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Editorial: Ag is an economic power in our region

There is a bright economic sector running across west central Minnesota and the Northern Plains -- agriculture.

An economic recession has troubled the U.S. economy since 2007, with some calling it the worst economy since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Yet in Minnesota and much of the Midwest, agriculture remains the farm engine that keeps on working.

In 2009 at the height of the current recession, agriculture remained the second largest employment sector in Minnesota.

High crop prices in 2008 drove statewide ag income to $15.8 billion and agriculture exports set a new record of $5.5 billion.

All indications are that corn and soybean crop harvests in 2010 will reach record levels.

The strength of agriculture is reflected locally as well. The Case IH facility in Benson has expanded its workforce by 100 over the past two years.

This is a positive sign.

Not all is rosy in agriculture. The dairy industry has just completed several tough years due to lower milk prices. The ethanol industry's growth has slowed in recent years due to an industry and plant consolidation.

While the industry can ebb and flow along with harvest sizes and commodity sales, agriculture has remained the backbone of west central Minnesota for more than 150 years.

It is something worth remembering.

Economic development in the region needs to continue support of various agriculture sectors in west central Minnesota.