Statistics show 35 farm bankruptcies were filed in Nebraska through September 30, 2019, or 19 percent more than the same period for the previous year (Figure 4). Nationwide, farm bankruptcies over the same period were 24 percent higher.
The rise in bankruptcies, while troubling, needs to be put in context. Joe Glauber of the International Food Policy Research Institute notes the nationwide figure is less than the number filed in 2010, and far less than filings in the late 1980s when they exceeded 5,000 in one year. Moreover, delinquency rates at commercial banks highly concentrated in agriculture remain low. Thus, while bankruptcies are creeping higher, the numbers are still well below historical highs.
Figure 4. Chapter 12 Bankruptcies in Nebraska
Source: U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court
In summary, most farm and ranch operations are weathering the storm although not without financial adjustments and difficult decisions. Producers are taking on more debt, and for some producers, the income troubles mean struggles with loan repayments and worsening financial conditions. But, all in all, Nebraska producers have showed a remarkable resiliency in 2019.