Ag Department Searches for the Beef


by Jessica Holdman, The Bismarck Tribune

As the bottom line shrinks for crop producers, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture is asking: “Where's the beef?” — or pork or dairy?

The department is launching a $15,000 marketing campaign aimed at returning animal agriculture to a position of strength in North Dakota. The campaign will urge producers to diversify their operations through animal agriculture, as well as encourage consumers and industry to support growers.

“We used to have a lot of livestock on the farm,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said.

In 2000, there were about 49,000 dairy cows. Now, there are about 16,000 dairy cattle, according to Agriculture Department data. For swine operations, the headcount has decreased from 18,500 pigs in 2000 to about 13,900. Beef, mostly in the form of cow-calf operations, has remained more stable.

“It's amazing how many people are looking at little pig operations,” Goehring said, but the type of animal agriculture that works will vary by operation.

As many crops are delivering losses, department staff is hoping producers who dropped animal agriculture will think about getting back into it to make money.

“When crop prices are down, this is the time when we see more value added with animal agriculture. Through challenge comes opportunity,” said Goehring, stressing that agriculture is going to have challenges over the next couple of years.

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Source:  The Bismarck Tribune


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