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Bad year for MN farmers as corn harvest value plummets, weather blamed

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It's been a bad year for farmers as the value of Minnesota's biggest cash crop plummeted by one-third in 2014, with the weather one of the main causes.

MPR reports the value of Minnesota's corn crop was $4.7 billion in 2014, down more than one-third compared to 2013, as farmers harvested less corn than expected.

Minnesota's growing season was shorter than usual last year after it was bookended by inclement weather conditions. Planting started later than usual because of the polar vortex, which continued into April.

Things got worse for farmers when crops were damaged by an early frost in September, according to the Star Tribune. This was followed by a heavy snowfall in November that affected harvesting, MPR says.

In spite of this, U.S. Department of Agriculture figures show Minnesota farmers still managed to harvest 1.18 billion bushels of corn last year, which the Pioneer Press reports represents just a 9 percent drop on the year before.

But the problem for farmers? They'll get less money for their produce because this drop in production has happened in a record year for national corn production, which has caused corn prices to tumble and will leave state farmers struggling to break even.

Other Midwest states, such as Illinois and Indiana, did not have the same weather problems as Minnesota and had record harvests.

The Associated Press reports Minnesota's sugar beet and spring wheat harvests were also down compared to 2013, but Minnesota's second biggest crop – soybean – saw a 10 percent increase.

But in a double whammy for cash crop farmers, MPR notes soybean farmers will also struggle because of huge harvests in Brazil and Argentina, which is dragging down worldwide soybean prices.

Minneapolis commodity consultant Peter Georgantones told the radio station that 2015 will be a "rough year" for crop farmers.

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