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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

By the numbers: Census to show first decline of white population

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Census Bureau via Brookings Institute; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The latest census is expected to show the first decline in history for the nation's non-Hispanic white population, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Brookings Institution's William Frey.

Why it matters: The U.S. is rapidly moving toward a majority-minority population — with the racial and ethnic diversity most apparent in younger cohorts. "This really is moving in a direction that’s going to favor the issues and the political agendas of these younger people," Frey told Axios.

20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats plot filibuster workarounds

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Several Democratic lawmakers are moving away from calls to eliminate the filibuster while privately discussing alternatives to bypass it, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: These talks have ramped up in earnest following the Republicans’ move Tuesday to block a measure to protect and expand voting rights.

20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Infrastructure's remaining potholes

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

President Biden declared victory in announcing the bipartisan infrastructure package. Now comes the hard part: negotiating with his own party on the separate reconciliation bill.

Why it matters: By trying to simultaneously pass two massive spending bills, Biden and congressional leaders are attempting a legislative feat that will likely require Congress to work through its August recess — and potentially well into the fall, according to lawmakers and senior staffers.