Thursday, April 9, 2009
Farm towns that were largely insulated from the recession last year by high crop prices and other factors are now feeling the nation's economic chill more acutely.
As corn, wheat and soybeans become cheaper and land values fall, farmers in Kansas and other Midwest and Plains states are increasingly cautious about spending on new equipment and land.
And that's threatening businesses that until recently had been spared serious financial hardship.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts that farm income will fall 20%, or about $18 billion, to $71 billion this year. The lessons of the 1980s farm crisis -- when farmers learned the dangers of assuming too much debt when times are good -- are about to be tested.