Scott County farm family braces for low corn prices

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

As corn prices plunged to four-year lows on Thursday,  local growers are bracing for a credit crunch and trying to prevent financial crisis.

Father-son farming team Don and Mike Holst catch up on chores during a blustery morning.

"I know I couldn't have done it without him," said Mike, 51.

They farm about 900 acres near Stockton, Iowa.

"For a young guy to start off on his own is pretty tough, almost impossible," said Don, 76.

Thursday's drop in corn prices hits them right in the wallets. They have no big spending plans this winter.

"It's going to be a lot more challenging to turn a profit in the future with these lower prices," said Mike.

Corn futures dropped another 2% in Chicago to $3.38 per bushel.

The USDA already expects farm incomes to drop nearly 14% this year.  Expecting a bin-busting, record harvest, it's also the recipe for a credit crunch.

"It's a life-changing situation for a lot of producers," said Market Advisor Naomi Blohm, Stewart-Peterson. "Especially, maybe, for those who weren't prepared for it."

After 54 years in farming, Don Holst has survived many of agriculture's ups and downs. He emerged from the devastating 1980's farm crisis thanks to his livestock.

"A lot of people in town lost their jobs, lost their homes," he recalled. "It was the same way with farmers."

There are lasting memories from that farm crisis 30 years ago.  Foreclosed farms, shuttered factories and financial ruin for families. Now there are some worries it could happen again.

"If it goes on long enough, there's that possibility," Don said.

Analysts warn that corn prices could still drop lower. That's as harvesting gets into gear in coming weeks.

"Some may go out of business," Blohm added.  "Hopefully, that's not the case."

After 2014's excellent growing conditions, it's all about supply and demand. Ironically, bad weather could be a catalyst to raise corn prices.

"A drought, early freeze," Don said.

"Something's got to give," Mike added.

All of this is hardest on farm families like the Holsts.

"We've just got to find a way to make it work," Mike concluded.

Don and Mike will be working together to sort it out.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.