This week's spotlight is on North Dakota Commissioner of Agriculture Doug Goehring, one of NASDA's 12 state-wide elected members.
How do you start your day?
I start my day with a cup of coffee while I check emails and messages. I also receive briefings and finish up things left from the day before.
What has been your most memorable experience as North Dakota’s Agriculture Commissioner?
Thinking back over my eight years in office, one moment or memory doesn’t stand out. There really isn’t time to relish and enjoy victories and success stories as the next issue is usually right around the corner.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing agriculture today?
There are quite a few. Overregulation is one of them. Biased or skewed news is another. Ag activists. Social media/internet opinions being perceived as fact. Foodie trends such as gluten free, low fat, low carb can hurt the industry – we need balance. On that note, mislabeling is another problem, which is sometimes done by the industry itself. Marking meat as gluten free, or milk as antibiotic free may lead consumers to believe that products not labeled as such contain these items, when in fact they have never contained them at all. Most of the public is two, three or four generations removed from agriculture, so not understanding where our food comes from is a problem.
What is the most rapidly expanding sector of agriculture or commodity in your state?
North Dakota has a very diverse agricultural system. It is hard to focus on any one sector or commodity rising to the top. We produce over 50 different commodities commercially. The pulse industry is growing. Corn and soybean production is expanding. Flax is seeing some increase. There is also a concerted effort to promote the expansion of animal agriculture in the state. There is expansion of food-grade commodities for the global market, such as food-grade soybeans. Some emerging crops that we are watching with interest include carinata, which can be made into renewable fuel for jets or military use.
In seven words or less, what is some advice you would offer your fellow agriculturalists? Promote agriculture. Embrace choices. Remind our constituents we are blessed.