The American farm boom is all but over.
Farmland values are down from all-time highs. Global surpluses left corn and soybean prices below the cost of production. And the amount of agricultural debt relative to income ballooned to the highest in three decades, just as the Federal Reserve has begun raising interest rates for the first time since 2006.
While many growers remain profitable, the global commodity slump is increasing pressure on a Midwest economy that was largely shielded from the worst of the financial crisis by high crop prices and land values. Last year, farm income was the lowest since 2002. This year’s agriculture-trade surplus in the U.S. — the world’s top exporter — will be the smallest in a decade. At the same time, sales are dropping for the likes of tractor-maker Deere & Co. and seed supplier Monsanto Co.