Farm stores are closing across the state in Iowa this winter, and in some cases farmers are facing an uncertain future.
As of March 31, all state agricultural agencies had reported 1,902 closed farms, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture.
The number is down from an estimated 3,711 farms closed in 2016, but still represents a 40 percent decline over the number of farms that were closed in 2015.
Some Iowa counties are reporting lower numbers, and counties in the central and western part of the state are also reporting fewer farms closed.
The state reported a total of 917,000 acres of agricultural land, or about 7.7 percent of the nation’s agricultural land.
But that number is skewed by the fact that the Iowa Bureau of Economic Analysis doesn’t count all farmland as being farmland.
Iowa’s agricultural workforce has declined by about 3.4 million jobs since 2008.
The Iowa Department, which regulates farms and farmsmen, says the number is likely understated because farmers are not reporting the full extent of their losses.
For example, some farmers say they’re struggling to keep up with the cost of fuel and equipment.
In a statement, the Iowa department says it has a number of ways to protect Iowa farmers, including by keeping a record of farms where they are at and reporting those results to the state, including through data management systems, reports of the harvest, and farm-related surveys.
“Agricultural agencies and the Iowa agriculture department have worked closely together to ensure farmers across the board are reporting losses on their books and records,” the statement says.
“Farmers have a right to know exactly how much they are losing and are encouraged to share their losses with the agency.”
Many farmers have taken to social media to voice their frustrations with the lack of information about their farms.
“My son and I have been told we can’t go on our farm anymore because of the drought,” wrote Jim Anderson on the website Farm Talk Iowa.
“We are not going to be able to sell our corn and soybeans.
We are not being able to feed our cows.
I have two daughters, they are 6 and 12 years old, so I need my family to have the money to go on vacation.”
On Twitter, farmers in the state also shared the news that their fields were closed and they were unsure how long they could stay open.
The Des Moines Register reports that one farm in the city of Ames reported it was closing all but one of its 11 farms, leaving 10 people unemployed.
A spokesperson for the Iowa Farm Bureau told the Register that the group is working with the Iowa Agricultural Marketing Commission to provide support to help farmers.
“It is an unfortunate situation,” said the group’s spokesperson, Julie Fiedler.
“The fact that some farmers are still operating farms in the middle of the year shows they have not been properly managing their crops.
We also know that many of these farmers were very reliant on sales to support themselves and their families, and have lost confidence in their ability to do that.”
Fiedling also said that Iowa’s drought has had a direct impact on farmers in other states.
“They’ve been struggling to grow their crops,” she said.
Friedling said Iowa farmers are also in a bind financially because they cannot buy the products they need to grow the crops that they need. “
As Iowa’s population continues to grow, the number and the intensity of these dry years is affecting our farmers as well.”
Friedling said Iowa farmers are also in a bind financially because they cannot buy the products they need to grow the crops that they need.
“In the end, we are going to have to take some drastic measures,” she added.
“If you want to stay in business, you have to make a decision that you can either go out and buy food for your family, or you can stay on the farm and grow your own food and do that.
And that is where we are right now.”
A few weeks ago, the Des Moines Bee reported that some Iowa farmers were getting out of their homes and heading to the local grocery store in hopes of saving money and possibly getting food.
The Bee reported several farmers who were able to shop at a local grocery in Ames.
One of the farmers, Andrew Gebbia, told the paper that the grocery store was having a sale and they had a great selection of items.
He said he had a big harvest and wanted to try to sell some of it, but he said he was told the price was $25 a bag.
Gebbi told the Bee that the farmer was trying to save money by going to the grocery shop, but the store had a discount.
He told the newspaper that he didn’t expect the store to charge him more.
“I don’t think there is a way that I would have been able to afford that price,” Gebbsa said.