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Agriculture

USDA Official Reassures Farmers Amidst Tough Economic Times

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Harvest is underway on farms across the Midwest and Great Plains. But with prices in the tank for the region’s most important crops, many farmers are just hoping to break even this year.

The last time things looked so bleak for corn and wheat growers and cattle ranchers was during the 1980s farm crisis. Low crop prices and high debt resulted in a prolonged economic slump in farm country.

Val Docini is in charge of the U.S. Department of Agriculture office that oversees farm loans. He says low-interest rates and government-subsidized crop insurance are key to blunting the impact.

“The great difference between what happened in the 1980s and what’s happening today is that the safety net is that much more robust,” Docini says.

Tough times on the farm can have ripple effects across rural America. When farmers struggle, so do the makers of tractors and other farm equipment, and so do the small towns that service the farm economy.