The National Farmers Union and its state divisions have initiated a national campaign to raise awareness for the current farm crisis.
Net farm income has decreased by half in the past four years. Mark Watne is President of the North Dakota Farmers Union. He says this "silent economic crisis" is created by current low prices continuing to decrease any profit potential. Watne says farmers in North Dakota will have tools available to them to manage stress and address capital challenges - and it's important that word gets out because there is no end in sight right now.
"It's kind of a sad state when the farmer's ability to over-produce for the market becomes a negative. When food is as essential as air and water, because we do such a good job we are penalized in the marketplace and we have no way to control our expenses from a perspective that they tend to rise as commodity prices fall - we're price takers. We're really telling people that if you want this tremendous food system in this country, which we do have, and it's been proven that the US family farmer and rancher can provide it, that there's value there. And the country needs to wake up and not take that for granted. There is other parts of the world out there that have taken their farmers for granted and just let the marketplace dictate who survives, and when you do that, you end up with a system of production agriculture that doesn't always meet the consumer."
Watne says the National Farmers Union has launched a new online resource for farmers called the Farm Crisis Center. It can be found on the NFU website. He says it will connect farmers to the resources they need to get through financial and personal emergencies. In order to raise further awareness of the farm crisis, Farmers Union state divisions are beginning to organize listening sessions to bring together farmers and hold discussions about the impacts of the depressed farm economy. Watne says those stories will be brought to congress, the current administration and across several multi-media platforms.