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U.S. farm bankruptcies highest in 8 years

Christian Fernsby |

KEY POINTS
  • The report showed bankruptcy filings at their highest in the state of Wisconsin with 48 filings, followed by 37 filings in Georgia, Nebraska, and Kansas

U.S. farm bankruptcies in September jumped 24% amid damage from President Donald Trump's trade war with China and Europe as well as a year of unfavorable weather.

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According to a report by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation's largest general farm organization, U.S. farmers increasingly depend on trade aid and other federal programs for income.

"With record-high debt, and more farmers extending their repayment terms, it should come as no surprise that Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies remain elevated," according to the Farm Bureau report.

"Data from the U.S. Courts reveals that for the 12-month period ending September 2019, Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies totaled 580 filings, up 24% from the prior year and the highest level since 676 filings in 2011," it said.

The report showed bankruptcy filings at their highest in the state of Wisconsin with 48 filings, followed by 37 filings in Georgia, Nebraska, and Kansas.

Nine other states experienced Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings at or above 10-year highs.

The Farm Bureau said the filings remained "below the historical highs experienced in the 1980s", but added that the trend was a "concern".

"The support provided to farmers in 2018 and 2019 is expected to alleviate some of the financial stress, however, not all farmers will benefit from trade assistance, farm bill programs, crop insurance or disaster aid. As a result, it could take some time for the financial relief to manifest in the farm bankruptcy trends," it reported.

The report was released as Chinese officials on Thursday cast doubts on the prospects for a decisive long-term trade deal with Washington.

The trade war between the world's top two economies, now in its 15th month, has sent shockwaves through global markets.

The U.S. and China have agreed in principle to "phase one" of a long-sought trade pact that would bring an end to their punishing bilateral trade war, Trump said earlier this month.

The current agreement not yet finalized on paper covers intellectual property, financial services, and China's commitment to purchase up to $50 billion worth of U.S. farm products.

It could take up to five weeks to commit the agreement to paper, Trump said.

Trump and his former advisors including Steve Bannon designated China as the U.S.' main rival since the outset of campaigning for office.

They have accused American corporations of contributing to deindustrialization trends in the U.S by transferring production facilities to China for decades, boosting the East Asian giant's economy.

Fearing an economic recession ahead of the looming 2020 presidential elections in the U.S., the Trump administration is expected to ease the trade war with China.


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