It is a situation that is becoming all too common in Indiana and across the nation. The cash flow and working capital of farming operations is just not good enough to secure operating loans from banks and the farm credit system. As a result, farmers are turning to the government in record numbers. Julia Wickard, head of the Indiana Farm Service Agency, says the number of applications for loans is up 45% this year over last year, “Last year at this time, we had obligated about $78 million. So far this year, we have obligated over $123 million. That is over a 60% increase.”
She told HAT the requests are coming from both large and small operations and, for the most part, are seeking operating loans for the 2016 growing season, “Our employees at our nine loan centers across the state are working very hard to get the producers the funds they need in time for this year’s crop.”
But without additional funding from Washington, Wickard says her agency may be out of money by this summer, “At our current burn rate, we will run out of funds by mid-summer.” She stated that Congress will need to come up with additional funding to meet the credit needs of producers as the downturn in the farm economy continues. She added that, with farm income expected to be down for 2017, she sees no letup in the number of operations that will need help to stay in business for the next year.