His trade war will hurt business at a time when the rural population is aging, and it will probably hollow out farm communities... The president is here to trumpet a $12 billion plan to aid American farmers. Why do they need aid? For Iowans, it’s because 33 percent of our economy is tied, directly or indirectly, to agriculture, and Mr. Trump recklessly opened trade wars that will hit “Trump country” — rural America — hardest and that have already brought an avalanche of losses. Indeed, the impact of his tariffs will probably be felt by family farms and the area for generations... Once those markets are gone, they will be difficult to recover. Commodity prices continue to drop, and good weather suggests an excellent crop is in the making, which will drive prices further down... Rural America is going to be hollowed out very quickly. Farms will become consolidated, and towns that are already in trouble will certainly die.
Iowa’s farmers are aging, and younger farmers aren’t replacing them proportionately. Sixty percent of Iowa farmland is owned by people 65 years or older, and 35 percent of farmland is owned by people 75 or older.
.. the average age of the American farmer was 58.3 years. This isn’t because young people in rural America don’t want to farm; it’s because, if it isn’t already the family business, the costs are much too high to allow many of them to get into it.
.. losses and farm consolidation accelerated by Mr. Trump’s tariffs will make the devastating 1980s farm crisis look like a bump in the road as it drives a significant rural-to-city migration.
.. Smaller operations don’t have the capital to weather a trade war and will be forced to sell, most likely to larger operations.
.. Another casualty: our community banks. As farms get larger, farm loans are less likely to be local. A big operation with farms in dozens of counties that maybe even cross state lines probably won’t use local banks for credit.
When our community banks are gone, one of the major economic engines of our small towns will be gone.
.. At a certain point, populations won’t be enough to support rural hospitals and clinics, and they, too, will be gone. Rural hospitals are one of the major employers in the community. Even if you have a good manufacturing company in town, if you lose the hospital, they won’t be able to attract the employees they need.
.. Some of the farmers I speak with are unwavering in support of the president; they’d vote Republican even if Mr. Trump personally slapped the heck out of the preacher at the church potluck. But others are starting to recognize how the economic impact of the tariffs is hitting them personally.
.. Farmers take out lines of credit in the spring — usually due the following Jan. 1 — to pay for seed and other input costs, and then pay the loans back after harvest. Like any other loan, there are consequences to not paying, including losing the farm. Farmers are going to know before the midterm elections if they are going to be able to pay back loans.
.. The larger farm operations and the larger agribusinesses will be hovering, looking for any weakness, and ready to purchase smaller farms. And rest assured, when the Trump payments are made to farmers, the larger operations will be the ones that gobble them up.
.. most rural Republicans aren’t farmers, and many are Fox News devotees. So when they turn on Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity, the hosts will likely extol the “virtues” of Mr. Trump’s farm policies and tariffs rather than the reality of their failures.
Insiders at publicly traded commercial banks with a market value greater than $1 billion, but excluding the largest national banks, sold about $1.4 billion in their company stock between the election and the end of March
.. Private-equity investors with board seats also sold. Four of them accounted for more than $310 million of the sales, or about 22% of the total, since the election. These same investors sold $46 million in 2016 before the election.
reformers underestimate the significant amount of political power they wield. Even in the most broken and polarized Congress in decades, acts championed by community banks sail through as standalone legislation or attached to must-pass bills with barely any notice. Rather than a bulwark against the largest banks, community banks are just as likely to support changes that would help the largest banks while providing no new protections on them. Meanwhile research shows that community banks are doing fine financially, not struggling from regulations as most coverage shows.
.. “at least 75% of the decline in new bank formation would have occurred without any regulatory change” and that low interest rates and overall economic weakness are the bigger drivers. The fact that 10-year Treasuries fell from 2.25 percent to 1.5 percent this year, a sign of continued economic headwinds, put far more pressure on bank income than any reporting statement.