Shaping The Pulse of the Dry Bean World
January 24, 2007
We in the business of agriculture appear to be heading into interesting times. Factors outside the control of those on both the local and national level are changing the face of agriculture. Whether those factors will continue to have a significant impact will be for the future to determine.
The rise in the price of petroleum products, while affecting many in this nation adversely, appears to be affecting the farming sector in a positive manner. Efforts to reduce our reliance on foreign petroleum through the production of ethanol and biodiesel have diverted a significant proportion of food producing capacity to energy producing capacity. The diverting of land to energy production has upset the balance in the food industry and resulted in a bidding war among various commodities to gain market share. If this trend continues, the market price of beans should rise along with other commodities, although it may be tempered by the importation of foreign grown beans.
A political reality which may also affect the production of dry beans in the United States may be the upcoming farm bill. It has been the steadfast position of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association to resist any inclusion in the farm program. It has been the opinion of Northarvest that while inclusion in the farm program may be of benefit to dealers, processors, and packagers of dry beans by assuring them an ample supply at stable prices, it would not benefit the traditional bean grower. Inclusion, it was felt, would have a tendency to increase acreage, reduce market volatility, and decrease the potential for profit (or loss) from the growing of dry beans. World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements and successful international challenges of our farm policies may force Congress to eventually change the way dry edible beans and other fruit and vegetables are addressed in future farm legislation. Northarvest has taken a pro-active role in trying to assure that our commodity is dealt with as favorably and justly as possible by engaging on a national level with other organizations and forming a cohesive position on the issue.
The newly chartered US Dry Bean Council (USDBC) is up and running with a comprehensive mission for both domestic and foreign market development. Northarvest is a major player in this reincarnation, and is working hard to make it as effective an organization as possible.
Closer to home, Northarvest funds a wide variety of research projects and among these is the dry bean breeding program at NDSU. An experienced research staff continued the program when longtime breeder Ken Grafton stepped up to become director of the N.D. Agricultural Experiment Station. And now the program is at full speed with the addition of a personable bean breeder named Juan Osorno. Juan knows beans, their genetics, and the program will soon be in its rightful position as one of the top bean breeding programs in the nation. Mehmet Tubek has been doing research at the Northern Crops Institute (NCI) in developing a bean puff snack that is not only good tasting but nutritious. Mehmet will be bringing samples of this new product to Bean Day on January 18th. The search for a plant pathologist who specializes in bean diseases continues and we expect the position to be filled soon.
Northarvest is a great organization with a great board of directors in the prime dry bean production area in the United States. This combination guarantees that you and your organization are at the pulse of what is happening in the bean world. We as producers are the backbone of this industry. Lets work together to continue shaping the outcome and building a better future for Northarvest beans.