'Politicizing the weather': Ward County farmers push back on weather mod program

MINOT, N.D. – "Politicizing the weather." That's what some Ward County farmers say is happening with the controversial weather modification program.

Some of those farmers shared their concerns with the county commissioners Wednesday night over funding for the program, as the commissioners tackle a tough budget for 2018.

“We've politicized the weather.”

That's Ward County farmer Roger Neshem speaking out against the weather modification program before the Ward County Commissioners. It's supposed to suppress hail and prevent crop damage, but Neshem argued that those behind the program have admitted there's little or no proof it works.

“There have been claims made by people who conduct the program that there has never been any statistical proof to any of their claims. Director Darin Langerud says statistically they cannot prove their claims,” said Neshem.

Others argued hail insurance rates prove the program does not follow through on its promises.

“My question, Mr. Bodmer, is if we can't use hail rates to prove hail's falling, how can we prove anything?” said Tanner Vix, county farmer.

Hank Bodmer, the chair of the county's weather modification authority, defended the program.

“If you call those guys up, they'll say the way we're seeding our clouds this year, they'll say we can't cause the hail, the rain to go away. There's more evidence that Elvis is alive and well in Memphis, Tennessee, than there is that we're chasing the hail away, chasing the rainclouds away,” said Bodmer.

Shelly Weppler said she and the other commissioners were caught in the middle of the debate.

“I can't listen to the squeakiest wheel who makes the loudest noise. I need to listen to people, and I've heard people on both sides of this argument, and I am not ready to declare does it work, does it not work,” said Weppler.

The commissioners are considering cutting $100,000 from the program for next year's budget, but residents would have to gather petitions to get rid of it entirely.

As for the county budget itself, the commissioners will revisit the budget after considering some 11th-hour cuts proposed last night at their meeting next Tuesday at 9 a.m.