This was not a good year for North Dakota farmers. It started out well, but poor weather conditions, low prices and trade disputes wiped out a lot of profits.
Ask any farmer, and they'll tell you the same thing; 2019 was rough. The season started late due to a lingering winter. Then excessive rain and a blizzard rolled through in October, pushing harvesting further and further behind.
"Whether it's sunflowers or corn, it's been an extreme challenge for 2019. I'm still seeing some fields of soybeans that are still sitting in snow banks and snow drifts," said NDSU Extension Agent Rick Schmidt.
The crops themselves were in good condition; a relieving silver lining. However, once off the fields, the crops had nowhere to go. International trade disputes tore markets apart. And market prices suffered, leaving those who could find a seller with little to market.
"What people don't understand is that when you go to the bank, you have to use the current price. You can't just say 'well, next fall is going to be higher, so I'm gonna use the higher price'. You gotta make it work with the numbers that are at you today," said ND Farmers Union President Mark Watne.
To offset losses from the trade wars, President Donald Trump enacted the market Facilitation Program; sending more than $14 billion dollars directly to farmers. The program has helped, but the perfect storm farms are facing is becoming too much.
"It's not sufficient. Lots of failures in how it was put out. Not on purpose, but simply because it's really hard to write a program in an ad hoc disaster that makes sense," said Watne.
The third and final round of payments are scheduled to be mailed in January, despite numerous organizations and congressmen calling for those payments to be moved up.
More than 50 North Dakota counties applied for a Disaster Declaration after the excessive moisture this fall. Tractors have gotten stuck in mud and gravel roads washed out, leaving scars on the plains come spring time.