It would be difficult if not impossible to create a list of best and worst for agriculture over the last year without at least mentioning that big publicity campaign underway over the safety of and health concerns of American grown food products.

The politics of food have been heating up rigorously throughout the year and a war has broken out between major food companies and commodity advocacy groups. At issue, which is safer and more nutritious—commercially-grown food crops or organic foods?

Never mind there is little to no control over what can be labeled “organic” and that the real fight is over one group of growers taking on another group of larger and better financed growers. And while you're at it, forget about scientific tests and substantial evidence that proves definitively not only what is good and healthy to eat but also what type of farming keeps food costs down and availability up for millions who otherwise would not have access to affordable food if spreading unsubstantiated fears were the proper basis for making our food decisions.

More problems of 2013

Also making our list of unfortunate developments for Southwest ag producers is the closing of the Cargill processing plant in Plainview, Texas, and the continued closure and eventual bankruptcy filing of the Sunland Peanut Plant in Portales, New Mexico.

In Plainview, the continuing drought forced Cargill to reorganize plant strategies, while the Portales case involved a nationwide salmonella outbreak that was tied back to the nation's largest organic peanut butter plant. In both instances farmers and ranchers have been adversely affected and forced to make mid-season changes in the way they farm and ranch.

Also related to a third season of serious to extreme drought conditions, cotton and grain growers from the Rio Grande Valley north along the Texas coast to the cotton producing fields of the Coastal Bend, usually a major cotton region, were forced to plow under what few crops managed to break ground. The same can be said for many wheat growers and vegetable growers in west Central Texas.

Peach growers in Central Texas also fell victim to either drought conditions or hail and wind storms late in the season, not to mention a late spring frost which didn't help. Many wheat growers also were adversely affected by changing weather conditions in parts of the Southwest.