Fact check | Farm bankruptcies highest in eight years

In a campaign event, Theresa Greenfield told supporters that farm bankruptcies are at an eight-year high. After a quick check of the facts, we found this claim to be True.

Fact+check+%7C+Farm+bankruptcies+highest+in+eight+years

Lyle Muller, Iowa Politifact editor


PolitiFact Iowa is a project of The Daily Iowan’s Ethics & Politics Initiative and PolitiFact to help you find the truth in politics.


Edited by Julia Shanahan and Sarah Watson

If your time is short

  • Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield told supporters at a campaign rally for presidential candidate Joe Biden farm bankruptcies are at an eight-year high.
  • The claim is a campaign attempt to say a key element of Iowa’s economy is not doing well.
  • The U.S. courts system confirms the claim.

Theresa Greenfield stepped up to the podium in Des Moines, Iowa, at a Friday rally for fellow Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden the weekend before the contentious 2020 campaign for control of the White House and Congress and talked about Iowans’ toughness.

“You know, Iowans are going through really tough times right now, and I think these are going to be some of the most consequential times of our life, with the pandemic, the recent derecho, farm bankruptcies at an eight-year high…,” Greenfield told those who gathered for the Oct. 30 coronavirus-era drive-up rally.

We’ve touched on the farm economy previously and have heard the bankruptcy comments before from Democrats who want to paint a bleak picture of the economy, which was moving forward before the coronavirus pandemic disrupted it. 

The Greenfield campaign says it relied on a Reuters news report for its information but other news organizations also have reported the trend.

An independent check of the U.S. Courts’ most recent report on bankruptcy cases shows 595 bankruptcies filed in 2019 under Chapter 12, which covers family farms. That is up from 498 in 2018 and 501 in 2017.

You have to go back to 2011, when 637 family farm bankruptcies were filed under Chapter 12, for a higher number than what the courts system reported for 2019. 

We should note that, although Greenfield uses the statistic to paint a negative picture of Republicans in control of the presidency and Senate, a Democrat was in the White House in 2011.

 

Our ruling

Greenfield lifts the statistic about farm bankruptcies from federal records and reporting about those records when making campaign statements about the farm economy. This is pretty straightforward. We rate her claim to be True.

Sources

Joe Biden campaign rally, Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 30, 2020.

PolitiFact, Donald Trump fact check, by Julia Shanahan, May 22, 2020.

Reuters, U.S. Job growth robust before coronavirus outbreak hit shores, by Lucia Matakana, March 6, 2020.

Email exchange with Sam Newton, Theresa Greenfield campaign spokesperson.

USCourts.gov, Bankruptcy Filings Increase Slightly, Jan. 28, 2020.

USCourts.gov, U.S. Bankruptcy Courts–Business and Nonbusiness Cases Commenced, by Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code,  During the 12Month Period Ending December 31, 2014

USCourts.gov, U.S. Bankruptcy Courts–Business and Nonbusiness Cases Commenced, by Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code,  During the 12Month Period Ending December 31, 2013

USCourts.gov, U.S. Bankruptcy Courts–Business and Nonbusiness Cases Commenced, by Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code,  During the 12Month Period Ending December 31, 2012

USCourts.gov, U.S. Bankruptcy Courts–Business and Nonbusiness Cases Commenced, by Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code,  During the 12Month Period Ending December 31, 2011

 

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