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Published April 24, 2010, 04:26 PM

Editorial: Farmers feed our economy

When talking about tough economic times, many of us have focused on residential foreclosures, downsizing of industries and struggling retailers.

By: R-E Editorial Board, The Republican Eagle

When talking about tough economic times, many of us have focused on residential foreclosures, downsizing of industries and struggling retailers.

After all, who doesn’t know someone who lost a home? Who doesn’t have a friend or relative who lost a job? Is there anyone who isn’t spending less?

Today’s Page 1 story reminds everyone that the recession has hit local farmers hard, too.

Since agriculture intertwines with almost every other aspect of the region’s economy, this is significant news.

In 2008, ag production accounted for 22 percent of the state's exports. That’s more than any other industry, according to the University of Minnesota. Factor out the seven-county metro area, and the number is a whopping 40 percent across Greater Minnesota.

Ag exports are vital, injecting Minnesota with $12 billion in new revenue. This money cycles through the economy, creating jobs and generating income.

Add in the fact food and other ag production generated 14 percent of the state's personal income and employment in 2008 and you can see why a strong farm economy is critical.

Locally, ag businesses include big names such as Ag Partners, Red Wing Grain and ADM, as well as many smaller operations. Our list of ag-oriented businesses includes food processing, animal nutrition, landscape design and more. They generate big money.

The Red Wing region is blessed with good soils, good access to markets via rail, river and road and a long history of farming as integral to the economic sector.

Put simply, farmers’ recovery will help feed our recovery.

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