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RED RIVER FARM NETWORK LISTS ITS TOP TEN STORIES IN 2013
Red River Farm Network reports:

As the beginning of 2014 approaches, the Red River Farm Network is taking a look back to the top agricultural stories of the past year. This 'top 10' list offers a review of the stories that made headlines on the Red River Farm Network.

1.) Farm Bill Fatigue
2.) A Blow to the Ethanol Industry - The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a cut in the Renewable Fuels Standard. For 2014, EPA is recommending a 1.4 billion gallon reduction in the amount of corn-based ethanol required by the RFS. This comes at a time when corn prices have already stumbled. The government is accepting public comment on this proposal until January 28. In recent years, the ethanol mandate has had major implications for Rural America. Likewise, the proposal to reduce the RFS will continue to make headlines in '14.

3.) Record Crops - Despite a late spring, US corn and spring wheat crops set new production records. Global corn, wheat and soybean crops are also record large. Bumper crops offset lower prices and US net farm income was 15 percent above 2012 levels. Corn prices collapsed, 38.5 percent, helping feeder cattle values reach new highs.

4.) Biotech Wheat Found in Pacific Northwest - RRFN's #4 story of 2013 was the discovery of volunteer Roundup Ready wheat in one field in Oregon. Monsanto officials indicated this sudden discovery may be the result of "sabatoge." After the unapproved biotech wheat was identified, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan suspended imports of US western white wheat.

5.) Sugar and Sugarbeet Prices Collapse - Global sugar prices plummeted in 2013. In the US, loan forfeitures were the highest since 2000. The Agriculture Department sold forfeited sugar to ethanol producers at a steep loss, costing the government $260 million. American Crystal Sugar Company share values declined from $4,450 to $1,200 in one year.

6.) Government Shutdown Impacts Agriculture - For the Red River Farm Network, the #6 biggest story of the past year represents the political standoff on Capitol Hill. Congress passed a continuing resolution in March, but not in October. That resulted in the government shutdown. Due to the shutdown, USDA's October crop report was canceled.

7.) Farmland Values Level Off - In recent years, farmland values continued to reach new highs. While values remain strong, that trend seemed to moderate in 2013. A record $16,000 per acre price was paid in Illinois.

8.) Chinese Company Buys Smithfield Foods - Ranked #8 in RRFN's list of the top ag stories of 2013 is Shaunghui International's acquisition of world's largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods. With a $4.7 billion price tag, this purchase is the largest-ever purchase of a US company by a foreign firm. The purchase was met by criticism by some lawmakers, who voiced concern about food safety issues in China.

9.) Millions of Acres Left Unplanted - Due to a wet spring, farmers were unable to plant 8.2 million acres. North Dakota led the nation in the number of prevented plant acreage with nearly 4 million acres, followed by Minnesota at 900,000 acres. Facing pressure from the North Dakota congressional delegation, USDA's Risk Management Agency clarified PP rules for 2014.

10.) Record US Farm Exports - US agriculture ended Fiscal Year 2013 with a record $141 billion in exports. Agriculture is one of the only sectors enjoying a trade surplus. Funding for USDA market development programs dried up with the expiration of the 2008 farm bill. Numerous smaller regionalized trade negotiations are underway, but a major boost was seen in the Bali ministerial when the World Trade Organization finalized an agricultural accord.

Other Notable Stories... - The year 2013 delivered numerous headlines for agriculture. It was the year when Congress finally passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. Country of Origin Labeling was upheld in court. The October storm, Atlas, resulted in the loss of thousands of cattle for ranchers in the western Dakotas. The Food and Drug Administration issued sweeping changes for the use of antibiotics in feed. Zilmax sales were suspended after a controversy over animal welfare; major packers blamed the feed additive for lameness problems in feedlot cattle. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus was confirmed in the US for the first time this past spring, resulting in significant swine death losses for the balance of the year. Northern Plains Packers went through bankruptcy proceedings and is at the heart of an investigation over a controversial visa program. Another major change was the CME Group's decision to shorten trading hours from 21 to 17 hours per day. With the fifth vote, union workers accepted the American Crystal contract, ending a 20-month lockout. ConAgra Foods, CHS and Cargill formed a joint venture, known as Ardent Mills. Northern Plains Nitrogen chose Grand Forks as the site for its fertilizer plant and launched an equity drive. Dakota Growers Pasta Company was sold to Post Holdings, the maker of Grape Nuts. The American Farm Bureau Federation got into the farm show business, purchasing Farmfest, Dakotafest and others. These stories were just a few of the many that made headlines on the Red River Farm Network in the past year.


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