Search This Blog

Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Farmers Not Winning

 In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House.  Those divides, however, are now working against him. Despite reports of robust economic growth, Trump's approval rating is sagging and some indicators are breaking bad.

Ryan McCrimmon at 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 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.
Jesse Newman and Jacob Bunge at WSJ:
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.

Bankruptcies in three regions covering major farm states last year rose to the highest level in at least 10 years. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, had double the bankruptcies in 2018 compared with 2008. In the Eighth Circuit, which includes states from North Dakota to Arkansas, bankruptcies swelled 96%. The 10th Circuit, which covers Kansas and other states, last year had 59% more bankruptcies than a decade earlier.
States in those circuits accounted for nearly half of all sales of U.S. farm products in 2017, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.