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‘It’s kind of glum’: US farmers worry as crop prices dip

By Agence France-Presse

Dave Burrier steered his tractor through a field, following a GPS map as he tried to plant as much corn as possible amid the yellow and green rye covering the ground.

Facing low corn prices, Dave Burrier aims to grow as much of the crop as possible this season at a field in Mount Airy, Maryland (AFP / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Facing low corn prices, Dave Burrier aims to grow as much of the crop as possible this season at a field in Mount Airy, Maryland (AFP / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Striving to get a massive yield out of his crops in rural Maryland is how Burrier hopes to make it through yet another uncertain year, beset by market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed trade tensions between the United States and China.

“We’ve had so much price erosion that we’re basically at below the cost of production. We’ve got to figure out how to manage and turn a profit,” Burrier told AFP.

“That’s harder than planting this corn.”

American farmers growing corn and soy — the biggest crops in the world’s largest economy — were hoping for a turnaround this year after Washington and Beijing reached a truce in their months-long trade war, which included a pledge to buy more US agricultural goods.

But the coronavirus hit before the benefits of that deal could be felt, disrupting transportation and operations at slaughterhouses, sapping demand, while the global oil price crash closed the ethanol and biofuel plants that could have picked up the slack.

AFP / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS
The outlook for agriculture this year is “glum,” said Linda Burrier, a soybean farmer
“It’s kind of glum,” said Dave’s wife Linda Burrier, a soybean farmer who serves on the United Soybean Board, the crop’s governing body in the US.

Yet she remains guardedly optimistic.

“Farmers are one of the most faithful people there are,” she said. “You put a seed in the ground, you expect to get a crop out of it.”


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://business.mb.com.ph/2020/05/25/its-kind-of-glum-us-farmers-worry-as-crop-prices-dip/)

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