STERLING — 2019 was the second wettest year on record in the Bismarck area, and all that rain and snow played havoc in the agriculture community with everyone feeling the impacts.
Those impacts have included crops and animals like cows, sheep, goats and on North Dakota’s Pork Producers.
“We started this year behind. We weren’t able to get into the fields the time that we needed too and everything has gone awry since then,” said Rancher Heather Lang.
That’s the struggle for those who raise pigs in North Dakota. Not only are ranchers like Lang falling further and further behind schedule, but it was so wet it ruined the corn crop.
“We grind and we mix our own hog feed, and corn is an important role in that and since we were short on corn, we had to implement with peas and things like that,” said Lang.
Lang raises five breeds totaling around 200 pigs on her ranch. She told us the lack of quality feed means there’s a better chance of her pigs getting sick.
The lower quality feed also means it takes longer for the pigs to plump up, costing them money.
“Ideally we’d like it to be six months from the time they are little baby piglets to the time they go to butcher weight, and sometimes that takes a little bit longer, and so we start losing money on that end,” said Lang
The problems aren’t just isolated to Lang’s ranch in Sterling, it’s a statewide problem for even the biggest of pork producers.
“You know, we need the highest quality grains, to feed our pigs so, when the crops are less than desirable, we’re going to deal with that until next harvest,” said Todd Erickson with the North Dakota Pork Board.
The moisture is also creating problems keeping the pens clean for the pigs.
“We haven’t been able to get to the pens to clean them as often on our outside pens here since we do pasture raise pigs. We want to clean all that out and we just haven’t been able too because it’s just been so wet and muddy and slick,” said Lang
Lang added they’ve tried to go to several grain elevators but no one has corn, meaning they’ll be dealing with low-quality feed for the foreseeable future.
It’s just another problem farmers and ranchers can add to the list of problems they don’t already need.
Lang told KX News they still have several hundred acres of flax out there waiting to be harvested, but the deep snow has insulated the ground and prevented it from freezing, even with temperatures below zero this week.
She said what farmers really need is almost no additional snow this winter and very little rain through late spring that will allow things to return to normal.