Farmers seeing lower grain prices, tight margins

CLEARWATER, Kan. (KWCH) Farmers are seeing lower grain prices, and tight margins as their income levels continue to drop.

The last time farmers experienced similar income levels was in mid 80's, when thousands of farmers went out of business as interest rates continued to climb.

Farmer Max Tjaden learned how to farm from his father in the 1980's, he remembers when farmers were struggling to make it then.

"It kind of escaped me, but the older I got, I could see what went on," Tjaden said.

Understanding the industry better, he said low prices for crops, affect how much money farmers bring home.

"The wheat price has gone up some, but it's still terrible. Pretty much, its been lousy since last summer," he said.

He said the farming economy is struggling globally, too. Which he said also affects U.S. crop prices.

"Yeah, well it use to be you were competing against your neighbor, but now you're competing against some guy over in Ukraine or South America," he said.

Tjaden doesn't see things getting as bad as they did in the 80's because of the Federal Crop Insurance Program, which pays farmers for crops they would have sold, but can not.

"You can declare what percent of your crop you want covered under the program. Its been a real benefit, at least in my operation, it has. Its been a real benefit, especially in the last six years; I've collected on everything I've grown," he said.

Farming is a gamble this farmer is willing to take.

"Everybody's thinking, well is this the year, or next year going to be the homerun year," Tjaden said. "Homerun years come along
enough that people want to stay in the game, and I'm one of those people as well."