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Summary of North Dakota History - Agricultural Economy

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North Dakota's basic industry, agriculture, underwent major difficulties in the 1970s and 1980s, again emphasizing that the state was a participant in a world-wide economy. Record prices for American grain in the early 1970s, the result of huge overseas sales to the Soviet Union, led many farmers to expand their operations and others to go deeply into debt to enter agriculture. As the price of land climbed, so too did prices for machinery, seed, and the other "inputs" of agriculture. Commodity prices, however, never returned to the levels of the early 1970s, and by the end of the decade many farmers found themselves unable to generate enough income to maintain their debts. Rural discontent mounted, generating organization of a state branch of the American Agriculture Movement, a national rural protest movement, and leading to development of special credit counseling services by state government. The trend continued into the 1980s. Though land values dropped substantially, the number of farms has declined steadily.

Grain Shocks
Field of Grain Shocks with Farmstead in Background. State Archives #0540-20

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