Ag & Oil: Which Is Bigger In North Dakota?

Inside Dakota Ag

Ag and oil lay claim to being North Dakota's biggest industry.

Published on: October 11, 2013

Is ag or oil North Dakota’s biggest industry?

It matters for a couple reasons.

There are the bragging rights, of course.

And the top industry will likely get more attention from lawmakers. Policies made now will affect the future the industry.

Here’s the facts on the size of ag and oil, as reported recently by the Grand Forks Herald:

In the 12 months ending July 30, the value of crude oil and natural gas produced in North Dakota totaled $24.9 billion, based on production figures and average prices for Bakken sweet crude and gas.

The total value of the state's crops and livestock, in prices received by farmers and ranchers, was $12.1 billion in 2012, according to the North Dakota National Agricultural Statistics Service.

However, oil isn’t twice the size and doesn’t have twice the impact on the state’s economy as agriculture, the Herald reported.

Much of the money from agriculture remains in the state.

Much of the money received for crude oil leaves the state because oil companies are based in other states, even other nations. Even mineral right royalties don’t stay in the state. The latest study found only 43% of mineral owners collecting royalty payments from oil wells in North Dakota still live in the state.

Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, told the Herald there is one big difference between petroleum and agriculture.

Oil harvests every day, he said.

There are actually another big difference between ag and oil.

Agriculture is renewable. It won’t ever run out.