It’s a stormy late-September afternoon in northern Iowa — a common occurrence in this year of discontent for many of America’s farmers. Just outside of Fort Dodge, a bustling regional farm town of 25,000, wind and rain pound against the corrugated-metal roof of Dan Thompson’s oversized garage as he explains the latest challenges managing his 1,700-acre corn-and-soybean farm.
It’s rained more than 30 inches since his crops went in last spring, about double normal levels. The harvest began a day earlier, and early indications aren’t good.
Consider it an apt metaphor for the state of farming in an era of overproduction and tariffs. Storm clouds have been gathering over America’s heartland for much of this decade, with falling crop prices and profits and rising debt levels, leaving farmers in increasingly precarious financial positions.
Worse, while farmers can tinker with their own production (subject to the weather), they are powerless to control the broader market forces that influence what they get paid.
Per-bushel prices for corn and soybeans, staple crops across the farm belt, have fallen by roughly half over the last six years. The latest wild card — a budding, potentially nasty trade war with China, the world’s biggest consumer of soybeans — has sparked another price drop and made things uncomfortable.
Read more in American Banker.