Al Gustin

Farm Byline: October 2021

The headline read “Banner Year for U.S. Beef Exports in 2021.” It was a reminder of how important the export market is for many U.S. agricultural commodities. The domestic market is critically important, too, whether the commodity is raised for food, feed, fuel or fiber. One part of the feed demand that we don’t often think about is pet food.

Pet food is a $40 billion industry in this country. And the pet food market is an important one for many agricultural commodities, including barley.

Al Gustin


Our daughter in New York sent me a BBC article she came across about the future of farming. It talks about “the communications technologies required to move data between the field and the computational cloud, and the technology to process mind-boggling volumes of information with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.”

How do you feel about the future of farming? It’s a future full of technological advances, with “drones detecting weeds and delivering the right mix of herbicide.” Farming’s future is exciting.



A newspaper account I found said steamboats passing through Bismarck in 1881 carried 1,800 head of horses and cattle and 600 sheep.

The Bismarck Tribune, on Sept. 1, 1882, reported, “The Coteaus are admirably fit for stock raising. Sheep do particularly well. The effect of the climate is to make fleeces heavier.”

In March of that same year, the Jamestown Weekly Alert reported, “A party of Philadelphia capitalists are contemplating sheep farming on a large scale in Dakota.”


SEPTEMBER 2020: FARM BYLINE - The reliability of North Dakota agriculture

One who thinks agriculture’s reliability should not be minimized is Neal Fisher, administrator of the N.D. Wheat Commission. Fisher cites statistics that crops and livestock, combined, have generated between $7 billion and $8.5 billion in all but two of the past 12 years. If you add crop insurance and government payments, Fisher says, the annual new wealth from those two agricultural sectors has been between $8 billion and $10 billion in all but two years since 2008.