Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson Urges, Dire Agriculture Crisis Requires Action
July 8, 2019 (EIRNS)—Minnesota Congressman Collin C. Peterson (D) spoke out last week about the dire situation in the U.S. agriculture sector, and potentially worse to come. The Chair of the House Agriculture Committee is a veteran farm leader.
Peterson addressed the National Federation of Independent Business in Willmar in his district on July 2 and his message was reported strongly that day in the widely-read AgWeek journal, headlined, “Rep. Peterson Makes Dire Predictions for Agriculture.” The article quoted Peterson saying, farm “land prices will fall, crop prices will not go up significantly and there will be farm bankruptcies in the next year that could rival the ag crisis of the 1980s.” He cited as factors in the crisis, the low crop prices, the tariff conflict, the lack of markets for soybeans, and the bad spring weather—cold, wet, hail, winds, floods. These make for the situation being like the 1980s. He said, “It means foreclosures, it means land prices coming down, it means rent coming down. And it could last. It could just be that this winter is the tip of the iceberg, and it could get worse.”
Peterson found it surprising that so many farmers were even able to get bank financing for this year’s crop operations, but thought they won’t make it through another year. “I think next winter is going to be a different story. I’m hearing this from bankers.” Peterson said, “Nobody knows for sure how bad it’s going to be ... but it’s not going to be good.”
He observed that many farmers had made use this year of farm mediation services to creditors. Others have filed for Chapter 12 bankruptcy, a special form of Federal code for farm operations, first established in the 1980s when there were widespread failures and foreclosures. He recounted how he had tried to put safety net features into the recent new five-year farm law, but couldn’t get them through.
Meanwhile governors and local leaders in the Midwest farm belt are still trying to get action on the massive flood damage in their states. On July 3, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker urged U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to issue a disaster declaration for all of Illinois. Pritzker’s press statement said,
“For months our state has been battling historic flooding, causing untold damage to homes, businesses and farms across Illinois. For our farmers, this has meant delaying, reducing, or even eliminating planting, hurting a core state industry and impacting working families across Illinois.”
Minnesota’s Peterson leadership earlier this year helped bipartisan enactment of the new five-year farm law. In recent years, he has co-sponsored restoring the Glass-Steagall Act and rescinding the 2001 “Commodity Futures Modernization Act” which opened the way for wild speculation.