by Tiverton 

 

The impact of COVID-19 on the agricultural community has leaked into farm financing. According to economists, the total amount of non-real estate farm loans has been limited. While the total non-real estate loan volumes grew 15 percent since last year, loan volumes were still less than the last three years, and the number of new loans declined.

 

What This Means for Ag Loans: Due to subdued volumes of operating loans, lending has slowed. While some larger loans were distributed (specifically to livestock farms), smaller loan numbers offset the fewer loans of greater sum. 

 

Over the past two decades, loan volumes at the largest banks have trended upward, but the pace of growth has fallen below trend for the past four quarters. This could be due to the risk associated with farm investment or better government financial support.

 

While the pandemic has caused much financial uncertainty for the ag industry, market analysts are hopeful that conditions for some agricultural commodities could improve by the end of the year.

 

Learn More: Ag Lending Update: Fewer Loans Issued to Farmers Limit Lending Activity

by Tiverton 

 

Despite the hardships that came with COVID-19 this year, farmers were still dedicated to providing produce, earning them favor with consumers. In a recent Gallup Poll, farming and agriculture are listed as the top-ranking U.S. industry among 25 other major sectors. This is the first time in the poll’s 20-year history tracking Americans’ views of various business and industry sectors that farming and ag have rated first.

 

What Consumers are Saying: The pandemic has brought on a greater understanding of farmers’ impact on the community’s well-being. With shelf limitations and the masses hurrying to store food, consumers have grown to appreciate the hard work of the farming and agriculture industry and its rapid production of nutritious foods. Despite the challenges that arose with COVID-19, farmers and ranchers continued to work tirelessly, providing vital food supply to Americans during the pandemic.

 

This Thanksgiving, we’re grateful to see the nation come together in recognition of American agriculture and domestically-grown crops and livestock. We’re proud to be a part of the farming community.

 

Learn More: Farmers, Agriculture Earn Top Support in Gallup Poll

The last six months have greatly impacted dairy farms. With shoppers being limited on their milk purchases during the quarantine period and a 50% demand reduction at restaurants, farmers found themselves forced to dump good milk. About 10% of the milk produced had nowhere to be delivered, causing farmers to discard excess productions and cut their losses.

The Loss: According to New York dairy farmer Chris Noble, the price of milk before the effects of COVID-19 was around $18 to $20 per hundredweight. During the peak of the pandemic, prices dropped to about $10 to $11. CEO of International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) Michael Dykes says that the dairy industry saw a $10 billion loss. The price of milk has since come up, though the industry has not fully recovered.

The Rebuilding: Thanks to federal stimulus funds, many dairy farmers received helpful aid during their profit losses. Some states have also provided additional programs to reimburse farmers for dumped milk. Some processors began delivering milk directly to retailers instead of restaurants, helping to increase their sales. Now, dairy farmers are seeing a 10% increase in retail sales as more people are home more often, increasing the retail demand for milk.

The dairy industry continues to face uncertainty with many restaurants still shut down or not at full capacity. Farmers are hopeful as prices increase, remaining positive and actively pursuing new ways to thrive.

Learn More: From Dumping Dairy to Improved Prices, How Dairy Produced a Rapid Recovery from COVID-19

Older black farmer considering his life and health

by Tiverton 


The farm community has experienced a variety of external stressors this year. From wildfires and drought to the financial and relational tolls of a pandemic, the impact on mental health has been felt widely.  Most sectors of agriculture have been affected by the added stress, but farmers aren’t the only ones who are dealing with the repercussions.

 

Who’s Impacted: The farm life is exhausting despite external factors. According to Deborah Reed of the University of Kentucky, farmers have a high rate of suicide even when times are good. And the stress extends beyond the farmers — farm families as a whole are feeling the weight of 2020. Family members including children are at increased risk of mental health struggles. 

 

What to Do: It’s crucial that farmers and their families make time to care for themselves first. The American Soybean Association (ASA) and the United Soybean Board (USB) have initiated #SoyHelp, a campaign designed to provide resources for those experiencing farm stress. The goal is to provide modes of conversation and connection in times of potential mental health struggle, specifically in the agriculture community.

 

Continuing to open up about mental health will be an avenue for growth and better overall health within the agriculture community. 

 

Learn More: As Farmers Face Growing Stress, How to Navigate Mental Health Concerns

Using an ipad on the farm for full market access

by Tiverton 


Farmers are growing more concerned about their market access as a result of COVID-19 than their financial situation, a Purdue University poll shows. 45 percent of producers said their ability to network and connect with the ag community is the primary concern after COVID — a percentage which increased from August to September.

 

What’s Been Impacted: The ability for farmers to connect with other producers and agricultural professionals has been altered due to the pandemic. This prohibition on traditional networking has caused the ag community to resort to digital presentations, though producers have shown little interest in a remote format thus far. Producers have expressed that a lack of interaction with other attendees is one key downfall of webinars.

 

How Farmers are Responding: Though few farmers have been interested in virtual farm shows and online networking events up until now, a growing number of farmers have agreed to trying these marketing methods going forward. Originally, only 1 in 5 respondents of the Purdue poll attended a virtual conference, but as the culture has adapted to the requirements of a pandemic, so will farmers. Now, 44% of ag professionals say they are interested in online sessions for the upcoming seasons.

Learn More: With Harvest at Hand, Farmers’ Coronavirus Thoughts Turn to Marketing

gdp reduced due to covid-19

by Tiverton 


A Texas A&M University AgriLife study has shown that COVID-19 will reduce U.S. gross domestic by 11.9% or $2.5 trillion. This is equivalent to 19 million full-time jobs. Beyond the borders of the United States, the World Bank predicts that COVID-19 created a global recession that has impacted the economy of more countries than were hit during the Great Depression.

 

What This Means for Ag: While the outbreak has affected every industry, compared to other sectors such as tourism, education, and lodging, the U.S. food and agricultural sectors are projected to experience less economic impact. The ag community was not subject to the same types of shutdowns and reductions. However, supply-chain disruptions such as closure of processing facilities, restaurant closures, and farm labor shortages have taken their financial toll on the food production community.

 

What’s Coming Next: The second wave of the pandemic is unpredictable, but the U.S. economy is expected to recover though the financial state has been hit long-term. According to researchers, GDP and employment will remain about 5% below their pre-COVID-19 rates. The USDA has reported that U.S. exports will increase in 2021 by $5.5 billion.

 

Learn More: Study: COVID-19 Economic Impact $2.5 Trillion Loss in Goods, Services

Wildfires

by Tiverton 

 

Agricultural producers whose farms have been affected by the recent wildfires may qualify for loans and other financial assistance from the USDA. Due to more than 2 million acres of land being burned by wildfires, the USDA has partnered with FEMA and other organizations to create a Disaster Resource Center for farmers and ranchers.

About the Disaster Resource Center: The agricultural community can access this searchable knowledge base of disaster-related resources. The resource center includes agents to help farmers and ranchers in finding disaster information and aid relevant to their situation. They also offer a disaster assistance discovery tool that provides producers with personalized options based on a short questionnaire.

About the Disaster Relief Coverage: The USDA grants a variety of disaster services including an emergency loan program and long-term support after natural disasters. Farmers impacted by natural disasters have options for a wide spectrum of needs including farmland repair, private forest restoration, watershed relief, tree replanting, and more.

For more information, contact your local USDA Service Center.

Learn More: USDA Assists Farmers, Ranchers, and Communities Affected by Recent Wildfires

Farm Storage Facility Loan Borrowers Are Now Able to Defer Payment

by Tiverton 


The USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is now offering annual installment deferral options for farm storage facility loan borrowers who have experienced hardship from the pandemic or other production challenges. It’s a one-time annual installment payment deferral option with no fees or prepayment penalties for borrowers who choose this FSFL loan flexibility option.

 

Why it Matters: Farmers have experienced a devastating blow due to the pandemic, and the FSA is looking for ways to alleviate financial stress. 

 

What We Know: The FSFL installment payments will remain the same (except for the last year), and the original loan interest rate and annual payment due date will remain the same. Because the installment payment deferral is a one-year loan term extension, the final payment will be higher due to additional accrued interest.

Borrowers who are interested in exercising the one-time annual installment deferral option should contact FSA to make the request and complete the required forms.

Learn More: USDA Offers Annual Installment Deferral Option for Farm Storage Facility Loan Borrowers

While farm lending slows find the data trends from the first half of 2020

Commodity prices and closed markets aren’t the only effects of the pandemic. Farm lending has slowed and lends to a more pessimistic outlook for agricultural economic conditions. The slowdown is consistent across all types of loans, and delinquency rates on farm loans have steadily increased. 

 

Takeaway: Government lending programs likely supplemented the financing needs of some products, limited the severity of financial stress among farm borrowers, and direct aid payments may help offset declines in farm revenues in 2020.

Get the Stats: Agricultural Lending Consistently Slower

More farmers are declaring bankruptcy amidst pandemic

Despite a $7 billion injection from the Department of Agriculture to mitigate losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reports that more U.S. farmers are filing for bankruptcy.

Why it Matters: Farmers are fighting for their livelihood as commodity values are plummeting, supply chains are being cut off, and markets are closing around the globe. The agricultural industry is now one of the industries hit hardest by COVID-19. 

The Facts: 

What’s Next: The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program included $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers and $3 billion in mass purchases of dairy, meat, and produce distributed through food banks.

According to the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), the Trump administration is now expected to distribute a record $33 billion in payments to farmers this year.

Get the Full Scoop:  More Farmers Declare Bankruptcy Despite Record Levels of Federal Aid