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Published June 03, 2014, 03:15 PM

USDA statistics reflect ag’s importance in the Red River Valley

New numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reaffirm ag’s economic importance in the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

New numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reaffirm ag’s economic importance in the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.

The National Agriculture Statistics Service, an arm of USDA, recently released state and county statistics collected during its 2012 Census of Agriculture. The census, conducted every five years, shows that farmers in counties along the Red River of the North sold billions of dollars of ag commodities in 2012.

The county statistics illustrate the continued importance of soybeans in the region. They also show the expanding popularity of corn.

Among the findings for Red River Valley counties:

•Farmers in Cass County, home to Fargo, North Dakota’s biggest city, sold $567 million of ag commodities in 2012. That was double the $267 million in 2007. In 2012, Cass County ranked first nationally in the value of soybeans sold, first nationally in the value of grains, oilseeds, dry beans and dry peas sold and third nationally in the value of corn sold for grain.

•Farmers in Grand Forks County, home to Grand Forks, North Dakota’s third-largest city, sold $428 million of ag commodities in 2012. That was nearly double the $256 million in 2007. In 2012, the county ranked first nationally in the value of dry edible beans sold and 23rd nationally in the value of grains, oilseeds, dry beans and dry peas sold.

•Richland County, in extreme southeast North Dakota, had $536 million of ag commodity sales in 2012. That was double the $261 million in 2007. In 2012, the county ranked fifth nationally in the value of soybeans sold, fourth nationally in the value of grains, oilseeds, dry beans and dry beans sold and ninth nationally in the value of corn sold for grain.

•Minnesota’s Clay County, separated from Cass County by the Red River, had $398 million of ag commodity sales in 2012. That was nearly double the $202 million in 2007. In 2012, Clay County ranked 20th nationally in the value of soybeans sold and 34th nationally in the value of grains, oilseeds, dry beans and dry beans sold.

•Minnesota’s Marshall County, in the northwest corner of the state, had ag commodities sales of $322 million in 2012. That was up sharply from $190 million in 2007. In 2012, Marshall County ranked 13th nationally in the value of soybeans sold. Corn is still relatively rare in the county, and Marshall ranked only 728th nationally in the value of corn sold for grain. But the county ranked among the top 20 nationally in sales of both spring wheat and sugar beets.

Read more about the NASS county and state numbers in the June 9 print issue of Agweek.

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