Despite experiencing one of the worst droughts in over fifty years, Iowa farmers are not likely to lose their land, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad predicted earlier this week.
Iowa is among several states in the Corn Belt currently struggling with one of the worst droughts in recent memory. Farmers across the state are reporting their crops withering in the field as farmland bakes in the wake of inadequate rainfall and record-breaking temperatures across the state’s prime agricultural land.
The current drought is reminding some farmers of conditions in the late 80s, where many debt-strapped farmers were forced to default on their loans, losing their land and their livelihood, in the face of drought and a major farm depression.
According to Governor Branstad, however, “We need to recognize that circumstances are much different from back then.” In particular, the governor told reporters in a news conference outside the Iowa Statehouse that the financial structure of the agricultural system is fundamentally different today. Unlike their 80s counterparts, farmers today have tended to buy land with cash, avoiding heavy debt and ballooning interest rates. In addition, unlike the 80s, there is not currently wild speculation in farmland, with individuals buying land as a hedge against inflation.
While Branstad is confident that most Iowa farmers will weather this storm (largely thanks to crop insurance programs and support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture), he did report that he was concerned for livestock farmers and hoped that the USDA would continue opening up Conservation Reserve land for grazing.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer