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Beth Ford: Farmers are in crisis. And America isn’t paying attention

Calamities of this scale would normally dominate our nation's news and drive swift political action

Beth Ford: Farmers are in crisis. And America isn’t paying attention

https://www.landolakesinc.com/Press/News/beth-ford-farmers-are-in-crisis

This article was first published in Fortune on June 12.

Imagine, if you can, a computer virus that cut the productivity of Apple, Google, and Facebook in half. Or try to imagine Wall Street’s investment bankers seeing a season’s worth of deals washed away. Such calamities would dominate our nation’s news and drive swift political action. Yet that is precisely what America’s farmers face right now. And, as a country, we aren’t paying nearly enough attention.

Farmers are generally too proud and humble to speak out, but the truth is we are living through an extremely difficult period of market turmoil and natural disasters. Due largely to sustained low commodity prices, average farm income in 2017 was $43,000, while the median farm income for 2018 was negative $1,500. In 2018, Chapter 12 bankruptcies in the farm states across the Midwest that are responsible for nearly half of all sales of U.S farm products rose to the highest level in a decade.

And then the floods came to the Midwest. Farmers have been significantly delayed in their planting this year due to rain and soggy ground, and as the planting window closes, some will have to make a decision about whether to plant a crop this year at all. As of June 9, just 60% of America’s soybean acres had been planted in our highest-producing states, compared with nearly 90% typically planted by this time of year. And just 83% of the corn crop is in the ground in the most productive states, a number that should be pushing 100%.

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Land O'Lakes, Inc., one of America's premier agribusiness and food companies, is a member-owned cooperative with industry-leading operations that span the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. With 2018 annual sales of $15 billion, Land O'Lakes is one of the nation's largest cooperatives, ranking 216 on the Fortune 500. Building on a legacy of more than 98 years of operation, Land O'Lakes today operates some of the most respected brands in agribusiness and food production including LAND O LAKES® Dairy Foods, Purina Animal Nutrition, WinField® United and Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN. The company does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Land O'Lakes, Inc. corporate headquarters are located in Arden Hills, Minn.



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