Heavy snow accumulation has made feeding cattle difficult and caused area farmers to give up on trying to get any grain to market.
"It's been terrible," said Brad Haugeberg, manager of SunPrairie Grain in Minot. "They are having a hard time just keeping the road open for the school buses, let alone move snow to their grain bins or feedlots."
SunPrairie has seen little grain come in, but because it has significant capacity, it has had grain to move.
Jill Schramm/MDN --
All was quiet Friday at SunPrairie Grain on Valley Street, where piles of snow indicate the kind of winter the area has been having.
Haugeberg said the elevator loaded a train a week ago. They had to shovel snow to close the bottom of the cars and struggled with frozen lids.
"It took about twice as many people to load that train," Haugeberg said.
Typically when weather stalls grain movement, grain prices rise. That hasn't happened this year, but this year has been atypical in general, Haugeberg said.
The elevator has provided cash advances to a few farmers who weren't able to get their grain hauled but had bills to pay.
Things aren't quite so serious in some other areas.
Wayne Johnson, manager of Bottineau Farmers Elevator, said the snow hasn't been as heavy there. Since this is a slower time of year for grain movement, the weather hasn't been a major issue, he said.
Bruce Marchand, manager of McLean Elevator in Benedict, said little grain has come in but some grain has been moving out by rail and truck. Because of the need to clear tracks of snow, trains have been running behind.
Mike Rose, Ward County Extension agent, said the grain-cleaning business has nearly come to halt for area operators.
"It's hard for them to do much business when it's so cold and the yards are full of snow," he said.
Livestock producers are having problems with the cold and snow, too.
Dean Henne, who ranches south of Minot, said clearing snow for the feed wagon has been a daily chore. The early winter and extreme cold has increased his feed requirements.
"I have never gone through silage this fast," Henne said.
Because of the early November snow, he had about 300 hay bales left in the field, which he can't access but sure could use at the farm about now.
"It's been a challenge," he said. "With the calf market slipping down from where it was a year ago, it adds to the challenges."
Rose said ranchers in general are concerned about higher cattle costs.
"We have had a long feeding season. We have had a cold feeding season. We started out with less feed," he said. "So that indicates it's going to be a costly feeding season."
Then there's thoughts about spring snow melt and the mud and slush at calving time.
"That's probably even more of a concern than the cattle issues that we are dealing with now," Rose said.