturalists. NAFTA is even more important to their Canadian counterparts, a Canadian attorney with close ties to agriculture says. Given that, ongoing efforts to revise NAFTA are "a huge concern," Kenton Rein says. Rein is a partner in Cassels Brock's Calgary, Alberta, office, where he leads the firm's agribusiness practice. He also is on the executive committee of the Canadian Bar Association's Food and Agribusiness Section.
Editor's note: Jonathan Knutson received a fellowship from the North American Ag Journalists to attend the Society of Environmental Journalists' recent annual convention in Pittsburgh. He is not a member of the group. PITTSBURGH — Andrew Dessler compares current public debate over climate change to the long-concluded debate over smoking.
PITTSBURGH — Understanding the U.S. farm bill isn't easy even for full-time agriculturalists. Journalists with limited exposure to ag may face an even greater challenge. But three veteran agricultural journalists, with extensive experience in covering the farm bill, have some insights that can make the task a little less difficult.
PITTSBURGH — A journalist is supposed to ask questions. On rare occasions, when we're especially brave or foolish (or both), we invite readers to submit questions for us to ask in their stead. That's what I did during the recent annual convention of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Pittsburgh. Though I'm not a member of the group, its event had a strong ag component and I received a fellowship to attend.
GRAND FORKS—It may be one the most colorful images in U.S. agriculture: A tense group of farmers, bunched in a room, bidding energetically against their neighbors to buy land. But that scene has become less common in parts of Agweek Country, particularly northeast North Dakota. The Grand Forks office of Farmers National Company hasn't held a public auction since late 2014, says Jayson Menke, who works in real estate sales in the office.
BROOTEN, Minn. — This is the story of a central Minnesota dairy family that wanted to add income to its operation and support the next generation. It's also the story of a young woman with a passion for making cheese and who, like her three sisters, is a pronounced redhead. The extended Jennissen family and its Redhead Creamery are proof that value-added agriculture is always important and sometimes enjoyable, especially when done with family.
GRAND FORKS — Justin Mead traveled across the state to make hay. The 370-mile trip from his ranch in Grassy Butte, N.D., to a temporary home in Grand Forks, N.D., took him from a brown-and-stunted world to a lushly green one. "It's different, that's for sure," Mead said with a smile as he stood in a field enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program that he and Aaron Reddish, his hired man and longtime friend, were haying.