Our State Wealth
On this date in 1902, the Courier Democrat of Langdon, North Dakota reported on the state’s remarkable progress over the span of ten years. The commissioner of Agriculture and Labor released statistics that showed North Dakota was making great strides in many different areas. These statistics were not as accurate as the commissioner would have liked. Many farmers refused to cooperate, believing that the information would be used to manipulate the prices of farm products. For that reason, the figures were smaller than they should have been. But even with that shortfall, the commissioner pointed with pride to the expansion of agriculture in the state.
Corn, flax, barley, and rye production doubled in just one year from 1900 to 1901. Experts predicted that in ten years North Dakota would be the top corn producing state west of the Mississippi River. Superb growing weather resulted in high yields. Wheat production was at 14 bushels per acre, while flax came in at 12 bushels per acre. The newspaper reported that the threshing season kept farm workers busy as they brought in the harvest.
The prosperity of the farmers translated into prosperity for the state. Agricultural suppliers reported an increase in the purchase of farm equipment. Merchants throughout the state were delighted with sales of everything from clothing to furniture. According to the banks, the 1902 crop would wipe out millions of dollars in debt. The cash held by banks had increased from 558,000 dollars to almost one million. Deposits almost doubled, as had the stock values. It was plain that what was good for the farmers was good for North Dakota.
Today, North Dakota continues to be an agricultural powerhouse. 2016 figures show 30,000 farms in the state with 40 million acres devoted to agriculture. That is 89% of the state. North Dakota ranks first in production of flaxseed, with 97% of the U.S. crop. The state is also first in canola, dry peas, barley, dry beans, lentils, and oats. Other top products include cattle, soybeans, sugar beets, sunflowers, and honey.
There are other major products in the state such as oil and mining, but it remains true that what is good for farmers is good for North Dakota.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Courier Democrat. 9 October, 1902. “Our State Wealth.” Langdon, ND. Page 1.
United States Department of Agriculture. “North Dakota State Agriculture Overview.” https://www.nass.usda.gov/Quick_Stats/Ag_Overview/stateOverview.php?state=NORTH DAKOTA Accessed 12 September, 2017.