Frustrations poured out last week as cattle feeders at a meeting in southwest Iowa told Sen. Joni Ernst how market volatility is threatening the financial viability of their farms.

Cattlemen are used to the ups and downs of the market, but the current downturn is financially tougher and more difficult to understand than previous cycles, said Nick Hunt of Atlantic.

"There is a crisis here," said Hunt, a Cass County Farm Bureau member. "People have lost a lot of money. This is probably the worst cycle I’ve seen in 48 years. The market has gone straight down for almost two years with no rebound."

The meeting in Atlantic drew nearly 70 cattle farmers and others from as far as four hours away to...