Idaho potato farmer Ryan can't sell his crop, so he's giving it away. (Associated Press photo by Pat Sutphin)
"President Trump promised this year to deliver a financial bonanza for American farmers, boosted by two historic trade deals that would free them from their dependence on government bailouts," write David J. Lynch, Annie Gowen and Laura Reiley of The Washington Post. "Instead, as the local Wendy’s runs out of hamburgers and some shelves at Costco lie bare, farmers are forced to euthanize millions of hogs and chickens, give away tons of unwanted potatoes, and pour out enough milk to fill a small lake. The closure of most U.S. restaurants amid the covid-19 pandemic has thrown the nearly $2 trillion food industry into chaos, convulsing specialized supply chains that are struggling to adjust."

The crisis "has exposed an agricultural economy that despite repeated injections of taxpayer support finds many farmers under growing and unexpected financial pressure," the Post reports. "Farmers this year face losses of more than $20 billion, according to the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Research Institute. Expectations of massive Chinese orders for American crops under the trade deal Trump signed shortly before traveling to Austin are clouded by an escalating war of words between Washington and Beijing over the novel coronavirus. With pandemic-related restaurant closures disrupting commercial links, farmers are being forced to plow under their crops and destroy their livestock rather than bring them to market."

Crop prices have generally declined since 2013, and farm bankruptcies are increasing. "Some analysts say only extraordinary federal aid will enable farmers to continue making their loan payments as the economy struggles to recover from the covid-19 pandemic," the Post reports. "Prices for commodities such as corn and wheat have dropped since March by double-digit percentages." The story quotes New York dairy farmer Scott Glezen, 43: “This is the worst I’ve ever seen it. And I’ve seen some very bad times.” The story has much more; read it here.

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