Home / Politics / Midwestern farm bankruptcies skyrocket as Trump's trade war 'really put a damper on things'

Midwestern farm bankruptcies skyrocket as Trump's trade war 'really put a damper on things'

A farmer in Batavia, Illinois plants corn in his fields 09 May 2007. The surging fuel ethanol industry will use up 27 percent of this year's US corn crop, challenging farmers' ability to satisfy food, feed and fuel demand, the US government said 11 May 2007. A projection of a record 12.46 billion-bushel corn crop will be produced this year, still leaving the demand for corn high as the US Agriculture Department stated stockpiles will run low going into the next crop year when ethanol demand will rise again.     AFP PHOTO/JEFF HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

Things are not looking good for farmers, despite the guy in the White House saying again and again how much he loves farmers. Farm debt is at its highest level since the 1980s, and Chapter 12 bankruptcies, a type especially for farmers and fishermen, are soaring.

In the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, 2018 saw twice the Chapter 12 bankruptcies of 2008, and the Eighth Circuit followed closely with a 96 percent increase more than a decade earlier. The 10th Circuit also saw a substantial increase in farm bankruptcies. Those three courts cover almost the entire Midwest: Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska. So while Chapter 12 bankruptcies nationwide are still lower than they were in the immediate wake of the Great Recession, the Midwest is hurting … a lot.

Donald Trump’s trade wars are making things worse for U.S. farmers—the Wall Street Journal reports, for instance, that “Tariffs on U.S. pork have helped contribute to a record buildup in U.S. meat supplies, leading to lower prices for beef and chicken”—a blow that comes during a worldwide glut of commodities like corn and soybeans. “We thought 2019 would be the year things turned around,” a banker told the newspaper. “Then the trade dispute happened and that really put a damper on things.”

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