It’s been a mad rush to get done after a late start to planting for many farmers in western North Dakota.
The work has been done thanks to hired hands on many farms.
And in some cases, those hired hands have come from far away to pitch in.
Jim Olson has the story from near Mohall.
It’s a scene repeated hundreds of times across North Dakota every day at this time of year
A farmer getting on board a tractor to put in another year’s crop. But this particular farmer is about nine thousand miles away from home.
(Francois Botha, South African Farmer) “In South Africa…”
Francois Botha, his brother Ferdinand,
(Ferdinand Botha, South African Farmer) “I’m busy treating seed at the moment…”
and about eight other South African farmers are spending eight months in North Dakota – working on farms in the Mohall and Sherwood area.
(Francois Botha, South African Farmer) “We do everything from seeding to preparing fields, fixing everything, up to combining.”
(Ferdinand Botha, South African Farmer) “It’s been very busy working early mornings and late nights.”
(Peter Gates, Mohall Area Farmer) “They’re very good. They come from farm backgrounds so they know a lot about tractors, equipment, and everything else.”
Peter Gates is one of several area producers who’ve discovered the South African pipeline for farm workers. He says it’s been hard to find hired hands since the oil boom, and these guys have been a perfect fit.
(Ferdinand Botha, South African Farmer) “This is really a privilege working here.”
(Francois Botha, South African Farmer) “It’s certainly a good deal coming over here and working for good guys.”
The Bothas say farming in South Africa has become difficult, even dangerous, given the current situation there, making the prospect of spending the growing season on a different continent appealing.
(Ferdinand Botha, South African Farmer) “They want to try and take the ground away from the farmers. At home it’s dangerous to be living there and dangerous to be farming.”
(Francois Botha, South African Farmer) “We’ll see what’s in the future for us. At the moment in South Africa there’s not much work and salaries are bad in South Africa.”
The brothers say they could foresee taking the steps to living in the U.S. permanently and chasing the dream of being full time farmers.
(Ferdinand Botha, South African Farmer) “I enjoy this. This is a passion for me to be farming.”
Jim Olson, KX News.
This is the third year the Botha brothers have come to North Dakota from South Africa to work during the growing season.