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Matt Mechtel letter: Writer fails to see value of large hog farms

I am dismayed at the letter written to The Forum on Monday, Aug. 25 by Roger Copeland of Starkweather, N.D. Being a soybean farmer in North Dakota, I know firsthand the need for development of livestock operations within this state. Without these...

I am dismayed at the letter written to The Forum on Monday, Aug. 25 by Roger Copeland of Starkweather, N.D.

Being a soybean farmer in North Dakota, I know firsthand the need for development of livestock operations within this state. Without these operations, agriculture in North Dakota will continue to consolidate and whither. Some of the people out there may be asking, what would a large hog or poultry operation have to do with the grain producers of North Dakota? Very simply put, they purchase large amounts of our product.

Example, North Carolina and South Carolina combined raise about the same amount of soybeans total that North Dakota does. They are also similarly distant from shipping from the Mississippi River. But, and this is a big but, the price of soybeans in their states are consistently around a dollar or more higher per bushel. Why? Because of the poultry and hog operations' consistent demand. In fact, they are net importers of soybeans, they cannot raise enough within their own states to provide adequate feed.

Does anyone realize the financial impact that would have here in North Dakota? Copeland stated that we did not need that kind of economic development in this state. I beg to differ. I do not think he realizes the economic shockwave that would take place if you just added 50 cents on to the basis of the price of soybeans in this state. Also, if ethanol and biodiesel plants are to be constructed in this state, we have to use the by-product of these plants, which is feed! If we are going to export the by-product from these ethanol and biodiesel facilities, we will be at a competitive disadvantage to other states who produce the same products and consume the by-product near the facility. What I am saying, is that if we have to ship out the crushed corn from the ethanol plants, and the soybean meal from the soy crushing plants, we have lost.

I understand every farm of every type has their share of "bad" days. And you will always be able to find a few rotten apples on just about every operation. But the fact is, these places are going to be built, they are needed, and we are losing if they are not located within this state.

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I am urging all grain producers to take a second look at our friends that produce livestock. They are the key to our future success. They are the key to keeping North Dakota alive.

Matt Mechtel

Chairman, North Dakota Soybean Council

Page, N.D.

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