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Farmer bankruptcies swell to decade high in Farm Belt

Published: February 7, 2019
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Source: axios

U.S. farmers in the Midwest are filing for bankruptcy at levels the U.S. hasn’t seen for approximately a decade, the Wall Street Journal reports.

What's happening: Low commodity prices have been gouging U.S. farmers’ bottom lines for years now, exacerbated by increasing agricultural competition from Russia and Brazil. President Trump’s trade disputes, meanwhile, are adding salt to the wounds, as tariffs drive down prices and decrease profit for farmers.

By the numbers:
  • In the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, twice as many farmers declared bankruptcy in 2018 as during the 2008 recession.
  • In the 8th Circuit, which spans from North Dakota to Arkansas, bankruptcies shot up 96%.
  • In the 10th Circuit, which includes Kansas, Colorado and parts of Oklahoma, bankruptcies were up 59%. Together, these three jurisdictions accounted for nearly 50% of all farm product sales in 2017, per the Journal.
  • Last year, farm debt rose to over $409 billion, with the average size of loans in the 4th quarter reaching $74,190, the highest 4th quarter level in history.

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