Hard Times Test Farm Belt’s Loyalty to Trump



David Fickling | Washington Post

While most of America is booming, family farms are struggling.

The median household income for farm owner-operators will fall for the fourth consecutive year in 2018, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. That’s partly a result of weak prices for agricultural commodities: The majority of such farms lose money on their produce and only make it up thanks to income from off-farm work, investments and government benefits. Still, the trade war with China isn’t helping any.

Stocks of soybeans inspected for export to China at U.S. ports came to about 339,000 metric tons in the current marketing year, down 97 percent from a year earlier. Yellow beans in Louisiana traded at $327.50 a metric ton on Monday, close to 25 percent below the $408.25 a ton at Brazil’s Paranagua port – a discount that neatly matches the 25 percent import tariff imposed by China since July. With grain storage space already at capacity, farmers are clearing hardier, cheaper corn inventories out of their elevators to make space for the bumper soybean crop being brought in from the fields – or even just dumping the new season’s harvest on the ground.

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