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Published February 20, 2012, 08:21 AM

Farming to the economic rescue

President Barack Obama may not be getting much in the way of positive feedback as it relates to the national economy, but the agricultural industry is. Forbes magazine recently named the Agricultural Heartland as one of five U.S. regions to watch in 2012 — other key regions are: the Energy Belt, the New Foundry, the Technosphere and the Pacific Northwest — highlighting them as poised to flourish economically.

By: Rita Brhel, Agweek

YANKTON, S.D. — President Barack Obama may not be getting much in the way of positive feedback as it relates to the national economy, but the agricultural industry is.

Forbes magazine recently named the Agricultural Heartland as one of five U.S. regions to watch in 2012 — other key regions are: the Energy Belt, the New Foundry, the Technosphere and the Pacific Northwest — highlighting them as poised to flourish economically.

Apparently, demand from developing countries has the potential to increase the nation’s farm income to a record $341 billion, and mostly from soybeans, corn, barley, rice and cotton.

Agriculture thrives

Indeed, as the rest of the national economy was crumbling in the wake of the bursting housing market bubble a few years back, agriculture on the whole was booming. Corn and soybean prices were doubling, tripling, even quadrupling in some cases. Animal agriculture was smarting a bit from the exploding feed prices, but cattle and sheep at least have caught up.

And with the increased market prices, producers were spending more, agribusinesses have been expanding and communities have benefited.

In fact, as Forbes pointed out, many agricultural areas have rather low unemployment rates, such as Omaha, Neb.’s 5 percent. It’s been a good year for many in agriculture, despite the recession.

It’s good that economists outside agriculture recognize the importance of agriculture to the economy. Too many people don’t give agriculture the credit it deserves.

Recession does the trick?

While no one wants a recession, it may be exactly what the agricultural industry needs to have enough clout to get Congress to leave its federal funding alone, especially in a time when lawmakers are looking to offload what they perceive as unnecessary spending.

Or, it could mean that lawmakers will decide farmers are “wealthy” enough to start paying more taxes.

Editor’s Note: Brhel is a correspondent for the Yankton (S.D.) Daily Press & Dakotan. This column originally appeared in the Daily Press & Dakotan.

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