Al Gustin

Farm Byline: November 2021

It was more than 50 years ago, at one of the first conventions of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters I attended. The broadcaster who gave the invocation at the banquet said, “Thank you, God, for letting us work with the greatest people on earth. And thank you for the opportunity to help them help you feed a hungry world.” His prayer was a reminder to us farm broadcasters that we had an educational role to play in the landlord-tenant relationship that exists between farmers, ranchers and The Almighty.

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

FARM BYLINE: JULY 2021

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.

al

FARM BYLINE: AUGUST 2021

I thought, too, of ranch wives as business partners. Our neighbor married a small-town girl from Minnesota. I’ll always remember her enthusiasm for the ranch life she married into. As she saw it, this was going to be our ranch, our cows (she named many of them), our great adventure, our place to raise children. And it was. She died of cancer at a young age, 48, and at her funeral, the minister commented about the partnership she had and loved so much.

al

FARM BYLINE: JULY 2021

Then again, how do you feel about farming in the future – about being part of all that? Does the prospect of adapting to rapid and unforeseen changes create trepidation? We think about all the changes in agriculture our parents and grandparents witnessed, and had to adopt or adapt, and we wonder if they found it exciting.

There is a Facebook group, “Dakotas Abandoned Images,” where people post pictures of old, abandoned farm buildings and horse-drawn farm implements. Those photos elicit lots of comments about farming in a simpler time – about hard work, family and dreams.

al

FARM BYLINE: MAY 2021

We spent the day feeding, bedding and dragging newborn calves into a barn that soon became overcrowded. It was still snowing and blowing that evening as we got everything settled, checked the closeup cows again and then went to see how the calves in the calf shelters were doing.

al

FARM BYLINE: APRIL 2021

His comments reminded me of the competitive tension that exists between agricultural commodities. I thought about how an increase in the price of corn negatively impacts feeder calf prices, and about how margarine sales reduce the demand for butter, but increase the demand for soybean and sunflower oil. There are many examples. Crops compete for acres and for markets. Will it be chicken or beef for dinner? They are all agricultural commodities, produced by farmers and ranchers. But sometimes an increase in demand for one comes at the expense of another.

al

FARM BYLINE: MARCH 2021

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.”