In this file:


·         Farm Belt Bankruptcies Are Soaring Across the Midwest


·         Economic study shows impact of tariffs to Iowa ag

·         Farmers nearing crisis push back on Trump trade policies

·          ‘This One Here Is Gonna Kick My Butt’—Farm Belt Bankruptcies Are Soaring



Farm Belt Bankruptcies Are Soaring Across the Midwest


By Jason Devaney, Newsmax

06 February 2019


The amount of debt at midwest farms is soaring and farmers are declaring bankruptcy because of trade uneasiness and low prices.


The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Chapter 12 bankruptcy protection filings are on the rise — increasing to levels that have not been seen in at least 10 years.


Contributing factors include low commodity prices and the ongoing trade dispute with China that has resulted in each country placing tariffs on each other's goods.


Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, for example, saw a 100 percent increase in bankruptcy claims filed in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2018 compared to 2008, the Journal reported. Other states in the farm belt saw similar increases.


The farm debt level, according to data obtained by the Journal, reached $409 billion last year.


Nebraska farmer Kirk Duensing filed for bankruptcy because he was unable to pay many of his bills due to low prices for corn and soybeans. He told the Journal his debt is more than $1 million.


"I've been through several dips in 40 years," he said. "This one here is gonna kick my butt."





Economic study shows impact of tariffs to Iowa ag

ISU economist says state's economy was negatively affected by trade tariffs


By: Dennis Morrice, KACU/ (IA)

Feb 06, 2019


LE MARS, Iowa (KCAU) - Iowa State University recently completed an economic research study of the effects of the on-going tariffs placed on American trade. The impacts of the trade tariffs certainly have hurt agriculture, but Dr. Chad Hart, an Iowa State University Agricultural Economist says the entire state's economy has been negatively affected by the trade tariffs.


"The dispute with China probably cost us about a billion to two billion dollars in our overall state economy," said Hart. "Due to the lack of ag took a major part of that cut, but we weren't the only sector of the Iowa economy that was hurt by this.  A lot of our manufacturing faced additional costs because of this. Like I say, here, you're talking about probably when I think of our percentage basis, it's about a half a percent hit to the overall state economy."


Hart says Iowa's soybean and pork industries suffered the largest hits, but he adds other commodities, such as the beef industry and the corn industry also suffered since the entire trade industry had slowed down. Hart says prices are still lower as a result of the trade tariffs. However, he says many commodity prices have started to rebound slightly since when the trade tariffs were initially announced. Hart says soybean prices had dropped nearly 20 percent.  Now, they are down about 12 to 14 percent. The same can be said about pork prices.


"Pork...same sort of deal. They were down 15 to 20 [percent]... Now, actually, in some markets, we're back to where we were pre-tariff. Because we have seen some additional sales to other countries, to offset the loss in China," Hart said.


The agricultural economist says both the U.S. and China are still seeing growth in our economies, although it has slowed...





Farmers nearing crisis push back on Trump trade policies


By Ryan McCrimmon, POLITICO



President Donald Trump’s trade war is magnifying some of the toughest farm conditions since the crisis that bankrupted thousands of farmers in the 1980s — and threatening a constituency crucial to his reelection hopes.


The president’s trade policies have sent U.S. agricultural exports plunging, exacerbating already difficult economic conditions facing farmers. Average farm income has fallen to near 15-year lows under Trump, and in some areas of the country, farm bankruptcies are soaring.


The fate of the farm economy and rural America is fused to Trump’s political future. Farmers and ranchers make up the heart of his base, and their support in battleground Midwestern states like Iowa and Wisconsin could help determine the 2020 presidential election. Although Trump’s standing with those groups generally remains strong, cracks are starting to show.


Hundreds of farmers and business representatives are in Washington this week to pressure lawmakers and the Trump administration to end the trade war by describing the hardships they are facing.


“A lot of farmers are going to give the president the benefit of the doubt, and have to date. But the longer the trade war goes on, the more that dynamic changes,” said Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade, one of the groups organizing the fly-in.


There are signs that agriculture’s compounding challenges are already pushing some producers over the edge — at least in certain regions and sectors.


The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis warned in November of rising Chapter 12 bankruptcies, used by family farmers to restructure debt. The Fed said that the strain of low commodity prices “is starting to show up not just in bottom-line profitability, but in simple viability.” The increase was driven by woes in Wisconsin’s dairy sector, which shrunk by about 1,200 operations, or 13 percent, from 2016 to October 2018.


“The farm economy’s in pretty tough shape,” said John Newton, chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation. “When you look out on the horizon of things to come, you start to see some cracks.”


To be sure, most experts don’t think the conditions will get back to the devastation of the 1980s when interest rates soared and farmland values plummeted. That drove thousands of farms into foreclosure, shuttered dozens of agricultural banks and transformed some rural communities into ghost towns.


But as the 2019 planting season nears, the continuing trade war, higher interest rates and glut of various commodities could require farmers to lean on the government for relief.


Right now, the Agriculture Department isn’t planning any more trade aid programs like the payments that helped farmers like Billy Rochelle get close to breaking even for 2018.


“We’ve seen better years,” said Rochelle, who raises corn, soybeans, wheat and beef cattle near Centerville, Tenn. “We’re adjusting accordingly, trying to survive just like everybody else.”


At the annual American Farm Bureau convention last month in New Orleans, Trump delivered a speech to the largely supportive audience in which he boasted about “setting records together for farmers and for agriculture.” But outside the auditorium, farmers and ranchers described numerous concerns — especially the uncertainty around Trump’s trade agenda.


“I don’t see it getting any better until we get something resolved with China,” Rochelle said...





 ‘This One Here Is Gonna Kick My Butt’—Farm Belt Bankruptcies Are Soaring

Trade disputes over agriculture add pain to low commodity prices that have been grinding down American farmers for years


By Jesse Newman and Jacob Bunge, The Wall Street Journal

Feb. 6, 2019


A wave of bankruptcies is sweeping the U.S. Farm Belt as trade disputes add pain to the low commodity prices that have been grinding down American farmers for years.


Throughout much of the Midwest, U.S. farmers are filing for chapter 12 bankruptcy protection at levels not seen for at least a decade, a Wall Street Journal review of federal data shows.




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