FORT RANSOM, N.D. – The first annual Livestock Alliance’s Livestock Summit was held at the Stiklestad Learning Center, near Fort Ransom. Over 80 attended this first summit meeting that was designed as a means for promoting animal agriculture within the state.
In his welcoming remarks, Livestock Alliance chair Craig Jarolimek outlined the purpose of the organization by noting the Livestock Alliance is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. They focus their efforts solely on growing the livestock industry in the state.
“The Livestock Alliance works to serve as a bridge between the livestock industry and those who don’t know much about livestock,” Jarolimek said. “We hope to eliminate some of the fears and intimidation that goes on as livestock operations are trying to be established in the state.”
He went on by saying North Dakota is very good at crop production and has excellent people at marketing that grain within the state. However, the basis level or cost of getting commodities to the markets, is what he called, ‘a 600 pound gorilla in the room.’ The goal of this organization is to keep some of that grain within the state, use it for feeding livestock and thereby lowering the basis cost to farmers in the state.
“The livestock industry has a great opportunity in North Dakota – we have some very good people, we have a very good climate and we have a lot of land,” he stressed. “We just need to make sure that everybody can understand what the livestock industry is about and how we can develop it and do it in a very safe and good way. We have a clean slate, which means we can look at what others have done wrong and we can do it right. That is what we are about – trying to steer the livestock industry and the developers to do things in the right way.”
North Dakota Ag Commissioner, Doug Goehring, also had some comments for the group and said, “This ‘not in my backyard’ syndrome is not doing any of us any good. Animal agriculture is the real value-added aspect. You are putting nutrients back out on the ground, displacing some of the costs a grain grower has, and you’re also helping to shrink the basis cost that farmers face.”
As far as rules and regulations, Goehring said this group must make sure North Dakotans do not hinder, halt or impede, but rather helping this industry grow and not stand in its way.
A producer panel discussion was then held that featured three very successful livestock enterprises within the state and the challenges and rewards that come from a livestock operation.
- Bruce Froslee is with the Ransom County Multiplier, a large hog farrowing unit that started operation last summer and is a source of pigs for several finishing operations in the region.
- Alan Qual is a partner in the Qual Dairy located south of Lisbon. This past summer they moved into a new milking facility that features a 60 unit rotary parlor with 60 robotic milking units.
- Mark Messer is involved in a beef and feedlot operation at Beaver Creek Farm near Richardton, N.D.
A second panel discussion during the morning featured financial incentives available in the state for the livestock industry. Those taking part in the panel included:
- Jim Leier, an ag lender with the Bank of North Dakota
- Kyle Froslie, vice president Agribusiness and Capital Markets at AgCountry Farm Credit
- Jason Wirtz, livestock development at the N.D. Department of Agriculture
A future article in the Farm & Ranch Guide will detail some of the assistance available through these three different agencies for the state’s livestock industry.
In addition, John Breker, a soil scientist at the AGVISE Laboratories in Northwood, N.D. had a presentation titled “How manure benefits your soil and your wallet.” He outlined how manure nutrients are measured and how taking part in a manure management nutrient management plan can improve soil health and financially benefit your farm. This topic will also be outlined in greater detail in a future issue.
The Livestock Summit activities finished after lunch with a walking tour of the Qual Dairy and what was called windshield tour of the Ransom County Multiplier site, since disease prevention eliminated the possibility of a walking tour through the facility.