I called this blog the northern plains because my first choice was already taken. I wanted to call them The Great Plains because that is what they are. A couple of eastern urbanites want to call this part of the world the buffalo commons. They have written that it was a mistake to ever settle this part of the world. They said that this area was too dry. That the land was unproductive.

They were wrong. There are times the rain is short. There are times when there is too much rain. Yes, there are places that the productivity is not what we would wish for, but across most of it, and I mean across nearly all of it, the productivity is just fine. The land in northwestern North Dakota and northeastern Montana is just fine. In fact that is why most of the buffalo were out there. It was the area of the greatest most productive pasture. That land around Lansford is as good as any place in the Red River Valley.

As for the Poppers, the college professors who don’t understand economics, I just read that they were back out here (Kansas I think, but south of here anyway). Don’t know what they are saying now, and really I don’t care.

When I was writing for the daily paper he wrote me saying I was putting too much emphasis on energy development and if you read what I wrote about their theory I never said one word about that. I invited them to come to Grand Forks for a public discussion. They said yes and then cancelled but said they would come “soon”. That was four or five years ago and today when I try to contact them I never get a response from them.

Like the photographer from National Geographic who also got it wrong, I am not going to write about their errors, at least now, but someday soon I will. It is, as I repeat my favorite phrase Econ 101. It demonstrates again the problem of journalism. People writing about subjects they don’t know anything, or at least enough, about.

This posting in many ways is repetitive of others I have made. This simply provides more data to describe why the northern plains are part of the worlds bread basket. And of all the areas of the world that call themselves that we more than most, have the right to do so.

Sitting in an office reading statistics leaves you with one impression of a state, but drive across that state where there are a lot of acres of a particular crop and you may have a different impression of the state.

Drive across North Dakota and you say this is a wheat state, and oil in the northwest, but drive across Minnesota and you understand the difference because of the corn base and also how dairy makes Minnesota different from North Dakota. The predominance of corn is another thing, especially in the southern half.

South Dakota is different again. In terms of acreage it appears to be a 60/40 split between corn and soybeans. As you cross the river it is more a mix of crop with pasture and cattle becoming of great importance.

Montana, again as I mentioned in an earlier posting, is the most unique of the four states I call the northern plains. The eastern one-third to one-half of the state is big rolling farm country, mostly wheat. Then your at the mountains. Fly across Big Sky country from Sea-Tac to MSP. Be sure to get a window seat and what a view of America. You look at all those mountain ranges and between them maybe America at its best. Every little corner of one of those valleys is developed. Where possible there is an irrigation circle, on the hillside a wheat field, and in the wildest parts a pasture. Wish my great-grandfather had listened to that teacher and kept heading west. We are all cowboys in our hearts.

So, here are some more agricultural stats. For those of you who are Plainsmen (and women) while you may not know some of the specifics here you understand what you are going to see. You know the importance of what is here and you know how the makes us what we are. You are those who I am talking about when I talk about the people of the plains, even when we might not agree with one another on every issue.

I would appreciate any questions or comments you have. I always appreciate hearing what you have to say. In my original posting of this column I made a mistake in the way I presented the data for sugarbeets and potatoes. I received an email questioning the way the data appeared and I have now corrected the posting. I also responded thanking him for pointing that out and apologizing, but mostly thanking him for giving me the opportunity to get it right. I meant it when I said it to him, and I mean it when I tell all of you that I appreciate any opportunity to correct my mistakes. Please don’t hesitate to point them out.

Differences of opinion are just that, differences of opinion. However, a mistake is a mistake and will not stand in my columns.


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