No End In Sight For Midwest Farmers' Financial Woes

Dec 2, 2019

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Agricultural bankers are predicting continued financial trouble for farmers in Illinois and across the Midwest.

Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s most recent quarterly report shows farmland values in the Prairie State dropped one percent from this time last year.

David Oppedahl, senior economist at the Federal Reserve, conducts research on the agricultural sector. He said these findings are a continuation of a downward trend that’s been going on for at least five years.

“There’s not any major turnaround on the horizon for U.S. agriculture,” he said. “In particular, Illinois corn and soybean farmers have to manage their budgets well. Some have found selling opportunities.”

November’s report also shows credit conditions are deteriorating, with fewer farmers paying off their loans.

Fewer farmers are repaying their loans, while more request loan renewals or extensions. | Author’s calculations based on data from Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago surveys of farmland values.
Credit Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

“Farmers have been able to increase their borrowing to help them in the last few years,” he said. “But at the same time, there’s starting to be some creep up in inability of farmers to make payments and they want to have extensions on their loan.”

The report, which surveyed 170 agricultural bankers across the Midwest, found almost a third experienced lower loan repayment rates than last year. More than half predicted the number of forced sales of farm assets to rise in the coming months.

Still, Oppedahl said, most well-established farms have been able to weather this difficult period for agriculture.

The Federal Reserve report covers much of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin.