2/17/2017 11:04:00 AM/Categories: Opinions
A national newspaper published a story last week with this headline: "Plowed Under: The Next American Farm Bust Is Upon Us." We beg to differ. These are difficult days, indeed. Weak commodity prices are driving down farm incomes, which triggers a series of other financial challenges that ripple through this industry and affect its people. But, the next American farm bust? For folks who were not yet born in the 1980s or were too young to remember, let's review the makings of a farm bust. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter placed an embargo on exports to the USSR, which reduced U.S. exports by 20 percent. In the early 1980s, the prime interest rate exceeded 20 percent. Farmers took on enormous debt loads, and national farm debt hit a staggering $215 billion by 1984, double what it had been in 1978. Farmland value in parts of the Midwest dropped by 60 percent from 1981 to 1985. It was devastating, and many members of this Association lived through it. They survived, and since have thrived. They face these lean days with an understanding that they are part of an economic cycle that can be as rewarding as it can be cruel. And, they know how to navigate-and contribute to- economic recovery. Our members tell us they are using this time to develop products, refine products, and tend to plant needs. They are facing this downturn with faith, discipline, and an understanding of what comes next. They will not be discouraged by the media's assessment of an industry to which they've devoted a lifetime.
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