A Tale of Wheat

Rachel passed this story on to me the other day, undoubtedly with a heavy heart, considering her Kansas roots:
North Dakota farmers last year led the nation in total wheat production for the first time since 1996, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture rankings released this week. For North Dakota farmers, it's a source of pride to top rival Kansas.
Besides inspiring home-state pride, this article led me to make a few observations:

1. In farming, one region's loss is another's gain. A main reason ND took the top spot last year was this:
Last year's crop in Kansas was decimated by disease and weather, particularly a late-spring freeze and flooding later in the season. Total production was pegged at just under 284 million bushels, a drop of more than 16 percent from the state's long-term average, Boswell said.
I am reminded of listening to the grain prices on the radio as a young lad, and I'd hear something like, "Soybeans are up 45 cents today because a big storm in Brazil ruined their crop." You feel bad for the Brazilians, of course, but on the other hand, our crop is worth a lot more. ND farmers claim to have felt no joy in Kansas' pain:
Klein said North Dakota farmers hate to see their counterparts in Kansas suffer through a bad year. He said the good-natured competition is all in fun.
2. This story mentions the crazy high wheat prices we're seeing these days, which are in large part due to the government-subsidized ethanol craze. As ethanol demand increases, so does demand for corn, which raises corn prices. This in turn leads farmers to grow more corn, at the expense of other crops. This decreases supply of other crops, thus raising their prices. So, well ethanol is a bad idea for consumers, taxpayers, and drivers (see here), it is good for farmers (to some extent; ranchers do take a hit in the form of higher feed prices).

3. Recall the Kansas quarter:

See that plant on the left? It's a sunflower, because Kansas is the Sunflower State. But look at this:
North Dakota last year also led the nation in the production of barley; oats; canola; oil, non-oil and all sunflowers; flaxseed; pinto, navy and all dry edible beans; dry edible peas, lentils and honey.
Hmm. Maybe we should put the sunflower on our quarter, to go along with our much better looking buffalo:


  1. As I've admitted before, your quarter is indeed much, much better. North Dakota buffalo: serene and majestic. Kansas buffalo: confused and stupid.

  2. My father is a wheat farmer... bring on the ethanol!


  3. I'm still torn on the Ethanol thing. The debates at my house are legendary (Along with other political topics. Sigh.)

  4. The comment from Max was actually from me!