Land O’Lakes CEO: Farmers Are in Crisis
She argues Americans aren't paying attention
Imagine, if you can, a computer virus that cut the productivity of Apple, Google, and Facebook in half. Or try to imagine Wall Street’s investment bankers seeing a season’s worth of deals washed away. Such calamities would dominate our nation’s news and drive swift political action. Yet that is precisely what America’s farmers face right now. And, as a country, we aren’t paying nearly enough attention.
Farmers are generally too proud and humble to speak out, but the truth is we are living through an extremely difficult period of market turmoil and natural disasters. Due largely to sustained low commodity prices, average farm income in 2017 was $43,000, while the median farm income for 2018 was negative $1,500. In 2018, Chapter 12 bankruptcies in the farm states across the Midwest that are responsible for nearly half of all sales of U.S farm products rose to the highest level in a decade.
And then the floods came to the Midwest. Farmers have been significantly delayed in their planting this year due to rain and soggy ground, and as the planting window closes, some will have to make a decision about whether to plant a crop this year at all. As of June 9, just 60 percent of America’s soybean acres had been planted in our highest-producing states, compared with nearly 90 percent typically planted by this time of year. And just 83 percent of the corn crop is in the ground in the most productive states, a number that should be pushing 100 percent.
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