In an indirect sign of stress in the farm sector, small agricultural banks are making adjustments, such as syndicating loans and charging higher interest rates, to offset risk in the face of high demand for farm loans, said the Federal Reserve in its quarterly Ag Finance Databook. The Fed's Beige Book, meanwhile, said spring floods in the northern Plains and western Corn Belt could put an additional burden on a farm sector coping with low commodity prices.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her agriculture policy platform Wednesday, three days before she is set to participate in a Democratic presidential candidates’ forum in rural Iowa. The platform calls for curtailing consolidation in agriculture by breaking up big agribusiness companies, reversing agriculture mega-mergers, and more. (No paywall)
Congress put $2 million into a pilot program to address farmer stress and suicide this year, and a coalition of 43 rural and farm groups called today for full funding of the Farmers and Ranchers Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN). In a letter to senators and representatives overseeing the USDA budget, the groups proposed $10 million for fiscal 2020, which opens Oct. 1.
Twenty years from now, vastly fewer but much larger farms will generate the lion's share of agriculture output, said chief executive Brett Sciotto of Aimpoint Research. Speaking at a farm conference on Monday, Sciotto said current trends in agriculture point to 100,000 "production" farmers in the country, one-quarter or one-fifth of the current crop of mid- and large-size farms that dominate the sector.
President Trump put his weight behind an announcement that China, amid negotiations to end the trade war, committed to buy 10 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans. The decision, announced on social media by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Friday, would more than double Chinese purchases this marketing year but still
With Trump tariff payments boosting Corn Belt farm revenue, farmer confidence shot to its highest level since last June, just before the trade war began against China, said the monthly Ag Economy Barometer published by Purdue University. Producers polled by Purdue said they expect ag exports to increase in the years ahead, an indirect sign they expect a beneficial resolution with China.
The Sino-U.S. trade war, which as stymied U.S. farm exports, "is going to be a long one, and we keep delivering the message, 'We're with you, Mr. President,'" said the leader of the largest U.S. farm group on Sunday, adding a caveat. "The runaway of our patience is going to be determined by the financial situation of our farms. We went into the battle very weak." (No paywall)
There are many challenges facing rural America, said the new House Agriculture chairman, Collin Peterson. "There is a new farm bill to implement, a growing economic storm in farm country to address, and the ongoing harm of a trade war to alleviate, not to mention the range of unforeseen issues that will test the mettle of the people we’re here to serve," said Peterson in a statement over the weekend.
Federal meat inspectors would report to work as usual and the SNAP and WIC programs would stay in operation if there is a partial government shutdown at the end of this week, according to a USDA plan developed for the brief shutdown early this year. Offices running the farm program would be closed, which probably would mean that Trump tariff payments would be delayed until the government opened again.
Few farmers—only 13 percent—surveyed for the Ag Economy Barometer said they expect farm profitability to improve in the year ahead. "There remains an undercurrent of concern about the farm economy among producers," said the Purdue economists who oversee the monthly gauge of farmer confidence on Tuesday.