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America's Growing More of These Two Crops Than Ever Before — And That's Turning Out to Be a Bad Thing for Farmers


"You always hope your neighbor burns up, hails out, whatever, dries up, but you have a good crop. But everybody had a good crop this year. "

(Image via John Lillis/flickr)

American corn and soybean farmers have an ironic problem: abundant harvests.

The 2014 corn and soybean harvests should be the largest ever, but the impact of so much food has pushed prices down and, as NPR reported on Tuesday, could create a "victims of their own success" situation for American farmers.

"We out-produced ourselves," farmer Gene Trausch, who raises raise corn, soybeans and wheat in central Nebraska, told NPR.

(Image via John Lillis/flickr) (Image via John Lillis/flickr)

Trausch explained that farmers hope that they'll harvest record-setting yields while competing crops wither on the stalk.

"You always hope your neighbor burns up, hails out, whatever, dries up, but you have a good crop," he said. "You know, that's just the way it works. But everybody had a good crop this year. "

According to USDA estimates, American farmers will harvest roughly 14.5 billion bushels of corn and 3.93 bushels of soybeans this year, numbers that are 4 and 17 percent greater than they were in 2013, respectively.

America has never before produced so much of the crops. For both corn and soybeans, the expected 2014 harvests are record-high figures.

(Image via United Soybean Board/flickr) Harvest-ready soybeans. (Image via United Soybean Board/flickr)

The situation facing corn and soybean farmers is much like the situation facing American oil producers, with abundant production pushing down prices and, in turn, making it harder to stay in business.

Corn has reached lows close to $3 per bushel, less than half as much as the $8-per-bushel prices that prevailed in 2012, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Chart via NASDAQ Chart via NASDAQ

Soybeans have taken their own tumble, with futures prices sliding 20 percent in the last six months, according to NASDAQ figures.

Chart via NASDAQ Chart via NASDAQ

The situation — record-large harvests, plummeting prices — could keep many farmers from purchasing new equipment and could economically handicap a large swath of the American heartland.

"It's going to hurt," Trausch said.

Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

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