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USDA to survey farmers for signs of financial health

A frozen soybean field.

About 600 Michigan farms will be getting a survey to fill out in the coming months. The survey comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Survey questions will cover things such as farm expenses, income and assets. John Miyares works for the USDA in East Lansing, and leads the survey team.

He says the new survey will also have questions focused on soybean farmers. Those farmers had an interesting year in 2018.

“We’ve had some ups and downs regarding Chinese tariffs and the access to those foreign markets, which have been causing some effects on soybean prices,” Miyares says.

He says the goal of the survey is to gauge how well farms across America are doing, and get the info to policymakers at the state and federal level.

“This is the one survey that we do every year that gives farmers a voice to tell policymakers and other specialists, people involved in crafting the farm bills or other legislation at the state and federal level, about what is really going on on their farm,” Miyares says.

The surveys are scheduled to arrive for farmers starting in February. It's not clear yet whether the partial federal government shutdown will affect the timing of the survey.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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