Iowa soybean farmer on shutdown: "It's not worth putting up the wall to put us in this situation"

Farmers' federal aid on hold due to shutdown

Polk City, Iowa – Aaron Lehman is not a federal employee. He's an Iowa farmer. But the government shutdown has put him in a real bind.

Lehman has watched the price of his soybeans drop 20 percent since last summer when the Trump administration got into a fight over trade with China, reports CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds. 

"So the price drop off on soybeans together with the government shutdown is like a double whammy," Reynolds said.

"It really is. It got us coming and going," Lehman said, adding it "absolutely" adds another layer of uncertainty.

"We rely on our USDA folks," he said. 

The government shutdown means farmers are sort of flying blind, lacking the supply-and-demand information that the now-closed Agriculture Department would be providing them and allowing them to plan ahead. In three months, the dusty fields should be filled with crops. But how much to plant – no one is really sure.

The government was in the midst of subsidizing farmers for lost markets in China, but payments from about $9.5 billion in federal aid set aside were suspended when the government shut down. The president plans to visit New Orleans on Monday to address the American Farm Bureau, as farmers are feeling the impact.  

A farmer for 25 years, Lehman wonders how it's come to this.

"It's not worth putting up the wall to put us in this situation," Lehman said.

It's just over 1,000 miles from his Polk City acres to Washington, D.C., but the reverberations from the border wall stalemate are hitting him hard.

"We're used to weather factors being out of our control. We try to deal with those the best we can," Lehman said. "The patience runs thin for farmers when it seems like there are... crisis that's invented or something that can be completely avoided. That makes no sense. It really makes farmers exasperated."

And they are not alone.