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Published July 01, 2015, 09:20 AM

Opinion: Farmers Union cares about rural North Dakota

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead makes some sobering observations in its recent editorial which ran in Agweek June 22

By: Mark Watne,

JAMESTOWN, N.D. — The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead makes some sobering observations in its recent editorial which ran in Agweek June 22 (Rural towns need more than new farm law).

Rather than focusing on the corporate farming law referral facing North Dakota voters, it seemed to be more of a referral on rural communities in general.

While we agree that family farms, small producers and indeed, small towns face real challenges, the North Dakota Farmers Union does everything it can to support the folks who make North Dakota such a great place to live.

Agriculture is still North Dakota’s biggest economic driver, and we got there by supporting family farming and being creative. That is why our organization cre-

ates and advocates for cooper-

atives and co-op enterprises, has an insurance company that gives back to local communities ($150,000 recently for an oncology center in Jamestown), and has built restaurants to create a direct chain from family farmers to the consumer.

While The Forum has seemingly given up on rural communities, our members continue to build upon them. Unfortunately, the law passed during the 2015 session threatens to expedite their deterioration, detailed in the editorial.

While traveling across North Dakota gathering signatures for our petition drive, we have talked to many North Dakotans who have nothing but a deep passion for rural North Dakota and its family farmers. They not only see these folks as the backbone of North Dakota, but they see in them what North Dakota is all about: hard work, a secure food chain and ingenuity.

Furthermore, many small and large businesses depend on the family farm network to thrive, as these folks buy local and their dollars turn over in the local economy roughly seven times. The state cannot count on corporate farms to buy locally.

If SB 2351 isn’t rejected by the people of North Dakota, it will put small towns on the fast track to extinction. And though The Forum clearly has given up on them, our members — and we believe North Dakota voters — never will.

Editor’s note: Watne, of James-

town, is president of the North Dakota Farmers Union.