Shrinking role in global grain market coupled with a strong dollar and higher costs for seeds drives U.S. farmers out of business; overflowing bunkers
By Jesse Newman and Patrick McGroarty | The Wall Street Journal
ANSOM, Kan.—The Farm Belt is hurtling toward a milestone: Soon there will be fewer than two million farms in America for the first time since pioneers moved westward after the Louisiana Purchase.Across the heartland, a multiyear slump in prices for corn, wheat and other farm commodities brought on by a glut of grain world-wide is pushing many farmers further into debt. Some are shutting down, raising concerns that the next few years could bring the biggest wave of farm closures since the 1980s.
The U.S. share of the global grain market is less than half what it was in the 1970s. American farmers’ incomes will drop 9% in 2017, the Agriculture Department estimates, extending the steepest slide since the Great Depression into a fourth year.
“You keep pinching and pinching and pretty soon there’s nothing left to pinch,” said Craig Scott, a fifth-generation farmer in this Western Kansas town.