Commodity prices have been sagging for half a decade, and it’s taking a heavy toll on US farmers. A record number went bust in 2017 and many more are getting close to throwing in the towel. “If we do not see prices improve, it’s going to make it more and more challenging. The rate at which folks go bankrupt could accelerate,” Farm Bureau market intelligence chief John Newton tells Agri Investor.
As we explore in the above map, some agricultural regions seem worse affected than others. With net farm income down more than 50 percent over the past four years, however, the malaise is undoubtedly general. “As farmers have sought out opportunities to try to continue to get land, operating loans or use of some of their own equity, eventually you run into the end of the line, and bankruptcies are your only option,” says Newton.
In that context, the Farm Bill currently being drafted in Washington will be crucial to farmers’ fortunes. “It’s a pretty challenging time already. If you were to rid of some of these programs – market access funding used to promote US agriculture abroad, for example, or crop insurance – the market would become even more challenging.” Added uncertainty brought on by trade tensions is further hurting producers’ pricing and marketing strategies.
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