More than half of U.S. farm operators say they do business over the internet, a 13-point increase in six years, as ownership of computers and access to the internet blossomed, according to USDA. Nonetheless, the Pew Research Center says rural Americans are much less likely than their city counterparts to have a smartphone or broadband service at home.
Farmers are sitting on their checkbooks instead of buying new equipment because of the Sino-U.S. trade war and planting delays in the United States, said the chief executive of Deere and Co., the world's largest farm equipment manufacturer. Deere, which also makes construction and logging equipment, said overall sales fell 3 percent during May, June and July, led by a 6- percent drop in agriculture and turf, its largest division.
Farmland values are falling for the fifth year in the Midwest, and one factor in the decline is “muted expectations for farm income” this year, said the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank on Thursday. “The profitability of many corn and soybean farms will almost surely fall from their 2018 levels — possibly by a lot for some.”
Agricultural lenders expect farm income, which weakened in the spring, to continue to decline this summer, although a recent rally in corn, soybean, and wheat prices will act as a stabilizer, said Federal Reserve banks in Kansas City, Minneapolis, and St. Louis on Thursday.
American farmers, having endured the wettest 12 months in well over a hundred years and facing predictions that this could be the soggy new normal for the nation’s midsection, are looking at a variety of ways to speed up their processes next year, according to Bloomberg.
The USDA expects storm-ravaged farmers to file more than $1 billion in prevented-planting claims for fields they could not plant this year due to heavy rains and flooding, according to press reports.
Some growers may collect three or even four payments on land where they were unable to plant a crop this spring due to persistent rain and flooding, but no one is going to get rich off of it, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday.
The farm safety net offers many strands of support to farmers swamped by a historically slow planting season, but the strands pull in different directions, says associate professor Bradley Lubben, of the University of Nebraska. "The complexity for producer decision-making is compounded," he said, when potential Trump tariff payments and disaster aid are woven into traditional crop subsidies and crop insurance.
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.
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.