Jun 23, 2019

Rain makes corn — until it doesn't

Water pools in rain-soaked farm fields on May 29 near Gardner, Illinois. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The wettest 12 months in recorded U.S. history have exacted a price — millions of acres of waterlogged fields remain unplanted during the worst farm crisis since the '80s.

Why it matters: Agriculture is used to boom-bust cycles. What's less common is the bust coinciding with historic trade wars.

  • "We spent 40 years developing this trade relationship with China and in one fell swoop, it was all taken away," fourth-generation soybean farmer Bret Davis told Axios' Courtenay Brown in May.
  • 2018's U.S. soybean sales to China were at a 16-year low.

By the numbers: Just 77% of potential soybean acres have been planted in the 18 highest producing states vs. an average 93% over the past 5 years.

  • For corn, it's 92%, compared to an average of 100%. This is the worst number in 40 years, the WashPost reports.
  • Even cotton is at 89% vs. the 5-year average of 94%.
  • Michigan, South Dakota, Missouri and Ohio are feeling the pain worse than others.

The big picture: Farmers are generally insured against crop loss — and many are insured against being unable to plant.

  • But "the suppliers who sell seed and herbicides to farmers don’t have insurance," South Dakota State's Jonathan Kleinja told the Post.
  • Another whammy: Beleaguered industries like dairy are facing already-bad profit margins and are reliant on corn to feed their cows.

The bottom line: More farm aid is almost certainly on the way. The Trump administration — which is responsible for farmer trade war pains — keeps upping its offers to help, including for farmers who weren't able to plant.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 5,453,784 — Total deaths: 345,886 — Total recoveries — 2,191,310Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 1,651,254 — Total deaths: 97,850 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: Top Boris Johnson aide defends himself after allegations he broke U.K. lockdown — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Joe Biden makes first public appearance in over two months

Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in over two months on Monday to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a Delaware veterans park, AP reports.

Why it matters: Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, has taken the unprecedented step of campaigning from his home during the coronavirus pandemic, ever since canceling a rally in Cleveland on March 10.

WHO temporarily suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns

Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization is temporarily pausing tests of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment in order to review safety concerns, the agency's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu said Monday.

Why it matters: The decision comes after a retrospective review published in The Lancet found that coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing.