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Farmer Terry Davidson walks through his soy fields in Harvard, Illinois. Photo: Nova Safo/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. farmers in the Midwest are filing for bankruptcy at levels the U.S. hasn’t seen for approximately a decade, the Wall Street Journal reports.

What's happening: Low commodity prices have been gouging U.S. farmers’ bottom lines for years now, exacerbated by increasing agricultural competition from Russia and Brazil. President Trump’s trade disputes, meanwhile, are adding salt to the wounds, as tariffs drive down prices and decrease profit for farmers.

By the numbers:

  • In the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, twice as many farmers declared bankruptcy in 2018 as during the 2008 recession.
  • In the 8th Circuit, which spans from North Dakota to Arkansas, bankruptcies shot up 96%.
  • In the 10th Circuit, which includes Kansas, Colorado and parts of Oklahoma, bankruptcies were up 59%. Together, these three jurisdictions accounted for nearly 50% of all farm product sales in 2017, per the Journal.
  • Last year, farm debt rose to over $409 billion, with the average size of loans in the 4th quarter reaching $74,190, the highest 4th quarter level in history.

Between the lines: Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings are still below the highs of 2010 when looking at nationwide numbers. But the Midwest is hurting, and even though the Trump administration has been rolling out federal government relief for farmers to make up for tariff damage, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle fear it is only a short-term, partial solution.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucus.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
14 hours ago - Economy & Business

The unicorn stampede is coming

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Airbnb and DoorDash plan to go public in the next few weeks, capping off a very busy year for IPOs.

What's next: You ain't seen nothing yet.