As we look back on 2013, a few big issues in agriculture easily come to mind: the lack of a farm bill, a wet planting season and struggling crop prices. It's been a year full of challenges, to be sure. But a closer look reveals which stories and issues really captured your attention—and some of them might surprise you.
Here, we count down the top 10 AgWeb stories of the year.
Posted: Oct. 17, 2013
Who doesn’t enjoy reading about a good scandal? In this Associated Press story, a former manager at West Central Co-op in Ralston, Iowa—one of the nation's largest grain cooperatives—was accused of accepting $480,000 in bribes from an Iowa farmer in exchange for product. At that price, "scandal" might be putting it lightly.
Posted: June 8, 2013
By June, planting season was almost finished, but the rain kept coming. The market became stagnant and uncertain. According to Jerry Gulke, president of the Gulke Group, it was the unplanted acres—which we later learned added up to roughly 7 million—that the market was watching. In his Weekend Market Report, he explained what that meant for prices.
Posted: Dec. 5, 2013
Sometimes, the most popular stories are the strangest. This story about a 2009 Case IH Steiger 485 in southern Manitoba, Canada, that was determined still usable after it languished for months completely buried in manure captured your attention. And we’ll admit it—there’s something about a tractor buried in manure that piques our interest, too.
Posted: Jan. 31, 2013
Succession planning can take many forms, and giving your farm to your children might not be the best option. "A successful family farm is one that’s sold to someone else," said Tom Deans, author of Every Family’s Business. He told farmers at the 2013 Top Producer Seminar that they should make their children buy the family farm instead of giving it to them, as that’s the only way to ensure that they will have the ambition to innovate and grow the business. In an industry where 98% of businesses are family-owned, it’s controversial advice, to be sure.
Posted: Feb. 14, 2013
The biggest machinery story of the year was just that—big. The prototype Tribine articulated harvester can harvest corn with a 12-row head for 1 mile without stopping, and includes a 1,000-bu. grain tank on the front of the machine that can empty at 500 bu. per minute. Ben Dillon, the Indiana farmer who invented the machine, unveiled the Tribine at 2013 Ag Connect. A combine that can fill a semi in 2 minutes...no wonder you were captivated.
Posted: Aug. 5, 2013
As the calendar turned to August, so the market turned to Iowa. After spring rain hindered planting through much of the state, by late summer the crops weren’t doing so badly. Or were they? Pro Farmer editor Chip Flory joined two crops analysts for an aerial tour of northern Iowa and southern Minnesota. On July 29, they took off from Charles City, Iowa, with a camera in hand. The footage they captured was mind-blowing.
Posted: March 1, 2013
If farmers aren’t rich yet, they will be. At least, that’s what internationally known investor and business author Jim Rogers said in March. After this year’s dismal crop prices, becoming rich might now seem like a pipe dream, but Rogers believes that farmland is the key to prosperity, considering the nation’s current debt issues. "When a currency declines, the people who have real assets are the ones that make money," he said. "If the dollar collapses, one of the few ways you’ll be able to reserve you wealth, and even make money, is through productive farmland."
Posted: Jan. 9, 2013
People can’t help but watch when a giant falls, and such was the case for Stamp Farms, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2012. The Stamp family of Decatur, Mich., who owned Stamp Farms, Stamp Farms Trucking, Stamp Farms Custom Ag and Royal Star Farms, and Mike Stamp, a Top Producer of the Year finalist who purchased Northstar Grain, had estimated liabilities exceeding $50 million with more than 200 creditors listed. The case was a prime example of the pressure involved in farming and how quickly things can go south if you grow too large, too fast.
Posted: Nov. 21, 2013
Corn prices struggled all year, and by November, the party was pretty much over. Dan Basse, president of AgResource Company in Chicago, said smart producers should forward-contract their crops and lock in prices well into 2015. "There will be a tremendous readjustment that plays out over the next five years," he said, and the guarantee of profit will be iffy at best.
Posted: Feb. 25, 2013
Taxes can be a sticky and confusing subject, but fortunately Paul Neiffer, The Farm CPA, is able to shed some light on these issues for farmers. Thanks to the American Taxpayer Relief Act, there were several changes to the tax laws that Neiffer said could benefit farmers. With more than 80,000 page views, Neiffer’s advice regarding capital gains, Section 179, bonus depreciation, the federal estate tax and the alternative minimum tax certainly resonated with the AgWeb audience.