Farm bankruptcies ‘just the tip of a very large iceberg’
Two Midwestern Farmers Union leaders say farm bankruptcy numbers don’t tell the whole story about the financial crisis in U.S. agriculture.
There were 595 Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies in 2019, the highest level since 2012. But Nebraska Farmers Union president John Hanson call bankruptcies “the tip of a very large iceberg”.
“There’s a lot of what I call ‘voluntary quits’, where folks are in their mid-60’s and they’re going to retire—although they didn’t want to—because they’re losing enough equity and they figure they’re going to be in a better position to be a landlord,” Hanson says.
South Dakota Farmers Union president Doug Sombke believes 2020 is going to be even tougher than ‘19
“Some of the guys that I’ve talked to, that normally felt like they could sustain something like this, didn’t realize that it would last this long,” Sombke says. “So they’re really facing some hard challenges right now.”
Sombke says MFP payments have helped, but in many cases “have only prolonged the inevitable”.
Brownfield interviewed Hanson and Sombke at the National Farmers Union’s annual convention, which runs through Tuesday in Savannah, Georgia.
AUDIO: Doug Sombke and John Hanson
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