Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Amid bumper soybean and corn crops, some Iowa farmers are looking at fourth straight year of losses

Roger Zylstra harvested soybeans on one of his fields near Kellogg, Iowa, Oct. 18.
(Des Moines Register drone photo by Rodney White and Michael Zamora)
Many Iowa farmers are looking at the fourth consecutive year of losses on their crops, Donnelle Eller reports for The Des Moines Register: "Here are some numbers worrying Nodaway farmer Bill Shipley: He could get $8.96 for each bushel of soybeans he brings to his southeast Iowa elevator. But the statewide average cost is over $9 a bushel. Corn prices are even more grim: Iowa farmers could potentially lose 30 to 40 cents per bushel, with prices around $3 at Iowa elevators, based on estimates from Chad Hart, an Iowa State University economist."

Iowa's soybean and corn crops, respectively, are expected to be the second and third largest ever, part of the largest-ever soybean crop and second-largest corn crop in the U.S. as a whole. "U.S. farmers are expected to see a 3.1 percent increase in profits this year, thanks largely to improved pig, cattle and other livestock returns," Eller reports. "But Hart says Iowa farms will be lucky to see a 1 to 1.5 percent increase, given the state's large grain production." He told Eller, "For a good number of Iowa farmers, it will be a fourth year of losses."

The downturn, which cascades to farm equipment, crop insurers, fertilizer and seed companies, has created a shortfall in the state budget. "Since 2013, Iowa farm income has dropped $5.72 billion to $2.6 billion in 2016, U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows. Corn and soybean prices have dropped between 50 and 60 percent from highs in 2012, when the nation was gripped in a widespread drought," Eller reports. Her story is accompanied by photos and video from drones.

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