Spotlight on North Dakota

October 10, 2011

This state’s motto is “Strength from the Soil.” It appears on the coat of arms, as well as the governor’s flag—and for good reason.

North Dakota literally draws its economic strength straight from the soil—almost 90 percent of which is dedicated to farming. Agriculture makes up about 32 percent of the state’s economy. Even the major manufacturing and processing industry in the state is largely related to the manufacturing and processing of agricultural goods, making farming—directly and indirectly—almost half of the state’s economy.

The North Dakota soil ranges from thick black loam in the Red River Valley—some of the richest agricultural land known to man—to more porous sandy soils in the west. The area of farmland west of the Red River Valley is often referred to as the “Breadbasket of the World,”

North Dakota is number one in the nation in spring wheat, pinto beans, barley, honey, and durum production. In fact, chances are if you’ve ever eaten a bowl of spaghetti, you’ve had North Dakota durum, though recent flooding—the worst growers say they’ve ever seen in the area—has resulted in lower yields and price fluctuations, intensifying the call for strong farm policy to combat these natural disasters.

The state’s growers also play a significant role in potato, oat, and sugarbeet production, as well as livestock for meat and dairy.

In 2010 alone, North Dakota exported $3.2 billion worth of commodities all over the world.

North Dakota leads that nation in many crops including:

  • Spring Wheat (50% of US total)
  • Durum (56% of us total)
  • Barley (35% of us total)
  • Sunflowers (43% of us total)
  • Dry edible beans (34% of US total)
  • Pinto beans (56% of US total)
  • Flaxseed (95% of US total)
  • Canola 90% of US total)
  • Honey (24% of US total)

North Dakota ranchers raise:

  • 1.7 million head of cattle
  • 160,00 pigs
  • 88,00 sheep
  • Dairy cattle that produce 385 million pounds of milk annually
  • 1.2 million turkeys annually