When Derek Sande returned from college almost a decade ago to run his family’s 10,000-acre farm in Montana, the industry was feeling flush.
But falling prices and a string of natural disasters have pummelled farmers in recent years, with the US-China trade war delivering a final punch.
This autumn, Sande Farms declared bankruptcy.
The filing was a first for his family, which has worked the land in America’s northwest plains for at least four generations. But Mr Sande is hardly alone in his predicament.
Across the country, farm bankruptcies have surged 24% since September 2018, a few months after US trade disputes with China and other countries led to higher tariffs on key farm goods including soyabeans, cotton and dairy, according to analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation.