Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Farmer bankruptcies swell to decade high in Farm Belt

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.

USDA call backs 2,500 furloughed workers to help farmers

Paper that says FSA offices are closed during shutdown
Farm Service Agency offices were to be closed during the shutdown. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Wednesday that the USDA has called back 2,500 furloughed workers to temporarily provide limited financial services for farmers and ranchers affected by the government shutdown.

The big picture: About half of all Farm Service Agency offices will be reopened Jan. 17, 18 and 22 to provide services for agricultural producers with existing farm loans, expiring financing statements and unprocessed payments made on or before Dec. 31. Perdue told Fox Business Monday that even though the agency is working to get staffers back on a temporary basis, he thinks "the shutdown needs to end" to curtail farmers' hardship.

Go deeper: All the ways Americans are feeling the effects of the shutdown:

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