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home : most recent : economy March 21, 2019


3/10/2019 11:48:00 AM
South Bend area farmers feeling the financial squeeze
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These are new combines sitting outside Burnips Equipment Co. in Wyatt. The market for new farm equipment is weak right now because most farmers are struggling to make a profit. Staff photo by Robert Franklin
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These are new combines sitting outside Burnips Equipment Co. in Wyatt. The market for new farm equipment is weak right now because most farmers are struggling to make a profit. Staff photo by Robert Franklin

Ed Semmler, South Bend Tribune Staff Writer

It’s a daily ritual.

A group of farmers gather around 8 a.m. each day at Frick Services in Wyatt to talk about the weather, news of the day and issues facing farmers. It’s a scene that plays out in agricultural communities across the country.

They know crop farmers who are struggling. They know dairy farmers who have folded in recent years as agriculture has been battered by low commodity prices, tariffs that have withered their markets and even changing consumer preferences. 

But this group of farmers is different than many. They’ve been through the wringer more than once, so they generally avoid debt and aim to maintain some reserves to get them through slides that are measured in years.

Some have been forced to take jobs outside of farming in the worst down cycles, coming home at night to work the fields.

“That’s why the equipment has lights,” one quipped.

But caution comes from experience.

“Some of the guys who are in trouble have overspent or are paying too much to rent,” said Larry Enders, who farms about 700 acres south of Wyatt. “If I can’t make money on rented land, I’m not going to plant.”

Enders said he won’t be borrowing money to plant this year’s crop because he still has some corn to sell from last year’s harvest and some cash reserves set aside from when times were good.

Related Links:
• South Bend Tribune full text

Related Stories:
• Uncertainty weakens farmers' 2019 market sentiments, Ag Economy Barometer says

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR


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