Farm­ers’ in­comes cropped

The Weekend Australian - - THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - JESSE NEW­MAN

US farm­ers are gear­ing up for another tough year. Farm in­comes are ex­pected to hit their low­est point since 2006 and bor­row­ing costs are ris­ing, fed­eral data shows, as a slump in the agri­cul­tural econ­omy en­ters its fifth year.

A string of bumper corn and soy­bean har­vests has added to a glut of grain world­wide, erod­ing prices for US farm­ers.

“The state of the ru­ral econ­omy is frag­ile,” Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Sonny Per­due told mem­bers of Congress dur­ing a hear­ing of the House Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee. “There’s a lot of stress and a lot of duress on the farms to­day.”

Farm­ers worry they could suf­fer if trade dis­putes dis­rupt US ex­ports or if the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts to rene­go­ti­ate the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment lead to con­strained ac­cess to cus­tomers in Canada and Mex­ico.

“Agri­cul­ture typ­i­cally is the point of the spear” in trade wars, Mr Per­due said.

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