Available Farmland Shrinking in Western ND | VideoEvan Kruegel | 8/16/2012
"For every dollar of wheat we produce, we expect to produce a business activity of about another four dollars. So when you take a nine or 10 dollar bushel, times 35 bushels, times 425,000 acres, you can come up with a pretty good business volume in terms of dollars that the wheat crop means to this area," said Warren Froelich with the Williams County Extension Service.
That number is over $520 million every year. Not bad for the sixth-biggest county in North Dakota.
"Agriculture is one of the oldest careers out there. Farming was, and still will be, a big part of this town. It was oil boom in the past, and it`s oil boom again, but agriculture is still a big part of it," said Horizon Resources Grain Manager Chris Quamme.
But that might not always be the case. Oil production is taking up huge chunks of land, and agricultural experts aren`t sure if that land will ever be farmable again.
"We are losing some acres of production due to oil development, the oil well sites, and you take a look at all the support needs for the industry. That is why there is concern among people who look into the future of agriculture, about all of the acres being taken out of production to support the energy industry. Are we going to be able to reclaim that and make it productive again," Froelich said.
Available land is disappearing quickly, which is not a good sign for farmers.
"In past years, say 15 years ago, we had 300,000 acres of what we call summer fallow acres, which was not planted, and we`ve now dropped that acreage down to roughly 50,000 acres," Froelich said.
When the oil dries up, Williams County will once again rely on agriculture to run its economy.
Farmers say the wheat crop this year is one of the best they`ve had, only adding to the booming economy in Western North Dakota.