• 12Dec

    National Good Food Network Webinar: THURSDAY, December 16; 3:30-4:45 PM ET

    Getting Banks to “Yes” with Small, Diverse Farms FREE! Reserve Your Space Now

    Not much has changed in 20 years for smaller farms since bankers turned down the founders of the successful Organic Valley brand. Lenders are still dubious of “alternative agriculture,” and smaller, diversified operations still struggle to translate their business models into conventional loan applications.

    A national team of community-based lenders and sustainable agriculture organizations aims to change that. They are developing a tool to help lenders and smaller, diversified farms communicate. Join us for this webinar for a deep look at financing sustainable food.

    Susan Cocciarelli of Michigan State University’s C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems will set the scene, including a very brief primer on terminology. Dorothy Suput, executive director of The Carrot Project, a farm support group and microloan fund in the Northeast, will share her successes and challenges “on the ground” making these loans. Then Denise Dukette, vice president of New England Bank, will introduce a possible solution to the “capital access problem” for farmers: a tool, or “risk assessment framework,” to assist traditional lenders.

    Finally this team will explain their plans to build a national cohort of partners working on the ground to develop this methodology and help more lenders get to “yes” with credit-worthy farms.

    Register Now!
    Questions? Email us at contact@ngfn.org
    www.ngfn.org|www.wallacecenter.org

  • 13Jun

    * Farmland values, export boom fueling bullishness

    * Lenders worried about bubbles, still nursing wounds

    By Christine Stebbins, Reuters

    KANSAS CITY, June 11 (Reuters) – U.S. farmland prices have been firming as China’s heavy purchases of the country’s farm exports have fueled a boom in agriculture.

    Still, many veteran U.S. farm lenders are nervous about agriculture’s historical tendency to boom-and-bust cycles.

    “Everybody is on board with the great demand story. Sometimes that should raise a red flag,” said Michael Swanson, agricultural economist with Wells Fargo & Co, top private bank lender to U.S. agriculture.

    “When nobody opposes the story or raises any countervailing argument, you really have to wonder what are we missing.”

    Swanson and other bankers at this week’s farm lending conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City pointed to several clouds on the horizon amid the bullish outlook for U.S. exporters, already the world’s leading source of food and fiber from grains to cotton to meats.

    From a potential farmland bubble to higher interest rates to volatility in grain, meat and cotton prices, cautious lenders appeared to still be licking their wounds from the recent boom-bust effects of the global recession.

    “Everybody is in agreement the demand is out there. I think a lot of people in this room are very concerned about the volatility around that demand,” Swanson said. “There are a lot of things that could upset the apple cart.”

    Recent surveys from Midwestern Fed banks have shown that farmland values in the U.S. grain belt, the world’s most productive, steadied and began rising again in the first quarter of 2010, as farmers and outside investors bought more.

    That key barometer has been joined by China’s buying binge for U.S. grains in particular to boost U.S. farm prices. China, which already consumes more than half of U.S. soybean exports, recently bought its first U.S. corn in four years. This week it also snapped up 80,000 tonnes of U.S. soyoil, boosting prices.

    U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on May 20 said thanks to China buying more than $10 billion in farm goods in the first half of 2010. U.S. exports in the period set a record high of $59 billion and will be revised up for the year.

    CLOUDS ON THE HORIZON

    But economists and lenders say that’s not the whole story…

    To read the entire article click HERE

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