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May 2009

Weathering the Economic Crisis

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CropKing Admin
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Weathering the Economic Crisis by Jenan Jones Benson
What does that mean for you? It’s not news that the country is facing tough times economically. Commercial growers feel the pinch as well, but for the agricultural industry, the news isn’t all bad. Farmers, overall, may fare better than other occupational groups.
Buddy, can you spare a dime?
As of late March, business loans and credit were considered rare commodities by many, but growers reported that securing funds for their spring needs hasn’t been that difficult.
Tanya Miller, owner of Millican Produce in Millican, Texas, with her husband Steve King, says growers such as her who have established solid credit ratings shouldn’t have obstacles with loan approval.
“We are expecting to apply for a loan [for expanding our greenhouse tomato operation] in the near future and have been told that we should not have any trouble because of our past history,” she says.
Nick Augostini, marketing specialist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, agrees, adding that growers in his area continue to receive funding through both Farm Credit and the local banks. However, those institutions are reviewing applications more carefully and borrowers should anticipate closer monitoring during the loan’s term.
“Lenders are a little more skittish,” says Dr. Anthony Yeboah, professor and chair of North Carolina A&T State University’s department of agribusiness, applied economics and agriscience education. “There is a general sense of uncertainty, a psychological cloud hanging over the future.”
That may mean that existing credit lines or terms may be altered, but it also signals opportunity. Historically low interest rates may benefit growers and enable some operations to expand.