In 43 years of farming, Morey Hill had seen crop-destroying weather, rock-bottom prices, trade fights and surges in government aid, but not until last year had he endured it all in one season.
Now, as Hill and other farmers begin planting the nation’s dominant crops of corn and soybeans, they’re dealing with another shift — the strongest prices in years and a chance to put much of the recent stomach-churning uncertainty behind them. The return to something more akin to normal will be a welcome change from the last two seasons that likely will be remembered as among the most unusual in U.S. agricultural history.
“It will be nice to get out there and feel good about what you’re doing,” said Hill, who farms 400 acres (162 hectares) near the small Iowa community of Madrid. “I don’t have a black cloud hanging over me.”
It’s hard to overstate how bizarre the past two seasons have been for farmers, who for the previous six years had repeatedly produced near-record harvests but saw little profit because commodity prices were so low. The situation worsened after then-President Donald Trump launched a trade war with China that reduced demand and lowered prices, but Trump then blunted the impact with $16 billion in agricultural aid.