Farm economy | KCUR

Farm economy

Segment 1: Flooded fields and fallout from trade wars could mean another rocky year for farmers.

Climate change, flooding, and bankruptcies are just a few of farming's biggest issues — a list that spans a country mile. With voices from Kansas and Missouri, representing small farmers and Big Ag, we dug through the biggest obstacles facing farmers going into 2020.

File photo by Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3FM

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

Midwestern farmers are coming off a year of catastrophic flooding, high bankruptcies and billions in federal bailouts.

Segment 1: Port KC wields power beyond the banks of the Missouri River.

The goal of Port KC, is to drive economic development in Kansas City, Missouri, but many are questioning the agency's ability to act without answering to municipal voters or elected officials. Today, the organization's chief lends his perspective to the conversation, and defends their conduct when it comes to awarding tax incentives and taking on projects that are miles from the Port of Kansas City.

Family structures—and farms themselves—are much more complicated than they used to be. Today, farm transition and land transfer are now among the hardest conversations families face. (This story was  produced in collaboration with The New Food Economy.)

Farm income has taken a long, hard fall, dropping 50 percent since hitting a high point in 2013. Add to that near-record levels of farm debt, and you have a recipe for financial stress.

But while economists say they can see storm clouds building, it’s not a full-blown crisis. That’s because relatively few farms have been pushed past the breaking point into Chapter 12 bankruptcy — or, worse, into losing the farm entirely.