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Harvest Hotline headquartered at family farm

Published: Oct. 11, 2020 at 11:56 AM CDT
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COLEHARBOR, N.D. - Harvest time is often a race against the clock and the weather. Farmers want to get their crops off the field as quickly as possible.

Since 1992, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture has provided a Harvest Hotline. The hotline matches farmers looking for help with harvesters looking for work. This year, the hotline also includes corn choppers.

But you might be surprised to learn where your call to the hotline actually goes.

“North Dakota Department of Agriculture, this is Jim,” says Jim Hansen as he answers his phone.

It is an unlikely office. Hansen’s workspace is sectioned off inside this barn, built in 1917.

“Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. I’m here. I even take calls on the weekend,” Hansen says.

Hansen is a GIS specialist with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. He handles all the department’s maps and this time of year he also answers calls to the department’s Harvest Hotline.

“At the height of the season, we get calls a few every other day. Farmers call in and if they don’t have access to the internet, I’ll coordinate between harvesters and farmers,” explains Hansen.

If callers do have access to the internet, Hansen walks them through the department’s interactive website, and helps them find the information they need.

“During the season we’ve had about 400 hits on the website,” he says.

Growers often call for help when they’re facing health or equipment issues, but Hansen says Mother Nature is the biggest reason farmers use the hotline.

“If we have a really wet season, it can be bad for the farmers,” he explains. “If there is a storm coming and they have a lot of crop out in the field or there could be getting hail in forecast, they’re in a hurry to get that off the field.”

Hansen has been connecting farmers with harvest help for 12 years; the past seven of them, from this office on his family farm near Coleharbor.

“About seven years ago, my dad had a stroke. He was the last one on the farm, so we took over the farming operation,” Hansen explains. “The ag commissioner was good enough to let me build this office in the shop. This is where I come every morning.”

For a while, Hansen did double duty, farming and working for the ag department. He eventually decided to rent the land and focus on this job. But he hopes one day to farm his family land again.

“I’m the fifth generation on the farm; my kids are the sixth generation,” Hansen says. “They would like to farm.”

The number for the Harvest Hotline is 701-425-8454. You can access the Harvest Hotline map at nd.gov/ndda. The service is free for all farmers and combiners.

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