The weather is wild, the tariffs are rising, and as frustration ripples through the Iowa corn fields, rural America is ready to confront its 2020 candidates
Aaron Heley Lehman listened to the rain tap his window pane in the machine shed for two weeks, wondering when he would ever finish planting corn on his central Iowa farm, and watched the markets tank as Donald Trump blustered on in his trade war with China.
Five inches of rain fell. Just one day in two weeks without rain. Another weeks worth might be on the way. And soybeans are down $2.50 per bushel since the farmers friend in the red MAGA cap assumed the presidency, at least a buck-per-bushel below break-even for most operators.
Its been a miserable spring, Lehman said.
Iowa farmers have been losing money five or six years straight. The climate crisis is making wilder weather the new normal in the Tall Corn state. Spring floods from heavy rains burst the levees of the mighty Mississippi so you could float a boat through downtown Davenport. On Iowas west coast, the muddy Missouri raged through the Loess hills and valleys and took entire towns with it Pacific Junction, population 470, and Hamburg, population 1,187. Tens of thousands of acres have been scoured, perhaps never to be probed by a corn planter again.
The politicians have toured and put their fingers to the wind. Iowa is vital electorally. It was key to Trumps victory, as was Wisconsin, similarly inundated by trade wars and oceans of corporate milk drowning independent dairy farmers.
They went back to DC and answered with a $19bn weather disaster aid package, with $3.3bn for the midwest. But a lone congressman from Texas named Chip Roy was able to hold it up, all by himself, over border-wall funding until Congress returns from a hard-earned Memorial Day vacation. Meanwhile, farm suicide rates are at their highest levels since the midwest depression of the mid-1980s.
Since Trump wiped out our soybean market three-quarters of Iowas beans were bound for China he threw farmers and livestock producers $12bn in trade disaster aid. Farmers call it the Trump bump. Agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue announced another bump last week: $16bn to be targeted at the farm counties worst hit by losses in soy and pork trade. Nobody out here knows how much it will be or who gets paid. What they do know is that to get any of this next Trump bump you must plant a crop this year, come hell or high water.
A lot of people will just be mudding it in for the trade aid rather than for the market, said Chad Hart, Iowa State University Extension markets economist. He said it will take weeks for rules to dribble out and months for payments to arrive. Dont plant or not plant based on rumors, he advises. He worries.
Bankers are trying to figure it all out, too. Theyre watching farm working capital erode every year. Government bailouts cant keep everyone whole. If you own the land you are treading water or making a little bit. If you are renting?
Its damn tough making it farming, said Dave Drey, Citizens First National Bank vice-president, who also farms with his brother Dennis near Storm Lake.
This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific
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