Ag Economy Shows Continued Signs of Stress

Posted: June 13, 2019

Weather issues and trade tariffs are putting the ag economy at risk.

“I can think of few times when things are as truly uncertain as they are today for Illinois farmers,” said Scott Irwin, University of Illinois ag economist.

Mark Tuttle describes the crop crisis to ABC Meteorologist Phil Schwarz which aired on the Chicago news.

“They’re being buffeted on the demand side by news of big crops in South America, trade talks are at least on hold if not ruptured with China and now they’re trying to absorb the government demand side after the Trump administration’s announcement of a trade-mitigation package,” he continued. “On the supply side, they’re trying to make decisions of planting corn versus taking prevent plant or switching some corn acres to soybeans.”

The farm income outlook, without trade-mitigation assistance, remains dismal.

USDA projects net farm income this year of just $69.4 billion, 49 percent below the peak in 2013 and well below the historical average of $90 billion annually from 2000-2019.

The ongoing decline of farm income was captured in the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ latest Agricultural Finance Monitor, which marked the 21st consecutive quarter of lower farm income.  (Source: Illinois Farm Bureau)

Crop meetings help farmers with planting choices

Hundreds of local farmers participated in listening sessions and then crunched numbers to figure out their best planting options.

DeKalb County Farm Bureau hosted a session for farmers in late May. The format of the session was a webinar provided by COUNTRY Financial and Illinois Farm Bureau, which was broadcast throughout the state.

COUNTRY Financial staff discussed the Market Facilitation Program and Prevented Planting.

Another session was provided by Compeer Financial in the Farm Bureau Building. Compeer crop insurance staff provided similar information for farmers.

Farmers had to make some tough decisions based on whether they were able to get their corn and soybean crops planted contingent on crop insurance deadlines in June.

Scope of crop crisis reported

Mark Tuttle wasn’t looking for media attention.  But in late May he was contacted by several media to tell others about the crop crisis.

Local farmers attended a webinar at Farm Bureau to figure out their best planting options in this troublesome crop year.

Tuttle hasn’t seen a year like this before in the 40 years he has been farming. Excessive rainfall during the month of May prevented him from planting any crops before the first of June.

“It’s a perfect storm,” said the Somonauk farmer. “It’s going to have a detrimental effect on everyone –  from the farmers to the implement dealers to consumers.”

He was interviewed by ABC Chicago television, the Wall Street Journal, Daily Chronicle, and WSPY radio, as were other farmers.